Integration of a Multicultural Society
Islamic and Non-Islamic countries
There has been a lot of debate going on about Islam; it’s arguably the religion that brings the most controversy in the world. With the currents of the world changing as a result of globalism, it only fits that Islam is going to be at the center of the debate. This is especially true because of the numbers of Islam growth over the years since Islam is the fastest growing religion by population. In addition to that, Islamic refugees in the west overpopulating the lands of Europe are sparking up nationalist movements. All of this debate is indeed making Islam look like a bad ideology and religion in the eyes of the west and Europe, but much of that vision is skewed.
What make Islam look bad in the eyes of those that don’t know the religion very well is the fact that they are confusing between Islam as a religion of peace, and the acts of some Muslims, either acting in Europe, or in their countries especially in Africa with atrocities or civil wars, or acting westernized.
There are also conservative Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia which have a much more strict approach to Islam and the world because of the fact that the pilgrimage happens to be there. Mecca is the center spot for all Muslims, so it only makes sense that people would generalize Islam with Saudi Arabia rules in its Kingdom.
The Islamic rule in Morocco and Tunisia
It’s a known fact that Islam had spread from the region of Mecca, it was when the Islamic army led by the prophet Mohammed ventured into the world spreading Islam in their conquests. This continued even after Mohammed’s death with the califs and their conquests and eventually into the Ottoman Empire which spread Islam as far as Algeria.
Islam came to Morocco as opposed to spread from Morocco.
This was the Hassanist dynasty with Moulay Idriss in the 8th century. The latter found the country of Morocco full of amazing and hardworking people, he established his territory and kingdom as the descendant of the prophet Mohammed and true ruler of the country. Though the way of ruling in the first Islamic dynasty was rough, it assimilated with the current culture of the Amazigh. This is why the Moroccan culture and folklore is full of Amazigh influences. Morocco was also known to import many people from different races such as the South Africans, and the northern people. This is especially why Morocco has one of the most diverse color palates. This makes Morocco adopt many strategies and laws that will reinforce the rule of Islam, while still maintaining a very flexible attitude with the world.
Tunisia is arguably the most open-minded Islamic country in today’s world, it’s a great model for many Islamic countries since it has true real Islamic values that respect the other’s religions and ideas. The small country of less than 12 million in population is situated between Algeria and Libya and it is looking out to the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia same as Morocco adopts a Maliki sect approach of religion. The Islamic faith that Tunisia came under the ruling of the Umayyad Caliphate in the seventh century as they established the mosque Uqba which is now a huge center of theology.
Tunisia has also gone through many positive revolutions that led to good results in terms of religion and the freedom of the other. Currently, Tunisia is an Islamic country by heart, but civic rights rule over all.
The issue of freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia
Religion holds a very important and integral part of most people, it is their right to practice it at heart wherever and whenever they want, as long as the practices do not trespass the freedom of others. However, Saudi Arabia eternally committed to protecting the pure Islamic doctrine forbids any practice of religion that is not Islamic, while Morocco and Tunisia have perhaps the most liberty in religion.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia adopts an extremely rigid interpretation of Islam which is called the Wahhabism, yet difficult to pinpoint by terminology. This view is not only an interpretation of Islam as a religion, but it is a social ideology and a movement that seeks to engulf the country with a Quran rule of law. What this means is that every single practice and law needs to be approved in the Quran, religion is law, and the law is religion, with no exceptions. Nevertheless, an ideology this strict cannot work with outsiders and will most likely cause a serious clash with other cultures and ideologies if they do not submit.
Sourcing investigations from articles on Intercultural communication between Islamic and not Islamic countries, it is stated that one of the ways that Saudi Arabia has a very serious problem with the integrity of their social structure is because they cannot evolve their view with the world and accept globalization; change is not accepted because the Quran does not change. Consequently, the world evolves into a more globalist village where ideas and opinions meet with harmony while such rigid inflexible laws will never succeed to integrate. Theocracy can never prosper in today’s world. One of the greatest examples of this is how some of the most ethnocentric countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen, and Chad are the least successful in the world while countries such as Japan and Denmark are among the most successful in the world because they respect the other.
This does not mean that religion destroys countries, all it entails is that interfaith and intercultural communication is vital to prosper
And holding extreme and ethnocentric views will fail. This is perhaps even more serious in tourism; any outsider propagation is strictly banned in Saudi Arabia. What is more, is that established laws send anyone who makes publications that have any religious belief other than Islam or for any dress code that does not correspond with the Islamic faith is indeed frowned upon and can send one into jail. And this would be fine up to now.
The Challenge for Saudi Arabia
It will be a historical challenge for the Kingdom, the new projects on the coastal zone and NEOM city; the magnificent project beyond any other to host brilliant people and develop modern forms of green energy, to promise the wealthy future of its citizens, yet through intercultural affairs in a new environment of cultures living compatibly.
It will be a challenging era to obtain or welcome other cultures integrating into the Kingdom, before law amendments, to make new habitats from those cultures feel not sterilized. It will take experts to engage experience from other models, knowledge, and intelligence to achieve harmony in acquiescence.
Moreover, the progressive visionary leadership launching evolutionary project Vision 2030 confronts the extremists who do not appreciate this wise crisis management and always think of globalization as westernization with the dreadful consequences of culture and strength to diminish Islamic patterns and values.
In the Kingdom, there is peace and euphoria. This has been well proven to European working there. I would place my self under law and traditions of the Kingdom in total safety. It is the size of the new project that will make both leadership and citizens to summon people from other cultures upon and after project launching. I have tremendous faith and fidelity in the project to prosper and blossom in the forthcoming years. Maybe is my fidelity but the Kingdom will live soon its Belle Epoque.
Lots of women in Muslim countries in both continents of Africa and Asia are suffering and trying to escape the country from their male guardians, but they cannot do so if they do not have permission from them. In countries living in wartime more important issues overshadow women’s rights.
Mostly in the past the education for women was extremely limited as they only have one version of the truth, they could not have access to any Christianity text, even scientific research cannot claim facts that do not correspond with the Quran; therefore, women were fed an education full of ideology from the theocracy of the country. As a matter of fact, in some countries, it is still considered as a crime because that might offend the rule of law which is Islam.
There so many ways women have suffered, but one of the major ways that they have limited freedom is their lack of choice in their marital life. Male guardians such as brothers and fathers will simply choose the husband of the woman based on their standards and she cannot refuse. In most cases, the man is decades older than the bride and the woman cannot refuse the offer. What is more, is that child marriages are also something that is quite normal in the community since the law has no minimum age of marriage. This usually translates to serious cases of physical and psychological abuse done to these women on the short and long term by their male guardians and the husband’s family.
The same goes for other laws such as the right of a woman to divorce a man that is not possible and the inheritance law which gives women half of what their brothers get. Furthermore, a woman cannot under any circumstance travel abroad for any reason, be it studies, research, vacations or anything of that sort. Every woman will need a male guardianship or approval from a man who is responsible for taking care of her.
Why the open-minded view of Tunisia and Morocco makes them better examples of Islam
It’s no surprise to see that one of the safest countries in Africa is Tunisia and Morocco, they have one of the most libertarian views of the world in comparison with other Muslim countries.
In Morocco, for instance, there are three major functioning orthodox Christian churches that welcome Christian minorities and even Moroccan people who might be interested in learning more about Christianity. The Roman Catholic church of Tunisia functions more than 12 churches and other establishments such as schools and clinics spread out in the country. Morocco also has many libraries and small churches especially in the capital, Rabat.
Though there is a lot of debate and controversy going on in the case of secularism of Tunisia, Islam is still an integral part of the country’s history and set of traditions. Many Islamic schools and institutions are still being built and Tunisia remains an Islamic country. However, this does not mean that Tunisia has a strict sect of law; freedom of speech is highly respected. As a matter of fact, Ramadan which is the Holy month of Muslims, to pray and fast the day has been made less strict. Back in the day, one could go to prison if they publicly drink or eat while other people fast, but as of recent, it was made to be possible that anyone can go out drinking or eating and the law wouldn’t punish them. This just goes to show how Tunisia and Morocco care about the right to believe in an ideology that is not Islamic.
In Morocco, tourists of other nations can go out in public, eat or drink during Ramadan and it is absolutely normal to see. Foreign couples are also permitted to stay in hotels together with no marital contract. This is actually illegal for Moroccan citizens since any couple that enters a room in a hotel would need a marital certification. In Tunisia, the inheritance laws have been equalized for women. Now a woman will receive just as much as her male relatives in inheritance in court, women are also able to go whenever and wherever they wish without the consent of anyone.
Morocco and Tunisia continue to be one of the largest tourist destinations in the Arab world while more strict countries such as S.A are feared to be visited. In Islam, being stricter is not always the answer. Islam is now moving into a direction of post-modern identity where one practices their religion privately but maintains an identity that fits with the world.
The semblance of the closed border system
The West is adopting an open border system which allows people to claim residency and stay indefinitely in countries such as France, Sweden, and Germany. This happens to be an opportunity for Arabs, Muslims, and Africans to venture into Europe freely. It’s quite known for an Arab or African, to go to Europe, leaving his imprisoned wife in his house while he enjoys his time in the freedom of the west.
The issue remains when Muslims go into Europe to enjoy the open border system while they have a closed border nation that literally beheads people if they do not abide by the sharia law. This is not the case in Morocco and Tunisia, people are free to come and practice their cultures and religions with no interferences from the state or even from the people.
Freedom of religion is not only accepted by law, but it is also socially accepted and encouraged. You can literally see in the streets of Morocco a Mosque few dozens of meters away from a night club across the street of a church and no one even dared to give a mean eye to others. Freedom is becoming more important in counties such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Emirates; these are great examples of countries that have had success with tourism on an international level without losing the integrity of their culture and religion.
In Emirates, there are two churches. Personally, I have been to Saint Nicholas Church on Sundays. There are a lot of working Greeks, Russians and other Orthodox Christians who go to this church. This has not contaminated the religion and laws of any Emirate.
The direction that the world is heading into today is definitely a place where the individual is respected regardless of what they believe. There are still Muslim countries which continue to fail the task of respecting the other, and there is a long history of being under investigation with the human right council due to many events.
It has become of paramount importance to change the view of how religion is viewed and move on with the world, there are simply more complex issues that need to be dealt with. In societies with corrupted Governments, or extreme Islamic state for women, or during current civil wars, the fanatics may exercise any form of violence, especially against women.
We live on one planet created by one God and we are all one people. It will never make sense the extremities or atrocities, the lack of education or inequality in the name of God.
As this makes me sensitive to women, thankfully non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to the global promotion of human rights facilitate projects by establishment of women’s international network, featuring influential women to improve women’s human rights and enhance gender equality in Muslim societies, to make women raise the voice, and to address the religious, legal, social, political and cultural mechanisms that prevent women’s voices from being heard. Findings from this research project will be used by women activists locally to advocate further law reform.
Part I – to be continued darlings
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