Islam Culture Versus Islam Religion & The Western Perception of Islam
Throughout this course we have learned several different aspects of
Islam as a culture and as a religion we have also been able to put to
rest several myths that have plagued Islam in the eyes of the Western
World. In this paper I will discuss the significant difference of
Islam as a religion versus Islam as a culture as seen through the eyes
of a Malay Muslim. I will then go on to discuss how the Western world
views Islam and how it is progressively changing for the better.
Islam is a religion based on the teaching of the Profit Mohammad,
passed down by the angel Gabriel. But, to ...view middle of the document...
Culture takes precedence over everything else and, if they miss
one or two obligations in Islam, like praying or fasting, it does not
matter as long as that so called "adat" has been safely implemented.
For example, they would spend hours dressing up a bride for a wedding
ceremony. Never mind that the bride has to miss her prayers because of
this. Allowing her to do her prayers would mean the preparations would
be interrupted or delayed, not to mention her hair, which had been
carefully set at great expense of time and money, would get all messed
The house would need to be cleaned and everything would need to be
nicely set up in preparation. This would mean they would have to miss
the last day of fasting or else there would be no energy left for the
great task ahead of them. Impressing the guests who would be visiting
for the wedding is more important than fasting. Culture is so
important that they would sacrifice their child as long as the culture
is protected. They would not sacrifice for Islam.
How did this come about? Islam is very specific and explicit. Islam is
the ultimate and everything else comes later. How could, therefore,
culture stand between the Muslim and their religion? Even more
important, how could the Malay Muslim get so confused that he could
not differentiate between religion and culture and allow himself to
practice Islam his way; religion as a culture.
Malays were the descendants of Hindus long before they became Muslims.
The part of Indonesia, where the Malaysian Malays originally came
from, is still predominately Hindu. Even in those parts of Indonesia,
which have become mostly Muslim, you can still see the remains of the
Hindu religion within the culture as seen within a number of
ritualistic ceremonies, that have a strong presence of Hindu
The Malay Sultans of early Melaka had Sanskrit names, proof of the
Hindu influence. The Indian merchants who came to Melaka to trade
brought the Islamic influence into the hearts of the Sultans. That is
why the brand of Islam is the same in India and in Indonesia. In
comparison to the practices of the Middle Eastern Muslims, which are
The nation at that time owed their loyalty to the Sultans. When the
Sultans converted to Islam the nation followed suit without any
questions. They became Muslims due to the tradition of loyalty to the
Sultans rather than because they were committed to the religion.
Here alone was reason enough for the weak following of the religious
principles. The people were just doing what the Sultan asked. The old
cultures and traditions were never erased on the bases of the religion
but were blended in to their brand of Islam. The early Malay Muslims
were confused and a lot of people today, follow their customs, which
are viewed as religious but...