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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Misconceptions about Islam

One of the biggest misconceptions about Islam is that it is not a religion of equality since it degrades women by restricting their freedom. I believe this is due to the fact many people are having a difficult time distinguishing between religion and custom.

We are constantly bombarded by images from around the world of an “oppressed” Muslim woman. These images are doing nothing more than trying to portray Islam negatively. This should not be happening and the public should not assume that Islam is responsible for the unfair and harsh treatments that some Muslim women experience. Rather, they should see it as the customs and traditions of the particular society. Religion and tradition are two different entities and they should be treated as such.

Islam is a just religion that upholds the right of women in the highest manner. Islam through the Holy Quran gave women marital, divorce, and inheritance rights almost fourteen hundred years, a right the Western woman achieved in the last century. Also, Islamic law makes no demand that a woman should confine herself to household duties. She can own and manage her own property and is not necessitated to pay household expenses since this is the sole responsibility of her husband- to provide for his family-.

The head cover the Muslim women wear is known as the hijab and is viewed by the Western people as a symbol of oppression and degradation. To the contrary, for me and other Muslim women who wear the hijab, we consider it a badge of honor and distinction. The distinction for us is that we are following what Allah stated in the Holy Quran:

O Prophet enjoin your wives, daughters and the wives of the believers to draw their garments close around them. That is more proper for them, so that they may be recognized and not be molested. Allah is most forgiving, most merciful (33:60).

It is not only Muslim women who are required to dress in a modest manner, but this rule (of modesty) also applies to men. They also have to wear loose clothing that does not reveal the physical shape of their body.

The only way people can distinguish between Islam and tradition is through learning about the religion and its teachings. The Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) said, “You will know the truth by looking at the people, but know the truth first and you will know its followers”. Therefore, non-Muslims who have a great deal misconceptions about Islam and its treatment towards women should study Islam first. Then and only then will they know how Islam honors, respects, and upholds the rights of women.