Islam in Western World

Islam and westSuzanne Haneef on misconceptions about Islam and Muslims:

Him, his role and purpose in this world, and the relationship between this life and the life of the Hereafter, which puts all that exists into proper perspective and gives balance and direction to the life of human beings and their societies.

However, Islam is so little known and understood in the Western world that to many people, especially in America, it is simply another strange religious cult or sect. Allah is some sort of a heathen deity, Mohammed (S.A.W) is someone who is worshiped by hordes of pagans overseas, and Muslims are either militant sword-wielding bedouins mounted on camels, fanatical men of religion with long robes and beards, or rich, decadent playboys.

Indeed, Islam has been so gravely misunderstood and misrepresented in the West that many people in America and Europe think of it as an enemy to any sort of stability, peace and progress; they mistrust it, fear it and regard it as a dire threat without as a rule knowing anything about it other than what the popular media convey, which almost invariably reflects grave inaccuracies and errors.

As these lines are written, the media are full of such “news” and views about Islam and Muslims; daily one can hear or read item after item on the subject. Virtually without exception these misrepresent not only the details of the Islamic system and the motivations and characters of sincere Muslims, but also the fundamental concepts and teachings of the religion.

They are often so gravely distorted that, indeed, a Muslim who encounters them may not even be able to recognize that they are concerned with the religion he has known and practiced all his life.

(Yes Suzanne is right, I have come across such things from west through media and was unable to recognize what was that)

The Western world today is full of “experts” on Islam who consider themselves far more knowledgeable about it than the Muslims who are living it day by day, but who seldom if ever take the trouble to understand Islam, especially its central world-view and basic concepts, on a deeper level.

Why is all this so? First, it is due in part to the legacy of history. Islam and Christendom confronted each other as enemies during the Crusades and afterwards, and the propaganda against the enemy and its beliefs and way of life which is common during times of conflict, whether it is true or false, has never yet been laid to rest in the Western world.

Second, it is partly due to the confused and distorted picture of Islam which the behavior of many Muslims, those who profess this faith but do not live by it, often doing everything which it does not permit and doing nothing which it requires, very unfortunately presents. It is also due in part to the fact that many people in the Western world think of any religious system in terms of Christian concepts and values, or in terms of the concepts of Western civilization, which do not necessarily fit with or apply to Islam.

And finally, it is also undoubtedly due to the fact that many people in the West, particularly in America, have such an unquestioning conviction of the innate superiority and rightness of the American or Western way of life that they do not consider it necessary or important to be accurately informed about others’ viewpoints and ways of life.

To many of us Muslims remain, “those people over there,” whose only possible utility or interest is in relation to whether or not they will sell us the oil we need or boost our economy by buying our goods. We often regard them, with secret satisfaction in our own superiority as the advanced people of the West, as simple, child-like beings whose world-view must also be wrong because ours is right.

All too few people in the Western world realize that the followers of Islam constitute the second largest religious community in the world today (the first being Christianity). It is the faith professed by over one billion (1.9 Billion) people living in every part of the globe, including the countries of the West, with the largest numbers concentrated in the region between North Africa and Malaysia.

Hence, if for no reason other than its tremendous relevance to the contemporary world, Islam and its followers surely deserve to be represented accurately and understood correctly by anyone who desires to be well informed and aware. In addition, since today there are large numbers of people who profess Islam, both foreign-born Muslims and Western converts, living in America and in Europe where Islam is the second largest religious community at the present time, Islam also deserves to be.

Suzanne Haneef

eBook: What everyone should know about Islam and Muslims by Suzanne Haneef

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