Perceptions of Islam1 Essay

This essay has a total of 731 words and 4 pages.

Perceptions of Islam1



How the West Perceives Islam and what Mazrui thinks is the Reality

Most Westerners tend to view the Islamic societies as somewhat backward in their beliefs
according to Mazrui. Commonly Westerners believe that this is due to the oppressed
religious beliefs of Islamic's. They also believe that the Islamic society is governed
inhumanely in comparison to the enlightened, well-rounded democracy of the Western world.
However the measurement of cultural differences between the West and Islam is somewhat
complex, and the differences between the two is narrower than assumed by most Western
beliefs. Islam is not considered just a religion, and most certainly is not just a
fundamentalist political movement but is a civilization and a way of life that varies from
one Muslim country to another. The Westerners seem fail to recognize how their own
societies have failed to live up to their liberal mythology. Many aspects of Islamic
culture that Westerners regard as medieval may even have prevailed in their own culture
until fairly recently. In most cases, Islamic societies are only a few decades behind in
the socially and technologically advanced Westerners. The main question that we must ask
ourselves is what path leads to the highest quality of life for the average citizen
without the worry of being abused in the process. According to Mazrui, Islamic values
deserve serious consideration because the West doesn’t provide the answers to all the
questions being asked. Many Westerners regard Muslim societies as being unenlightened when
it comes to the rights of women, and it is true that the question regarding women is still
troublesome in most Muslim countries. The rules regarding the Islamic beliefs on sexual
modesty have often resulted in excessive segregation of the sexes in public places,
sometimes bringing about questionable differences regarding women’s rights. However,
Muslim women have always been permitted to own property where the British women where not
allowed to do so until 1870. Islamic laws have also allowed the inheritance to both
genders equally while in many Western cultures women could not inherit anything if there
were sons in the family. The United States, which is the largest most influential Western
nation, has yet to nominate a female into the presidential office where Muslims have had
two women Prime ministers. Although Muslims have moved towards female empowerment, they
are still far behind in female liberation.

The sources and methods of censorship may differ but censorship is just a fact of life in
Western societies as it is in the Muslim world. Censorship is often crudely, imposed by
governments, mullahs and imams, and recently, militant Islamic movements. However, the
Censorship in the West, is more polished and decentralized. The practitioners in the West
are financial backers of the cultural activity and entertainment advertisers that buy time
on commercial television. In regards to the division of church and state and the
protection of minority religions through secularism in the West, Islam has tried to
protect those religions through ecumenicalism throughout its history. One conclusion that
can be drawn from this is that Westerners are less well rounded in their political
behavior than they believe. The other conclusion is that Muslim societies historically
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