what problems do muslims have because of how others perceive them?
Praise be to Allaah.
The Muslims have suffered persecution and harm because of how others perceive them and because of their adherence to their religion, but no matter how great the persecution, they cannot be humiliated in themselves or made to hate Islam, rather they bear that with patience for the sake of Allaah, seeking reward for that. Their Lord says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So do not become weak (against your enemy), nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:139]
With regard to what some of the kaafirs do to the Muslims, it is for one of three reasons:
Either this kaafir is ignorant of Islam and its greatness, and of the fact that it is the true religion, so he tries to harm the Muslims because of that ignorance;
Or he knows that the Islamic religion is the true religion, but he harms the Muslims out of stubbornness and arrogance;
Or he knows of the superiority of Islam and the Muslims, but he does that because of envy towards Islam and its followers.
Yet despite that the Muslims believe that Islam is the religion of honour and pride, and the religion of high status in this world and in the Hereafter; whoever adheres to it, Allaah will raise his status, and whoever turns away from it harms no one but himself.
One of the things that Islam teaches us is to be proud and strong. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, although both are good.” (Narrated by Muslim, 4815).
Islam tells us that the older ones among us should show mercy towards the younger ones. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and show respect to our old ones.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1842; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1565).
Islam commands us to be merciful and compassionate towards one another, and in contrast we are to be severe and harsh against the kaafirs. Allaah says, describing the Companions of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves”
[al-Fath 48:29 – interpretation of the meaning]
Our religion permits us (Muslim men) to marry Jewish or Christian women, but we are not permitted to marry our daughters to them (Jews or Christians), because the Jews and Christians are lower in status than us, and our women are higher in status than them, and one who is inferior cannot prevail over one who is superior. Islam should prevail, not be prevailed over. And we believe in their Prophets but they do not believe in our Prophet.
Our religion commands us to expel them from the Arabian Peninsula and not to let them remain there, because the Arabian Peninsula is the land of Revelation, so it is not permissible for it to be contaminated by the presence of unclean kaafirs. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Expel the mushrikeen (polytheists, pagans) from the Arabian Peninsula.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2932; Muslim, 3089).
Our religion forbids us to eat from the vessel of a Jew or a Christian unless we cannot find anything else. In that case it is permissible for us to eat from it on condition that we wash it thoroughly. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, when he was asked about eating from the vessels of the People of the Book: “If you can find any other vessel, then do not eat from them; if you cannot find anything else, wash them and then eat from them.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5056; Muslim, 3567 – this version was narrated by him).
Our religion forbids us to imitate the dress of the kaafirs or to imitate the way they eat or any of their customs, because we are superior and the kaafirs are inferior, and the one who is superior should not imitate the one who is inferior. Indeed, our Prophet warned us that the one who imitates the kaafirs is going to meet the same fate as them in Hell, what a terrible fate! The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (narrated by Abu Dawood, 3512. Al-Albaani said concerning this hadeeth: (it is) hasan saheeh. See Saheeh Abi Dawood, 3401).
Our Prophet commanded us to fight the kaafirs when we are able and to attack them in their homelands and to give them three choices before we enter their lands: either they become Muslim and be like us, sharing our rights and duties; or they pay the jizyah (poll tax) and feel themselves subdued; or they fight, in which case their wealth, women, children and homes become permissible as booty for the Muslims.
Islam is a divinely-revealed religion, which connects a believer to his Lord with no intermediary. So a person worships his Lord whenever he wants, and calls upon Him when he wants. He is connected to his Lord by ties of worship, by turning to Him and beseeching Him. He does not need the intercession of priests or rabbis. Rather he turns directly to Allaah, the One, the Subduer of all.
What you see nowadays of the humiliation of the Muslims and the domination of the Jews and Christians over them is the result of the Muslims’ negligence and failure to adhere to their religion, their failure to prepare for jihad for the sake of Allaah, and their love of this world which kills the love of Allaah and the Hereafter in their hearts. Hence you see that the blood of the Muslims is shed and has become cheap, and their homes are destroyed and counted as worthless, and their lives are counted as cheap because of their weakness. Allaah indeed spoke the truth when He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much”[al-Shoora 42:30]
So our humiliation and weakness are because of what we Muslims have done, not because of Islam. But when we come back to our religion, our glory and pride will come back to us.
And Allaah knows best.