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From NewMuslims.com:

...those for whom the message of Islam did not reach, or it may have reached them but was distorted, or they did not hear about Prophet Muhammad, may Allah praise him. They will be tested on the Day of Judgment. Those who obey will be saved, those who disobey will be doomed.

A comparable quote is at Islam Q&A:

Everyone who hears the message of Islam in a sound and correct form (and rejects it), will have evidence aginst him. Whoever dies without having heard the message, or having heard it in a distorted form, then his case is in the hands of Allaah. Allaah knows best about His creation, and He will never treat anyone unfairly. And Allaah is All-Seer of His slaves. -- Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, 1998

Question: In what ways can the message of Islam be distorted?

Basically, I'm seeking some examples of how the message of Islam might be conveyed in a distorted form. I suspect the these sources are primarily referring to People of the Book, but I'm not fully clear on this. Something along these lines:

The Islamic view of the Christian Bible is based on the belief that the Quran says that parts of Bible are a revelation from God, but believe that some of it has become distorted or corrupted (tahrif), and that a lot of text has been added which was not part of the revelation. -- Islamic view of the Christian Bible, Wikipedia

But it may also include other ways of being distorted. Indeed, Westerners often see extremal versions of Islam in the news, which could be reasonably considered as "distorted":

In some of our countries, including the United States, Muslim communities are still small and relative to the entire population, and as a result, many people in our countries don’t always know personally somebody who is Muslim. So the image they get of Muslims or Islam is in the news, and given the existing news cycle, that can give a very distorted impression. -- US President Barack Obama, sourced from CNS News, 2015.

  • I'm not sure whether scholars have a consensus on that issue... – Medi1Saif Jan 11 '17 at 12:00
  • Is this question related to what constitutes an Islamically valid opinion? It seems to me to know how to identify a distortion, one would have to be able to identify an Islamically valid position. – G. Bach Jan 11 '17 at 13:39
  • I'm not so much seeking an algorithm for identifying distortions, just examples to further illustrate the NewMuslims.com point. It's unclear to me what would be regarded as a distortion. (In a sense, there's going to be "noise" no matter how one hears about Islam.) – Rebecca J. Stones Jan 12 '17 at 1:02
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Let me try to be simple and short(i intended to write this as comment, but this became large for that).

By distorted form, i believe these scholars are referring to wrong interpretations of islam. Like khawarijs, or ahmadis who call themselves muslims(but have a belief that mirza ahmed qadiani was prophet and/or he received wahi from Allah through jibrael, and/or that he was actually maseeh(jesus), basically this believe is against basic teachings of islam and Quran.) and believe they are muslims, they could have reached those people and presented their interpretation of islam and quran(which is clearly against basics of islam) and these people didn't knew anything else but what reached them.

These 2 names are just as examples, you can include any of the sects including those who were wiped out by muslim rulers because of their such beliefs.

So, in short you can say that by distorted they mean what they think is wrong interpretation of Quran and/or hadees, wrong to such extent that it makes it unacceptable because of going against basics of islam. And also like you said in your question, true islam and its teaching never reached them, they heard only false propoganda about islam and to stay away from it through media or whatever, this is also a major form of distortion.

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  • Violent verses of the Quran being literally translated. See Its answers here
  • Only discussion about the verses which include warning and no discussion about verses which give glad tidings. In Islam the idea is that you should fear and have hope in Allah equally. Also see here
  • Talking about what rights men have over women and never ever saying a single word about what rights the lady has.
  • Making blanket statements about all Muslims. Highlighting terrorist actions as all.
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Lecture by Dr. Jonathan Linz on the West's view of Islam was a useful lecture, especially that the lecture was the result of accumulated experience passed by the lecturer starting from his work as a reporter for Reuters in the Middle East for many years and through his doctoral thesis on the subject itself and ending with his book, which bore the same title of the lecture. In addition, Dr. Jonathan is interested in topics related to Islam and the history of Muslims as the transfer of knowledge from the Islamic world to the Western world and wrote in his book: House of Wisdom The House of Wisdom

The lecture was largely objective in my opinion, and focused on how the West views Islam as not distinguishing between the West between Islam as a religion and the actions and jurisprudence of some Muslims.

The lecturer mentioned several issues and here I mention the most important ones, which are two axes: how the West views Islam, and the reasons for that. The lecturer cited President Bush's statement five days after the September attack, stating that it was a crusade and repeated the same concept after nearly five months, despite the denunciation that had been made in the past. The first time, the lecturer explained that the word President Bush was similar to the words of Pope Arban II in 1095, which mentioned the same concept as the Crusade as if the lecturer connects between the present and the past and explains that there is a historical extension of that issue. It is not my intention to write this review, but to confirm it as a framework that has an impact on the West's view of Islam made me remember it here.

The lecturer also mentioned a historical account of the West's view of Islam. In the past, ancient Europe called Islam the name of "barbaric religion" and called the "barbarians", but this name changed or degenerated to a large extent in Western media. Islam to comparisons between Christianity and Islam that they were declaring that Christianity is the religion of love and peace while Islam is a religion of hatred and violence. At the present time, the lecturer notes that the writings of Westerners on Islam and dealing with its issues settled on three axes:

The first is that Islam is against civilization and of course against science.

The second: that Islam despises women.

The third is that Islam is a religion of violence.

As a result of this popular view in the West about Islam, this view prevented the West from dealing objectively with the religion of Islam, especially that some of them consider Islam one of the greatest challenges facing the West in the twenty-first century.

There are several reasons for this contemporary Western view towards Islam in its three axes. I briefly mention six reasons mentioned by the lecturer:

The first: historical reasons starting with the Crusades as I mentioned and ending with the war on terror which has a clear impact on the West's view of Islam.

Second: Some Western scholars ignored the Muslim heritage and its relation to the West.

Third: Some Western writers write what he imagines about Islam and he did not see that and did not travel to the Islamic countries, then readers may accept that the facts written reflect the reality of Muslims.

Fourth: the impact of the media as it is scenes.

Fifth: Emphasize the negative image of Islam from some influential in the West to get personal or partisan benefits or otherwise.

VI: Explaining some regional incidents in which violence has occurred against Westerners in some Muslim countries that are rooted in Islam.

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