Sunday, May 17, 2009

Culture

--Note: I had started writing this about 3 weeks ago and I figured I'd finish it and give my blog some of its old flavour back as I continue to sort things out with my daughter being sick. More of my regular posts should be reappearing sometime next week.--

I hear a lot about converts getting rid of everything that is cultural to follow an Islamic lifestyle. I think that's not a bad thing at all. The best and "safest" way to follow Islam probably is to get all the cultural celebrations, etc. out of your life. But I really don't think that's the only way. I don't think a convert needs to change her entire life -- all of it-- because they became Muslim. I think that what is really important is to know what is culture and what is Islam. I don't think it means that everything that is not Islam needs to be out of your life. Everything that goes againt Islam though, does.

Some people have more strict views on what they believe is "against Islam" than I do, but I think that things are not against Islam as long as they do not mean to you something that is against Islam, or tempting you towards something that is against Islam. Hope you know what I mean...

For example, Halloween. It might have origins that are not Islamic because the origins are polytheistic, etc. But it means nothing more to me than dressing up and getting candy. I don't care about its origins because that's not what it means to me.

Christmas might be tricky for some. Not for me because I don't come from a religious family and it doesn't mean anything religious for any of us. For those who have a religious family, it's probably more difficult, trying to find out if it's worth it. Wanting to maintain a good relationship with family, but wanting to stay away from things that are not Islamic like the service at Church they would want you to go to, prayers at home, talk of Jesus as the son of God, etc...

There's a lot of balancing to be done by converts. I hate to hear about converts giving up everything of their culture when they convert, and alienating their friends and family in the process. It's not helping them to lose their friends and family, and it's not helping people see Islam in a good way to hear about these situations. Change is necessary after conversion for sure... Islam is a way of life, not just a quiet belief, but the point here was that I don't think a person needs to change everything. I think cultural things can be retained if they do not encourage unislamic things in the person.

10 Comentários:

Lisa said...

I think it would be great if we started really studying the trends.

In my case, I gave up absolutely everything to become a niqaabi, from celebrations to even communicating with my family for 3 years. We did everything in secret for the "greater good" of my marriage and Islam. The idea was that even though my husband was wrong and gladly admitted he was, Islamically I was supposed to listen to him. So I did. I was advised by countless imams to do so.

And so I believe that sisters that give up on the things that made them, THEM will inevitably come back to who they are. Better they come back to it still Muslim, then how I did. Love you sweetie.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I think that it is really common for people to abandon American/European culture completely when becoming Muslim. There is not need to completely demonize western culture, because it (like any culture) has both good and bad elements. I think that its definitely possible to have a balance of being involved with your family and local community while also being Muslim. I have seen plenty of Muslims balance both worlds.

Jamilah said...

I gave up things and don't miss them at all. I guess everyone is different.

Sarah the Seeker said...

I agree with you on the cultural celebrations etc. I just can't see what the problem is with Christmas as long as it's not treated as a religious occasion. One of the things that would put me off officially being a Muslim is how at odds I'd be with most Muslims in matters like this.
Sarah

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Great topic. To be honest I sometimes feel like Islam is MORE compatible with Western culture than Arab culture. When I go to Holland, I see people smiling, saying hi, helping each other. I see people fighting against inequality, oppression, racism, sexism. Then I come back to Egypt and see frustration, rudeness, lack of manners, lack of compassion. So which society is more in line with the spirit of Islam?
I understand that Islamic countries are underdeveloped and this is why people act in a certain way. But we too often demonize Western culture. Why not pick and choose from both worlds? Converts usually take everything from Arab culture, the good and the bad, and reject everything Western, including the good. A balance makes more sense.

Candice said...

Sarah: I struggle with that too. I don't see myself fitting in with Muslims that well sometimes but I try to focus on what the beliefs of Islam are and not the group of people. I think a good bunch of converts, especially those not willing to give up everything they knew, feel this way.
CLA: I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say that Arab culture is less compatible with Islam than Western culture, but for sure I love Canada and how free we are to fight for our rights, whatever they are. And I feel that we are more encouraged to focus on being good people here. In Arab countries, it seems that they are just encouraged to follow the religion. Like... follow the rules.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I was hugely disappointed with the lack of manners among Egyptians. My husband and I thought we would want to move there, but spent much of our trip longing to leave. Sad.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

I think that Islam was more compatible with Arab culture back in the day, like Cairo in the 50s and 60s when everyone was relaxed, and religion was personal. Now I'd say it's more compatible with, say, Europe, where religion has become something personal and spiritual, and where people have manners and are polite. Obviously the Qur'an came down to Arabs and there are many things in it that appeal specifically to Arabs, but unfortunately Arab countries today are going through some weird phase of acting culturally rather than Islamically.
This is coming from my experience and obviously won't apply to everyone. I find it easier it be a Muslim in a Western country than in Egypt.

Mrs. S said...

The number one issue for anyone who is Muslim whether they are a convert or not and Arab or not is wading through what is culture and what is religion. It’s a laborious, frustrating and never ending process. I don’t think converts realize this but us “born” Muslims struggle with this also, especially those of us who grew up outside of our parents’ home countries. There are plenty of things that I don’t see as being at odds with my religion so much as my family’s culture, but because I “look” like I fit in with Arab culture it’s naturally assumed that I never struggle with it. I do struggle, though, and I’m okay because it means I’m honest with myself and others.

Whether or not I agree with participating in Christmas or Halloween I think it’s great that you are brave enough to work things out on your own. At the end of the day we don’t answer to each other we answer to God.

Candice said...

Thanks for your comment Mrs. S. I'm sure you're right, born Muslims face some of the same struggles as converts. I don't think about it as much I guess because of the people I'm exposed to (mostly converts) and my situation (a possible convert) but I know it's a struggle...
About Christmas, I think it would be a bit ridiculous for a born Muslim with no Christian background to start celebrating Christmas just for fun, but for someone whose parents are Christian to go to a Christmas celebration is something a bit different.
I think there's a possibility that I'm just attached to the fun of Halloween because there is no real good reason to keep it in my life if I were to convert. But there is no good reason to keep it in my life as a Chritian either, and I don't see any real good reason to get rid of it either.

Thanks again for your comment! :)

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