the lecture delivered by Dr. Zakir Naik of Bombay, India, on "The
misconceptions about Islam", on Friday, November 26, 1999 at the Rakkah
Stadium, Dammam, under the aegis of the Islamic Dawah and Guidance Center,
The meeting was coordinated by Mr. Ahmed Nooruddin of New York.
Dear brothers and sisters, As-salaam-u-alaikum-wa-rahmatullah-wa-barkat-hu.
May peace be with you and may God's mercy and blessings be on you.
It is my honor to be here for the third time in three years.
The topic of my lecture today is "Misconceptions about Islam". It is the
duty of every Muslim to help remove some of the misconceptions non-Muslims
have about Islam. By engaging in a dialogue with the non-Muslims, you will
help lessen the level of anti-Muslim feelings in their hearts. These
misconceptions prevent non-Muslims from seeing the beauty of Islam.
Some of the methods of conveying the message of Islam are effective and
are ineffective. The best way to start a dialogue is to first ask them:
"What is it that you do not like about Islam". This opening makes them
comfortable to talk to you. Also, it gives you a good chance to know what
they have to say about Islam in their own words.
I have found from my lecture tours around the world that these
misconceptions hinge around only 20 issues, by and large. I will try to
cover as many of them today in the one hour I have to deliver my talk. I
will also suggest ways you may tackle them.
There may be one or two issues that may be unique to Singapore, or
Canada, etc, but essentially the various issues can be grouped into only
twenty. These issues change from time to time. What I will be listing are
issues that non-Muslims of today bring up. Twenty years ago, these were
the issues... there were other issues. Similarly, twenty years from now,
there will be different issues that will come up.
So if you master the answers to these typical questions about today's
misconceptions about Islam, you can help remove most of them from the
and minds of your non-Muslim friends. However, most lay non-Muslims have
only about four or five issues they dislike about Islam; so it is not
difficult for you to remove this animosity they have against Islam.
Misconception # 1: It is not civilized to have more than one wife at a
Reply: The only religious book that says: "... then marry only once" is the
Quran, the holy book of the Muslims. This injunction is not found in the
Christian Bible in the Hindu Geeta, or in the Jewish holy book etc. In
Bible there are so many references to various prophets and kings who had
numerous wives. Abraham had three wives, while King Solomon had seven
hundred wives, etc. In the Hindu literature the various gods have hundreds
of wives. Krishna had one thousand women and concubines. Similarly, the
Jews used to marry more than once, till as late as the 1950s. None of
faiths regulated the number of wives a man could have at a time. Only
limits the wives to four.
The monogamy that the Christians, the Hindus, and Jews practice today, is
not from their religion, but from their government. So the issue of
monogamy has no religious significance; it is a man-made rule. Monogamy
the result of an act of parliament, not their faith. Example: The Indian
Parliament in 1954 passed the Hindu Marriage Act prohibiting the Hindu male
from taking up more than one wife. The Jewish Rabbis in the 10th Century
made monogamy a rule, although it was not enforced till as late as the
1950s. Similarly, the European countries and the American government
laws to make monogamy the rule in their lands some time ago. Mormons still
marry more than once.
In Surah Nissah God allows a Muslim to marry, one, two, three or four women
as long as he can do justice between them. If the man can't do justice,
exhortation for him is: "... then marry only once".
Marrying more than once is not compulsory, but only an option to tide over
unique circumstances that societies face from time to time. You will find
in many societies today that the ratio between females and males is not
50:50. There are more females than males in Europe, USA and elsewhere. On
the other hand, in India, because of the rampant female fetus abortions,
number of females is dropping, and a crisis is in the making, as not enough
number of females will be available for Hindu men to marry a few years from
The option for women in countries with a bigger female ratio than male is
share a husband with another women, to remain single, or to become public
property. "Become public property" is a decent phrase I'm using for what
really means. Ask any woman who cannot find an unmarried man to marry, if
it is a better choice to share a husband with another woman, to remain
single, or to become a mere mistress. As a lawfully wedded wife she will
get the same right as the first wife, get legal status for herself and her
children, get inheritance rights for herself and her children, and most
importantly, get respect and dignity. Becoming a mistress is no choice.
the West becoming a mistress or a girlfriend is no problem, but becoming a
second wife is totally unacceptable. The government will come after you,
the society will come after you...
Misconception # 2: There is no equality between genders in Islam, as Islam
gives men the right to have more than one wife, but does it not give the
same right to women to have more than one husband.
Reply: Islam does not approve of polyandry, i.e., a woman taking up more
than one husband. It is the male whose children the women bear. If a
had multiple husbands, it would not be easy to know who is the biological
father of the child. When a child is conceived, God puts love and
in the hearts of the parents so that they can bring up the child. Without
this love, life cannot be sustained. But if there was dispute about who
really has fathered the child, there would be no love in the heart of the
fathers. Psychologists say that children who grow up without knowing who
their father is, are lacking in stability and maturity. These days because
of scientific progress in DNA testing, one can say who the father is; but
these tests were not available for mankind till now. Islam has
provided for peace and stability in the family, not discord.
Misconception # 3: Islam subjugates women in a veil.
Reply: If you look at history, to ancient civilizations, you will find that
women were the oppressed people. They had no individual merit. The
Babylonians used to punish the woman for her husband's mistakes. The
ancient Egyptians did the same. Ancient Arabs buried their newly born
It was Islam that uplifted the status of women. It gave women rights they
never had before. Surah Nissah exhorts believing men to lower their gaze
a lady is passing by. Similarly, there are exhortations for women to lower
their gaze if strange men are around. The Quran also speaks about the
for men and women to protect the modesty. The hijab for men is to cover
their bodies minimally from their navel to the knees. The hijab for women
is to cover their whole bodies except for their faces and hands below their
wrists. There are descriptions for a female hijab, that it should cover
endowments including head, not be tight, not be transparent, not be like
clothes of non-believers, and not be like the clothes of the other gender,
etc. Women got the right to own, inherit property, and to dispose it of at
Let me ask you a question: Suppose two identical twin sisters are walking
down a street, and one of them is dressed in revealing clothing, while the
other one is wearing a hijab. Who will be boys in the street whistle at or
tease: the one who is scantily dressed in a mini-skirt, or the one who is
modestly attired? The answer is obvious. The hijab is designed to prevent
women from being molested. It brings peace to society and prevents
Misconception # 4: Capital punishment is barbaric.
Reply: There are crimes for which Islam prescribes capital punishment,
for rape, murder etc. This is to protect society from criminals and
anti-social elements. In USA there are 2713 rapes taking place every day.
In Islam, the penalty is to award the death penalty so that the criminal is
not around to repeat this crime, and to teach others a lesson. Americans
say that this is a severe punishment. They say that the rapist must be put
in jail for the first rape. If after his release he rapes again, then it
ok to put him to death. Friends, statistics in USA show that 95 percent of
the rapists, after release from jail, rape again. Islam prevents this
second rape. Following the Hijab dress code prevents the rapist from
temptation to rape.
Misconception # 5: Islam was spread by the sword.
Reply: Nothing is far from the truth. It was the Islamic traders who
as excellent role models in the spread of Islam. In the book: "Islam at
crossroads", the author, on page 8, says that this belief is a myth. Look
at the number of Coptic Christians in Egypt. They number 14 million.
Couldn't the Arabs have wiped them out or forcefully converted them to
Islam? Look at India. In the 1,0000 years that the Muslims ruled over
subcontinent, every one could have been forcefully converted to Islam. How
can you explain that there are 800 million Hindus and others still in
Which Muslim army went to Indonesia and Malaysia to convert them? These
people converted by seeing the good behaviors of the Muslim/Arab traders.
Readers' Digest says that between 1944 and 1984, a period of 50 years, saw
more conversion to Islam in Europe and USA than to any faith. I am asking
you, who went with a sword to convert these people to Islam? It is the
sword of the intellect that converts people.
Misconception # 6: Muslims are fundamentalists.
Reply: What is the definition of the word fundamentalist? The dictionary
says anyone who understands the basics of a discipline is a fundamentalist.
Can you call yourself a mathematician if you can't understand the
fundamentals of mathematics? No! Similarly, to be called a scientist, you
must understand the fundamentals of science. There can be a positive
fundamentalist and a negative fundamentalist. A thief/robber who is an
expert at the fundamentals of robbing is bad; but a doctor who knows the
fundamentals of healing is good. I submit that no fundamentals of Islam
against humanity. How can you be a good Muslim if you do not understand
fundamentals of Islam? How can you practice Islam? According to the
Webster's dictionary, the word fundamentalist was first used on Christians;
however, the new Oxford dictionary lists Muslims as fundamentalists.
Every Muslim should understand the fundamentals of Islam, and should be a
fundamentalist. I am proud to call myself a 'Muslim Fundamentalist'. I
submit that every Muslim should be a terrorist. Just as the policeman
strikes terror in the heart of the thief, so should every Muslim strike
terror in the heart of the thief, the rapist and other anti-social
The word fundamentalist is open to wide interpretation, just like the word
freedom fighter. In olden days, the British would label those Indians
fighting for India's freedom as terrorists; while for the Indians, these
were freedom fighters.
Misconception # 7: Muslims are ruthless non-vegetarian people.
Reply: God has granted Muslims the choice to be vegetarians as well as
non-vegetarians. He has ordained in the holy book that everything that he
has created in this world is for the enjoyment/pleasure of man (with
restrictions and limits). It is ok for a Muslim to be a vegetarian by
choice; it is also ok for him to be a non-vegetarian by choice.
Science tells us that animal flesh is a complete protein food. It is
to digest than the vegetarian food. If you look at the teeth of
animals like a tiger or a lion they are sharp and pointed, designed to tear
flesh. The tiger and lion can eat only flesh; they cannot digest leaves
grass. On the other hand, the teeth of herbivorous animals like the cow
camel are flat. Designed to chew grass and leaves. These herbivorous
animals can't digest flesh. But if you examine the teeth of human beings,
they are both canine i.e. sharp and pointed, as well as flat. Therefore
human beings can chew both vegetarian foods as well as non-vegetarian
Humans can digest plant foods as well as flesh. This ability to enjoy and
digest both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food is a gift of God to
Hindu scriptures permit the eating of flesh. In fact, their books are
replete with incidents showing festivals and ceremonies where meat was
served. When Jainism and Buddhism started to become popular with their
philosophies of ahimsa, i.e., non-violence towards animals, and started to
win converts from Hindus, the Hindus priests adapted the same philosophy of
ahimsa to win back those who had left the Hindu fold. This is how Hinduism
changed over to vegetarianism.
If no one eats meat the number of cattle will be uncontrollable. It will
a big problem about how to dispose of them.
Misconception # 8: Muslims eat animals and behave like animals.
Reply: There is a saying that you are what you eat. Muslims eat only
herbivorous animals (animals that eat only plants, grass, leaves etc).
animals are peaceful animals, like goat, lamb etc. Therefore, we are
peaceful people. Muslims are prevented from eating carnivorous animals,
i.e. animals that eat other animals. The holy prophet has prohibited us
from eating snakes, lizards, cats, dogs, birds of prey etc.
Some non-Muslims say that allowing slaughtered animals to bleed to death is
torturing the animals. It is better to behead them in one quick shot on
neck. Some Muslims' response to this is that the non-Muslims attach the
animals from behind, like cowards; while Muslims confront the animal in a
manly manner, face-to-face, from the front. Of course this is not a good
reason; it is only a joke.
Scientific tests have proven that when the animal's throat is slit along
with the windpipe and the vein (without damage to the spinal cord), the
animal dies a painless death. The animal twitches its legs, it is not
because of pain but because the heart has pumped out all the blood from the
legs. It is this twitching of the lags, this thrashing about of the dying
animal that leads the non-Muslim to believe that the animal is in pain.
Blood carries toxins and impurities that are harmful for humans. Islam
prohibits the eating/drinking of blood. Meat without blood lasts longer
than meat with blood in it.
Misconception # 9: Going around the Kabah is idol worship.
Reply: No religion is more vocal in condemning idol worship than Islam.
Muslims do not worship Kabah, only God, or Allah. While circumambulating
the Kabah they chant: La Illa Ha Ill-lal-lah. (There is no object worthy
worship but Allah).
The Kabah is for unifying Muslims at prayer. It would be chaotic if
prayed in any direction they chose. The Kabah provides a chance to unify
prayer as all Muslims face one spot, the Kabah. Throughout the globe
from various countries face North, South, East and West only to face the
Kabah. When the Arabs drew the map of the globe, they put Makkah in the
center; but when the Western people gained power, they put Greenwich in the
center. But if you look at the map, Makkah continues to be in the center
the globe even today. Alhamdulillah!
Some accuse Muslims to be idol worshippers because they kiss the black rock
at Kabah. This they do only because they saw the prophet do it. The black
stone has no power to benefit or harm you. In olden times, the call to
prayer was given by standing on the top of Kabah. If Muslims were idol
worshippers, would they stand on top of their 'idol' and call people to
pray. Does a Hindu or a Christian stand on top of their idols and call
others to join in the worship?
Misconception # 10: Muslims are wrong in preventing non-Muslims from
Reply: Allah has prohibited this. Makkah is not a place of tourism, but a
place of reverence and worship. A non-Muslim has no reverence for Makkah,
and therefore should not be there as a mere spectator.
Although I am an Indian, I can't go to the cantonment area in Bombay where
the military is based. I need a special permit. Similarly, all countries
have their own rules to allow visitors in. Applicants must meet certain
conditions insisted on by the host country. I had to meet the conditions
the US Government to visit USA. Similarly, there are conditions to visit
Makkah. The condition is: You must recite from your heart "La
illa-ha-ill-lal-lah, Mohammed-ur rasul Allah" (I bear witness that there is
no object worthy of worship except Allah, and that Mohammed is the
Misconception # 11: Muslims wrongly don't eat pork
Reply: God has prohibited pork. There are several references even in the
Bible where swine meat is prohibited. Science has associated 70 diseases
with swine meat, the most dangerous being tapeworm, for which there is no
cure. It causes irreparable damage to the insides of human beings. Even
a pig has been raised on a farm and its flesh is cooked very well at high
temperatures, certain germs never die. The pig is a filthy animal; it eats
human excreta. It has to protective instinct for its female. It is a
shameless animal. Therefore people who eat its flesh, have no shame if
their females mate with other men.