by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
It may or may may not be for you but to know about it may be useful. Muslims are ordinary people and you may find one in your neighborhood or on your job. After you study Islam you will be enriched.
Negative images of Islam and Muslims are found everywhere in the media. These negative images are based on one-thousand year old European-Christian prejudices due to ignorance of Islam. American people have overcome their prejudices against the Irish, German, Italian, Jews and blacks. It is time that they shed their prejudices against Islam and Muslims by educating themselves about this fourteen centuries old religion, the youngest of the three Abrahamic religions of monotheism. Some examples of media prejudices and stereotype images are discussed below.
Yes, there are a few hundred terrorists out of a population of 1,200 million worldwide who call themselves Muslim. There are Christian terrorists in Ireland and Christian criminals everywhere in the major cities of the U.S. Does it mean Christianity teaches them to terrorize, rob and kill people? Paul Hill, a Christian minister, killed an abortion doctor and his security man - would you blame Christianity as a source of his crime? If not, please, do not blame all for the terrorism of a few. There are mad men in every society! The term JIHAD is mistranslated and mis-interpreted; ask for our brochure, JIHAD EXPLAINED.
The media talks about the abuse of women in Muslim society. Yes, there is abuse but have you seen Oprah, Jenny Jones, Geraldo, Rolanda and other talk shows, lately? Almost every day one or another show brings cases of women beating, torture and abuse in the American society. Does it mean Christianity and Capitalism teaches people to abuse their women? Women abusers are found in every society since the most ancient times. Despite the twentieth century feminism, women abuse is endemic in every neighborhood of the West. Islam teaches kind treatment of women and expands their civil rights beyond even what is present in Western society. Ask for our booklet, WOMEN'S LIBERATION IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY ($2.00), and our brochure, WOMEN'S LIBERATION THROUGH ISLAM.
Another topic commonly misrepresented in the media is polygamy among Muslims. Yes, Islam permits men to marry up to four women provided all wives are treated equally with respect to time and money. Do you think it is possible to have more than one wife and treat all of them equally? Of course not! As a result less than one percent of the men have more than one wife in the Muslim societies of the East. Look at the situation in America! Having a series of boyfriends or girlfriends is common which is a form of serial polygamy, as is divorce-marriage-divorce-marriage. In addition, we find married people having boyfriends or girlfriends on the side and just one-night-stands are common; what do you call this? This is parallel polygamy without taking responsibility for the partner or the child which frequently ensues. Sexual anarchy is rampant in the West. In societies where women outnumber men, multiple wives allows the women the opportunity and security of a legal marital relationship where the husband is responsible for all wives and children. Islam provides solutions for the problems in society. Ask for our brochure, WHO PRACTICES POLYGAMY?
Some people attack Islam for Muslim women wearing head scarves. For women to cover hair has been prescribed in Christianity and Judaism, too. As late as the last century women in the West wore scarves on their heads. Some of the nuns still wear head gear when they are in public. Head scarves are common in Eastern Europe and villages of the West. Amish and Mennonite women in the U.S. continue to wear scarves to this date. If Muslim women opt to wear scarves in public it is their right which should be honored and respected without prejudice. Isn't religious freedom guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution? Aren't people free to wear whatever they like?
Punishment of criminals
Islam is criticized for harsh punishments for criminals, such as amputation of hands of convicted thieves, death for convicted adulterers and so on. Yes, Islam prescribes such punishments provided harsh conditions are met for the conviction. There must be two or more eye witnesses of credible character for conviction and for ultimate punishments to be applied. Circumstantial evidence deserves only lighter punishments. However, Muslims have abusive rulers, and for the sake of popularity, apply ultimate harsh punishment without meeting the requirements of evidence or conditions. In America, there is a lot of corruption in the legal system. It is well known cliche, JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. In the U.S. simple divorces take years to settle. It is also known that over forty percent of convictions are false, which means that over forty percent of criminals go scot-free and in their place innocent people are being jailed. William Heirens, Ronnie Bullock, James Newsome and Dr. James McDonald represent the tip of the iceberg of those innocent "convicts". Whereas "plea bargaining" has reduced time and court costs, it has increased false convictions. Besides, convicted criminals, who have lost their credibility, become witnesses against their own former friends for seeking leniency in their own prison terms. The rules of evidence are lax which breeds corruption and injustice. Is it humane? Look at the results:
Wherever Islamic punishments are applied in a proper way, a few persons lose limb or life but the whole society lives in peace and in time crime is reduced to a minimal level in the country. In the U.S., where convicts are given prison terms without bodily harm, crime is rampant and on the rise. Many innocent people lose their lives or limbs or get crippled, mentally or physically. Convicts do not have peace in the prisons because they fear each other and citizens have no peace in their homes or their streets. Abuse of power is endemic in all societies. If you are not willing to blame Capitalism or Christianity for abuse of justice in the West, please, do not blame Islam for abusive citizens and their abusive leaders in the Muslim countries.
A list of our publications and a very short list of recommended books are given in this brochure. Please call us or write to us for reading material on Islam and Muslims. The goal of the Institute of Islamic Information & Education (III&E) is to bring people closer together through education and understanding. There is a sizable Muslim population in the U.S. and it is growing. It is in the best interest of all of us to know each other and respect each other rather than despise or fear each other. If you agree with our goal and like our work, please support us by sending a tax deductible donation to us. Enclose your check in the name of "III&E, Chicago, IL" in the amount of your donation and price of books, etc.