It's no secret Fox News presents especially biased coverage on various issues, especially when it comes to covering news regarding Muslims or the teachings of Islam. While it's nothing new, it's important to look at why the things they report about Muslims are wrong by looking at Islamic texts, the most widely accepted interpretations of those texts among Muslims worldwide, as well as facts on how we as a country have treated American Muslims. Now, let's break these down, shall we?
1. They want Sharia law everywhere!
Before you get too worked up, let's look at things in perspective. Sharia law is not as rigid and authoritarian as we may think. It involves not simply how a country should run, but also how individuals and families conduct themselves. If Muslims say that they follow Sharia law, they very likely mean that they follow it in terms of their personal conduct, whether it regards prayer, or interacting with others.
There are parts of the Sharia that Muslims disagree with based on their individual interpretations, or depending on which school of thought they follow. In other words, Sharia law isn't a solid, pre-packaged system everyone is expected to follow to a tee.
There was actually no known concept of Sharia law during Prophet Mohammed's time. It wasn't until about 200 years after the Prophet's death that teachings in the Koran and hadith that were believed to be well-founded were codified into law. At the time of the Prophet's death, the only scripture around was the Koran. At that time, the Koran wasn't even made into a book yet. Sharia is essentially codified law based on the interpretations of others, meaning that you may find many Muslims interpreting scriptures, including Sharia, in starkly different ways — ways that are far different from those of Saudi Arabia and Iran that Glenn Beck seems to think applies to all Muslims here.
2. They're taking over the world!
Because of their perceived desire to instill Sharia not only in the U.S. but also worldwide, it must be that they're trying to take over the world. Yeah...
But in all seriousness, the reason we see political instability and violence from many Muslim-majority countries is because in most cases, if not all, there are deep political and socio-economic problems that have post-colonial roots. Ways to deal with such problems manifest themselves in rather extremist interpetations of religion. Of course each and every country and region — whether it be the Middle East, Sub Saharan Africa, Central or South Asia — these problems arise in varying degrees. Whether we are talking about Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or other extreme Islamist factions across North Africa and elsewhere, they are acting on interpretations that come about as a reaction to instability. To deduce such ideologies ignores the complexities of different situations.
3. They are NOT a vilified group in the U.S.
This one is particularly funny. Whether it's at the airport, simply going to work while wearing a hijab, or having the name Mohammed, you'll very likely find the vast majority of Muslims have had some experience of being belittled or profiled because of how they look.
The most pertinent example of this, which this speaker on Fox seemed to forget, was the NYPD's six years of surveillance of mosques, universities, and Muslim communities all across New York City. After all those years of illegal spying, they found nothing suspicious. In another recent incident another commentator on Fox also stated how mosques have "no place" in this country.
Not convinced yet? The most recent incident was perhaps during Ramadan when an Indian-American, Aditya Mukerjee (who's actually a Hindu) planned on flying on Jet Blue to visit relatives, but was held up for nearly an entire day at JFK airport because of suspicions that he was a fasting Muslim during Ramadan. Not only did they misidentify him as Muslim, but it turns out that being a practicing one is a cause for concern. Mukerjee was refused from flying on Jet Blue.
Yea, I'd say Muslims have a bit rough.
4. All terrorists are Muslim!
It is indeed true that we find many terrorists who are Muslim and derive their actions from very extreme interpretations of texts. This statement was made on Fox and Friends in 2010, before several significant mass shootings happened in our country that could very well qualify as terrorism, carried out by non-Muslims.
They often consider the Fort Hood shooter a terrorist, and rightfully so. However, what they often forget is that several similar crimes have been committed by the Aurora movie theater shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, and perhaps most recently with the Washington Yard shooter. Yet we haven't quite seen the terrorism accusations nearly as frequent as we do when the perpetrator is of Arab-descent or a Muslim.
But of course, they're not terrorists. They're simply mentally ill.
5. The Koran condones assault against women
The problem with Bill O'Reilly here is that he's using a translated copy that translates the word darb in Arabic to "beating." In other translations this word comes up as "strike" — it has many different contexts in the Arabic language. In the context of the verse that O'Reilly refers. The word refers to, as some will interpret, as a light flicking motion not meant to cause bodily harm. There are even interpretations of the word "darb" that do not at all refer to physical reactions against women. It could translate to "admonish," "abstain," simply, to leave them be.
Several organizations have issued a fatwa, or a social judgment, against domestic violence, honor killings, female genital mutilation, and others. Believe it or not, you're going to find similar verses in the Old and New Testaments. Translations become interpretations, not texts that should be taken literally.
It's worth noting that the Koran also directly states that women have the right the right to things such as sexual pleasure, and even participation in public and political life. It's important, despite whatever laws are in place against women in places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran, to look at what the texts say, and how various groups interpret them.
Overall, the point here isn't so much that Fox News is simply wrong. That isn't news. But when making quick or absolute judgements about the American Muslim community, or even Muslims worldwide, it's important to look at what the holy texts say, and look at how various groups of Muslims interpret these texts.