Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

As I surfed the Internet this morning, I came across something called WikiIslam. I thought it would be a source of information about Islam. It was, but not in the way that you’d think. On the “About Us” page, the originators claim that WikiIslam was created “to be the one-stop source of high-quality factual and objective information about Islam.”

To put it bluntly, they lie. To say that they’re objective is like saying that pigs fly. The site is a mix of facts, Qur’anic excerpts and teachings of Muhammad presented in ways that make Islam look as negative as possible. And the contributors’ comments are anything but objective. For example, read this excerpt from the article “Why terrorism is allowed in Islam:”

The life of a non-Muslim is not sacred in Islam, but many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, will present you with Qur’an 5:32 which they claim denounces killing, and equates the slaying of one human life to that of genocide against the entirety of mankind:

“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.”

Where does it say in that verse that it’s all right to kill non-Muslims?

Obviously the author of this entry is trying to say that Muslims believe that God will not hold you accountable for killing if the only people you kill are non-Muslims. What bothers me about this allegation is that you can always find Muslims who follow or believe such negative interpretations of the Qur’an or a hadith, but that doesn’t mean that all Muslims believe them.

I have read of Christians who think that all forms of birth control are wrong, but that doesn’t mean that all Christians believe that. Some Christians have even resorted to the murder of abortion clinic doctors and staff and feel that they are justified in doing so. That doesn’t mean that all Christians would do the same. In fact, the vast majority of Christians condemn such actions and consider those who use violence against abortion clinics to be nut-cases.

In the same way, the vast majority of Muslims hold all life to be sacred. We know that mankind was created from one soul. It doesn’t make sense to say that we condone the killing of non-Muslims because we believe that all people are born Muslim. Allah alone dictates who will be admitted to Paradise. It’s not for us to judge or to administer punishment.

The writers for WikiIslam pretend to be experts about Islam when they are anything but. It takes a lot more than a few statistics and quotations to understand Islam. If they would present their “evidence” as their opinions, it would be one thing. But they insist that all that they say is fact.

The thing that especially bothers me about WikiIslam is that its very format implies that it has the same authority that Wikipedia (usually) has. (The only reason they’re able to call it “Wiki” is because they use the same software that Wikipedia uses.) I worry that people who are seeking information about Islam will go to WikiIslam expecting objectivity and be fed propaganda instead.

I had just such an experience when I was trying to learn about Islam before I converted. I got a book out of the library titled, What Every American Needs to Know About the Qur’an: A History of Islam and the United States, by William J. Federer. I was naive enough to think that it was a sincere description of the history of Islam in America. What I got instead was one of the most hateful books I have ever read. Here is my review of it I put on Goodreads:

I can’t imagine how this book ever got published. We are given no author credentials, there is very little original writing, it is one-sided against Islam and Muslims. It’s very tricky because it uses examples from history and quotations to make its case but the author obviously picked the most inflammatory items and didn’t even attempt to balance them with positive ones. When I searched for reviews on the Internet, guess who loved this book? Conservatives and Islamaphobes. Go figure. Even the pictures on the back are designed to bring to mind the worst images of events that have anything to do with Islam: kidnappers, bombs, fighting, women in the full black face-covering abayahs. If you want to twist people’s minds against Islam, recommend this book to your friends. If you are interested in the whole truth and balanced pictures, then throw this in the trash.

I was so appalled by this book that I wrote the library and asked them to consider pulling it from the shelves. I was “politely” told that the library wouldn’t do so because of its commitment to present all points of view. I’m sorry, but if there was a book out there about African-Americans that portrayed them in a similar way, the library would never have even bought it.

I’m sick of the general consensus that it’s okay to say things about Muslims and Islam that would never be tolerated if they were said about any other group or religion. Muslims need to start sticking up for themselves and warning people about sites like WikiIslam is one place to start.

5 Replies to “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”

  1. There are many out there who are prejudiced and hateful, and would go to lengths to form certain representations of a specific group. I say, the truth can be messed up with and distorted by some, but it will never be made totally invisible to those who want to find it. You’re right in saying that we have to stand up and try to make it easier for others to distinguish the facts from the opinions, but we don’t have to devote much time trying to clean up the mess of those who don’t mean well. At the end of the day, there’s a protected Qur’an who’s meaning is clear and unchanging.

    1. I agree that we needn’t spend a lot of time correcting those who don’t understand or like Islam, but I do think it’s important to have some idea of what kind of trash they’re peddling. I love that you pointed out that the truth will be made visible to those who want to find it. It’s better to be positive than negative about the chances of people coming to Islam. After all, Allah is in charge! :-)

  2. Asalamu aialikum Ellen!

    I’m really glad that you have written this post and highlighted the bias of that site and book (wow, what a back cover). I love how you at least tried and wrote to your library! May Allah reward you for that!

    A little off topic but have you heard of Dr. Fadel Soliman? I think he spells his name like that. Anyways,I like how he ‘described those kinda people/organizations/sites’..See, one day he was in a debate where the person was saying something again really ‘wrong’…so he was like “Wow, guys! Who can take a fairytale and make it sound even worse/more violent than that?” The audience couldn’t answer. He then said, “I can, if I use this person’s magical ‘cut and paste’ wand. ” He then explained how that man had took all the stuff out of context, etc.

  3. Did you see the back cover? That alone would have disqualified the book in my eyes if I were ordering for the library. But they probably didn’t see it before they ordered it. I was quite disappointed that the library didn’t agree with me. I honestly don’t think that they really looked at it.

    No, I haven’t heard of Dr. Fadel Soliman. I’ll keep my eyes out for him.

  4. Assalam-alaikam Dear Ellen,
    thank you for starting a discussion about this book and website.
    When I firststarted looking online for more information about Islam I came across so many sites exhibiting a level of vitriol I had no idea existed. First there were those sites that purported to be about Islam and created by Muslims. I would read and something would niggle at me as not being quite right. There would be a page of fact with one inaccuracy imbedded in that most people would not catch out but that would be very damaging to the reputation of Islam. I would follow the links to the home site and end up on the site of another faith! These were the subtle attempts at maligning my beautiful faith. Then there were the less subtle ones. Websites openly dedicated to offending Muslims, spreading lies about the faith and taking every opportunity to slander Islam and Muslims.

    After stumbling upon one too many of these websites, blogs commentators and media articles I came to the point that I felt so upset that I no longer wanted to use the internet at all. This didn’t alleviate the fact that the nastiness was out there. In the end I decided to go one better and begin my own little blog. It wasn’t much, but I hoped that it would give an example of an ordinary Muslim woman with her ordinary life and family and with the same fears, desires and hope that everyone else has, albeit with my faith to help me along in my life. Not the oppressed woman or suicide-bomber we are all made out to be by some.

    So I am always pleased to see this kind of article highlighting and refuting what goes on out there, so that some people at least get the chance to try and get a balanced idea of what Islam is.

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