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What Is the Western Perception of Muslims?

21 July, 2016
Q A Christian American told me that Muslims hate the Americans and only want their death. That’s why the West looks down upon the Muslims. Not only this, but the American government is hunted by the Islamic groups. That’s why they have to defend themselves, their people, and the Israelis as well. How to refute these claims? This is how the West looks at Islam and Muslims.


Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

As seemingly simple as your question appears, it is quite difficult to answer. Like the game of ‘Chinese Whispers’, as the story progresses along a chain of communication, it changes and evolves into a myth.

Here the original story began at the end of the Cold War between Russia and the United States, not on September 11, with the perpetual fear of enemies! Regarding the conflicting information in the press and psychological operations (PSYOPS), Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner said:

“As a former instructor at the National War College, Air War College and Naval War College, I am familiar with the pattern of using the press to conduct psychological operations against internal audiences in Iraq.”

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Then there is Perception Management (applied both in Bosnia and Operation Iraqi Freedom), which, according to Lieutenant Colonel Steven Collins, consists of:

“… actions used to influence the attitudes and objective reasoning of foreign audiences and consists of ‘Public Diplomacy,’ ‘Psychological Operations,’ ‘Public Information Deception’ and ‘Covert Action.’

Of special interest in the case of Operation Iraqi Freedom is public diplomacy, the deliberate attempt to persuade foreign audiences of the content and wisdom of one’s policies, intentions and actions and PSYOPS, the use of activities, predominantly media, to influence and persuade foreign audiences.” (

Now foreign audiences—who can that be? Foreign to Iraq or foreign to the United States? Well, many experts have collated enough evidence to show that “foreign” means both—in fact anyone or anything that questions or challenges the US policy on the “war on terrorism.”

As for lay-people, we are led to believe whatever we want to believe except the truth—it is unimportant what we choose to believe as long as we are disabled by what is going on.

What is important is the effect—confusion—and when one is confused one is not fully in control of one’s faculties. In this manner and many others, the whispering nature of the devil beckons us to do his bidding by giving false promises. The Quran says what means:

{He gives them promises and excites vain desires in them; and the shaytan (the devil) does not promise them but to deceive.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:120)

For many, this might seem simply put. To fulfill a desire, one seeks many forms in order to realize that desire. In Islam, when that desire manifests as an intention to harm or hurt someone, it is considered a disease or a sin. It is this kind of psychological weakness that is loved by the shaytan because it feeds on itself, depriving one of control over one’s faculties.

Although it is obligatory in Islam to tell the truth, for some this is a disadvantage because it prevents them from fulfilling a personal interest.What Is the Western Perception of Muslims

So, we Muslims are faced with lies as many others before us have been faced with lies threatening to loosen the earth on which we stand. But we should not pay attention to what is being said, but to the reason why it is being said.

We are allowing the words to hurt when the words are but knives to cut away at the root of what prevents the originator of the lies from getting what he wants.

The double-edged knives are not just to make Muslims feel small and vulnerable, but to make those who are easily influenced to participate in the charade, whether they be lay-people or politicians. The Quran says what means:

{So do not yield to the rejecters. They wish that you should be pliant so they [too] would be pliant. And yield not to any mean swearer, defamer, going about with slander forbidder of good, outstepping the limits, sinful, ignoble, besides all that, base-born; Because he possesses wealth and sons. When Our communications are recited to him, he says: Stories of those of yore.} (Al-Qalam 68:8–15)

To have some kind of resistance against the manipulation of our minds, there has to be some kind of ethics to measure by. It is only ethics that can help us to make sense of why people do what they do and what we ourselves must do.

It is not the entire West that looks down upon Muslims, but some of those who are in authority look down upon Muslims for one reason only.

It is the same reason why the Roman Empire looked down on Christians when Christianity faced affliction, because the rulers of the empire faced something greater than them that they could not influence in furtherance of their own self-interests.

If we Muslims fail to make this separation, then we, too, are in danger of becoming psychological and spiritual victims to the myths that have been perpetuated.

This is what you fear, and rightly, too. In a communication between Umar ibn Abdul Aziz and Abu Bakr ibn Hazm, Umar said:

“Look for the knowledge of hadith and get it written, as I am afraid that religious knowledge will vanish and the religious learned men will pass away. Do not accept anything save the hadiths of the Prophet. Circulate knowledge and teach the ignorant, for knowledge does not vanish except when it is kept secretly (to oneself).” (Al-Bukhari)

The more we can learn about our religion, the better placed we will be to not only know ourselves, but to defend ourselves. The irony of the whole situation is that there has been an increase in people converting to Islam when the very social order that the war on terrorism seeks to strengthen is crumbling.

It is a disservice when solutions are needed for the growing problems of rising crime, increased poverty, drug abuse, sexual abuse, broken families, failing education and health systems, child pornography, etc. The Quran says what means:

{Who speak evil things of the believing men and the believing women without their having earned [it], they are guilty indeed of a false accusation and a manifest sin.} (Al-Ahzab 33:58)

Islam is a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. It is for us Muslims to recognize this, for this is our test so that we will learn to know what is right from wrong and will be willing to support it. Man has tried and tested everything else, and as a result, there are more social ills.

Instead, what we have is a plotting against the souls of Muslims as well as non-Muslims, aided and abetted by the well established idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Put this together with Hitler’s theory of the Big Lie, i.e., if you say something often enough people will believe it.

What once was not true becomes true. If a bully keeps kicking and physically hurting someone, eventually that someone will have engendered enough reaction to hit back.

Bricks, stones, and words are being thrown, and although Muslims may be justifiably angry with America, the anger is with America the state, the government, not the people in general. Only some non-Muslims assume that Muslims must hate Americans because there is an expectation that others behave as they do.

America’s relationship with Israel is one of convenience and Israel knows that, but once Israel becomes inconvenient, the balance of power between the two countries will change. Passion is a dangerous vehicle when combined with politics and the people that one claims to represent.

This passion may attract those with interests of their own into believing that their own goals can be achieved through a form of coalition. This approach of neo-conservatism is nothing but colonialist – a dream driven by the mighty and influential few of America.

For us Muslims, it is important that we do not forget who we are and that we continually seek guidance from the Quran and the Sunnah. In this manner, it will help us to ascertain what is going on and how to handle the complications of the so-called war on terrorism, fifty percent of which is a psychological war.

In this manner it is hoped that everyone will become pliant, including the American citizens who, under the Patriot Act, are not only facing a sea of misinformation, but also insecurity, which runs quite deep.

If one feels that one’s way of life is in danger, one is more likely to feel suspicious about strangers rather than those one thinks one knows.

Your Christian friend is only acting on what he “thinks” is true, not what is actually true, and if there are Muslims acting outside of their faith, they, too, are human like all those others who also act outside of their faith. If hate, anger, or the results of frustration are to be alleviated, then it must be noted that it was mentioned in the Prophetic What Is the Western Perception of Muslims that:

“Whoever has oppressed another person concerning his reputation or anything else, he should beg him to forgive him before the Day of Resurrection when there will be no money [to compensate for wrong deeds], but if he has good deeds, those good deeds will be taken from him according to his oppression which he has done, and if he has no good deeds, the sins of the oppressed person will be loaded on him.” (Al-Bukhari)

So, as Islam is a religion of knowledge and implores believers to seek knowledge to discern the truth from the lies, implore your friend to seek further understanding of the issue so that he may, in turn, be able to discern the truth from the lies.

I hope my answer is satisfactory. Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch.


About Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.