Arabic Islamic Culture vs. Western Culture
Table of Contents
In its simplest definition, culture can be conceptualized as a way of living. Some of the key aspects of culture include beliefs, values, taboos, traditions, customs, religion and language. Apart from that, culture performs a critical role in education, linguistic and social matters. Neutral comparison between different cultures can be an effective way of elevating students’ experience and knowledge of the world. In that respect, the current paper explores the similarities and differences between Arabic Islamic culture and the Western Culture.
The two cultures are marked by regional languages. For instance, the Arabic Islamic culture is characterized by the Arabic language, whereas the Western culture is predominantly using English as the key language (Rohm Jr., 2010). However, it is worth noting that the Western culture also covers European civilizations that have diversified languages, including French, Spanish, and German. While the Arabic language is widely used in the East, the language has its origins in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. It is also worth pointing out that the Arabic language is not only regional but also a religious language anchoring Islam. This fact explains the observation that most Islamic states speak and write Arabic, with educational entities using Arabic extensively. In contrast, the Western Culture is marked by various languages, but English (American or British) is widely used because of its significant influence in global commerce. English is also used in Arabic Islamic culture due to westernization and its default role in international trade.
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Generally speaking, the Arabic Islamic culture is predominantly Islamic. That is to say, the majority of the people in the East embrace Islam. On the contrary, the Western culture is largely marked by Christianity. This religious difference is a major contributor of sporadic conflicts between the members of two cultures, and is often mistaken for a political difference. Islam is second to Christianity regarding the number of followers. What is more, there is number of Muslim people that inhabit the areas, where Islam is not the main religion, and this number amounts to 20% of the global Muslim population. For instance, more Muslims can be found in Chine than in Syria.
Unlike the Arabic Islamic culture in which state and religion are inseparable, the Western Culture promoted religious independence, hence the state and the religion (or church in particular) are distinct (Rohm Jr., 2010). Therefore, the Western culture strives to promote the freedom to choose religion. It can be inferred, that the Western culture accommodates various religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The Westerner’s eagerness to liberate the Arabic press serves as an apt example of the gap between the two cultures. Despite the religious difference, both Christians and Muslims believe in the existence of one God. While Islam believes in Allah and considers Mohamed to be the Prophet (Leaman, 2013); Christians believe in Trinity, that is in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Similarly to the Bible, the Quran contains lessons on how Muslims should treat others. Furthermore, Islam is characterized by the five major features, including the belief in one God, fasting, charity, daily prayer and pilgrimage to Mecca, that are to be obediently followed.
In Western culture, most Muslims are rather liberal and promote the concept of secular state or separating the government and religion, yet without eroding the right to practice religion. The societal and economic lives in Western culture contradict the postulates of Islam. For instance, such public institutions as schools, the military and prisons have not adopted strict Muslim practices. Additionally, the immodesty in clothing and the permissiveness of alcohol and sexual orientation in the Western Culture is perceived as negative influences on the Arab-Islamic culture, especially the young Muslims (Farrar, Robinson, Valli, & Wetherly, 2012.). However, the Shariah law continues to be revered in both cultures as the ideal way of life.
The socio-political environment of the Arab-Islamic Culture and the Western culture influences the activities of their corresponding media (Kunelius, Eide, Hahn, & Schroeder, 2007). The Western media is relatively more liberated than the Arabic media. At the same time, the Western Media is less regulated than the Arabic media, which results in litigations from claims of publications. In this respect, media regulation and freedom serve as a suitable illustration of the key differences between the Western and Arabic cultures. The media freedom in the Western culture is attributed to democracy. In contrast, most Arabic states are largely authoritarian, hence less democratic. This regulation often leads to a conflict of personal interest, privacy, and national security. The Arabic media tends to be burdened by the need to support the leading regime (Hallam & Street., 2013). What is more, in some scenarios, the media is dictated by Islamic clerics. Consequently, the Arabic media is heavily censored and regulated. In both Arabic and Western media, Islam is a very sensitive and controversial subject of discussion. One of the recent media controversies demonstrating the sensitivity of Arab Islamic culture, especially Islam is the outrage over alleged depiction of Prophet Mohamed as a terrorist in the Danish Cartoons (Kunelius et al., 2007). The cartoons probed ethical and legal boundaries of art in respect to religion and led to a global uproar and protest by Muslims across the globe.
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The Western culture is characterized by English literature that has a longer history than the literature of the Arabic Islamic culture. The former is widely studied across the globe because it serves as the foundation of existing literature of the world. On the contrary, the Arabic literature is more regionalized and concentrated around Islam. Despite the fact that Arabic culture preceded the spread of Islam, the religion overtook the previously written work and replaced the historical accounts with excerpts from the Quran and other key Islamic texts.