The misconceptions of Islamic culture

Rebecca Alexander

“For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the term ‘Islamic terrorism.’ I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe they will insult someone. Please tell me, who they are insulting if they say, ‘Islamic terrorism.’ They are insulting terrorists!”

– Rudy Giuliani

After hearing this statement I feel the need to clarify some of the misconceptions about Islam in general and its relation to terrorism. The following statements are simple, not as an insult to anyone’s intelligence, but rather because there is no need for them to be otherwise.

1. Islam stems from the same God as Christianity and Judaism.

n People regard Allah as a strange and foreign god, but Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. Thus, a Christian who lives in Egypt also worships Allah. In fact, some argue that the word Allah was used in the Middle East even before Islam.

n All three of these religions, as accepted by all three faiths, are descended from Abraham (Judaism and later Christianity from Abraham and Sarah’s son Isaac, Islam from Abraham and Hagar’s son Ishmael). This can be found in the Bible in Genesis. Muhammad, in the Islamic faith, is considered a prophet – similar to Jesus, Moses, etc. Muslims do not think Muhammad created the faith but rather was a prophet sent by God to the Arabs to restore the teachings of Moses, Abraham, etc.

The attributes and “characteristics” of God differ in each religion but the same can be said about Catholicism and Protestantism. My point is only that essentially Islam is not some bizarre, violent religion. On the contrary, it shares several beliefs with Christianity and Judaism.

2. Arab, Islam and terrorist are not interchangeable words.

Arab – A person who lives in a country that speaks Arabic. Thus, a person who lives in Iraq and practices Christianity is an Arab and a Christian.

Muslim – A person who practices Islam. There are a lot of American-born citizens who practice Islam.

Terrorist – A person who engages in terrorism.

Some might argue that most terrorists are Islamic, thus making it OK to use the term “Islamic terrorists.” It is dangerous and manipulative to create the association that all terrorists are Muslim. The U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization lists the Irish Republican Army as an official terrorist organization. Obviously, this group has nothing to do with Islam or the Middle East. The same goes for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Once again, no connection to Islam and the Middle East. It is crucial to understand that the extremists do not, in any way shape or form, represent the entire religion of Islam in the same way the Ku Klux Klan does not represent Christianity. These extremists distort the religion for their own agenda.

Also, the largest population of Muslims is in Indonesia, which is not even part of the Middle East. Therefore, speaking neither as a Democrat or Republican, I choose not to use the term “Islamic terrorism” because it is misleading, deceptive and ignorant. Although some might consider these statements to be radical opinions, I assure you I tried to only state facts as best of my knowledge. I urge you to continue to educate yourself regarding Islam and the situation in the Middle East. Thank you.

Rebecca Alexander is a senior political science major and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].