A historian of Islam explains the greatest misconception people have about Muslims

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Chase F. Robinson, an historian on Islam, author of “Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives,” and president of the CUNY Graduate Center, explains the greatest misconception that people, specifically in the West, have about Muslims.


I think there are a number of misconceptions about Islam. Maybe of all of the misconceptions, the greatest is that there’s a set of prescriptions, or a set of doctrines, even dogmas, that necessarily incline Muslims to take specific positions on politics.

So a good example would be sharia, or Islamic law. There’s an enormous diversity of views on the part of those 1.6 or 1.7 billion Muslims about sharia.  Some hold that it must be imposed, many hold that it need not. A good example would be in Azerbaijan where only 1 out of 10 Muslims believe that sharia should be imposed, whereas in Afghanistan it’s 9 out of 10.

Muslims also disagree about the fundamentals of sharia. Is it about politics? Is it about ritual? Is it about personal law? Muslims also disagree, great diversity of views, about whether or not sharia applies to non-Muslims.

So of the many misconceptions that I think govern the West, especially, I think a certain assumption about fixed Muslim attitudes towards the law and towards politics, that’s perhaps the most important.

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  • GlueBall

    Religion traps believers with incomprehensible, destructive social absurdities; the worship of an imaginary friend in the sky is the most obsessional neurosis of man, as the Late Sigmund Freud would say.

    • boony tooty

      100% correct!

  • Mdesyeticamat Mat

    There will be none any single misconception if one reads and understand the AL-QURAN( with translations ).

  • Box

    First, this is the reason im against religion but for God. They are not the same. God is the faith, the belief, the hope; religion is the book, the rules, the people, the buildings, the money, the constraints and restrictions, the methods, the punishments. Second, Islam, like any other cultish thing, has the written, official position, and the reality, on-the-street way of life. They can say all they want that “islam is not like this, we are not like that,” but that doesnt gel with the actual actions of the believers. Dont listen to what a person says, watch what they do.

  • boony tooty

    There a NO misconceptions on what Islam really is mate! There are just mis-directions, half truths and sometimes downright lies about the whole cult and its’ teachings from people like you, because Muslims have an agenda.