Grady Newsource is here to explain common misconceptions people have about the religion almost a quarter of the world follows: Islam.
Islam is the world’s second-largest religion. According to a Pew Reasearch Center estimate in 2015, the Muslim population worldwide was approximately 1.8 billion. This is about 24 percent of the world.
Myth: Jihad is a “holy war” fought by Muslims.
- Fact: Jihad translates literally from Arabic to mean struggling or striving. Muslims have two main texts they follow: the Quran, their holy book believed to be the direct word of God sent through Muhammad (God’s final prophet), and collections of Hadith, teachings from the prophet passed down by his closest companions. In both these texts, jihad is a word with multiple meanings. The Islamic Supreme Council of America explains these texts to describe jihad as “internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslims or believer.” Muhammad called the inner battle for self-control and religious piety the “major jihad.”
- Fact: Jihad is not a violent struggle or “holy war.” The only time jihad is linked to military action is in the rarest of circumstances.The Islamic Supreme Council of America says military action is only considered necessary when Muslims are in danger. This must be stated by authorities within Islam and Islamic scholars. When military action is necessary, many rules are put in place by the Quran like forbidding the killing of innocents. Jihad is only mentioned in the Quran three times (chapter 9 verse 24, chapter 25 verse 52 and chapter 60 verse 11). Vincent Cornell, in his article “Jihad – Islam’s Struggle for Truth,” writes about these verses saying this of jihad: “…in its classic sense there is no indication whatever of the concept of “holy war” nor, for that matter, is there any necessary indication of armed conflict at all…”
Myth: Allah is different than the Christian and Jewish God.
- Fact: Allah is the Arabic word for God. Muslims believe in one God just like Christians and Jews, and they believe this is the same God. Arabs who follow the Christian faith use the word Allah for God as well.
Myth: Muslims reject Jesus.
- Fact: Muslims believe Jesus Christ was one of the great prophets like Noah and Moses, with Muhammad being the final prophet from God. They also believe in the second coming of Jesus. The Quran says in the second coming of Jesus, he will defeat the Antichrist. Muslims do not believe Jesus is divine or equal to God like Christians do.
Islam, like other religions, is very complicated and diverse. Click here to read more about the basics of Islam.