Islam is misunderstood religion in America

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ask most Americans what image comes to mind when you think about Islam and invariably a turban wearing terrorist comes to mind. Are Americans suffering from Islamophobia (anti-Muslim)? The term refers to condemning negative emotions such as fear, hatred and dread directed at Islam or Muslims.

Like most Americans, as a Christian I was raised to believe that Jews are the chosen people. I was taught that criticizing Israel and Jews displeases God. In fact, it is a commonly held belief in this country that supports Israel — and, therefore the Jews generally — come substantially from Christian fundamentalists who believe that a militarily strong Israel is an essential part of God’s plan. This passionate belief, among some in our country, results in dismissing Arab/Muslim claims to what they believe is their ancestral property in Palestine, as being contrary to the will of God.

It is unfortunate that some Christians are so provincial in attempting to understand Islam that they fail to realize the major similarities shared by the two religions.  Both religions are monotheistic. But this is where the similarity ends. Converts to Islam believe and respect Jesus. Each time his name is mentioned by a Muslim, they must say “peace be unto him.” Muslims believe that he was not a son of God but a prophet like Moses, Abraham and Noah. Christians on the other hand, believe he was more than just a prophet. Christians believe in the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

Islam teaches pure monotheism. The most fundamental belief in Islam is the oneness of God, with no partner, which is in conflict with Christian belief in the Trinity. Islam rejects the doctrine of original sin.

In worshiping, Christians and Muslims have a little in common: they both show deference to God and praying. Christians bow down on their knees and Muslims prostrate themselves on the floor or ground in submission to God.

Muslims must recite prayers in the praise of Allah (God) five times daily while facing Mecca, the city where Allah revealed the Koran to Mohammed. Prayer is performed at prescribed hours and in a definite pattern of words and posture.

In worship, women and men are separated in order to prevent distractions from prayer. In the Islamic religion, fasting is a form of worship. It is mandatory for Muslim to fast for a whole month in a year (called Ramadan). Christians believe that Jesus fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). Concerning Jesus death, Muslims deny his crucifixion. Christians, however, not only believe in the crucifixion, but also believe that Jesus died for man’s sins.

Do Muslims believe in a heaven and hell? Absolutely. It is their belief that non-believers will go to hell and will drink boiling water.

America’s war against terrorism is genuine, but it must not escalate into an ultimate collision between Islam and Christianity.

Dr. Glenn Dowell is an author and columnist who currently lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. He has been a guest speaker on major college campuses, including having appeared on TV programs such as the Oprah Winfrey Show. He may be reached at