Speaker sheds light on Islamic, Muslim misconceptions

Many people harbor misconceptions about the Islamic faith, something Professor Imad Enchassi would like to correct. Enchassi spoke at OCCC on April 16 in the college union to about 20 students. He serves as assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Oklahoma City University.

“The most degrading myth about Islam is that all Muslims are terrorists,” Enchassi said. “The terrorism experienced by Americans is from extremists that use Islam as propaganda to legitimize their violence.

“Muslims condemn violence of any form and welcome the arrest of any terrorists.”

The status of women in Islamic countries raises concern, Enchassi said, but the problem often lies outside the boundaries of religion and is not dictated by Islamic teachings.

“The idea of women not being entitled to the same rights as men is something that even progressive societies struggle with,” he said.

Nonetheless, one often sees more inequality in the Islamic world.

“While in many countries, the laws are geared against women, this simply does not comply with the rules of Islam, where the prophet Muhammad actually said ‘women are the exact twin halves’ of men,” Enchassi said.

Another myth is that all Muslims are of Arab descent, he said. This simply is not true.

“If you look at countries like Malaysia, whose citizens are considered Asian, approximately 61 percent of the country is Muslim,” he said.

“With a lot of other east Asian countries, Islam is predominant.”

Another misconception is that Muslims do not accept Jesus.

“In Islam, Jesus is the main messenger of God,” Enchassi said. “The main difference of Islam and Christianity is that Muslims do not believe in the divinity of Jesus.

“In Islam, the idea of divinity is that only God is divine, not Jesus.”

The idea of jihad also creates confusion.

“Jihad is not a single-meaning term indicating terrorism,” Enchassi said. “Jihad is a multi-meaning word and while it means ‘the struggle,’ the most common meaning of Jihad is to try harder to be closer to the creator,” Enchassi said.

Myths about Islam often stem from an inability to separate culture from religion, Enchassi said. The media can magnify this problem.

“You have intolerance and violence in the culture created by those in power, who claim to follow Islam,” Enchassi said. “The problem is that their culture sometimes contradicts Islam.”

For more information, contact msa@my.occc.edu or email Enchassi at ienchassi@okcu.edu.

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