The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of western culture were those of Mesopotamia ; the area of the Tigris—Euphrates river systemlargely corresponding to modern-day Iraqnortheastern Syriasoutheastern Turkey and southwestern Iran: What we think of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Agesthe Renaissanceand the Enlightenmentas well as Christian culture. Alexander the Great In Homeric literature, and right up until the time of Alexander the Greatfor example in the accounts of the Persian Wars of Greeks against Persians by Herodotuswe see the paradigm of a contrast between the West and East. Nevertheless, the Greeks felt they were the most civilized and saw themselves in the formulation of Aristotle as something between the wild barbarians of most of Europe and the soft, slavish Middle-Easterners.
Islamic and Western Values Dr. Ali Mazrui as its guest speaker. Mazrui, the forthcoming The Power of Babel: At Al-Hewar Center, Dr. Mazrui provided an engaging discussion of "Islamic Values, the Liberal Ethic and the West," followed by an open discussion with the audience.
The following article addresses many of the topics he discussed at Al-Hewar Center. Democracy and The Humane Life Westerners tend to think of Islamic societies as backward-looking, oppressed by religion, and inhumanely governed, comparing them to their own enlightened, secular democracies.
But measurement of cultural distance between the West and Islam is a complex undertaking, and that distance is narrower than they assume.
Islam is not just a religion, and certainly not just a fundamentalist political movement. It is a civilization, and a way of life that varies from one Muslim country to another but is animated by a common spirit far more humane than most Westerners realize.
Nor do those in the West always recognize how their own societies have failed to live up to their liberal mythology. Moreover, aspects of Islamic culture that Westerners regard as medieval may have prevailed in their own culture until fairly recently; in many cases, Islamic societies may be only a few decades behind socially and technologically advanced Western ones.
In the end, the question is what path leads to the highest quality of life of the average citizen, while avoiding the worst abuses. The pat of the West does not provide all the answers; Islamic values deserve serious consideration.
The Way it Recently Was Mores and values have changed rapidly in the West in the last several decades as revolutions in technology and society progressed. Islamic countries, which are now experiencing many of the same changes, may well follow suit. There were laws against sex outside marriage, some of which are still on the books, if rarely enforced.
Today sex before marriage, with parental consent, is common. Homosexual acts between males were a crime in Great Britain until the s although lesbianism was not outlawed.
Now such acts between consenting adults, male or female, are legal in much of the West, although they remain illegal in most other countries. Even within the West, one sees cultural lag. Although capital punishment has been abolished almost everywhere in the Western world, the United States is currently increasing the number of capital offenses and executing more death row inmates than it has in years.
But death penalty opponents, including Human Rights Watch and the Roman Catholic Church, continue to protest the practice in the United States, and one day capital punishment will almost certainly be regarded in America as a violation of human rights.
Westerners regard Muslim societies as unenlightened when it comes to the status of women, and it is true that the gender question is still troublesome in Muslim countries. Islamic rules on sexual modesty have often resulted in excessive segregation of the sexes in public places, sometimes bringing about the marginalization of women in public affairs more generally.
British women, however, were granted the right to own property independent of their husbands only inwhile Muslim women have always had that right. Indeed, Islam is the only world religion founded by a businessman in commercial partnership with his wife. While in many Western cultures daughters could not inherit anything if there were sons in the family, Islamic law has always allocated shares from every inheritance to both daughters and sons.
Primogeniture has been illegal under the sharia Islamic law for 14 centuries. The historical distance between the West and Islam in the treatment of women may be a matter of decades rather than centuries. Recall that in almost all Western countries except for New Zealand, women did not gain the right to vote until the twentieth century.
Great Britain extended the vote to women in two stages, in andand the United States enfranchised them by constitutional amendment in France followed as recently as Furthermore, the United States, the largest and most influential Western nation, has never had a female president.It is in the name of its values that several Western countries invaded almost exclusively Muslim-majority countries.
So Islam hinders the West because in truth the West no longer has values outside of consumption and capitalism it is for that it must give the impression of being . It is obvious that some Western politicians have used the fear of Islam and encouraged Islamophobia in order to gain political power, but this does not hide the reality that fundamentalist Islamist ideology is incompatible with the values of Europe and U.S.
Islam, like any religion, is facing challenges to evolve and adjust to modernity and in particular to the economic and cultural power of a dominant West. Islam, like any religion, is facing challenges to evolve and adjust to modernity and in particular to the economic and cultural power of a dominant West.
Western values—the basis of the West’s self-evident economic, social, political, scientific and cultural success—are clearly superior to any other set of values devised by mankind.
When Western values have been adopted by other societies, such as Japan or South Korea, their citizens have reaped benefits.
Western Values and Islam The controversy over westernization has had major historical implications in the Middle East over the past several decades.
Globalization is accelerating concerns about the infusions of Western values in Islamic countries.