MUSLIMS today are associated with terror, oppression, extremeness and harshness. Unfortunately due to the actions of a few, a huge misrepresentation of who a Muslim is and what the word stands for has developed.

To understand its right meaning, we should look into the life of Muhammad (peace is upon him). Several Muslims exert their utmost efforts to follow the Prophet (peace be upon him), but as fallible mortals, we all fall short.

If a group of Muslims cause terror around the globe by indiscriminately killing Muslims and non-Muslims and justify their actions by misquoting and misconstruing the verses of the Qur’an, is it fair to label all Muslims as terrorists? Take the example of a father who beats his children. Because of one such father, do we label all fathers as child-beaters? We cannot judge Islam by the people, we judge it by the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

A Muslim is someone who firstly believes in and submits to Allah, and obeys His Messenger. He understands and attests to the five pillars of Islam. Understanding monotheism and having the correct belief is the most important of all.

As for the character, a Muslim has to be honest and truthful. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Three things are the sign of the hypocrite: when he speaks he tells lies, when he promises he breaks it and when he is trusted he proves to be dishonest.” (Al-Bukhari, Eng. Trans. 1/31/no.32 and Muslim, Eng. Trans. 1/40/no.112). We should ask ourselves: Do we fall into these categories or are we safe from them?

A Muslim is expected to be gentle. Gentleness spreads love and unites people. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Indeed Allah is gentle and loves gentleness, and gives due to gentleness that which He does not give to harshness. (Ibn Majah, no. 3688)

A Muslim should also be quick to forgive others. Allah said in the Qur’an:

“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqun (the pious).

Those who spend (in Allah’s cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good­doers).” (Qur’an, 3:133-134)

Worthy to mention here is an example of the Prophet’s kindness and forgiveness:

Before migration, when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was living in Makkah, an old woman would throw rubbish on him whenever he passed by her house. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would silently pass by that house everyday, without expressing any anger or annoyance. The old woman, one day, fell ill. The Prophet (peace be upon him) not finding his usual greetings, enquired about the woman’s well-being by visiting her and if he could in any way help her.

The old woman was greatly moved by this kindness. The example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made her understand that he was truly the Prophet of Allah and that Islam was the true religion. She accepted Islam at once.

As Muslims, we should try our utmost to be a proper representative of Islam. We should portray the message brought by the Prophet (peace be upon him). We should always look at ourselves first before judging others.