Islamic Mythbusters tackles common misconceptions

On Tuesday Nov. 8, the Muslim Student Association hosted Islamic Mythbusters Night, a student gathering to expose common misconceptions tied to the religion. Muslim students contributed to the event by explaining various aspects of Muslim life and culture, such as pilgrimages to Mecca, equality of men and women and traditional clothing.

Students explained that a central part of being a Muslim means taking a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, a hajj; the trip should be undertaken by every Muslim who is physically and financially able at least once in their lifetime.

"When my parents came back from their pilgrimage," one student said, "they didn't look at life the same."

The seminar tackled the controversial charge that Islam's doctrines are sexist and curtail women's rights. But as the Quran states, all men and women are created equal. "It is not Islam that discriminates, but it's certain cultures that do," one student shared during the presentation.

Students further helped to explain that though fundamentalist organizations like the Taliban emphasize the degradation of women, Islam does not. In fact, education is encouraged among Muslim women.

Members of the association shared that Muslim women were the first to gain education rights in certain countries. In middle class areas around the world, Muslim women begin school as young as three years old, and many grow up to become religious scholars. Muslim women who have major political roles include Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

To many, a woman's headscarf – the hijab – may seem highly undesirable. Students at the presentation shared that Muslim women agree that they do not wear the hijab for appearance purposes, but as a matter of protection. During work, women who are covered are looked at as more professional and less likely to be harassed. "Muslim women are encouraged to be modest, and wearing a hijab protects this modesty," said a student.

One of the world's three major monotheistic religions with 1.3 million Muslims, Islam is often misunderstood because of the existence of regimes skewing the religious message. Islamic Mythbusters Night was held to show that Islam is much like Christianity and Judaism, in that all three religions refer to sacred texts, believe in doing good deeds and leading a fulfilled life.