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The United Arab Emirates is a predominantly Muslim state with Arab population. There are also people from other nationalities who may not be Muslims. However, the country is governed by the Islamic Law, and everyone is expected to respect that. Muslim culture is incredibly different from the Christian culture; it explains why I find American culture quite intriguing. America can be said to be a pluralistic society because of the diversity of its people who freely profess different faith and belong to different races, ethnicities, and nationalities (Bae%u0308ta & Pobee, 1975).
I am a conservative Muslim, and a majority of conservative Muslims have very strong values as compared to the liberal ones. Islam has prohibited its followers from eating pork and drinking alcohol because they are considered to be ‘haram’, and consuming ‘haram’ products is seen as a lack of respect for Allah.
In my country, we strongly adhere to fasting during the month of Ramadan in order to make ourselves pure before Allah and keep the devil’s temptations away. During Ramadan, Muslim followers do not eat or drink anything from dawn to dusk. In addition, they do not engage in sensual pleasure such as sex, smoking, listening to music, etc. in order to detach themselves from material pleasure. During this time, Muslims are also expected to show solidarity with the needy in society by sharing what they have with another people.
Muslim women are expected to cover their heads with a veil (hijab) and wear long gowns with sleeves as part of their dressing because Allah requires this from women. He requires women to keep their ornaments covered, and only show them to their husbands to keep men from temptations as a result of impure thoughts. Women who follow these teachings by Prophet Muhammad understand that Allah knows what befits a human being better than human beings know.
Islam requires us to pray five times every day, that is, in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, at dusk, and in the evening. Friday is also the holy day in our religion. I believe this tradition has brought me closer to Allah.
Islam strongly condemns fornication and adultery, and its teachings include measures that women and men should keep to avoid falling into sin. For instance, in Quran 33:53, Islamic culture discourages intermingling of men and women to avoid sexual thoughts and activities that are likely to arise from social interactions. As a result, women and men do not mingle while praying in the mosque and are discouraged from maintaining eye contact with people of the opposite sex according to Quran 24:31.
Muslim fraternity advocates for marriage; actually, we say that marriage is ‘mustahaab’ (recommended). Muslim believers discourage singlehood, which explains why Islam advocates for polygamy to ensure that all women can find husbands. According to Islamic teachings, marriage is a requirement for procreation and sustainability of humanity.
My Observations and Experiences
I have observed that most of the American people consume ‘haram’ products since they are not forbidden. The society has an incredible number of revellers who engage in immoral behavior by taking drugs, consuming alcohol, prostitution, and smoking among other activities. There are also those who do not engage in such behavior because they find it risky, or due to health-related reasons, but not because the Bible or the Quran condemns such behavior. Lastly, there is a group of staunch Christians who do not involve themselves in immoral behavior because they respect the teachings in the Bible.
The American society is liberal in the manner in which people handles their affairs, dress, communicate, and the like. For instance, American people dress in what makes them comfortable depending on the occasion, weather, profession, among other factors. In my opinion, people here are free to make decisions pertaining to their lives, giving them control over it.
It is more common to see single parents in America than in the UAE because the American society strongly believes in human rights. As a result, there are many broken families following divorces and separations. Moreover, there are many incidents of hostility arising from court decisions in granting custody of children and awarding alimony. In America, majorities of crucial decisions are made on the basis of societal values rather than religious values contrary to the UAE.
My Opinion of a Pluralistic Society
I am a staunch Muslim follower, and the Quran, family and society have influenced my values. My stay in the US has exposed me to people with different diversities, and I am intrigued by certain ways of life, which has challenged me to re-evaluate the way I viewed non-Muslims. I strongly support pluralistic societies because there is always something positive that one can consider. I have learnt that allowing people to be who they are can help them learn more about themselves for human development purposes.
In conclusion, I would wish to reiterate that cultural diversity should no longer be viewed as a negative thing, but as an opportunity to learn what one does not understand about other cultures. This should be viewed as a chance to consider the good and try to change the bad into the good from one’s own culture to promote human development and coexistence. It would be wrong to be prejudicial and assume that one culture is superior to another because every culture has something good to offer, and something bad that should be rectified.