Saturday, March 12, 2005


The emergence of the global economy and the political ascendancy of the West dictated a global trend that threatened individual culture and identity. Globalization is viewed as a successor to imperialism. The extreme flows of outside culture can eliminate vulnerable culture. Many anthropologists have become interested in how dominant societies can shape the culture of less powerful societies, a process some researchers call cultural hegemony. This is an era of worldwide social change bringing a new form of cultural imperialism that they associate with globalization homogenizing other indigenous cultures in the Western image.

The power struggle to assert competing claims to the cultural constructs such as labels, ideals and symbols has come to be known as a politics of culture. It is believed that cultural dependency robs one of faith and identity, far more effective than political rule. The use of culture in advertising is a subtle and subliminal attack that corrupts not only the nation’s consumption pattern and economic behaviour but also its cultural orientation. Advertisements in movies, TVs, magazines etc is seen as cultural pollution intended to eliminate cultural identity and replace it with a homogenous global consumer culture.

Globalization is not strange to Islam. In fact it is being encouraged when it says:

...We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). ...(Quran 49:13).

The following among several hadiths that delve on the subject demonstrate how Islam is design to co-exist peacefully with other cultures who are member of the human race.

God will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind (hadith).

“I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. (Hadith Qudsi)

Having read the bad effect of globalization which can extinguish existing weak culture, how can then Islam protect its identity? Will Muslims be submerged with the western image?

Islam is no just a set of religious ideas and practices, but also a political community endowed with a system of law designed to protect the collective interests of believers as well as to regulate their relations with the outside world. Nothing is neglected in the Quran so we can read in the following the assurance that Islamic culture will not just be a component of western image:

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most suitable, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.(Quran 33:59)

Veil then became not only a sign of modesty but also a strong symbol of resistance to cultural imperialism. Islam encourages a global society where there is an acceptance and respect of individual cultures. It is not regarded as oppression since Islam advocate freedom of religion. Anybody not comfortable with Islam is free to choose his religious affiliation.

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error (Quran 2:256)

Veiling no matter how some consider it to be, becomes necessary not just for modesty but for the survival of Islamic identity or the Muslim Ummah. Modesty is beneficial for maintaining a certain moral fibre in various cultures and should therefore be maintained not just for the Women but also for the Men.

Friday, February 11, 2005


By Dr. Altaf Kaisaruddin

It was a beautiful day, masha Allah. Most days were beautiful on Dominica, but today was a little more special. I walked through the gate toward the school. The security guard and I greeted each other.

"You goin’ home soon?"

"Yeah, after I finish my finals. But I’ll be back for the next semester."

"You got people waiting for you?"

"Yeah, my family and friends."

"You got a girlfriend waiting for you?" He smiled a sly smile.

"Come on, P," I smiled back, "you know Muslims don’t date."
Actually, he probably didn’t know that. The people on this tiny island know very little about Islam. From the news (cable TV from New York) they learn that Muslims are violent, and from their preachers they learn that all Muslim men have four wives.

"You don’t date?" He asked with the standard surprise. People are always surprised when I tell them that. Rather than get defensive, I act as if they should know. It makes them more curious. Then he asked the usual next question: "Well, how do you all get married?"

I went through how dating is a relatively new phenomenon, only 50-60 years old, how it’s only practiced in some parts of the world, and how it doesn’t work very well as evidenced by the sky-high divorce rate. People have been getting married all over the world for thousands of years without dating. In reality, not dating is the norm.

"So, are the marriages arranged?"

"That’s one way of doing it. See, Islam has guidelines for life. Allah says to cover ourselves, and you see Muslims with many types of dress. Allah says not to eat pork, not to drink alcohol and a couple of other things. Muslims have so many varieties of foods. Regarding marriage, Allah asks that we conduct ourselves with dignity, honor and respect. The parents should be involved in the process, everything’s up front and there are no games. The man and the woman have to agree, and they can say no for any reason. Any reason. Nobody’s trying to trick someone else, go back door, get something for nothing, play this one for that one, or any other social foolishness. Relationships between men and women are serious stuff. And with the parents involved early, it provides additional stability to the relationship." Without exception, at this point the people are nodding in agreement.

"So, tell me," he started hesitantly, "can you marry four wives?" He was trying not to offend me.

"Yes," I said with a very even tone, not betraying any emotion. That’s all I said. I wanted to draw him out, to be an active part of this instead of just a passive listener.

"You mean if I became Muslim, I could marry four wives?" He smiled with mock surprise. Now he wanted to play, trying to make me defensive.

"Yes." I wouldn’t give in. With just the one word I turned the tables.

"You mean if I became Muslim right now, I could marry four women right now?" He tried again.

"Yes." I held my ground. Now he was speechless. He ran out of things to say. His face betrayed a mind racing with curiosity, but still not knowing what to say or do.

I turned up the heat. "Are you ready?"

"What?" He was taken aback.

"Are you ready?" I was having fun.


"Listen, P," I let him off the hook, "you’re married right?"


"You know how hard it is being married to one woman. Can you imagine being married to two?"

"Oh." His face showed a look of sudden revelation.

"Yeah, now how about three?"

"Oh." His concern grew exponentially.

"See, Islam allows men to marry up to four women, but a Muslim man has to think and think hard about the responsibility he’s taking on. Again, it’s not a game. If a man decides to marry more than one woman, he has to treat them equally. How many men can do that? And he has to stand before Allah and answer for what he has done. If he did well, then he will be rewarded, and if not, then he’ll get something else."

"I get it. But why is it allowed in the first place?"

"Islam is for all people and all times. Look around here today. If every man in Dominica gets married what happens?"

"There’s more women."

"Ok, so what do the women do?"

"They play around with the men like they do now."

"Yeah, but now men aren’t married, and they’re playing the women. How many girlfriends is average? Then the women get pregnant thinking that way they’ll catch the man. But the man just leaves with his other girlfriends and maybe gets another. Now what? How many women are there in Dominica that are in their 20’s, aren’t married and have children by two, three, even four different men? I mean, can you find a woman in her twenties without at least two?"

He face took on a look of lamenting for his people. The social, educational, economic, judicial, political ramifications are staggering from just this.

"Now, in Islam, men have to take care of their responsibilities. One wife, two, three or four, the women and children are his responsibility. Imagine if men here took responsibility for their actions. Imagine if men and women respected one another."

"It would be a different place."

"Beautiful, right?"


"Dominica is beautiful. Islam is beautiful. I can only imagine Dominica with Islam. Take care, P, I gotta go study for finals."

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