- Myth: Muslim women are being forced to wear hijab by their husbands or fathers.
Fact: It’s entirely their choice, some choose to wear hijab and others don’t. Islam, like any religion, can be interpreted and practiced as strictly and as loosely as individuals want to. Women choose to wear a hijab to feel empowered, not oppressed. Many women choose not to wear the hijab, yet are still considered practicing Muslims.
Additionally, women wear hijab because they feel strongly connected to the religion and feel as it is a part of their identity. The hijab is a form of self-expression and devotion to one’s faith, not a symbolism of oppression.
- Myth: Jihad means a violent, religious war
Fact: Jihad is often translated to “holy war” but more linguistically it means struggling, surviving, or effort. The term jihad is thrown around loosely in American media today, using it as a buzzword to incite oppressive thoughts against Islam. Jihad in the Quran is used in the context of “striving with one’s self and one’s money in the cause of God.” Also stated in the Quran are several verses prohibiting fighting, killing, and forced compulsion of religion. With these verses explicitly stated, extremists have chosen to ignore the Quran and holy book they claim to fight for and instead, pursue the opposite.
- Myth: All Arabs are Muslim
Fact: Muslims come from all different parts of the world and from many different ethnic backgrounds and countries. The countries with the top five largest Muslim populations worldwide are all non-Arab countries. Indonesia is ranked number 1 with roughly 205 million Muslims, Pakistan next with 178 million, India with 177 million, Bangladesh with 148 million, and Nigeria with 78 million. With these statistics, Islam is more an Asian religion if anything than an Arab one.
- Myth: Muslim women have no say in who they marry
Fact: In Islam, a couple, both parties, must mutually consent to the marriage. This requires a clear proposal and acceptance in the presence of a legal guardian or family member from the woman’s side. The Quran explicitly gives women a extensive role in choosing their own husbands. Women’s consent in a marriage is extremely important and is not forced. Many women choose to have an arranged marriage in which their families are more involved in the process of finding a suitable partner. Arranged marriages are a wonderful process because it becomes a partnership not just between two people but between two families.
- Myth: All Muslims Speak Arabic
Fact: No they do not. Muslims, because they come from such diverse backgrounds, speak many different languages found all over the world. There are more Muslims who speak Indonesian, Urdu, and Chinese dialects than those who speak Arabic. Muslims are however encouraged to learn Arabic as it is the language of their holy book, the Quran. Just as not all Muslims speak Arabic, not all those who speak Arabic are Muslim.