During a time of a certain presidential candidate’s bigotry against Muslims and a nationwide fear of terrorism, the Muslim community has come to be viewed as a group of people with malicious intent and abusive practices. However, Islam has never stood for the violence that Islamophobes – those who are prejudiced against Muslims and their Islamic faith – attempt to put on the religion. On the contrary, Islam is a religion of peace, giving, and utter faith.
The demonization of the religion has led skeptics to believe that ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has a direct correlation with the Muslim community. Although ISIS follows Islam to the extreme extent of killing “for a cause,” Islam does not encourage the radical group to do so. Muslims do not condone the behavior of ISIS and are sometimes subject to being killed by the group for not wanting to participate. In war-torn countries like Syria, ISIS gives Muslims a choice to join or die.
Around the nation, hate crimes against the community have affected the lives of civilian Muslim Americans. Two Muslim men were shot in Minneapolis after a man shouted offensive expression towards Islam. A Muslim family was threatened while shopping when an armed man told them they “all should die.”
According to data from researchers at California State University, the Muslim community has faced an increase of hate crimes by 78 percent over 2015.
Anti-Muslim sentiment, stemming from the September 11th attacks, soils the reputation of a community that does not deserve the hatred it receives.
A Muslim is a follower of Islam, a monotheistic religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that Allah is the only one true God, being incomparable to others and the knower of all things. The religion believes that the soul continues to exist after death and humanity will be divided — on judgment day — to live eternally in either Paradise or Hell.
Belief is at the core of the religion. Islam revolves around Muslim faith to the Almighty and their service to Him throughout their lifetime. As it states in the Quran, the religious text of Islam, “Righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Scriptures and the Prophets.” (2:177).
The Five Pillars of Islam compose the essential structure of the Muslim life as they are fundamental to a true believer. The Pillars go as follows:
- The Testimony of Faith: Muslims accept that there is only one God, Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.
- Prayer: Prayers must be performed five times a day as it establishes a relationship with the worshiper and Allah.
- Giving Zakat or Charity: If economically possible, Muslims believe in easing the struggles of others.
- Fasting the Month of Ramadan: Annually, Muslims fast from dawn until sundown during the month of Ramadan as a form of spiritual self-purification.
- The Pilgrimage to Makkah: Muslims partake in Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that takes places in the last month of the year, where all followers wear the same clothing to stand equal before God. This is an obligation for Muslims to attend at least once in their lifetime.
Allowing Islamophobes to distort the image of Islam is far from the American value of acceptance of freedom of religion. Giving in to the hate only fuels the war on the Muslim community as well as the liberty to exercise one’s basic rights.
By Cesar Zafra