Common Misconceptions

No matter what gender, age, race, or religion one is, there will always be a negative stereotype that comes along with it that is most likely not true. Stereotypes are assumptions of someones habits or character based on a small percentage of whatever grouped they are being lumped in with. These stereotypes range from Italians being in the mob, all Irish people being alcoholics, and the example Charles Kurzman wrote about, all Islamists are like Bin Laden and want to resort back to a ‘medieval’ lifestyle. Kurzman does a great job of showing the truth behind this stereo type in Bin Laden and Other Thoroughly Modern Muslims.

Although many Muslims say they want to go back to the golden times, talking about the times of Muhammad, they still live in a very modern society. Westerners tend to think that North America and some parts of Europe are the only places that live in technologically advanced civilizations. This is not true. Kurzman Points out that even Osama Bin Laden, the man who hid out in a cave as he was trying to flee from the US, had a degree in Civil Engineering. This really helped put things into perspective for me. He then goes on to talk about radical islamists. Just hearing the word radical makes me think that they are the root of the stereo type. However, Kurzman says, “Both Islamic liberals and Radical Islamists seek to modernize society and politics, recasting tradition in modern roles” (Kurzman 391). Kurzman then goes on to talk about the Taliban and how they emulate the stereo type I am speaking about. He explains that Al Qaeda and the Taliban get their recruits, for lack of a better word, from the poorer parts of the area. These people have no choice but to be less advanced because of their economic status. The mass media portrays this small percentage of the population as the majority when in fact that is not true. Their goals are not all against the western world either. Kurzman writes, “Just Islamist political platforms share significant planks with western modernity. Islamists envision overturning tradition in politics, social relations, and religious practices. They are hostile to monarchies…” (Kurzman 393).

They way Kurzman shows how false this stereotype is really opened my eyes. I hate to admit it, but I was guilty of placing this false perception on life in the Islamic culture. I am now more well informed because of reading this. It really makes you look at these people in a new light.

One thought on “Common Misconceptions

  1. I agree with the fact that most westerners seem to think that the United States and some parts of Europe are the only technologically advanced societies. I’m glad you hit on some of the common stereotypes that we all make like Italians being in mobs and Muslims being terrorist for example. However some societies are more technologically advanced than we thought. Not all Muslims are living in caves or huts. I also think you did a good job on noting some of the confirmed stereotypes of recruits from Taliban and Al Queda that are not technologically advanced because their from some of the more poorer parts of the area. One thing to also acknowledge is how much we influence these stereotypes. We take a large part of the blame since “media coverage has portrayed the radical Islamism exemplified by Osama Bin Laden as medieval, reactionary, and eager to return the Islamic world to its seventh- century roots.” (Kurzman). Whenever we turn on the news, it’s all about the negative side of this culture. I think we need to create more publicity of the positive sides of this culture.


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