Someone previously inquired if I considered myself ethnically as belonging to the Muslim culture. This individual was reflecting on the definition of ethnicity which categorized individuals according to common characteristics belonging to a particular cultural behavior. In many ways, Muslims living in the West are both, part of the Western culture and part of the Muslim culture, obviously. Then not only a mixture of cultures but also of sub-cultures. I do not see a clash of values, not unless one is imposed upon the other.
In a multi-ethnic society, as the one I live in, some of the values are very similar, working diligently, honesty, cleanliness, respect for the environment and so much more. However, gender interaction, prayer schedules and entertainment for instance are some of the issues which are in opposition.
Islam requires (more) modesty between genders. This has been a difficult process for me, as in my personal development, I grew quite fond of the niqab, with respect for the Islamic understanding. Working in some environments with the niqab isn’t acceptable. Interacting with the opposite gender has and is still quite difficult. Muslim men and women should lower their gaze, yet it’s important to interact by looking in a Western society, flirtatious behaviour is acceptable and part of the norm in this society, yet modesty is to be upheld according to the Islamic faith. Prayer schedules, a life of a Muslim evolve around prayer five times daily. Prayer is not catered for or respected by some organizations, such that designated prayer areas and times are not noted seriously. Muslims are commanded to pray five times daily, it is such a valuable part of our faith, it’s in fact a fundamental principle of Islam. Entertainment, we are allowed to relax, sporting activities, family outings, dinning out jokes, etc, but it should all be within the Islamic guidelines. Yet, many of us are influenced strongly with the entertainment media and exposed to unacceptable viewing and listening through, gaming, movies and music content, harming our ourselves.
Acknowledging these matters, makes me see that it would be so much easier for a Muslim to become a better citizen by educating others on the topics of gender interaction. prayer and entertaining values. In our workplaces for instance we should at least try to inculcate these understandings. It’s critical to our very faith and in the betterment of individual and citizenship purposes. Unlike living in a state whereby gross generalizations prevail and no distinctions are made between the criminal and his faith.
And, this is whereby a correct methodology is needed for living in the western world with an Islamic culture. As much as, cross cultural lifestyles are challenging, by nurturing positive values one will become successful, the key is constantly detoxifying, deducing, and infusing. Challenging, indeed. The correct methodology is nothing more than a sunnah character with a focus on a sunnah lifestyle. A pristine personality, outlook and practices. A methodology in which I do not find imposing itself upon others.