Non-Muslim Education of Islam decreases Anti-Islamic Prejudice
By: Hamid Waqar
Many Islamic scholars have called upon their congregations to educate the general public about Islam as a remedy for anti-islamic sentiments. This is of great importance following the media’s constant attack on Islam. Moritz et al. (2016) aimed to test whether people who held anti-Islamic prejudices would change their opinion about Islam after learning about their misconceptions. This approach mirrors metacognitive training for psychosis (MCT) which is usually administered to those suffering from schizophrenia. The basic MCT approach is to lure the patient into a high-confident false judgment and then provide them with corrective information, thus helping them change their thought pattern (Moritz et al. 2014)
This study asked over 10,000 Germans a number of questions about their attitudes of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In accordance with their prediction and a few other studies, the views that these German participants had of the Islamic faith was significantly worse than the other two religions.
Furthermore, the participants were asked general of questions about religion. The answers to these questions showed that there is a significant lack of knowledge about the Islamic faith by the German public. This lack of knowledge should be generalisable to any western country. Only 35% of the participants knew Jesus was accepted as a prophet in Islam. Furthermore, 22% of the participants thought that female genital mutilation was accosted with the Islamic faith. Finally, 80% of the participants thought the Quranic verse “O’ children of Israel, remember my favour which I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the worlds,” was a verse of the Bible and only 8% recognised it as a verse of the Quran.
When these participants were informed of the correct responses to these and other questions, their view of Islam significantly changed, “at a very large effect size.” Interestingly enough, the sentiments about the other two religions, after learning about the correct answers from the survey given to them, became more negative.
The following are a few traditions about the benefits of knowledge:
Prophet (s): Knowledge is the root of all good whereas ignorance is the root of all evil. (Bihar al-Anwar, v.77, p.175)
Imam Ali (a): Knowledge is indeed a good guide. (Ghurar al-Hikam, no.837)
Imam Ali (a): When Allah intends to humiliate a person He denies him knowledge. (Nahj al-Balaghah, saying:288)
Moritz, S., Andreou, C., Schneider, B. C., Wittekind, C. E., Menon, M., Balzan, R. P., & Woodward, T. S. (2014). Sowing the seeds of doubt: Anarrative review on metacognitive training in schizophrenia. Clinical Psychology Review, 34, 358–366.
Moritz, S., Göritz, A. S., Kühn, S., Schneider, B. C., Krieger, E., Röhlinger, J., & Zimmerer, S. (2016). Muslims Love Jesus, Too? Corrective Information Alters Prejudices Against Islam. Pastoral Psychology, 1-13.