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Cultural misunderstandings

Printed From: IslamiCity.com
Category: General
Forum Name: General Discussion
Forum Discription: General Discussion
URL: http://www.IslamiCity.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=24299
Printed Date: 22 September 2014 at 5:38pm


Topic: Cultural misunderstandings
Posted By: Matt Browne
Subject: Cultural misunderstandings
Date 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!



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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



Replies:
Posted By: Friendship
Date 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.

Friendship


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 19 November 2012 at 11:50pm
Good point, Friendship. People understand terms differently and this can cause cultural misunderstandings. 

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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


Posted By: Friendship
Date 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.

Friendship.




Posted By: lady
Date 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


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date 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.



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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


Posted By: Friendship
Date 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.



Posted By: Matt Browne
Date 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.



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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


Posted By: lady
Date Posted: 23 November 2012 at 3:37am
Sorry, Matt, I meant to say that the way other people see you  is the same way I see you as well.Smile  Maybe you dont mean to come off as arrogant as we perceive you to be.
But like I said, who am I to judge you?


Posted By: Friendship
Date Posted: 23 November 2012 at 5:42am
Assalamu alaikum.

There is no where in the life history of Muhammad Rasulullah where women are treated in the manner the so called Wahabis are advocating. Whatever Muhammad says is to give maximum dignity and respect to them for they are weak. Yes, they were prevented from going about alone with a protector. It was circumstantial that time. What of today? Face veil may be to prevent fine dusts entering the eyeball or lodging in the auditory canals or the nostrils. That has a medicinal effect. The anatomy and physiology of the eyes, ears and nostrils and their functions is against covering them. There is no inconsistency or contradiction between the Shari'a body functions and common sense.
Matt, you have said something long ago of the backwardness of the followers of Muhammad. This is because they do not give a damn to the Sunna of Muhammad. They just want to be determinants and lazy! Look at how they are treating me. They cannot give a single explanation, but just quote and quote endlessly. How can science progress without proofs and experimenting? Words without action? Who will ever be convinced! In essence they do not understand they cannot achieve anything in the physical world without practicing the Sunna. It is the understanding of the Sunna that brings tranquility in the mind and peace. What is the end benefit of the recent engagement between the Palestinians and the tiny Jewish state? Had they established the caliphate nobody will fight.

Friendship
 


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 23 November 2012 at 6:42am
As I said, Lady, Germans are very direct and we highly value debates. We value people who hold different opinions and we think that it's a good thing that people hold different opinions. It might be different in your culture.



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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


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 23 November 2012 at 6:54am
I totally agree that Saudi oil money and the related spread of dark ages Wahhabism increases the backwardness of Muslims around the world. They might visit a mosque and are not aware that it is secretly sponsored by Saudi Arabia. Yes, a large number of Muslims have not developed a culture of handling dissent while remaining polite. I am observing how you are being treated. Although I disagree with many of your views as well, I would never attack you as a person or with strong language and rather look for counter arguments for your arguments. I respect the dignity of every human being.

The Israelis and Palestinians need a vision for peace. Michael Lerner has offered one and it's different from the caliphate you are proposing. People in the West won't support a caliphate because we think the secular model is the better model. We want countries in which people of different religions, atheists and agnostics can co-exist peacefully.

The Sunnah of Muhammad should indeed be investigated by modern scholars as well, especially people trained in historical research. A lot of the Sunnah was written by scholars more than 1000 years ago. We should reexamine of what is authentic and good. Christian scholars have developed a method called higher criticism, see this article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_criticism#Higher_criticism_interpretations - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_criticism#Higher_criticism_interpretations



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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


Posted By: Friendship
Date Posted: 24 November 2012 at 2:33am
Assalamu alaikum Matt Browne.

Our difference is simple. I read the Torah and the New Testament and finally the Qur'an. The explanation by the Rabbis never contradicts what is in the Qur'an. Allah denies in the Qur'an what is attributed to Him- to have a son.
If the West wants contemporary explanation of the Sunna, then they must support the establishment of the Caliphate to do away with those scholars pegged by the monarchs. There  secular model you support is against the teaching of Muhammad because they call you and others as disbelievers. The Qur'an belongs to all mankind and not a certain class.

Friendship.


Posted By: honeto
Date Posted: 27 November 2012 at 3:00pm
Matt,
every religious hierarchy has its dark side. And thank God Islam does not have hierarchy. World cannot forget the Catholic Popes and their dark ages of terror and horror with which they ruled for centuries across Europe and the early Americas. Thank God it's over. Saudi Wahabism is no comparison to what the Popes has done. Good thing is there is no hierarchy in Islam, unlike Catholicism so there is not chance of what happened in case of Popes.
Hasan

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39:64 Proclaim: Is it some one other than God that you order me to worship, O you ignorant ones?"


Posted By: Caringheart
Date Posted: 27 November 2012 at 6:34pm
Originally posted by lady

Sorry, Matt, I meant to say that the way other people see you  is the same way I see you as well.Smile  Maybe you dont mean to come off as arrogant as we perceive you to be.
But like I said, who am I to judge you?


Greetings lady,

Matt... arrogant?
Not at all.  To me arrogant is making personal attacks on someone and their character, or not being polite, acting as if another person opinions were less valid than your own.  I have never seen Matt transgress in any of those.
So yes... 'cultural misunderstandings' for sure.

I am curious, may I ask where you are located?
Because I get the whole thing Matt refers to about Germans being direct and English can take that wrong.  I have also watched english made tv shows and it is funny to me to see how Americans have been portrayed, even as I understand why the english see them the way that they do.  The same problem exists in the United States between north and south.   I also find it amusing the way Japanese animators caricature 'white' people.
I am a fan of Hayao Miyazaki animations because it shows just how differently we all see the world.  How different our 'realities' can be.  Very mind expanding.


Going to Matts original question on this thread...  one thing that I have learned... being a short and to the point person myself... is the importance of giving proper greetings and salutations when engaging in conversation with Muslims.  I have learned that for them this is matter of courtesy and respect, and to neglect to do so comes across as brash.  For me, I am always trying to save on time.  I was used to forums where you just type your answer and it did not offend anyone.  I have great appreciation for courtesy and manners. Smile

Salaam,
Caringheart


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 30 November 2012 at 3:48am
Originally posted by Friendship

Assalamu alaikum Matt Browne. If the West wants contemporary explanation of the Sunna, then they must support the establishment of the Caliphate to do away with those scholars pegged by the monarchs. There secular model you support is against the teaching of Muhammad because they call you and others as disbelievers.


If the secular model I support is against the teaching of Muhammad, then so be it. I will defend the secular model. It's the most important thing that we need to protect. The model guarantees that people can choose to be Christians, Hindus, Muslims or atheists.  The model guarantees that people can choose to change laws if need be.

But I also have the impression that the secular model and Islam can be combined, otherwise all Islamic countries would be theocracies without parliaments and elections. Turkey and Indonesia show us how it can work.



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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


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 30 November 2012 at 3:56am
Originally posted by honeto

Matt, every religious hierarchy has its dark side. And thank God Islam does not have hierarchy. World cannot forget the Catholic Popes and their dark ages of terror and horror with which they ruled for centuries across Europe and the early Americas. Thank God it's over. Saudi Wahabism is no comparison to what the Popes has done. Good thing is there is no hierarchy in Islam, unlike Catholicism so there is not chance of what happened in case of Popes.
Hasan


I'm a Protestant and I hope that the Catholic Church continues to evolve. Their strict hierarchy is indeed not a good thing. Yes, the world should not forget the Catholic popes and their dark ages of terror and horror. But the world should also not forget the terror and horror created by Islamic imperalism between 632 CE and 1683 CE. Yes, thank God it's over in most parts of the world. But in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, parts of Nigeria the horror continues. And Egypt might be on its way to restablishing Islamic horror as proposed by the past's leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood Sayyid Qutb.


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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


Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 30 November 2012 at 4:53am
Caringheart, I have also wondered about giving proper greetings and salutations when engaging in conversation with Muslims. I have read that some greetings are restricted to the use of Muslims only, so to avoid any mistakes I just try to be polite and treat everyone with appreciation and respect. I posted a new topic about this, called "Muslim greetings non-Muslims can use in forums".




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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


Posted By: Friendship
Date Posted: 30 November 2012 at 5:29am

Assalamu alaikum Matt Browne.

 

It is indeed a pleasure that you are not prejudiced against the teaching of Muhammad Rasulullah and that you have a sincere and open heart with receptors to catch his universal teaching. I have read a lot of the writing of the Orientalists on Muhammad Rasulullah starting from Professor William Muir. Their comments were based on the distorted version of his life and the meaning of the Qur’an that sprang from 660 A.H. This is present today because the West is alienated from understanding Muhammad and whatever a Westerner says is wrong or a fabrication. Thus the Westerners were barred from contributing to the Shari’a (living peacefully and warding off economic recession and depression all evil and indecencies disapproved in the Torah) and encouraging and supporting indirectly the Taliban and the Al-Qaeeda. This the West do by supporting the despotic corrupt irresponsible and incompetent regimes in the Muslim countries. Living in peaceful co-existence is different from attending the mosque and observing fully the actions of Muhammad. For example, what is the difference between the 358 prohibitions in the Torah from what Muhammad prohibited?

Contemporary belief in Islam means understanding the necessities for all and sundry in providing the cement and basal structure of the Shari’a of Muhammad: First of all we must give Allah his Right and this is translated as responsible leadership in the carriage and propagation of his Message- the functions of the Levi clan of the Children of Israel. This is followed by the rights of mankind-housing, security and equal opportunities in employment. This task was never restricted to the followers of Muhammad and it is what according to my understanding Professor William Muir termed as the ‘Universal religion’ brought by Muhammad Rasulullah. Now, the followers of Muhammad are saying that it is only them that can bring about that to mankind. But they failed utterly for one reason that they will never agree. No one will change this status quo, until they are shown by others not born as Muslims their utter ignorance on the basic fundamental teaching of Muhammad. How can Muhammad be a universal warner and bringer of glad tidings if he restricts his teaching to only those who openly but surreptitiously reject him?

Friendship.





Posted By: Matt Browne
Date Posted: 30 November 2012 at 7:05am
Friendship, I am open to understanding any teachings, which doesn't mean I will agree with everything that is part of the teachings. The good part of the teachings presented by you is the attempt to build bridges between followers of different religions. I appreciate this very much. I wonder why a verse like "Instill terror in the hearts of the unbelievers" ended up in the Qur'an [8:12]. I'm receiving mixed messages. There is the part about love and there is the part about hate. I can understand that hate gets created in times of war. The Prophet became a victim in Mecca because the polytheists didn't tolerate him. He was rightly upset about this. Tolerating followers of other religions is fundamental to me. And your sources seem to follow this principle. But a caliphate cannot replace a secular state.



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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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