Revealing Westeners’ Misconception about Islam
Logical division of ideas article Composed by: Rendi Afriadi
Negative image of Islam which makes much misconception about Islam among westerners is being spread in western world through mass media. It is not only mass media spreading the negative image of Islam through their published material but also anti-Islam orientalists through their works. The misconception lies in many aspects of Islamic tradition, lives, histories, and believes. Subjugation of women, terror of spreading Islam, and radicalism of moslem are common Islamic misconception spread among westerners in the western countries.
Western people perceive that Islam is a religion subjugating women through gender disparity and the rule of wearing veil. Westerners consider that Islam treat women differently from men in all aspect of lives. So, there is segregation between men and women in Islam. This is not true, however. What Islam do is giving different roles between men and women since it is impossible for them to hold the same roles, there are several things which suitable to be done by men and vice versa. To begin with, let’s compare the status of women before islam and in islam. In period of antiquity, women were considered as a inferior creature. They worth nothing more than animal. They were created for men and to satisfy men. Men treated women as goods, they could sell , buy, and abandon women if they want to. Furthermore, women have no right over anyting. All the things they had belong to men, their husband, siblings, or father. Women were also considered as a root of evil things. It was women who brought all negative things to the world. In ancient Greek, it was Pandora through her box bringing pain, war, despair, oldness, death, and other negative things to the world. In biblical tradition, it was woman, eve, who cause the fall of humankind since she made Adam eat the forbidden fruit after being tempted by Satan.
Basically, there is no different status between men and women in Islamic belief. Men is not better than women before Allah and vice versa. The thing that differs them is the degree of their faith. In Islam there is no disparity between Men and women, they were created from the same thing,
“O people! Be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these too many men and women” (An-nisa: 1).
Accordingly, women were not created from the rib of men for this perspective implies that women are inferior than men since men is the origin of women. Men and women are equal in the rights over materials they own,
“Unto the men belongeth a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, and unto the women a share of that which they have earned and near kindred leave” (An-nisa : 7)
“Unto men a fortune that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune form that which they have earned” (an-nisa :
Furthermore, the reward for men and women of good acts is also similar,
“and their lord hath heard them (and He sayeth): low I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one another”( Ali Imran : 285)
According to hadith, moslem should give more respect to women rather than men,
“When a man enquired of the holy prophet: “ who has the first claim to my good treatment”? he said “ your mother”, the man said “ and then who” the prophet replied: “then your mother. The man asked: “ and then”? the prophet replied: “then your mother”! The man once again asked: “and then?” the prophet said: “Then your father ( Muslim and Bukhari)
Apart from gender disparity, Islam, according to westerners, also subjugates women through the rule of wearing veil which had been practiced by women long before the coming of Islam. In ancient Assyrian tradition, women coming from the higher status wore veil as sign of her noble status. In ancient Persian tradition, it was only prostitute and female slave who were not allowed to wear veil. Therefore, wearing veil would show that you were not a prostitute and a slave. Wearing veil cultural tradition is also found in ancient and medieval European women such as ancient Greek, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman etc. Such tradition is also found in Christianity and Jews. In Jewish, rules of wearing veil is revealed in Pentateuch,
“Make for yourselves tassels on the four corner of the cloak that covers you” (Deutoronomy 22:11). Moreover, in Talmudic law (Gemmara, ketuboth, 27 a), it is stated that women should be divorced if going out without covering their head. In Christianity, the rule of wearing veil is stated in new testament, epistle of Paul,
“But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not covered, let her be shaven. But if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her head shaved, let her cover her head” (ICorinthians 11:5-7). In Islam, wearing veil is intended to uplift women degree and protect them from being molested not to subjugate them, as stated in the following surah:
“O prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women that they should cats their own garments over their person (when abroad); that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Adz-Dzuukruf : 59).
If wearing veil subjugated women, there would be no any wearing veil cultural tradition practiced by women before the coming of Islam.
Westeners also misconcept about the syatem of marriage in Islam. Polygamy, a marriage system in which men are allowed to marry more than one woman, is marriage system mentioned in Quran, the scripture of Islam. Unlike other scriptures, Quran limits the number of wives which are able to be married by men, namely four women. Moreover, there is strict rule given by Quran for those who want to engage in polygamy. The practice of polygamy also occurs in non-Islamic societies. For example, several characters in bible, Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon etc, were enganged in polygamy. Another example, Hinduism scripture tells that the characters of Mahabrata were also enganged in such marriage system. The rulers of medieval Europe are also said to be enganged in polygamy such as Henry VIII, the king of great Britain, whose wives were Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Part.
The most common Islamic misconception spreaded among westerners is related to the radicalism in which Islam teaches its followers to terrorize non-moslem. To begin with, Islam means peace not terror, so it is impossible to say Islam is terrorist since the term “terrorist” is contradictory with the term of “Islam” itself. Therefore, terrorism is not what islam teaches but what moslem radicalists do due to their misunderstanding about the meaning of Islam. Besides, radicalism exists in all aspect of human life not only in Islam. For instances, many Jews were killed by nazy; many Filistin inhabitants were murdered by radicalist jews, zionis; ten million people were killed in the war between catholic and protestant in Europe. To say islam radicalist means to say all religions are also radicalist due to the historical facts mentioned above.
In conclusion, anti-islam media and orientalists have spreaded negative image of islam in the western countries. The spreading of Islamic negative image in the western countries make misconception in the western mind in which they think that Islam is a bad religion because of subjugating women, being spreaded by war, and terrorizing non-moslem. However, these are just false understanding among them. If they want to learn deeply, they will find that Islam is not like what they perceive.