What Every Non-Muslim Should Know About Islam

Most people would probably be embarrassed to admit that they don’t know much about faiths other than their own, which is OK because most people didn’t major in Theology and most people aren’t religious scholars. However, with the current political climate and with hate crimes on the rise, ignorance about faiths, beliefs, and cultures different from our own is dangerous. Here are some basic facts about Islam that everyone should know.

  1. Islam is an Abrahamic religion. Abrahamic religions are religions whose followers descended from Abraham and whose followers believe in the monotheistic God of Abraham. Abrahamic religions include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This means that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God, but each religion worships Him a little differently. The God of Islam is not a deity separate from that of Christians and Jews, it is the same one.
  2. Muslims believe in Jesus. In the Quran, Jesus is a prophet. He is a child of God but not the Son of God, as Christians believe. Still, Jesus is a very important figure in the Quran.
  3. The Quran includes a lot of the Bible. You know how the Torah makes up the first five books of the Bible? The Quran contains references to people and events in the Bible, and adds other people and events in its 114 Surahs, or chapters. Another difference between the Bible and the Quran is that the Bible has several authors while the Quran only has one, the Prophet Muhammad.
  4. The Quran doesn’t explicitly tell women to wear hijabs and burqas, but many Muslim women happily choose to wear hijabs/burqas. Depending on the translation, it can be interpreted that God wanted women to wear hijabs and burqas (or something like them), or it can be interpreted as God wanting women to dress modestly.
    • This is the ayat, or verse, used to justify wearing hijabs and burqas: Surah Al-Ahzab [33:59] Prophet, tell your wives, daughters, and the wives of the believers to cover their bosoms and breasts. This will make them distinguishable from others and protect them from being annoyed. God is All-forgiving and All-merciful.
    • The Quran also encourages modesty in men.
    • “Not all interpreters have concluded that the Prophet mandated the hijab. For example, the founder of the fundamentalist Muslim Women’s Association, Zaynab al-Ghazali, states that while veiling and separation was obligatory for Muhammad’s wives, whether a believing woman follows their example of piety is a matter of personal choice. Western scholars and more liberal Islamic scholars have also argued that the legal requirement of hijab is a later development that grew out of styles and social norms in the Arab world, not a core Islamic doctrine.” –John Green, attorney who received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his Ph.D. in religion from Duke
  5. Islam does not encourage terrorism. Islam prohibits a Muslim from killing any innocent person. The attacks on Manchester were reprehensible to everyone, including Muslims.
    • Surah Al-Ma’idah [5:32] For this reason, We made it a law for the children of Israel that the killing of a person for reasons other than legal retaliation or for stopping corruption in the land is as great a sin as murdering all of mankind. However, to save a life would be as great a virtue as to save all of mankind.
  6. Islam encourages interfaith marriages. 
    • Surah Al-Ma’idah [5:5] As to marriage, you are allowed to marry the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the Book before you (are lawful for you); provided that you have given them their dowries, and live with them in honor, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines.
    • Read this for more.
  7. Muslims do Friday prayers, some in addition observe the Sabbath. In Abrahamic theology, God made the world in 6 days and took the throne, or rested, on the seventh. Some Muslims do not interpret the taking of the throne as a day of rest and therefore don’t hold a Sabbath. Some observe Jummah/Friday as a day of non-work and others observe as-Sabt/Saturday as a non-work day since it means Sabbath.
  8. Muslims pray 5 times a day and have to be clean when doing so. Prayers are one of the five pillars of Islam. Wudu, the washing of hands, arms, head, and feet with water for spiritual purification, is performed by Muslims before speaking to God through prayer. Prayer times are traditionally dictated by the position of the Sun.
  9. Halal is similar to kosher. If something is halal, it is permissible according to Islam. If something is haram, it is not permissible according to Islam. Halal food is food that is OK to eat, meaning no pork and no alcohol (among a few other things).
    • I remember the distinction between halal and haram through a joke a friend in college told me: “I just want a girl who is halal in the streets, haram in the sheets,” a play on the lyrics to Usher’s song Yeah! It’s kind of a corny joke, but it made me laugh at the time.
  10. Islam is the second largest religion in the world, after Christianity, with an estimated 1.6 billion followers.

In talking about Islam, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance leads to xenophobia, racism, hate speech, and the rise of racially-motivated hate crimes–as we saw in Portland, Seattle, Virginia, and the list goes on.

The more we learn about faiths, beliefs, and cultures different from our own, the more we can understand each other and hopefully more peace will come from that.

EDIT:

26 thoughts on “What Every Non-Muslim Should Know About Islam

  1. Thank you for this. I am a Christian and in no way find the religion of Islam to be a threat, but this is something that should be read by everyone and I feel as if I have benefited from reading it myself. It shed light on something I did not know, that wearing hijabs/ burqas was not a requirement. Thanks so much for writing this so more people can see that stereotypes, especially those about the religion of Islam, are not true.
    Also, may I link this post in my next blog post? I am starting something on my blog where I share an important article or writing that I would like my readers to view. I totally get it if you don’t want me too 🙂 ~Olivia

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hello Boats of Oats, This is a wonderful and well worded post. Understanding is the only certain path to true peace, blatant lies never spring from a font of truth. Pandering a militant agenda driven by fear, hate, ignorance and arrogance only serve to perpetuate confusion. As Olivia, I would also like to share this post on my blog too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post Natalie , Islam is probably the biggest Religion in the World . You have shown the real tenets of Islam not the filth spouted out by racists and Islamphobics Chauvinism is deep in the major Metropolitan capitalist countries like USA, Britain and Germany where hatred against people from semi colonial countries continues as well as hatred of Muslims themselves. Revolutionary consciousness is higher in Muslim Countries like Egypt, Syria , Libya and all those countries who started the Arab Spring. The Revolutionary apex is in the Arab Revolution whose people have stood and fought dictators like Al Sisi and Assad in Syria and are still fighting against Imperialism and all its allies ironically it is Imperialism which believes it is defending Christendom. There should be no Immigration controls Open Borders I advocate. although I am not a Muslim but an atheist I will defend their right to dress how they like and also for them to speak their own language and pursue their own cultural values. well done for your post showing Islam in its true colours. Laurence x

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. I have a question about step 3
    2. Muslims believe in Jesus. In the Quran, Jesus is a prophet. He is a child of God but not the Son of God, as Christians believe. Still, Jesus is a very important figure in the Quran.
    What do you mean in this statement “child of God not a son of God” need more interpretation if possible. Thank you !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hussein. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Christians believe Jesus was a Divine person, unlike any other human that has or ever will live. When Christians speak of Jesus, they are speaking of him as the Divine Son of God. The Virgin Mary carried the seed of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In Christianity, the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are referred to as the Holy Trinity and are to be regarded as equals. I hoped that cleared things up!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. If you have not read it already, The Faith Club is a wonderful book about 3 women: a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim and their quest to understand, and be understood and accepted. I highly recommend it. Thank you for this beautifully written post, Natalie.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a wonderful post! I love learning about other religions and clearing up misconceptions. It’s really fascinating to me. I feel like I should do one of these on Mormonism… Lots of misconceptions there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! Another way this is translated is: Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.

      The “other than” exceptions include murder and spreading mischief (stealing, rape). But something that readers of the Quran must keep in mind is that the Quran was written in ancient times. Today, we have legal systems that punish and incarcerate criminals. This ayah is meant to describe a larger truth: killing of innocents is wrong, and punishing (by incarceration, for example) of criminals is justified.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am writing a blog series titled, King Solomon, Time to Outlaw an Islam Religious Practice.

        May I refer to your site and our conversation about Sura 5:32?

        My concern is the wording of “other than” and “retaliation” creates an interpretation problem.

        Problem I see is that what is legal in one country may not be legal in another country. For example, ISIS conquered territory recently in the Middle East. They teach Qur’an verses as being legal to kill anyone who will not conform to their interpretations of the Qur’an.

        Would you care to comment? I agree the Qur’an is a record of ancient writings. However, there does not seem to be any distinction between what is in agreement in our modern world. For Example, the Christian Bible separates the ancient beliefs as “Old Testament” and “New Testament”

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not sure I understand what you want to write. Are you writing about outlawing a particular interpretation of this specific ayah?

        The key word you are using is interpretation. Literal interpretation of any religious text is dangerous, and as with the Bible (which, through interpretation we understand, amends “bad laws” of Exodus in Ezekiel, for example), the Quran requires interpretation as well. This ayah says that the killing of innocents is wrong, and murder, stealing, and rape are punishable crimes. This ayah says do not kill innocent people, for it is like killing all of humanity. Innocents are those who have not murdered, who have not robbed, who have not raped.

        Taking an ayah (or verse) out of context (like 5:32), is what extremists such as ISIS do to manipulate people into thinking that what they do is okay under Islam, which it is not. I’m afraid that your post may be doing the same thing, taking this ayah out of context and spreading the same misinformation about Islam. Because I do not know the content of what you’re writing, I respectfully ask that you do not link or quote me. I do not want to be a part of spreading misinformation, even though I believe you have good intentions.

        I assume your post will discuss outlawing a particular interpretation of this specific ayah, but I’m afraid that I may be wrong and the series may become something else. I believe in freedom of religion, so I do not want to be a part of something that may want to infringe on those freedoms (again, I’m not sure what it is you’re writing).

        I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Muslims for Progressive Values is a great organization to contact for more information on Islam and the Quran. http://www.mpvusa.org/mpv-principles/

        Liked by 1 person

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