Monday, December 28, 2009

Are “Islam” and “the West” Mutually Exclusive?

** 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.


  1. Islam as an Ideology for the political emancipation of the Arabs was presented by Muhammad. The emancipation was multi faceted at that time as it challenged the socio-politico-economic foundations of Arab society – who mainly constituted of Children of Ishmael .It also gave a more reasonable and rational perspective about life and universe. The later generations of Arabs applied the same ideology and tried to implement a system which was basically for a city state to other cultures and societies without considering the essence of Quranic teachings. This blind application resulted in the creation of quite a lot of misunderstanding, mis-interpretations and mis-communication.

    The core cause of all this was neglecting the source book which was used by Muhammad for bringing a reformation in the Arabs society. The west on the contrary, benefited from the core teachings of Quranic teachings and essence of Islam by referring to the research of Arab scientists and scholars and brought about revolution in science and technology, thought and philosophy in the universities of Cordova, Baghdad etc and hence Europe saw the era of reformation and renaissance. The glory of the orient got shifted to the magnificence of occident and east which was the cradle for ancient and glorious civilisation had to follow.

    In conclusion, Islam though was used as reformative ideology by Muhammad for Arabs, could be used not only for the east but also for west as all reformative thoughts and ideologies talk mainly about humans considering their specific circumstances. The same is applicable for women. Being a complementary part of humanity the laws which emancipate men from the clutches of tyranny also apply to the exploitation of women who have been deprived of their human rights throughout history considering their biological and psychological needs and instincts.

  2. Maa sa PhD thesis kho na da lekali che taa rapase dessi dessi academic lekal shoro krral. Goodness gracious :O
    Kho, yes, you're right, and I fully agree with you. Only, that doesn't explain why we say "in ISLAM, ...., but in the WEST, ..." no?

  3. Qrratugai~as I mentioned earlier that you sometimes pick up quite thought-provoking discussion topics and this is one of thanks again :)
    At the moment quite busy but hope to pen down few of my thoughts sometime Insha-Allah :)

  4. LOL. Thank you, Khogmanda.
    And I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this.

  5. hmmmm.

    What you said Shanu absolutely correct said...there is nothing to disagree...This post iz much important for those who wish to reform the fundamental deformed concepts inculcated in eastern society since long ago......
    Culture and religion are two separate things..If we use the words EAST and WEST then we should only discuss culture of both sides and if we use ISLAM and CHRISTIANITY then religion should be the topic to elaborate..most peopl when talk about West they suddenly put ISLAM in front.Women treatment is totally cultural phenomena.How a society or culture treat a women can not be directly linked with religion..i do believe that Islam must be adopted in ones own cultural context..Problem creates when peopl mix religion and culture and as a result give confused conclusions.Islam gives fundamental line about equal treatment of both women and men.Further this is culture which treat women either against or in favour of religion..some time i also get worry when peopl put only women under religion umbrella and men is excluded.This is what i observe since i got maturity..But this is male dominated planet and male interpreted teachings thats why we observe such differences in gender treatment....about religion east is theoritically ideal but practically idle...They say alot when the matter of religion comes but in practice they have double standard.West has already kicked out Christianity from society so women treatment in West is totally societal phenomena not religious...But if we compare women status in religions then i have to opt Islam in comparision to Christianity as Islam is more broad about women rights and social role..But at society level things are not in the same direction,here culture determine women social role which is inferior in many cases education and outdoor activities...
    Being a pukhtoon my culture is 5000 years old and my religion is 1400 years old..i can modify and evolute my culture with passage of time but i can not modify permanant laws of God so i have to adopt it in my evolutionary culture...For me East is confused by mixing religion with culture..

  6. Hey, what do you think of self-hating clowns like Tarek Fatah?

    1. Yeah, I'm no fan of people like Tarek Fatah, but I don't quite/necessarily think he's a self-hater.


Dare to opine :)

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