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August 06, 2012, Monday


A lot has been said on the notion of culture since its emergence. The notion, coined by the Germans, still remains unclear; there is no agreement on its definition. Anthropologists give nearly 360 definitions of culture. However, despite uncertainty on how to define it, there should not be any disagreement on the functions it plays in the modern world. The Muslim world should be viewed as an exception because most Muslims believe that culture is possible and necessary and further argue that Islam represents a superior culture.

We, the Muslims, as in the import of the institutions and structures, incorporate Western concepts without paying attention their semantics and attempt to subject this notion to a process of Islamization; subsequently, we come to believe that things we have Islamized fully belong to us. Our misperception lies in our own attitude.

As opposed to being Islamized, Islamization functions as a legitimizing tool rather than a force that transcends the structures held by the Muslims eager to exhaust the culture of the modern world and transforms these structures. Of course, those who are familiar with the assertions and nature of religion admit that it interferes with the semantics of the language. Semantic intervention is the major tendency of religion. And naturally, if it is to interfere with an area, a religion does this by its followers. In other words, the active subject of the interference is the Muslim actor. However, the Muslim actor may not get results consistent with the goals of religion all the time; sometimes what it does may be possible but not legitimate.

Islamization, which the present-time Muslims resort to as a method and tool of intervention, seems to be illegitimate in this regard. The clear example of this lies in the nature of the hopeless relationship between Islam and culture. The notion of culture, because of its semantics, reference sources and major philosophical assumptions, cannot be Islamized.

In essence, culture is secular and national; in this sense, it belongs to the state. Without these two characteristics, culture of any sort cannot be designed and it cannot replace the mental coordinates of human beings.

The goal of culture is to secularize society and to provide a fertile ground for individuals so that they acquire a national formation on a secular basis as a tamed entity. The state’s survival depends on culture. The modern state that seeks to build a nation does this via culture. Secularization, which literally means separation of world from religion and the social and national environment that makes it possible, are the main reasons for the existence of modernity. The reason for existence in a religious world is different from this.

It is possible and essential that man attempts to have a relationship with nature and the universe based on his initial knowledge and acquire additional knowledge through this interaction. Our potential knowledge that we possess as a blessing from God in our creation is granted knowledge. However, the knowledge that the prophets have brought is knowledge of revelation. We acquire a third type of knowledge through our interaction with the universe based on these two types of knowledge; this is called acquired knowledge. Westerners call it culture whereas we may refer to it as insight or wisdom. The man of culture does not count the granted knowledge as a blessing and does not consider the revealed knowledge as trustworthy.

A mental attempt that seeks to culturize Islam or generate culture out of Islam could culminate in the secularization or nationalization of the religion. Technically, there is no such thing as Islamic or Christian culture, but there could be Islamic wisdom or Christian insight. Where culture takes its role, there is potential of conflict between ethnic groups because every ethnic group generates its own culture in a modern sense. The means at hand have been invented in order to identify the ends, and the methods to determine the content. We cannot reverse this, but by provoking a reverse format, we may acquire genuine and useful knowledge to redesign our lives.

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