5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam
A conservative commentator recently made headlines by claiming 10 percent of all of the world's Muslims are terrorists. An amazing claim, considering that equals 150 million terrorists and if each were to pull off an attack killing just 40 people, they could exterminate all non-Muslim life on earth.
Either they're not all that dedicated to terrorism, or the claim is utter insanity.
Well, if there's one thing everyone thinks of when they hear "Cracked.com" it's "friend of Islam." Which is why we feel compelled to clarify a few misconceptions for our readers. Also, there is no way this article will ever come back to haunt us in any way.
If You're a Muslim Woman, You Have to Wear the Veil
For millions of people in the West, when you say "Islam," the first mental image that pops into mind is this:
A two-person Scotch-garded version would sell like hotcakes.
A woman covered head to toe in a burqa. The truth is, if you could suddenly gather all of the Muslim women on the planet into one giant room and had to throw a football to someone wearing a burqa, it'd be next to impossible to complete that pass.
But the whole hide-them-under-a-veil thing must be pretty big among Muslim communities, otherwise Europe wouldn't be all in in a dither over the things, pushing for bans and whatnot. Right?
Look at them there, plotting new ways to drive super-slow in the HOV lane.
After all, we all know that Islam hates women -- the fact that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that actually prohibits women from driving, or that only predominantly Muslim countries still use death by stoning as a punishment for adultery, proves it, right?
Thinking that all Muslim women have to dress like this...
...is like thinking that all Christian women have to dress like this:
That photo is from one of several small Christian sects that require women to dress like it's Little House on the Prairie.
So for instance, in France they have about 3 million Muslim women. French police decided to figure out how many of them wore burqas and/or niqabs and found the number to be ... 367.
Then again, these were French police.
Not 367,000, but 367, a number so small that from a statistical point of view, it's barely enough to register as a margin of error. As for the rest of Europe, the numbers are even more disastrous for the burqa business (for instance, Belgium has 500,000 Muslims, a couple dozen wear the burqa).
Yes, there are Middle Eastern countries where the veils are required by law (namely Iran and Saudi Arabia) and combined those countries have less than 5 percent of the world's Muslims. There are actually more Muslim countries that outright ban the wearing of the veils than there are that require them. They can do that because wearing a veil is not required in Islam but is more of a custom, depending on where you live and who's in charge.
Much like hot pants.
Hey, speaking of which, try this number on for size: Of the five most populous Muslim-majority nations, four of them have elected female heads of state.
So there's a fantastic chance that in 2012, Sarah Palin will be campaigning for an achievement that Muslim ladies have already accomplished.
We bet Megawati Sukarnoputri knows the United States doesn't have a Department of Law.
Our Founding Fathers Would Never Have Tolerated This Muslim Nonsense!
It's easy to stand on a soapbox and publicly bluster about what you think the Founding Fathers would think about the godless, multicultural United States today. After all, these were Christian, God-fearing men, damn it. They certainly wouldn't put up with all this tolerance for these terrorist religions.
Thomas Jefferson, moments before leaping into the air on a giant eagle and drop-kicking Saladin.
It's a good thing some Americans are standing up for good old-fashioned American values and passing laws to prohibit Islamic law from taking over the U.S., because that's totally around the corner! Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson is smiling in his grave!
Even if they were staunch Christians (or deists, whatever), plenty of the Founding Fathers had a healthy admiration for the Muslim faith. Thomas Jefferson, for example, taught himself Arabic using his own copy of the Quran and hosted the first White House Iftar during Ramadan.
Jefferson believed in celebrating the deliciousness of all world religions.
John Adams hailed the Islamic prophet Muhammad as one of the great "inquirers after truth." Benjamin Rush, who was so Christian he wanted a Bible in every school, also said he would rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammad "inculcated upon our youth" than see them grow deprived "of a system of religious principles." Benjamin Franklin once declared: "Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service." Even George fucking Washington personally welcomed Muslims to come work for him at Mount Vernon.
So, why all this Founding Father/Muslim love? Probably because Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah of Morocco was the first world figure to recognize the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain in 1777. Another reason was that the Founding Fathers were smart enough to distinguish between terrorists and everybody else on the whole damn planet, as demonstrated in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797. It was in this agreement that the U.S. declared: "The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Mussulmen ."
Another possible translation.
"Muslim" Equals "Arab"
Remember that crazy lady with the Einstein hair who asked John McCain if Barack Obama was an Arab? No? Well, let us refresh your memory:
The instant John McCain realized that he would never, ever be president.
We're willing to bet there's more than a 20 percent chance this woman meant to say "Muslim" but accidentally said "Arab" because same thing, right? And even if you're not in the tea party camp, where you're convinced "Arab" and "Muslim" are interchangeable, you've probably operated under a similar assumption: that non-Jewish Middle Eastern people are Muslim and that most Muslims live in the Middle East.
Only about 20 percent of the entire world's Muslim population is Arab or North African. For comparison, about 22 percent of the global Christian population is African, yet when somebody says "Christian," you don't immediately picture a dude from Africa. Equating "Muslim" with "Arab" makes just as much sense.
That'd be like associating "Kansas" with "hate-filled douchebags".
While we in the West have been conditioned to associate Islam with the Middle East, a whopping 61.9 percent of all Muslims -- aka a supermajority -- don't live in the Middle East at all; most Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region. Indonesia alone is home to more than 200 million Muslims, and the Indian subcontinent has roughly a half-billion Muslims.
It works the other way, too. For example, if you think being Arab guarantees you being Muslim these days, well, we are sorry to disappoint. As much as 10 percent of the world's Arab population is Christian (that's more than 14 million people). That means there are 1 million more Arab Christians than, oh, we don't know ... the world's entire Jewish population..
Western Cultures Are Far More Humane Than the Bloodthirsty Muslims
Even before the whole terrorism thing, Islam had a reputation in the West for violence. Part of it has to do with how abruptly Islam was all up in everyone's face. For instance, while Hinduism took about 1,000 years to spread through India, and Christianity took about 400 years to go from persecuted cult to the state religion of the Roman Empire, Islam went from one guy's epiphany to the dominant political and religious force in the Middle East and North Africa in about 100 years.
So a lot of people have reached the conclusion that the religion spread like holy wildfire for one reason: the sword. The next logical leap from this viewpoint is that as a people, Muslims must be violent and barbaric conquerors. Even before 9/11, you saw this portrayal in popular culture all the time:
Muhammad laid out some pretty progressive rules of warfare, and medieval Muslims out-niced the Christians in battle by a landslide. Especially since Muhammad personally issued "a distinct code of conduct among Islamic warriors" that included:
- No killing of women, children or innocents -- these might include hermits, monks or other religious leaders who were deemed noncombatants;
- No wanton killing of livestock or other animals;
- No burning or destruction of trees and orchards; and
- No destruction of wells.
And no kicking with cleats on, Jeremy.
In short, Muhammad wanted his armies to fight like freaking hippies. During the fucking Dark Ages. And they did.
But the biggest territorial gains were made after Muhammad's death, right? Maybe that was when Islam earned its bloodthirsty reputation? Not exactly. His successor codified the existing rules and made them the standard for his army. Which probably explains why the Muslim army conquering Europe "exhibited a degree of toleration which puts many Christian nations to shame," in the words of one expert.
Plus, they built all sorts of nifty buildings.
So while Christian crusaders were beheading enemies and tossing their heads like oversized hacky sacks, their Muslim counterparts had a whole honor code that led them to feed the armies of their defeated enemies.
Islam Is Stuck in the Dark Ages
There are really three big negative stereotypes about Islam -- that it hates women, that it's violent and that it hates any kind of scientific progress. We've covered the first two already, but how can you argue against the third? Their governments are based on ancient religious texts! And what diseases has Iran cured?
You guys could at least take out herpes or something.
In the same way that not all Christians are Young Earth Creationists, plenty of modern Muslims see room for interpretation in the Quran. In fact, 45 percent of American Muslims in one poll said they see evolution as "the best explanation for the origin of human life on Earth," which isn't so shabby, considering only 24 percent of evangelical Christians believed the same. The percentage of Muslims embracing the scientific explanation for the origin of life was about the same as Americans as a whole (48 percent).
If they only knew how to communicate their views like we do ...
And historically, they have a hell of a track record. Science and math as we know it wouldn't even exist without Islam. The Islamic Golden Age caused a revolution in virtually every field of human thought, during which they fucking invented algebra -- and advanced everything from geography and exploration to the arts, architecture, philosophy, urban development, medicine and health.
The Muslims actually came pretty damn close to sharing all this brilliance with the truly ass-backward kingdoms of Christian Europe, since the Islamic caliphates blanketed every country they conquered with schools, libraries, public works and the most comprehensive system of social welfare on the planet. In fact, the case has been made that if the caliphates succeeded in conquering all of Europe an Italian Renaissance would have been unnecessary.
It would have saved us all a lot of dong-staring, too.
So, there's that.
All right. Now we look forward to a completely civil and logical group of article comments.
For an astute analysis of all the arguments you're about to read in the comment section, check out 10 Things Christians and Atheists Can (And Must) Agree On.
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