Of all the spidery roads and housing grids making up my city, a certain street winds into a bazaar. I happened to walk in there some days ago, armed with a heavy dupatta, from head to toe. The reason? To throw off the leering stares of the shopkeepers and other assorted passersby of the male variety. Azaan had just rung fresh in my ears; these men went to pray, and returned to their stalls and shops to ogle female shoppers. This seemingly random event made me realize one of the issues looming before my world, and to some extent, the world in general: the misrepresentation of Islam. It is herein my firm belief that people and their actions are what produce these misconceptions; my religion does not encourage such behavior, let alone even allow it.
I have collected quite a few lurid comments from various sources about how Islam ‘allows’ its men to virtually dominate over the women, as if they had no rights. These opinions have not been formed on fact; rather they are a portrayal of the way my religion has been misrepresented by the very people who profess to follow it. Men who pray and then leer at passing women will never inspire positive views about the religion they follow. This is not Islamic teaching; in a Hadith it is mentioned:
“Fear Allah in respect of women.”
Clearly, despite being an Islamic state, my own people are presenting an altered view of Islam to the world.
The issue with Islam being called violently sexist is expanded by a recent incident that occurred. A Swati girl, Malala Yousafzai, merely fourteen years old, was shot at point blank range. Her crime: promoting women’s education. Extremists who call themselves pure Muslims fatally harmed an innocent girl over something that is fully permitted in Islam. This is the crux of this essay; Islam as a religion is misrepresented as not wanting females to be progressively educated. I stress, it is the people who have spread this misconception. This can effectively be proven by the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s first wife, Hazrat Khadija was a merchant who traded on her own, while his second, Hazrat Aisha was a scholar, and even led an army in battle. To Muslims, the Prophet (PBUH) is the veritable example of perfection; so why would we stop women from learning?
An Anti-Islam YouTube video, showing it to be a brutal religion was put up, which clearly illustrated what the world perceives Islam as. Yes, there is violence that exists, in Pakistan, among Muslims. Shiites and Sunnis, two prominent sects, feud constantly. However, I would like to point out that Islam did not create these divisions, people themselves did. They tyrannize and fight, but Islam itself does not.
Overall, Islam is being misrepresented as a religion that persecutes without reason, has no respect for women or their education, and more besides. These are not true claims. All religions deserve to be respected because they provide foundation and people deviate from it, giving rise to several fallacies about the religion itself.
So I can’t stress this enough. I realize the impression Muslims have made on the rest of the world. But please don’t think all of us are one and the same. Our religion does not allow violence and dispute. It never has. Its the people who have fallen. Not Islam.