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Ignorance of Islam in the Society

Among the problems which Islamic thought faces in our present time is that the people, in Europe, America, and other non-Islamic countries, are ignorant of Islam and have no correct knowledge of the simplest principles of Islam. In other words, they have a distorted picture of Islam. They think that Islam is based on fable, terrorism, bloodshed, and tribalism. They do not know that such ideas have been created by the enemies of Islam, such as orientalists, Zionists, and church foundations.

Thus, Western man knows nothing about Islam except distorted pictures. If Western man understands the essence of Islam, surely he will embrace it through rationale.

To understand this problem more clearly, let us return to the speech addressed by German President, Roman Hotsogh, on the occasion of honoring Mrs. Ana Mary Shmil, a German orientalist, who received a peace prize from the German Book Association in 10/1/1995.

Some people opposed giving a peace prize to Mrs. Shmil, for she supports the Islamic thought, treats it justly, and summons people to understand Islam and to change the distorted picture which the European ministers made about Islam and Muslims.

In response to those who opposed giving a peace prize to Mrs. Shmil, the German president said: "There is a phenomenon that seems clear in our relations and dealings with Islam in our present time. We do not accuse falsely of the German public opinion when we say that many of us think that Islam is the religion of inhumane penal law, non-tolerance, oppression against woman, and aggressive roots. However, this is narrow-mindedness which we must change. In turn, we must remember the wave of enlightenment that maintained great parts of the western inheritance six or seven centuries ago, and that it found itself before a style of western thought. Without doubt, it was radical and non-tolerant." 11

In another part of his speech, the German president indicated that the Europeans showed enmity toward Islam, for they had no knowledge of it. Thus, in his speech, he asked them: "Isn't it possible that we do not understand Islam because it depends on deep popular faith, while we are in a secular society?

"Have we the right to classify the pious Muslims with the radical terrorists because we have no sound feeling towards the mockery at the religious feelings of others or because we are unable to express this sound feeling?" 12

Then, the German president admitted that he had no knowledge of Islam until he read the books of Mrs. Shmil. In this regared, he said: "I did not know the numerous Islamic trends in the history of Islam except through the books of Ana Mary Shmil. Perhaps, other than I witnessed the same experience. Indeed we are in need of understanding each other." 13

Then, the German president summoned (people) to understand Islam to adopt another attitude towards it. Thus, he said: "I confess that there is no other option before us except that we must increase our knowledge of the Islamic world. That is if we want to achieve human rights and freedom." 14

Then he added: "Indeed, the real reason for longing for understanding Islam and its rich civilization arises from our belonging to a civilization differing from it. Mrs. Shmil has moved this longing in my soul. I hope that others than me do the same." 15

"Mrs. Shmil has paved the way for us to meet Islam." 16

The battle of granting a peace prize to the orientalist Shmil in Germany in 1995, the agreement of the learned political public opinion in Germany, which is among the most important countries in modern history, and the victory of the front of Shmil, which means the victory of the trend that summons (people) to understand true Islam and to adopt an attitude towards it, among this advanced class of thinkers and politicians, among the foremost being is the German president, whose important speech we have read, all these denote that Muslim writers, thinkers, artists, and scholars think men should shoulder their responsibility towards Islam. Besides, religious foundations and clergy men should shoulder their responsibility towards it. They should spread the true Islam that moves intellect, heart, and conscience. They should follow the method of the Qur'an when they summon people to believe in Allah, the Glorified: "And call you unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation and dispute with them in the manner which is the best;..." Holy Qur'an (Nahil 16:125)

That civilizational battle, which took place in Germany and ended for those who summoned people to understand Islam, shows us that Islam is great and that man is ready to understand it, regardless of his faith. This battle is clearly shown in the Qur'an: "Go you unto Pharaoh, verily he has transgressed (the bounds). Then speak you both unto him a gentle word, happly he may get admonished or fear (Our punishment)."

Holy Qur'an (Taha 20: 43-44)

From this we understand that the Qur'an summons the propagators of Islam to hold true faith and communicate it to those who have intense enmity towards Islam. Meanwhile, it summons them to leave despair and to open a door to hold intellectual talks. That is because the conditions of talks differ from time to time. In other words, the talks may be rejected today but are accepted tomorrow. What is rejected through one way is accepted through another way.


11. Dr. Nadim Ata al-Yas, Sayaqhar al-Ma' Summa al-Hajar, p.42.

12. Ibid, p. 46.

13. Ibid, p.50.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid, p.51.

Adopted from the book : "Woman and Society" by : "Al-Balagh Foundation"

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