** Pre-post: A very informal post, but I had to let it out desperately. Bear with me just this once, folks.**
Islam and the West? Why not Islam and Christianity or the East and the West?
It seems as though we Muslims use "Islam" and "the West" in a way that indicates that the two are opposites, as if both are religions or then both are localities. This becomes most apparent in the discourse of women’s treatment. We say things like, “In Islam, a woman is respected and honored, but in the west, she is disrespected and oppressed.” Why “in ISLAM ..., but in the WEST...”? Is there anything about the treatment of women in the west that has anything to do with the perpetrators’ religion? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So then why?
And then when non-Muslims (or even Muslims) pick on Muslims for mistreating their women, we get all defensive and stuff and say, “No, no, no! That has nothing to do with Islam! Islam is actually COMPLETELY against that! That’s CULTURE.” But why can’t we say the same about the west, that the way they treat their women, however good or bad it may be compared to the way our women are treated, has nothing to do with their religion but is all culture instead?
No religion in the world promotes or even supports the exploitation of women, so when we constantly emphasize that ISLAM doesn’t, it’s like … Well, yeah, it’s not supposed to anyway; no religion does. It’s always the way that religions are interpreted and taught, manipulated by the stronger to oppress the weaker – be that a gender or a group of people - that exploitations are accepted and tolerated.
I know that there are so many differences between the East and the West, but that doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to indirectly claim that what happens in the West is a product of religious beliefs versus what happens in the east isn’t (i.e., again: “it’s not religion’s fault; it’s culture!”). I must also add that when we say, "In Islam," we're talking about how things are in theory, but when we say, "in the West," we're talking about things in practice. Should we really compare the two? Besides, women in the West AND the East are oppressed *equally* but in different ways (I VERY strongly believe this but will elaborate on it in another post). Further, in the West, their (mis)treatment is not associated with their religion at all whereas it's very much associated with Islam in the East.