ISIS, Muslim and Islam are not the same thing

Lately, there has been a lot of hatred toward Muslims, but nobody wants to claim responsibility for the bigoted behavior, discrimination or acts of hatred being carried out against them. Instead of focusing on the destructive acts our society has begun participating in, attention is continuously drawn back to them.

With all the propaganda circulating through social media, biased coverage, false information shared specifically to spread fear and presidential nominees who feed on fear and hatred, no one stops to think about who keeps fanning the fire. No one stops to think about how they may be causing harm.

Society is acting like it’s their fault we have this sort of reaction towards Muslims. We have started to blame them for our hateful, fearful, violent reactions.

I heard a student in one of my classes defend his hatred by blaming it on Muslims. A heated class discussion regarding Trump’s wall and his “big beautiful door” led to a reoccurring and common question that has become unavoidable: “Why should/shouldn’t we allow Muslims into our country?”

There were only a handful of students brave enough to openly address the question, although most that spoke up sided with Mr. Trump and his immigration policies. My fellow peers who did not agree shook their heads in silence.

When asked for an explanation regarding the denial of Muslim immigration, a student responded, listing all the ways in which Muslims were dangerous, he defended his statement by adding: “If they weren’t like this, I wouldn’t have a problem with them coming to our country. Their religion has made them too evil.”

My professor didn’t bother to correct this ignorant statement. Although it was apparent that he strongly disagreed with the student, I imagined he realized how pointless it would be to highlight his lack of information. No one in my class pointed out the obvious flaws in the student’s logic.

Sadly, my classmate is not the only person uninformed and uneducated when it comes to Muslims and Islam, nor is he the only one to stigmatize an entire group of people based on a few radicals. Society has been too quick to point fingers and jump to conclusions; instead of gathering facts and educating ourselves, we listen to the loudest voices and swallow biased information.

Despite popular misconceptions, ISIS, Muslims and Islam are not the same thing, nor are they interchangeable. In fact, all three terms mean completely different things. Islam refers to the religion or acts done in the name of that religion; never a person who practices that religion. Muslim should be used to describe all people of the Islamic faith, but not the faith itself. ISIS is a jihadist militant group within the Islamic State.

Here’s the first problem within society’s logic; we have demonized all Muslims, assuming they are undoubtedly members of ISIS. We have blamed the religion of Islam for all the world’s problems, and we have punished all members of the faith. Although to be Muslim means to be a follower of a specific religion, and despite the fact that ISIS represents nothing but a radical group of followers within the religion, society has come to believe that you cannot be the former without being the latter.

Here’s the second and perhaps more detrimental problem; we have come to believe that holy books directly come from the god in which each religion is worshiping. However, gospel is not God. Whether the religion in question is Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Judaism, each religion follows a set of guidelines, suggestions, and spiritual comforts written by humans. Devout followers of religion will argue that their holy book indeed is specifically written by their god; His words and His ideas were given directly to a worthy scribe and simply repeated and written down by man. Despite religious beliefs and spiritual explanations, the proof is undeniable because in all reality, a real-life, living, breathing, human wrote the holy books that have become the foundations of all religions all over the world.

The fatal flaw that comes from reading any document is the fact that the phrases, sentences and words are all interpreted by the reader; one sentence may have multiple meanings. Despite the true message any god may have been trying to get across, the meaning can be changed, misinterpreted and set askew easily—which is exactly what has happened with Islam.

ISIS represents nothing but a group of radicals who have taken phrases from the Quran and interpreted them in violent ways for their own benefit. In fact, the acts of ISIS have nothing to do with the teachings of the religion or the Quran. However, because society continues demonizing Islam and treating all Muslims as if they are followers of a violent, evil religion, hatred and fear towards Muslims is only going to continue, discrimination will rise, and social inequality will quickly grow.

And our society wants to blame every problem on Muslims? You can’t fight fire with fire.