Due to terrorist atrocities, Islamophobia has increased everywhere. Islamophobia is the fear or hatred of Islam or Muslims.
The questions we have to ask are: Do non-Muslims have anything to fear from Islam? Are followers of Islam inherently aggressive and violent? Does Islam condone terror?
I want to reassure everyone by answering all the above questions in the negative. The reality is that Islam is a religion of peace and love as taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s).
If we look at the life of the Prophet (s) we find that he was the most courageous yet the kindest and gentlest of men. He was merciful even towards his bitter enemies. After a certain battle for instance he made sure that the prisoners of war were given the best of treatment.
In the society at the time, women were treated very badly but the Prophet (s) was kind and affectionate towards them and granted them many rights and behaved towards them with honour and respect.
He taught that in Islam, men and women are equal before God. It was widespread in the pagan society for infant girls to be buried alive out of shame – a custom that was forbidden by Muhammad (s).
The Messenger (s) was particularly compassionate towards children. When he saw a child crying, he would immediately comfort him or her. He would sometimes perform prayers with his grandsons hanging onto his neck.
His empathy was not only for human beings, but also for animals. He forbade his companions from keeping animals hungry or thirsty, or to overburden them with work. He ended the practice of cutting the tails and manes of horses and branding animals on their soft spots.
Prophet Muhammad (s) not only taught us how to love our Creator, but also how to love the creation too. He taught us that love is more powerful than hate. In the Quran it states: “Repel that which is evil with that which is better”.
One of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (s) is for us to love one another. He said: “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”.
He emphasised that we should be good to our neighbours. As believers, we should not usurp their rights and do anything that may disturb or harm them.
Although he was an orphan from childhood he taught us to be good to our parents, not to be disrespectful towards them and to look after them in their old age.
When Islam reigned supreme over Arabia, the Prophet (s) was the most powerful man in the newly formed state and could have rightfully avenged himself a thousand times over in retaliation for more than two decades of enmity, torture and mockery. But he showed unparalleled mercy towards his enemies and forgave them all.
One example from many is how he forgave Hind, the lady who before embracing Islam had desecrated the corpse of the Prophet’s beloved uncle Hamza and ate his liver.
In short, the actions of an insignificant number of misguided terrorists go against the noble teachings of Islam and do not reflect the true ethos of this mighty religion.
For a more detailed biography of Prophet Muhammad (s) please refer to ‘Muhammad’ by Martin Lings.