Religion is crucial to human existence. Believing in a supernatural being or power is central to human life and every person has it in one way or another. Even those who consider themselves as atheists still have something they believe in or subscribe to. The type of religion that people adopt is guided by various forces including ascription and personal choice. There are many religions in the world Christianity and Islam being the two major religions in the world. People harbor perceptions on religions that they do not believe in and usually consider their religions as the best or truer.
Among the world religions, Islam has been the most misconceived and misunderstood. Most of these negative perceptions have largely emanated from those who do not believe in Islam. Most of these people have not taken time to get deeper to the main Islamic beliefs, practices, rituals and gist. Some perceptions have been based on superficial grounds while others have had some concrete bases.
Perceptions of Islam by non-Muslims have been shaped by many forces. These forces have largely depicted Islam in a negative way. Some of the vehicles through which Islam has been perceived include the following;
- Media; the media has largely depicted Islam in a negative way. Most of the media houses; print, broadcast and online have propagated negative messages about Islam. The most notorious for this propagation are largely from non-Muslim nations and media owners. The world has been abuzz with messages that injure the reputation of Islam. These negative perceptions are stimulated by political and media statements and messages that center only on extremists that use the good name of Islam for other non-religious activities such as terror attacks.
- Terrorists; many groups that claim responsibility for terrorist attacks are most of the time Muslims or at least claim to be. They argue that they carry out such attacks in the name of God. This largely depicts the Muslims in a bad way. Most of the people who get this news through any media get the feeling that Muslims are biased towards terror and terrorist attacks. For a common person who may not have time or information to understand that these terrorists have their personal agendas other than religion, the perception goes deeper. The bombings that have happened across the globe have tarnished the name of the Muslims in a great way. Non-Muslims get a feeling that all Muslims are violent; which is not the case. The number of people that believe that Islam helps in violence have increased tremendously since the September 11 attacks and continues to increase after every terror attack. The situation is sad that recent studies have found that non-Muslims do not disagree with “Muslims are terrorists” statement.
- Misconceptions about the status of a woman in the Islamic faith. Most people still harbor the perceptions that women are mistreated and judged harshly in Islam. It is widely believed by non-Muslims that Islam oppresses women.
Most non-Muslims do not know what Islam stands for and how it can be used to promote peace and unity among different societies, nations and the world at large. They have not taken time to discover the good intentions of the religion apart from what they hear from the media.
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