With the recent election of Donald Trump, fear regarding Muslims/Islam has seemed to skyrocket. The media only shows us the bad because violence gets views. We’re conditioned to think that Islam equals terrorists and a lot of us are complacent and do not feel the need to question it. But that perception is simply not true. Islam, and its followers, are beautiful and peaceful. They are no cause for alarm, and all it takes is a little research, or a little discussion with a Muslim, to come to this conclusion.
I recently had the opportunity to visit a mosque (masjid) in Morgantown, WV called the Islamic Center of Morgantown. We, meaning my Judaism and Islam class, were lucky enough to be there in time to witness their second daily prayer (out of five). The second prayer is called the Zuhr prayer. The Zuhr prayer contains four cycles of worship, which includes standing, kneeling, prostrating, and standing again. During the prayer, the Imam (their version of a priest) kept repeating the words “Allah is the greatest”, which almost served as a division between the positions they prayed in. It lasted for about 20 minutes and started around 12:30 PM, but since Muslims follow the moon, their prayer times change day to day.
After we watched them perform their four cycles of this noon prayer, the Imam came to us and answered any and all questions we had about the religion or about the people personally. A lot of my classmates asked about the practice of having many wives which is, by the way, not that common, but what I was interested in was their talk of peace.
They told us that Islam is about the people. It’s about looking out for each other, taking care of your fellow human. One of the brother’s told us a story of a Muslim man taking care of his non-Muslim, or Kafir, neighbor. She had fallen ill and stopped leaving her home—he went out of his way to make her food and nurse her back to health. Islam is a religion of love. The brother told us that no religion tells its people to kill, and that Islam is no different. “Radical Islam” is not a reflection of real Islam. Muhammad, their prophet, taught peace, even in wartime. Islam has a set of rules for everything, including the conduct of their soldiers in times of war. They are not to hurt noncombatants, destroy places of worship (of any religion), or even harm nature or the animals in it.
Another important takeaway from my visit was their talk of Sharia Law. The U.S.A. seems to have this demented view of Sharia—that it’s some awful set of laws that are going to give Muslims total control of America and that, of course, is not true. Sharia Law is not made for Kafir. A devout Muslim’s job is not to force Sharia Law on non-Muslims, but to follow Sharia to their best ability and honor it for themselves. With the recent election of two Muslim women into Congress, it’s very important to make that distinction before the fear can even arise and be exploited.
It’s important for people, especially us Americans, to learn that Islam is nothing to be afraid of. These are a peace-loving people who care deeply for their God and the world He created. They’re no different from us—they just worship a different way.