The cultural straight jacket
This picks up something I talked about already, but I want to mention a few more thoughts. Earlier I mentioned that the uniformity does not go along with the claim of universality. Here I want to point out that this "uniformity model" is against the revelation how God has given it in the earlier scriptures.
Islam seems to impose a cultural straight jacket on all nations under its rule. At least that is the impression I get from observing the talk of Muslims. And this focus on the Sunna - you have to do things exactly as Muhammad did them even up to the question with which foot you step into the bathroom or out of bed. [is that right?]
The Biblical view affirms that God has created us in wonderful diversity.
This was not the plot of Satan that we all have different cultures. It was the pleasure of God, who delights in diversity and beauty in mankind just as well as in the many different plants and animals he created.
In Acts 2, the event of Pentecost is reported. This is an important story to look at, because it describes the birth of the Church and the way it all started says a lot of how God views the cultural differences. It is the "starting point of world missions". But what happens? Not everybody can suddenly speak Hebrew [or Arabic] to praise God "properly", but the many pilgrims present suddenly hear the messsengers of God speak their own languages and dialects! This communicates to these people who have come to worship God, that the language of their heart, their mother tongue, is acceptable to God for praising him and praying to him. God desires the unity of heart and worship but in a way that encompasses the richness of diversity he himself has created. Unity in diversity, not uniformity, is the Biblical model.
Revelation 7 (describing a heavenly scenery of the redeemed people):
and the text goes on to describe who they all sing the praises of God together. But this does not obliterate their diversity. They are still identifyable as "from different tribes and languages"...
Revelation 21 describes the final reign of Christ on the new earth after his second coming:
So, at the very end, there is still the affirmation of the diversity of different riches of the different nations [still different nations], and each contributes of its unique riches and glories and brings God of their riches to praise Him with it.
While the Bible highly values the diversity of culture, Islam seems to be opposed to a diversity of expression in worship and of different ways to express the eternal moral values.
It imposes "Arabic worship" in both language and mannerism on everybody who wants to be a Muslim, whether he understands the Arabic or not. Many of the more devout Muslims wear 7th century Arab clothing although they themselves are not from this culture. I am not sure how much it is expected of a pious Muslim, but it seems it is seen as an act of sincerety in your faith.
The imposing of clothes in 7th century desert tribe style seems to be very strict in regard to women, while less strict in regard to men. Even the men who insist that their women do so, hardly ever wear the matching male outfit, but go more with the current fashion.
Why is Islam putting a straight jacket of uniformity on the diverse cultures instead of affirming their beautifully different creation? In the Bible this diversity is part of the pleasure of God, not only finding his "mere approval" and no culture is allowed to elevate itself above any other.
To me it seems that there is quite some disrespect for God's diverse creation. Hasn't God created many different and colorful animals which show us how He delights in diversity, colorfulness, beauty, etc? Yes, modesty is a valid concern which I definitely support, but uniformizing God's beautiful diversity seems to be disrespectful to the Creator who delights in the creation of beauty and diversity. It is denial of the vibrant joyous life that God gives.
Not uniformity, but unity in diversity is glorifying to God, who has given many different riches to different people so that they may enrich each other and in harmony and unity bring glory to God.
Copyright © 1997 Jochen Katz. All rights reserved.
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