5 Things About Islam You Should Know

Before we begin, let’s get one thing straight: Muslim and Arab are two different things. Arab is an ethnic group and as such Arabs can be Christian, Jewish, atheist, Muslim or any other religion. Islam is a religion. People often forget that the largest Muslim country in the world is Indonesia and the majority of the world’s Muslims are not Arab. Many non-Arab countries around the world have large Muslim populations including Senegal, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Bosnia, Turkey, Cyprus and Ghana among others.

With the difference between ethnicity and religion now clarified, here are the five things about Islam you should know.

1. Women and men are equal in Islam: “Each of you is equal to the other” (Quran, 3:195). It is true that inequalities exist in many Muslim societies but it is also true that gender inequalities exist in many non-Muslim societies as well. Gender inequalities emanate from cultural practices, not the religion of Islam. In the Quran, men and women enjoy the same rights spiritually, but also socially and politically. Several Islamic countries have also had female heads of state, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Turkey.

2. Islam shares many religious figures and historical events with Judaism and Christianity. Muslims greatly respect Jesus. He is considered a prophet in Islam.

3. Muslims fast for 30 days every year for Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan this year is happening during most of the month of July. Muslims fast to experience what it feels like to be poor and hungry, and to focus on their own inner spiritual journey. Fasting is a great teacher of compassion.

4. Islam is a religion with a deep commitment to social justice. In addition to the practice of Ramadan enabling Muslims to experience hunger as a poor and hungry person might, another of the five pillars of Islam is to help the poor through a donation of zakat. Put simply, Muslims must give 2.5 percent of their savings to the poor, as zakat is a requirement of those who have accumulated wealth.

5. Violence and suicide missions are un-Islamic. At its core, Islam is a religion of peace, a message reiterated many times throughout the Quran. The Quran calls its way “the paths of peace” (5:16) and states that God dislikes any disturbance of peace: “God loves not aggressors” (2:190). Additionally, there has been a fatwa (or religious decree) speaking directly against terrorism and suicide bombings, stating they are unjust, evil and have no place in Islam. People who perpetuate violence in the name of Islam are no more true to their faith than Christians who blow up abortion clinics.

With so much misunderstanding in the world about Islam, I hope these simple facts serve to redress some common misconceptions.



Muslims around the world have turned to Twitter to campaign against ISIS and recent acts of violence the group has claimed responsibility for.

The hashtags #MessageToISIS and #NotInMyName have been used widely since ISIS claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Beirut and Paris.

The Active Change Foundation is promoting both hashtag campaigns to encourage young Muslims to add “their voices to the fight-back against ISIS”as quoted on the website.

“Islam teaches peace, respect and love. ISIS is hiding behind a false Islam. It’s nothing to do with what we stand for. Tell ISIS that they can’t murder in your name.”



SBS writes:

Muslim feminist Philistine Ayad told CNN she hoped the #NotInMyName campaign would help to remove Islamophia from Western societies.

“I want there to be an understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims and a sense of communal sympathy for the victims of terrorists, but not descending into Islamophobia,” she told CNN.

“If the #NotInMyName campaign can help expel some of that Islamophobia and expel some of my fear … then that would be wonderful.”

Ayad has also used art to demonstrate the burden terrorist acts placed on innocent Muslims.

“#NotInMyName means that we are taking that power back, to represent ourselves to what we truly are and that is peaceful people.”

Waleed Aly gave the speech Turnbull should have

The latest opinion poll results will make Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull very happy. According to the Fairfax Ipsos poll published on Monday, the Coalition leads Labor by 48 per cent to 29 on primary vote and Turnbull himself has a net approval lead over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of a whopping 81 points.

The Ipsos poll was taken, in part, over last weekend, after news broke of Friday’s dreadful night of terror in Paris. Fortuitously, Turnbull was in Berlin as the French capital endured one of its darkest nights. His response was correct and businesslike. He called on the French embassy in Berlin to express the horror and condolences of all Australians. He worked through the night, and the weekend, to ensure Australia’s national security response was sound, and sought to reassure Australians every possible precaution was being taken to protect us at home and abroad.

He then went to the G20 summit in Turkey, consulting with US president Barack Obama, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and other world leaders.

To his great credit, Turnbull also pointed out that the hideous atrocities in Paris have counterparts in Turkey, Lebanon and the suspected downing of a Russian jetliner over Egypt by the Islamic State terror group. He grasped that Paris was not just a huge attack on the West and its way of life, but part of a wave of terror reaching across the civilised world.

In other words, Turnbull followed meticulously the political leadership textbook. He responded, he reassured, he acted. He looked decisive and in charge, just as Abbott did in July last year when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian rebels. It’s what prime ministers do.


But tellingly, what needed most to be said in the aftermath of Paris came not from Turnbull or another politician, but from Muslim academic and presenter of Channel 10’s The Project, Waleed Aly. A left-wing political scientist and TV personality, Aly is not normally someone earning the praise of someone from the conservative right, but his Paris editorial on national television nailed it.

Quoting Islamic State’s own words against it, Aly made an impassioned plea for unity – indeed for community – and understanding over hate and fear. He said that IS wants to split the world into two camps, fomenting “a global war between Muslims and everyone else … They want countries like ours to reject their Muslims and vilify them.”

If you didn’t see it on Monday night, go online and watch, particularly Aly’s most telling points that speak to all of us:

ISIL leaders would be ecstatic to hear that Muslims have been reportedly threatened and attacked in England, America and here in Australia because this evil organisation has it in their heads that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims in France and England and America and here in Australia will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL. That was exactly their strategy in Iraq. And now they want it to go global. Saying that out loud, it is both dumbfounding in its stupidity and blood-curdling in its barbarity…

So if you’re a member of Parliament or a has-been member of Parliament (Pauline Hanson) preaching hate at a time when what we actually need is more love, you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. If you are a Muslim leader telling your community they have no place here, or a non-Muslim basically saying the same thing, you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. Or if you’re just someone with a Facebook or Twitter account firing off misguided missives of hate, you are helping ISIL. They have told us that. And I am pretty sure that right now none of us wants to help these bastards.

Whether you’re of the left or right, Christian or Muslim, how utterly correct Aly is.

Yet how good it would have been had words of such great heartfelt passion, power and insight had come from Turnbull, Shorten, Abbott or any of our elected leaders whose collective fear of saying the wrong thing at a time of great crisis means that they don’t say the right things at all. It should not have been left to a TV presenter, however expert and charismatic, to say what needed to be heard by all of us, challenging and dismissing intolerance and hatred born of fear.