To start this theme of discourse, it is extremely significant to understand the core of Islam religion. The word ‘Islam’ by itself means peace from the Arabian language. Unfortunately, in recent years, an important amount of people started to misinterpret Islam as a narrow-minded and greatly warlike religion. Additionally, today in the media the words “terrorism” and “Islam” are so often used together that a huge number of people around the world perceive these concepts as synonyms. Moreover, in Western countries, various types of misunderstandings and different stereotypes among people led to the creation of a term called ‘Islamophobia’, which is an extremely dangerous phenomenon. This term is creating adverse impressions and negative associations with Islam religion in human beings. As a consequence, there is an increasing gap between Muslims and other people. Therefore, it is undoubtedly vital to analyze the pith of Islam as a religion in order to explain that Islam is all about peace, goodness, and tolerance. Afterward, gaining true knowledge will lead to a decrease in that gap and the extirpation of Islamophobia. This paper aims to reveal the truth about Islam religion. Also, the goal of this paper is to stretch people to shape a better community because humankind must come to the realization of the requirements for an exchange of civilizations, the advancement of relations, and relations between agents of diverse societies and religions.
First of all, what is Islamophobia and what is the meaning of this loud word? Islamophobia means certain actions and statements that Muslims assess as hostile to Islam. This concept covers an extremely wide range of meanings – from confusion to any criticism of Muslims and Islamic activists, as well as Islamic dogma and social practice. The term “Islamophobia” itself was widely used after the publication in 1997 of the British research center Runnymede Trust of the report “Islamophobia is a challenge for all” (Allen 2010, 3). Gordon Conway, Deputy Rector of the University of Sussex, who led this project, defined the new phenomenon as “the fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims that are inherent in the media at all levels and spread across all areas of life.” Islamophobia, according to Conway, is manifested in the “depiction of Islam as a civilization, not different from the West, but backward; Muslim culture is not so diverse and progressive, but frozen and static, hostile to dissent and discussion, patriarchal and misogynistic, fundamentalist and potentially threatening other cultures ”(Conway 1997, 17). In a concise form, political Islamophobia can be reduced to a simple formula: “Islam is not a partner, but an enemy.” The term ‘Islamophobia’ often contributes to an enormous amount of violence, hatred, and prejudiced detention of people to Muslims. Morey claims that people need to emphasize the importance of expanding the understanding of this anti-Muslim bias through basic self-consciousness and the significance of extending their assets to destroy Islamophobia (Morey, 2018).
Such pictures are deformed considerations. Due to the rapid development of technology in our time, it is especially difficult for people to find reliable sources of information. In this sense, an extremely growing amount of misinformation and false information has created a misconception of Islam. For example, as the famous photographer, Tim Smith stated, during his work he receives requests from various magazines and newspapers about a Muslim photoshoot in northern England. A professional photographer argued that certain organizations demanded to take poorly lit, unsuccessful images, which should serve as a visual link to insults and exclusion of stories about Muslims. These pictures differed from the various life meetings of his subjects, displayed in his portfolio as a whole. In fact, the Muslims he met looked peaceful and absorbed in their daily endeavors, like all other citizens (Morey and Yagin, 2010). Undoubtedly, such movements could cause ignorance of the foundations of Islam, as well as the features of the development of the modern Muslim world, which is not single, monolithic. Today, the Muslim world is a conglomeration of states and ethnic communities, where the difference in the level of economic, political, social, and spiritual development is huge. In the Islamic world, there are societies, associations, and successful individuals who have managed to adapt to modernity, adopt all the best achievements of Western civilization, while remaining faithful to their religion.
As an example, it is important to introduce one of the main famous Muslims – Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. He is a famous Islamic theologian of the nineteenth century, who advocated intellectual pluralism and freedom of opinion, and informed everyone about the misrepresentation of the freedom of speech in Islamophobia. He argued that restrictions on freedom of opinion were highly undesirable in every sphere of human life; they could not be justified by either religious, family, or community considerations. The state does not have the right to defame the honest name of the dissent or threaten him with reprisals. Restricting freedom of opinion means violating the rights of all people and damages everyone. The theologian believed that no one has the right to make decisions for everyone and deprive others of the opportunity to be guided by their own opinions. Without freedom of opinion, the truth of any idea cannot be verified with due care (Khan, 2003).
As I previously mentioned Conway’s opinion of Islam, they were contrary to the true values of the religion of Islam. Besides, after his words, many people were misled and his words created several stereotypes about Muslims. Because of such stereotypes, they constantly declare that Islam is against freedom in all its senses. In addition, they accuse Muslims of being extremely cruel to women, children, etc. However, as Morey and Yagin stated, history nowadays changes with rapid speed, and those old stereotypes with elements of uncertainty are often required to be remade in many ways (Morey and Yagin, 2010). Thus, these Islamophobic people need to reconsider their visions of Islam. As an example of Islam’s true core, The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the Islamic Council on September 19, 1981, indicates that modern Muslims are based on democratic, liberal values, proclaiming fundamental human rights, such as the right to life and liberty, the right to equality and the prohibition of all forms of discrimination, the right to freedom of religion, thought and speech, the right to social protection, the right to education, privacy, freedom of movement and residence, which are defined as the predestination of Islam. The Quran principle of “no coercion in religion” defines the rights of religious non-Muslim minorities. This document is an excellent example of how the general democratic principles of the organization of public life are combined with the fundamental principles of Islam (Universal … 2003, 512-519).
Furthermore, The International Association of Muslim Theologians (IAMS), an independent non-governmental organization that unites Muslims from all over the world, has repeatedly issued a sharp condemnation of Islamism and the commission of terrorist acts under Islamic slogans. As Fred claimed, in our society, it is extremely important to differ ‘’Islamic’ from ‘Islamist’ action because the first term is about religiously oriented trend while the second is all about the specific Islamic variant of fundamentalism (Halliday, 1995). The association is headed by a prominent Sunni theologian Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi also discussed that fanaticism in Islam should be avoided. Overall, this organization which includes 200 authoritative theologians, both Sunni and Shiite, from four parts of the world in their meeting teach modern individuals the true ideology of Islam. Its goal is to achieve consensus in the interpretation and use of the provisions of Muslim law, to overcome contradictions in this matter. The goals of the International Association of Muslim Scientists include: raising the level of religious knowledge of Muslims; finding a way to solve the individual problems of Muslims; explaining the core concepts of Islam; establishing of complete equality among Muslim scholars, regardless of the national characteristics of each, etc.
Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. To overcome other stereotypes related to Islam, it is important to show the true position of Islam about human life, aggression, and division. According to the Quran, it is forbidden to kill women and children of the enemy, the elderly, the disabled, and powerful people. Also, as it is stated in the Quran, killing one innocent soul will be counted as killing everyone on earth and will be hardly punished (Quran. surah meal. ayat 32). Furthermore, it is extremely forbidden to commit suicide in Islam. Therefore, it is obvious that Islam bans and chastise everything about terrorism. The initiative to commit aggression is not consistent with Muslim ethics and cannot be considered as a characteristic feature of Muslims. In contrast, religion Islam is about pure decency. Islam obliges people to maintain the unity, fraternity, and equality of each person in their fundamental rights, as well as categorically reject divisions between people on the basis of linguistic, racial, and family clan. The Quran prescribes to be friendly and sympathetic to all people, and not just towards Muslim co-religionists.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of information about the Islam religion in English. All of the required sources are in the Arabic language. While translating these sources, something may be missed because of different scenarios. Moreover, sometimes people tend to listen to others instead of reading about it by themselves. Thus, there are many wrong interpretations of Islam, which should be executed to achieve peace among all people. However, in this case, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan said significantly wise words: “Do not try to explain the core concept of Islam to others. Rather, try to be the face of true Islam characterizing peace, loyalty, and tolerance” (Khan, 2003). Of course, there is a demand to remain human no matter what will happen because this is what Islam truly teaches. It advises people to find harmony inside of themselves and share it with other human beings. The aim of Islam is to create a safe community that will take care of each other. As I mentioned previously, it is all about peace, goodness, and tolerance.
In conclusion, Islam is a great religion that covers all basic human needs that started from the simple tolerance and ended with peace within Muslims as mush as among all human beings. The true concept of Islam is often can be lost because of tons of misleading information. In addition, one more significant problem is that there are many stereotypes about Islam religion which may be different from the truth. People may think that Islam is related to such negative terms as ‘Terrorism’, ‘Fanatism’, and ‘Islamism’, but in reality, it is completely different aspects. Moreover, with the occurrence of the term ‘Islamophobia’, the pressure of the society to Islam started rising suddenly. In that case, it is extremely important to increase the awareness of all people about the true core of Islam in order to avoid further misunderstandings and to execute Islamophobia among humankind. To achieve this goal, all people should start building a bridge that will lead to the rapprochement of our societies. Moreover, human beings now live in extremely harsh environments. Therefore, we need each other to not only survive but also to gain strength and belief in tomorrow.