It’s hard to understand Islam if you live in the United States, where most don’t even know a Muslim. On top of that, much of what westerners hear about Islam doesn’t come from Muslims, it comes from the media.
Furthermore, because terrorist attacks are so frightening, and the terrorists claim to represent Islam, it’s easy to think that terrorism and Islam are the same.
There are clear differences between Muslims and Christians. For example, Muslims study the holy Quran, do not believe Jesus was divine, or that He died on the cross. They do not subscribe to the Trinity concept. Conversely, Christians do not recognize Muhammad (pbuh) as a prophet or recognize the Quran as part of scripture.
That said, there are at least 5 surprising similarities between the Islamic and Christian faiths.
First, Allah means God
That’s right. Arabic is a language. It’s vastly spoken in the Middle East. And the way you say God in Arabic is Allah. Even Christians living there say, Allah. It’s kind of like how in Spanish Dios means God.
Second, most Muslims are not Arabs.
Not even close. Over 80% of Muslims do not live in the Middle East. The countries with the three largest populations of Muslims are Indonesia, Pakistan, and India.
It’s really easy to mix-up Islam with political problems in the Middle East. But if you think of countries like Indonesia or India, it’s pretty clear that not all “Muslim countries” are in policial turmoil.
Again, over 80% of Muslims don’t live in the Middle East.
Third, Islam literally means “one who pursues peace.”
The root of the word Islam, “salam.” It refers to peace, submission, and safety. And “mu” means “one who has.”
Put together, Muslim just means “one who has surrendered,” or “one who has submitted to peace.”
Fourth, terrorists who claim to be Muslims are not Muslims.
The Quran, Muslims’ book of scripture, states, “Whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he has killed all of humanity” (Quran 5:32). That’s pretty black and white!
All you need to do is ask any Muslim about terrorism. They are horrified of groups like ISIS and Al Queda. One reason is that these extremist groups kill far more Muslims than they do westerners.
Common sense proves the point. Just think of the 1.6 billion Muslims living in the world today. Or the over 3 million peaceful Muslim Americans, of which over 5,000 serve in the United States Armed forces.
If they were all violent terrorists, we’d be hearing about terrorist attacks on U.S. soil every 5 minutes. But we don’t. Because those terrorists are not Muslims.
Finally, there are lots of myths out there about Islam.
For example, the word jihad and the term Sharia Law are totally misunderstood.
In rare cases, jihad can refer to defending Islam. Generally, jihad means the inner struggle against the self to be a better person. It’s kind of like the word fight in English. We can say “I want to fight to be a better person.” Of course, that doesn’t mean using violence, it just means to struggle with oneself.
Sharia Law has many interpretations in Islamic scholarship. But concluding it has one meaning — to take over the world — doesn’t make any sense.
Again, countries like Indonesia and India are home to the majority of Muslims in the world. These countries, however, are not theocracies (government based on religion).
The short of it is that Muslims are not trying to take over the world.
For more interesting facts on Islam, click here.