2. Islam Was Spread by the Sword
You may have heard that Islam was spread by the sword. In other words, during the spread of Islam, the common belief is that Muslims forced people to follow their religion by violent means. You follow Islam or you die. This, of course, is also a misconception about Islam.
The truth is that the Quran is very clear about spreading the teachings of Islam, and it is certainly not through violence. Using force to spread Islam is forbidden, and Islam only wants believers that are sincere. If people convert to the religion through violence, they are seen as hypocrites, which goes against the teachings of Islam.
Yes, there were wars in the early 7th century where the Islamic people focused on defeating both the Sassanid Empire and Byzantium. However, these conflicts were not seen as a way to spread the Islamic religion, but instead to protect it, as Muslims saw that these people were a threat to their religion.
The Sassanid Empire was a prosperous and wealthy kingdom that controlled Iraq and Persia, which is modern-day Iran. The people were warriors, master craftsmen, artists, and they followed the Zoroastrian religion. The Islamic people also focused on fighting the people of the Byzantium empire, which was based in Constantinople. They were equally as prosperous and wealthy as the Sassanids, but these people were Christian.
As the leaders of the Islamic people saw both empires as a threat to their religion, there was a religious ware declared, as the key to survival would be to eliminate the threat. Keep in mind, that Christians did the same thing just a few hundred years later during the Crusades.
1. Muslims are Intolerant of Other Religions
“Kill the infidel!” This is a phrase that many associate with Muslims and is a belief that many feel that Muslims have towards non-Muslims. This, however, is one more misconception about Islam.
Islam has always been respectful to other religions and all other faiths. In the Quran, it says that God does not forbid the existence of other religions, and says that a Muslim should treat these people with kindness, as God loves those who show kindness.
There are a number of examples throughout history that show the tolerance of Muslims towards other religions and faiths. For instance, from 634 to 644 AD, the caliph Umar ruled Jerusalem. He, of course, was a Muslim, and he gave freedom to all of the religious communities in the city. He promised that all of their places of worship would remain standing, and he set up private course that were specifically for non-Muslims. Additionally, as a good will gesture, when he would visit holy places, he would ask that Sophronius, who was the Christian patriarch at the time, to visit with him.
Even today, many mosques in the United States do community outreach projects, serve in careers that help others of different religions, such as medicine, and teach the “infidels” in educational environments.
Far too many people believe that they are “in the know” when it comes to Islam, but they are only regurgitating the false information that they hear from others, the media and people who really have no idea about what they are talking about. Until the media and other religions begin explaining that Islam is not a religion of violence, extremism and terrorism, things are unlikely to change anytime soon.
For the most part, Islam is not very different than other world religions, such as Christianity and Judaism. All followers of these religions worship the same God and subscribe to common tenets of these religions including kindness, acceptance and care for others. Though there are certainly differences between these religions, the similarities should surely be embraced.
Just as there are extreme Muslims who teach terror and torture, there are also extreme Christians who similarly promote violence against others who do not follow the same rules and believe the same beliefs.
By learning more about the misconceptions about Islam, and learning the truth about this major world religion, the possibility is out there that perhaps we can all learn to live in peace. After all, we are a lot more similar than many would like to believe, and as a civilized people, this is something that we can choose to build upon for peace.