This question is marked "community wiki".

What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the common perceptions about Islam that are present in modern western society, especially America?

There is a variety of religions represented here, Islam of course being one of them. Some of our most well known and respected members are Muslim. Being raised Christian myself, and becoming a non-associated student of all religions, it's difficult for me to understand what it would be like from the other side of the aisle.

For example, there is a very strong prejudice accusing Islam of having very large amounts of extremism, sexism, and other derogatory associations.

As an aside: Whenever I tell Christians that the three major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are extremely similar, not only do they take offense to that fact, they deny it. Most of them don't know that Jesus is in the Qu'ran as well. Do Muslims take similar offense when compared to / associated with Christians?

(Of course while this question is specifically directed at one group of people, I do encourage anyone else who feels they have input they want to share on this topic to chime in.)

asked 25 Oct '12, 08:35

Snow's gravatar image


edited 25 Oct '12, 09:02

Barry%20Allen's gravatar image

Barry Allen ♦♦

Having a Muslim background, I'm guessing I'm one of those "members" you are hinting at in your question. However, I'm not personally religious in any conscious way, and never have been, so I'm probably not qualified to answer :)

But I will say that I have noticed however a distinction between people who are religious and people who are spiritual.

While there are obviously overlaps between the two categories (and many people are both), I have noticed that generally...

  • those who are more religious than spiritual proclaim their way is the only way and will often try all sorts of subtle - and not so subtle :) - ways to "convert" you to think their way
  • those who are more spiritual than religious tend to proclaim any way as being the right way if it brings you inner harmony, and often encourage you to find your own unique way

Just my general observation. No offense intended to anyone :)


answered 25 Oct '12, 11:39

Stingray's gravatar image


Indeed, you were. However I didn't want to explicitly be naming anyone just in case they didn't feel comfortable with the topic or providing an answer. ;)

And I still find it funny when you continue to make comments like your second sentence. You're welcome to continue doing so, but be aware you're not fooling anyone. ^_^

(25 Oct '12, 19:59) Snow

also coming from a muslim background i would agree. besides imo "the negative common perceptions" about muslims in the western world come from religious (christian) people."the common negative perceptions" about christians in the eastern world come from religious people also (muslims). so both groups are very similar in their vibrations.

(26 Oct '12, 02:37) releaser99

Buddha (I think) once stated, "there are as many ways into heaven for one person as there are as many people on the earth."

(28 Oct '12, 04:16) Nikulas
showing 2 of 3 show 1 more comments

Whenever you try to define or describe any group of humans (or entities, for that matter) as a whole, you end up creating simplifications which are really not an accurate reflection of reality--the reality being that the "group" is an incredibly diverse assortment of individuals and characters.

So, for instance, you could look at some of the violent situations in the Middle East and make the statement that Muslims are "violent," etc., or some other negative descriptor. (You could also make the same statement, of course, about the Christians, Jews, Druzes, Zoarastrians, and other religious "groups" inhabiting the region).

But what is the reality? The reality is, that there is a precise number of individuals in the Middle East who are engaged in violence--a mix of all those religions. Of course it would be impossible to determine this number. Also, you could conversely come up with a precise number of individuals who were peacable and non-violent.

So anytime you try to make some sort of overall statement, such as "this group of people is like that..." you are really stating a falsehood. No single description could ever apply to a whole group of people.

Some good friends of mine just came back from their wedding anniversary, celebrated in Morocco. All they did was rave about how nice the people were there. One old man they met in a market kept pointing to my friend (an American non-strict Christian) and saying "My God, your God. Our Gods the same." The only negative experience they had there was with a group of Western tourists who were loud and obnoxious.

We see this a lot today, applied to race and political groups. People who belong to "this party" are idiots...yahoos...traitors...patriots. And yet we know, of course, that there are bad apples in every so-called "good" well as "exceptions" even within the groups that we dislike. If there are always exceptions, then why try to "describe" or pigeonhole the group at all? It usually just ends up misleading one in the end.

How does this apply to "religious people", or "Christians"? It is true, religion has been used as an excuse and motivation to butcher and oppress millions throughout history.

But for a lot of people, it was the only thing they could latch onto that gave their life meaning, that could get them through the day. I have some ancestors from Puritan Massachusetts--not exactly seen today as a good model for religion, spirituality, and tolerance. But I have read accounts of how my ancestor lost seven of his eight children during his own war, sickness, accidents. I wonder how he lived to be an old man without doing himself in. To experience so much loss. I feel pretty strongly that his religion, and belief in a non-physical reality, got him through it. He didn't have knowledge of LOA and all the wonderful stuff we have access to now. He probably just had a bible, and some rickety, local, one-room church. So I don't begrudge him his religion for a second.

I think there have been a lot of important contributions to spiritual literature and traditions from people we would now dub "religious." St. Augustine. Ehei Dogen. Yogananda. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. Meister Eckhart. Brother Lawrence. Ibn Arabi.

Today you can still see maniacs killing each other over religion. You can also walk into a village country church and see a lot of nice old people who are just connecting to Source in the only way they know how, or are able to believe in.

So getting back to your question,

What are your thoughts and feelings regarding the common perceptions about Islam that are present in modern western society, especially America?

I don't think much of them, and feel pretty certain that, based on the way reality works, any "common perceptions" of any "group" are bound to be simplistic, skewed, ignoring the exceptions and nuances, and hence false.


answered 26 Oct '12, 18:39

lozenge123's gravatar image


edited 26 Oct '12, 18:49

@lozenge123 - Agreed, well said. To label is to limit.

(27 Oct '12, 05:27) Stingray

@lozenge123 - Yes, beautifully said. This is a very well thought out answer. I have come to the same conclusions about the scenarios you mentioned, but you have expressed it better than the way this rattles around in my head. Thank you.

(27 Oct '12, 06:39) Grace

@lozenge123- You articulated this so truthfully and thoughtfully, I'm sure this is going to benefit the world and reveal so many limiting perceptions of certain religious 'groups'- hahaha, if I'm supporting you're argument that last statement sounds hypocritical.

(28 Oct '12, 04:18) Nikulas

@Stingray, @Grace, @Nikulas - Thanks, guys!

(28 Oct '12, 18:02) lozenge123
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

The 3 main religions were 'invented' by the very same group - TPTB. They were designed for one particular reason - to instill fear, shame and guilt (the "sinner" crap), but above all, they were designed to divide and conquer. Their plan has worked marvelously!! There are some 34,000 separate "Christian" religions which can be identified in the world. They can't even get along with one another let alone get along with the Islamic or Judaic groups. Throughout history religion has been used as an excuse, or driving force, for some of the worst atrocities imaginable. From pre-history to modern history, religion is, for many people, just an excuse to kill other people. These 3 main religions are based on the "God of Abraham." Maybe it's time to stop and reflect on this common denominator. We've been tricked and deceived in every other aspect of our lives. What makes anyone think the same doesn't hold true for religion?


answered 26 Oct '12, 11:12

crosby's gravatar image


On the day you asked this question(Friday) .It was Eid-al Adha Which in short is a day where Muslims celebrate a biblical event...
As an American Expatriate and working with refugees from a Muslim country helps me see both sides of the question. As Lozenge said

any "common perceptions" of any "group" are bound to be simplistic, skewed, ignoring the exceptions and nuances, and hence false.

A portion of Americans are led by their media views and the information/propaganda provided to them from that, and the same can be said of many places .America needs enemies to justify military spending.
to be continued...


answered 28 Oct '12, 02:45

ursixx's gravatar image


Unfortunately there are extremists in any group who get public attention. They are a very small percentage of the group. These extremists usually proclaim that they are representing their religion. I have Muslim friends, both in the USA and abroad, who are some of the finest and most loving people I have ever known. They abhor the violence of extremist Muslims.

I was raised as a Christian. My father followed the Christian way, but he was not an evangelist. He did not, ever, suggest to others that Christianity was the ONLY way. Just as my Muslim friends do not push to get me to join them at a Mosque.

As @Stingray so elegantly put it,

  • those who are more religious than spiritual proclaim their way is the only way and will often try all sorts of subtle - and not so subtle :) - ways to "convert" you to think their way.

  • those who are more spiritual than religious tend to proclaim any way as being the right way if it brings you inner harmony, and often encourage you to find your own unique way*

I see a great deal of beauty in Islam. Poetry, music, brotherhood.

Life is a huge buffet. Take what you want and pass over the things that do not appeal to you, but this is a very personal outlook. Take what YOU like. What YOU want. We are not here to tell others what they must do!

I am a landlord for eight churches. I see two distinct varieties of pastors. Some recognize their roles as being in Sales (I like these), yet others see themselves as Management.

  1. The Holy Spirit moved in my congregation yesterday and xx people were saved. (Sales)
  2. I saved xx people in my services yesterday! (Management)

But the bottom line is how we see ourselves. This so hugely influences how we see others. There are more people in my world who are loving, spiritual people than there are extremists.

A farmer man was sitting on his porch on a main road leading into town. A car stopped and the driver asked him, "I am planning to move, what are the people like in this town?" The farmer asked him, "What are the people like in the town you came from?"

The driver responded, "They are the most horrible, evil, hateful people I have ever known! " The farmer replied, "They are exactly like that here! Probably best if you keep looking."

Another car stopped, the driver asked, "I am planning to move, what are the people like in this town?", the farmer asked again, "What are the people like where you came from?" This driver replied, "They are the most loving, delightful people I have ever known."

The farmer replied, "They are exactly like that here! Why don't you plan to stay here a while?"


answered 28 Oct '12, 07:39

Dollar%20Bill's gravatar image

Dollar Bill

edited 28 Oct '12, 18:04

Barry%20Allen's gravatar image

Barry Allen ♦♦

well i know all this but the weird thing is that even if they say they believe in God,none of them respect the commendement and they all do as they please and just like the pharises they use scripture to prove what they say is true,but they do not want to see the other scripture that say that what they are doing is not true, they prefer to be hypocrites. 1: love God with all your soul(mind/heart).,worship him in spirit and truth. 2: love your neigbor as your self. 3: do not judge or you will be judge to the same mesure. 4: if you live by the sword you will die by the sword. 5:"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 6:who is with out sin to cast the first stone? 7:be perfect has your holy father is perfect. read the beatitudes if you do not yet understand how the inside of the cup must be. why do you wash the outisde of the cup do you not know that the one that did the outside is the same one that did the inside?


answered 26 Oct '12, 20:21

white%20tiger's gravatar image

white tiger

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