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Ask A Muslim: What do people misunderstand about Islam?

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What do you want to Ask a Muslim? Submit your questions online or fill out the form below.

By Maimoona Harrington

What is one (or several) aspect(s) of Islam that you feel are misunderstood by people who do not practice Islam? What are the consequences of this misunderstanding(s)?

Unfortunately there are not one, but many aspects of Islam that are often misunderstood by non-Muslims.

Islam oppresses women

Due to hijab (veil) Islam is often considered subjugated towards women.  The hijab is not only a piece of cloth on head and body but it includes one’s behavior, moral conduct, attitude and intention for both men and women.

Hijab is not only for women it’s for men as well. Hijab is worn as a concern of modesty.

Qur’an Reference:

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.”

[Quran 24:30]

Not all Muslim women abide by the hijab requirement. For example hijab is not imposed in countries like Egypt, Lebanon or Pakistan.

Polygamy in Islam

Islam allows polygamy but it’s not compulsory. It’s not a rule but an exception and only preferred if one is able to deal with it justly.

Qur’an Reference:

“Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.” [Quran 4:3]


However as many Muslim countries are secular and have civil laws in practice, they ban multiple marriages in case of Tunisia and Turkey. In Pakistan polygamy is not widespread and in order to get married a second time or more, the husband needs permission from first wife in writing.

Jihad in Islam

Jihad is often considered a holy war by Muslims however, the word jihad in Arabic simply means, “to struggle,” “to strive.” The word for war in Arab language is “Al-Harb.”

Jesus in Islam

It’s often believed that Muslims do not believe in Jesus (peace be upon him). Muslims believes in Jesus (PBUH) and he is known as Isa ibn Maryam (Isa son of Maryam) and a prophet. Jesus (PBUH) is a highly regarded prophet in Islam. An entire (chapter) of the Quran is entitled “Mary.”

Qur’an Reference:

“She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so; God creates what He wills. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be!” and it is.’”[Quran 3:42-7]

Muslims also believes in Jesus’s (PBUH) miracles.

Qur’an Reference:

“I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, a figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers, and I raise the dead by God’s leave.” [Quran 3:49]

All Arabs are Muslims                               

Arab is not a race or lineage. Arab is a cultural trait. Arabs are Christians, Jews and Muslims. There are Arab Christians in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

All Muslims are Terrorist

All Muslims are not terrorists. Unfortunately some people from the Muslim faith have chosen terrorism as a tool to impose their ideologies and beliefs, thus bringing devastation to the societies and causing an increase in hate and intolerable attitude towards followers of this religion. 

The consequences of these misunderstandings are evident in the form of Islamophobia.  Just like any phobia, Islamophobia is developed due to incidents of hate and loss by individuals who whether practicing Islam as a religion or not but have brought harm to society. It has also developed through stereotypes and media in today’s digital age.


Maimoona Harrington

About Maimoona Harrington

Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She is married and a mother of two sons. She has a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies and sociology from Pakistan. Currently she is finishing her degree in Middle Eastern Studies at American Public University. Along with her current career as an interpreter she is also Islamic and Pakistani Culture Adviser.
As a practicing Muslim with the extensive world travel and living in the West, she has devoted herself to spread awareness of Islam as a goodwill gesture. In an effort to do this she started writing from her own personal experiences with religion, beliefs and life in a different culture. She also has special interest in all the religions and how and why they are all important to its followers. Her primary focus is on the co-existence and harmony between all human beings. Her message is to spread peace not division. She strongly believes that if you want to be closer to your creator then love His creation unconditionally and expect nothing in return for He loves us unconditionally and forgives us no matter how sinful we are!

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