Islam: Perspective of People in the West
Real Differences or Socialization
I cannot speak to ‘the Western’ view: other than to say that Islam is viewed as seen in behaviours (primarily and unfortunately, from television). So, in a word: foreign.
Perhaps, you mean how is the Islamic faith viewed in predominantly Christian countries.
The visual experience (I will offer), in person-to-person interactions, is quite important to most of the world. In diplomatic circles, of course, people are familiar with what to expect from various cultures.
For perspective, people try to be polite and friendly, generally, yet culturally, it is rather hard on the one hand to respond to being ordered around …(or, even screamed at) people view those as direct and harsh; or, on the other hand to ‘meet’ someone who comes in a store and purchases something, all the people and store clerk only know that it was women who barely made eye contact and was cloaked from head to toe. Neither seems …friendly (or, approachable), frankly.
That gives you the ‘perceived experience’ what I am sharing is: the importance of being a good communicator …inter-cultural communication: read this, go beyond the words with english. Infuse indirectness, a quieter voice, slower speech. Those three things will make you ‘different’ from those people that they see on television.
I would share also, that I am not quite a native speaker of english, meaning that I am aware of my challenges. People like the sound of my voice and they understand me; however, I have a more direct approach and I am mentally translating often, so more Latinate than the preferred Saxon.
Therefore, in the States, too often native Spanish-speakers if they learn english well (often and quite easily surpassing the native English-speaking counterparts), go from not being understood to pretentious: you see the challenge. Just food for thought …pick your battles.
As a Roman Catholic (Judaeo-Christian in my rite …which is not a denomination, by the way: Protestants have denominations, just to be informative and clear as well as offer accurate information), I used to carry a lace veil in my handbag or backpack so I could walk into Mass anytime that I wanted at whichever church, especially while traveling (for instance, at a shrine where I would be certain to find many elderly in attendance, as wearing the veil was customary, for them. Some wear gloves as well).
I understand wearing particular clothing for religious purposes, at religious ceremonies. However, the guiding rule for Catholics has been always to participate in the Mass frequently …if I have on a suite or jeans, go rather than not going and participating because of what you are wearing (at least in the States) yet those practices vary from culture to culture, country to country. If I am hanging out with nuns or priests visiting our home. It depends.
When I was around 8, I started studying Taoist philosophy which I consider my default in spiritual wisdom along with things that I learned from native exposure in my family. [Additionally, I have been a Kabbalah practitioner/student for almost 25 years, so Islam, spiritually, is not unfamiliar to me as it is of course, a faith from Abraham: Muslims are one of the ‘People of the Book’.] Nevertheless, some customs and practices from others vary wildly depending on what governments or local societies (families) enforce.
The media, on the other hand, spreads the word that Muslims, Islamics (is that even a word?) do not like Christians: Muslims are ‘the bad people’. Many people take that to heart and do not used what has been termed “critical thinking” or even their own experience. Their minds and hearts re closed to everything outside what they are told by the media or perhaps in their place of worship. Muslims are not the only disparaged group, I might add. Latinos, Jews, African Americans …women are all a mixture of ignorant, unscrupulous, inferior, or just plain untrustworthy. So, despite any effort one might make to change views, all of these groups that I mentioned are stereotyped; and therefore, experience backlash: there is little to be done to dissuade the provincial attitude away from “I know what I know from what I have been told” people. The provincial mindset (regardless of where the person might live, by the way) is learned often early in life from family or through socialization, perhaps religious indoctrination and it stays with them wherever they go. Do not, therefore, feel singled-out because many others understand what you experience.
Larycia Hawkins, a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, decided to wear a headscarf during the Advent season as a…www.npr.org
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Personally, whenever I am traveling or living in a country with its particular customs, I follow their customs as I was taught by my parents. I am of the opinion that most societies have the expectation that others would adapt rather than standing out as strange, unfamiliar.
That said, especially in the States, we do have Mennonites and Hasidim religious lifestyles.
Furthermore, there are people in various groups who wear 17th century (or, even earlier) attire and …well, it means something religious to them: they often live away from others on ranches and such.