Identity and Culture


Who are we? We touch here on the central question of identity that has occupied people’s minds and continues today to be the nub of much reflection and debate. The question is a vital one for Muslims living in the West. If the message in which they believe is universal, if they must try, wherever they live, to remain faithful, and if the West is a “place of witness” that allows them to be themselves and feel at home, it is imperative that they define what they are and what they want to be in order better to treat the malaise that can result from not knowing very well how the outlines of that identity are drawn. This malaise is, to tell the truth, an almost permanent feature of the Muslim psyche in the West: the old immigrants were not very clear about whether they wanted to be “Muslims” in the West or rather “Pakistani, Turkish and Arab Muslims” in the West, and, as for native European and American converts, they were divided between exiling themselves from their own culture by Arabizing or Pakistanizing themselves and simply staying what they were at a distance from Muslim communities that had come from elsewhere and were culturally distinct.

The encompassing character of the message of Islam, its universality, and the instruments we have been given to help us live in time should help us to cure these troubling disorders and finally to overcome them. Once again, a return to the scriptural sources allows us to establish a distinction between the religious principles that define the identity of Muslims and the cultural trappings that these principles necessarily take on according to the societies in which individuals live. This is a fundamental distinction: just as the universality of the principles allows Muslims to make their own large swathes of national cultures through the process of integration we have spoken of, so it must not happen that a specific culture becomes so identified with Muslim principles that it interferes with adaptation to another context, or more pernicious, that it accords itself a false right to represent the only way of being authentically Muslim (as is sometimes the case with Arab culture).

So we must distinguish between on the one hand the elements of Muslim identity that are based on religious principles and that give it a necessarily open quality that allows the believer to live in any environment and on the other hand cultures that are a specific way of living out these principles, adapted for a variety of societies, none having more legitimacy than any other provided that it respects the religious injunctions. If we embark on the first stage of this stripping down, it is possible to define the import and the meaning of “Muslim identity” by exposing four foundational pillars with specific dimensions. Let us remember that our task is to extrapolate the essence of the identity from the accident of its actualization in a particular time and place. In other words, our purpose and aim consist in discerning and abstracting Islam from the incidentals of Arab and/or Asian culture, tradition, and dress in order to arrive at a conception of the universal principles to which Muslims in the West must hold if they are to remain faithful and then to dress them in that culture. At the end of this process, the means of becoming a European or American Muslim will emerge.

8 Commentaires

  1. Love and Reason and Logic and Justice and Fairness and Decency, has no need for any Exhibition of Unnecessary Separation.The Mould of Love and Reason and Logic and Justice and Fairness and Decency (and other Beautiful Attributes) is all one needs to abide by, in any TimeFrame of Existence – whatever that makes of us, ought to be Good. Practices of Unnecessary Separation are not in Line with The Dictates of Peace.They are an Obstacle to Peace and Distort The Perception of Piety – and Tyrannical Forces know well how to Employ this Unnecessary Separation (not only between two “supposedly” different Creeds, but even within The Same Creed) for Their Aims. Something has gone severely wrong somewhere down The Line – and thereby The Despicable State of Affairs, as prevail. At 9:108, Allah (swt) has clearly warned us, never, ever, to entertain anything that results in The Unnecessary Separation of Mankind. National Separation, Internationally. Political Separation, within Nations. Economic Separation (where each one is at odds with the other for Survival and Comfort). SEPARATION, for The Purpose of Subjugation, is one of The Core Aims of Tyrannical Forces. FURUN (the term for an Oven in Classical Arabic) is closely related to FIRAUN – that is, those who create an Oven-Like Atmosphere on Earth. WaSalam

  2. Thanks for your view. We have to inculcate in our minds our exact situation among others. Educate our Islamic history in the period of last prophet Mohamed ( sav).
    This history is lacking among muslim.
    This goal have to achieve ISA.

  3. A very relevant observation on today’s Muslim identity perceptions in the West. We need to be able to extrapolate religion and its core beliefs from the entrenched trappings of ‘islamized’ culture, that present – day Islamic practices/ understandings have somehow been molded into. If a new, revised form of religious understanding and self- image is to be constructed within Western-Muslim minds, then we need to reconfigure our positionality viz a viz our environment. Who we are, in connection to our self and in connection to our environment, first and foremost as Muslims, in the context of Islamic principles, is crucial to this reconfiguration. Consequentially, we need to see Islam, not as a set of orthodox or culturally entrenched practices, but first as a set of spiritual and moral imperatives, that must form the basis of all our actions. The first step thus, is to redefine the meaning of ‘islam’ in our lives; is our understanding of Islam, an idea of morality that is being reproduced through practice or is it mere ritualized practice being instituted without morality? This to me is the basic question that needs to be addressed for the construction of any future Muslim identity processes in the Western world.

  4. Tyrannical Forces seek to Raise the Importance of Money (so as to give it Divine Status and to Perpetuate their Economic Hegemony), and seek to Harden the Hearts by Creating a Volatile Atmosphere and Putting in Place A Highly Aggressive, Divisive, Irrational, Wasteful and Conflict Ridden Mechanism that is (apparently) supposed to enable Individuals to Pay For The Things that They Want and Need, and, at the same time, Engender Progress.

    Sane Minds ought to move in The Opposite Direction. Lessen The Importance of Money with a View to Eventually, Bury Exchange, Altogether, and Soften The Hearts.

    These elements of pride and respect for one’s own self and this matter of Standing on One’s Own Feet, Halaal Earning (deserved earning) are some of Their (the Tyrants) Favourites Tricks.

    In The Prevailing Mechanism of Acquiring that which one needs to survive and acquiring Material Comforts, almost ALL will end-up losing self-respect; almost ALL will end-up Falling; almost ALL will end up engaging in what is deemed ‘haraam earning’ (illegal earning), and, Each One, will end up, Hating The Other- even The Closest of Bonds !!!!

    But this is what happens within Orders Founded upon Exchange and Profit Orientation – where we are Taught to Capitalise on What we Possess and What we Know – Such Thinking is Borne of a Mindset not unlike to that of a Pimp. Seeking a Return is bad enough, but then to Seek to Capitalise is way out of order. This is NOT Brotherly Behaviour. Such behaviour has no place within The Ambit of a Loving and Decent Family – which is what The Ummah ought to be, which is what has to become of ALL Mankind. This may be a better understanding of RIBBA. If one keeps a Loving and Decent Family in Mind and Heart, things become Clearer.

    But, I do understand, for a Return is a Necessity, at Present (and has been for much of Human Existence). Abolishing Exchange may not be as difficult as it may appear – for The Return most receive is nothing to write home about – it is Illusory.

    The Demise of Exchange will naturally result in The Demise of Profit Orientation – and then, Our Faculties and Our Resources may be Directed and Utilised a bit more Sensibly, Diligently -as per NEED, for The True Welfare and True Progress of Mankind and Everything will be in its Proper Place. Things that Deserve Respect and Praise will be Respected and Praised and Things (Nonsense) that we Need to Shed, will be Shed. Then we may Grow, and FineTune Ourselves, as we Ought To.

    And, incidentally, it appears SHARRIAH is The Process, is that which needs to be done, is The Mechanism that is Employed so as to Actualise The Goodness within Individuals – customised to The Needs of The Individual. This entails identifying the individuals Natural Inclination (Natural Abilities) and then Assisting that Inclination to Grow so as to be of some Benefit, when Actualised. Uncoerced (Organic) Fruition of Goodness – we cannot pull the stems with a view to accelerate the growth of the flower.


  5. It is very essential to put a common culture which are based on the one Godness ( thawhid) and the crisis of muslim identity is becoming an vital issue. Though i believe in the almighty Allah my deeds do not testify the believe. How could Muslim be practical in believe and action?


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