Is Islam Misunderstood ?
BY AMIL IMANI
According to a Pew Research Center study published in 2009, public perceptions depend heavily on a few key factors. Pew’s Gregory Smith explained: “One of the most powerful factors shaping views of Islam is education,” he said. “Those Americans who have more education tend to be more favorable toward Muslim Americans and Islam than Americans with less education. Interestingly, age was also a good predictor of views of Muslim Americans and Islam, with young people tend to be more favorable than were older people.”
Decades ago, Professor Marshall McLuhan observed, “The medium is the message.” As the print and electronic media enter more and more into every aspect of life, their influence increases greatly in shaping the views, deeds and behavior of the public. The power of the media is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it can serve to expose injustices, wrongdoings, and flaws. On the other, it is able to propagate misinformation and outright disinformation and fake news. Manipulation and control of the media is of critical importance to the rule of totalitarian states. Free societies, although less subject to laundered information, are still at considerable risk of being selectively informed or misinformed outright. The public can be deceived more easily by the overlords of the media when political correctness is used as subterfuge for promotion of certain ideas.
A case in point is the media’s portrayal of Islam, articulated by politicians and pundits — the talking heads on television and radio, as well as the analysts who write for newspapers and magazines. Time and again we hear and read that Islam is a religion of peace, in spite of the fact Islam has been a religion of violence from its inception to the present. This mantra, “Islam is a religion of peace” is repeated so often that it has become an indisputable statement of fact in the minds of many. Former President George W. Bush on several occasions repeated the mantra and attributed the horrific violence committed under the banner of Islam to a small band of extremists. The President’s assertion was either based on ignorance of the facts about Islam or was an attempt at political correctness. Perhaps the President’s reticence to speak on the true nature of Islam was due to his desire to avoid inflaming the already charged feelings of many about Islam. In any event, truth was and is sacrificed, and the public continues to be fed the false notion that Islam is a peaceful religion.
People who dare to disclose the true nature of Islam run the risk of being castigated as bigots and hatemongers. Yet even a cursory examination of Islam’s history and Islamic texts conclusively proves the exact opposite of peacefulness. Islam was and continues to be a movement of unbridled violence. Islam was forced upon every people at the point of the sword and the imposition of backbreaking jaziyah (poll taxes) levied on those who were spared death and allowed to retain their religious beliefs. In addition to paying heavy jaziyah, the non-Muslims were treated, at best, as second class in their own homelands.
The abominable persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic countries is a standard operating procedure. In many Islamic countries, non-Muslim marriages are not recognized as legal unions, and the children of such couples are stigmatized as bastards. Never mind the fact that Saudi Arabia, the cradle of barbarism, and even Egypt, the more civilized Islamic country and recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, treat non-Muslims as second class and deprive them of their legitimate human rights. The pundits, the analysts and the politicians are doing a great disservice to the public, each for its own expedient reasons, by parroting the mantra regarding the peaceful nature of Islam. In reality, the so-called small band of Islamic extremists is the true face of Islam.
Admittedly, from time to time and place to place, Muslims have shown a degree of tolerance for the non-Muslims. This tolerance dates back to the very early years of Muhammad himself. Early on, Muhammad proclaimed, “For you, your religion, and for me, my religion.” This assertion lasted but a few years, until Muhammad’s movement gathered strength and Islam became the only alternative to death or heavy taxation. The imposition of jaziyah was a clever ploy for filling the Islamic coffers to support its armies and to finance its further conquests.
A longstanding Islamic practice is to appear to be meek while weak and to assume despotic intolerant power when strong. The recent migration of Muslims to non-Islamic lands began as a seemingly harmless, even useful, trickle of cheap and much-needed labor. Before long, greater and greater numbers of Muslims deluged the new territories, and as they grew in numbers — by means of a high birth rate as well as new arrivals — Muslims began reverting to their intolerant ways, demanding legal status for Sharia (Islamic law), the draconian laws that resemble the laws of humanity’s barbaric past.
Islam is indeed misrepresented. But Islam is not misrepresented by its “detractors.” It is misrepresented by Islamic mercenaries: organizations and individuals generously funded by states as well as wealthy believers, who are making billions of dollars pumping and selling oil at astronomical prices. Prestigious universities in the West, always looking for handouts, are tripping over one another to establish Islamic studies programs staffed by professors who sing the praises of Islam. Newspapers are routinely intimidated by complaints by Islamic associations if they dare to print the truth about Islam. Legions of lawyers, Muslims as well as hired guns, are on the lookout to intimidate and silence any voice speaking the truth about Islam.
The media that falls in line may receive generous advertising revenue and other incentives from Islamic lobbyists. Hence it is a fact that Islam is misunderstood. It is both misunderstood and misrepresented very effectively by non-Muslim individuals and institutions who are generously rewarded by the modern-day Islamic conquerors. This time around, the Muslims are using the petrodollars they extract from oil-addicted non-Muslims. The sword is temporarily replaced by just as deadly a weapon — the petrodollar. Before long, the Muslims aim to add a deadlier modern version of the sword — the Islamic bomb. With the bomb in one hand and the other hand on the oil spigot, the Muslims hope to bring the non-Muslim world to its knees before the religion of peace and brotherhood.