Misconceptions Hurt All of Us l Worship

By Aziz Junejo | Jun 20, 2018

During Ramadan, I’ve been thinking more about the Qur’an and about my faith in general, wondering why there are STILL so many misperceptions about Muslims.

Perhaps it’s American Muslims’ lack of visibility in society that may be feeding Islam’s continued negative perception.

The media has made Islam and violence inextricably connected in the minds of many of my fellow Americans, with Muslims often seen with distrust, which makes some of them afraid to interact.

It is a collective guilt placed on mainstream, peaceful and law-abiding American Muslims for the actions of a few, perhaps because many Americans don’t know about Islam, have not met a Muslim or read the complete Qur’an with understanding.

A few weeks ago, I visited our local place of worship, and had an enlightening conversation with a local Mukilteo neighbor, who left me with a striking realization; he had a wonderful positive perception of Muslims.

He is a middle-aged Mukilteo resident who told me he enjoys interacting with local Muslims around the area and likes our culture and way of life. I was so impressed.

His experience was so unlike many of my fellow Americans, who may have never met or had a conversation with an American Muslim. That’s no one’s fault, but I sure wish things were different.

I always hate telling folks what I am not. I would rather tell them what I am, in actions and deeds, and also through conversations, because ambassadors can help convey Islam’s peaceful teachings.

The Qur’an speaks about peace 67 times and God repeatedly introduces himself at the beginning of 113 chapters as “The most compassionate, The most merciful” the loving God of humanity.

God calls Muslims to the middle path in everything they do. This is why Quranic quotes must always have textual and historical background from the Qur’an and traditions for a true understanding of their meaning.

Extremism is not, never has been, and never will be part of Islam.  American Muslim leaders have continually refuted extremist claims, because Islam’s theology is about tolerance, not fanaticism.

It’s time for extremists and Islamophobes to stop cherry picking quotes from the Qur’an in isolation, and out of context, in order to hurt others and demean Islam: not in our name anymore.

American Muslims can no longer afford to ignore the misperceptions about Islam, because they won’t just go away. Defining Islam in a conversation frankly and honestly with fellow citizens’ right here in Mukilteo is a great start.

Recently, that neighbor asked me if he could attend a Friday prayer session in the hopes he could learn more about our faith and commonalities. I told him he, and everyone, is always welcome at any of our place of worship.

Being socially active and involved in our society helps all Americans recognize our common values, our shared love for neighbors and society, u

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