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Matt Browne
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Quote Matt Browne Replybullet Topic: Cultural misunderstandings
    Posted: 14 November 2012 at 6:42am
Here's an excerpt of a discussion on Islamicity about two years ago that I recently thought about:

Muslim 1: ... I have never seen your President Angela Merkel wearing jeans exposing her thighs. Women are more beautiful if they dress in the Muslim way. ...

Matt Browne: ... Qutb's ideology can be summarized with one word: intolerance. Merkel is our chancellor, not president. Women might be more beautiful if they dress in the Muslim way to you. But not to everybody. Women have to decide and men have no right to pressure them....

Muslim 2: ... See what kind trouble you get yourself in for not fact checking. Merkel is our chancellor, not president. I was going to point that out after you had posted but I didn't want to be the nitpicker ...So there you have it, you need to learn when dealing with Americans! ...


Well, I'm German, not American. Muslim 2 perceived my response as nitpicking, perhaps even as arrogant. But in our culture, what I did is exactly the opposite. Not explaining about Merkel being our chancellor, not out president, would mean not to take Muslim 1 seriously or thinking he is not smart enough to understand the difference between chancellor and president. Pointing out that she is our chancellor was a sign of respect, but it was understood as the exact opposite.

Now I can imagine that all of you also ran into such cultural misunderstandings. I would really appreciate it if you could share some examples with me. This includes Christians misunderstanding Muslim culture or Western people misunderstanding Arab culture or other non-Western culture.

Thank you in advance!

A religion that's intolerant of other religions can't be the world's best religion --Abdel Samad
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people--Eleanor Roosevelt
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Quote Friendship Replybullet Posted: 14 November 2012 at 8:50am
Assalamu alaikum.


What you said is correct. It is rather of terminology rather than culture. This is indeed in the Sunna of Muhammad. For example an Imam technically means a  political leader and also one leading the prayer. An Imam is also called a Caliph.  The Sunna upholds any culture that is not abhorrent and indecent. You can wear any dress you like provided it covers the parts to be covered by the Sunna except what is forbidden. I do not eat duck, rabbit, turkey in the manner Jacob denied himself some type of food.
Culture is probably one of the causes of intolerance.

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Quote Matt Browne Replybullet Posted: 19 November 2012 at 11:50pm
Good point, Friendship. People understand terms differently and this can cause cultural misunderstandings. 
A religion that's intolerant of other religions can't be the world's best religion --Abdel Samad
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people--Eleanor Roosevelt
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Quote Friendship Replybullet Posted: 20 November 2012 at 11:03am
Assalamu alaikum Matt Browne.

In fact misinterpretation of the Qur'an outside the life history of Muhammad is the precipitating factor of Taliban and al=Qaeeda. Muhammad was annoyed when he heard his companions calling one another a Muhajirin (that is I migrated to Madina from Makka) and an Ansar (helper that is I am native of Madina). He punished them by making them travel in the heat of the desert that when they halted they all slept till the next day. But here are his present followers calling themselves with different names. Yet, the West believes that by not understanding his life there can be peace in the world.

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Quote lady Replybullet Posted: 22 November 2012 at 9:18pm

Matt, I dont think that the things you write on this forum is mainly a cultural misunderstanding.  I think that the way you said others perceieved you could not be more accurate as how I see you as well.Wink

But who am I to speak to you like this? Smile
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Quote Matt Browne Replybullet Posted: 23 November 2012 at 12:48am
You are right, Lady, and I didn't want to imply that most of my posts lead to cultural understandings. I just noticed that sometimes they do. Germans have a reputation for being very direct. Brits are sometimes irritated by that. When they talk about a slight problem, Germans talk about a big problem. There are also cultural differences between Americans and Germans, although almost a third of all Americans have German ancestors. In Germany there is a strong sense of responsibility in a community for all members of a community. We have health insurance for all since the 1950s, for example.

A religion that's intolerant of other religions can't be the world's best religion --Abdel Samad
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people--Eleanor Roosevelt
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Quote Friendship Replybullet Posted: 23 November 2012 at 1:56am
Assalamu alaikum.

Let us relate what we mean by cultural understanding for Muhammad did refine the culture of the Quraysh incorporated as his his way of life. Understanding this will aid the West understanding Islam. The Qur'an gave such an example mentioning the request of the then Children of Israel to have cucumbers, lentils onion in the desert because they were used to that during their enslavement in Egypt.  That needed labor. Allah substituted that with quails, and dew- protein and carbohydrate without any labor except going out to collect them. That was the favor of Allah - a substitute that is better.
The Quraysh used to go round the Ka'ba naked and Muhammad forbade them. Muhammad did not forbid sitting on mount Safa and Arafat according to their customs nor abolished  the rights of Abraham.
In Islam that is the final message cultural differences is not a corridor creating hatred and instability. Take the case of hijab! Why is the West insisting on not wearing hijab while that was the culture of the Children of Israel? Segregation between the opposite sex was the culture of the Children of Israel. There are such examples.
So, why looking at the Sunna of Muhammad with indignation? Muhammad said, "Whatever a community considers good is good to him provided it does not breed injustice and immorality."

Friendship.



Edited by Friendship - 23 November 2012 at 1:58am
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Quote Matt Browne Replybullet Posted: 23 November 2012 at 2:40am
The West does not insist on not wearing hijab. The West insists on people having a choice. We can live with women covering their hair. If Muslim women don't cover their hair this must be respected. However, the West has a problem with face veils, because they violate our dress codes and most of us feel it dehumanizes women and rob them of their individuality. Yes, segregation between the opposite sex was the early culture of the Children of Israel. But in the West we believe that religions can evolve and that culture can also evolve. Slavery was also part of our earlier cultures and we decided to give it up. Slavery was part of dark ages thinking. Segregation was part of dark ages thinking. So today's communities consider it to be good when boys and girls, and men and women meet and interact in public life. Restriction women to managing the household is unjust and immoral. So our thinking is actually in agreement with your quote from Muhammad in this case.



Edited by Matt Browne - 23 November 2012 at 2:42am
A religion that's intolerant of other religions can't be the world's best religion --Abdel Samad
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people--Eleanor Roosevelt
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