5. Muslims Do Not Worship the Same God as Other Major Religions
Muslims worship Allah, Christians worship God. Guess what? “Allah” is simply an Arabic word that is translated to “God.” To Muslims, Allah is the God of Abraham, Jesus and Moses, which is exactly the same God that Christians believe in. Arabs who are Christian actually also use the word “Allah” when referring to God.
If you know anything about the people of the Bible, you may recognize the names Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac was a child born to Abraham and his wife Sarah, who was 90 years old when the baby was born. The couple became pregnant after God promised Abraham that he would father a great nation. Ultimately, Isaac married a woman named Rebekah, they had twin boys, Jacob and Esau, and Jacob went on to father 12 sons. These men became the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. Both Judaism and Christianity can be traced back to these tribes, Jacob, Isaac and ultimately Abraham.
Ishmael was also the son of Abraham, but he was not the son of Sarah. Since Sarah was barren, up until the point she gave birth to Isaac, it was customary for her maidservant, who was named Hagar, to attempt to produce an heir with her husband, Abraham. The result of this union was a baby boy named Ishmael. Isaac came around a couple of years later. Ishmael grew up, married, and he, too, fathered 12 sons who led tribes. These tribes grew to populate much of the Middle East, and Muslims can trace themselves back to these tribes, just as Jews and Christians can trace themselves back to the tribes of Israel.
4. Muslims Worship Muhammad
Many also incorrectly believe that Muslims worship Muhammad as their God, but this is not true, either. Another misconception about Muhammad is that he was the founder of Islam. This, too, is untrue. According to Islamic teaching, Adam, the one from the Garden of Eden, was actually the first Muslim.
What about Muhammad? Well, Muslims see Muhammad as a great prophet, and the last prophet from God. He is seen as the one who communicated the final revelation from God, too. Muslims look to Muhammad as the best example of how to be a true Muslim, and he is held in the greatest of esteem. He is not, however, worshiped by Muslims. Instead, any worship done by a Muslim is only for God, and as it is in Christianity, it is forbidden by the religion to worship any other thing or person.
A good way to understand how Muslims feel about Muhammad is to look at how they celebrate him. In the US, we celebrate the birthdays of our great leaders, for example, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and we set aside a day to honor him. In fact, when Muhammad died, he specifically told his followers that they should never worship him. He was buried in his apartment, which was part of a mosque. Today, his body remains there. Muslims go to the mosque to pray, but they only visit his grave and send good tidings, they do not pray to him in any way.
3. “Jihad” Means Holy War, and Muslims Have Declared War on Non-Muslims
Many non-Muslims believe that Jihad means “holy war,” and that Muslims have declared war on those of other faith systems. Jihad does not mean “holy war.” Instead, it means “to apply oneself, to strive, to persevere, to struggle.” Jihad may be a personal thing to a Muslim, or it may be used in terms of a community of people who are struggling against some type of oppression.
In essence, Jihad means to get closer to God in community and lifestyle, and Jihad means to struggle to create an equitable and peaceful community. In Islam, aggression and violence is prohibited in most situations. The Arabic word of war is “harb” and the word for fighting is “qital.” In the Quran, the word Jihad is only mentioned 28 times, but qital/hard is mentioned 94 times. If you combine all of the instances of struggle, war and fighting, you will find 164 instances in the Quran, but not all of these are in reference to jihad.
As with some Christians and the Bible, both islamophobes and Islamic extremists, though each on the opposite side of the spectrum, have taken the Quran and edited, changed and misinterpreted it to suit their own needs and personal beliefs.