If you need help finding a topic for your next definition essay on Muslim culture, consider the list of 20 definition essay topics below:
- Defining Harth for Modern Culture
- The Definition of Cultural Relativism Means Today
- Defining Faith as a Fundamental Term
- The Power of a Word to Impact Change
- How Islam is a Word Which Creates Stereotypes
- A Word Which Changes History
- Defining Muslim as an Individual
- A Word Which is Stigmatized
- How Veil Harbors Negative Connotations
- The Negative and Positive Power of One Word
- The Linguistic Value of Symbols
- The Power of the Word Prophet
- Defining the Qu’ran in Modern Culture
- The Impact of the Five Pillars
- The Definition of Jilbab
- Defining Muslim as a Nation
- Defining Religion among Modern Culture
- Defining Subservience among Secular Cultures
- Defining Symbols and Power within Muslim Culture
- Defining Freedom among Modern Culture
Aren’t those unique? Don’t forget to check our 10 facts on Muslim Culture as well as the complete guide to a definition essay. That being said, below is a sample piece on one of the topics listed above.
Sample Definition Essay “Defining Symbols and Power within Muslim Culture”
One of the largest controversies within Islam and the west is the idea of gender equality. Many western schools of thought focus on the lack of gender equality associated with Muslim women in particular. This is often epitomized through the veil. The veil acts as the precipice upon which many negative connotations related to Islam have been built. There are other symbols for the oppression of women in Islam, but many Muslim scholars and those who associate with Islam in the Middle East, have argued that the Qur’an does not in fact support females as property meant only for the pleasure and service of men. The studies related to “devout women’s affiliation with conservative religious communities” have been brought under scrutiny in light of “contemporary social and religious life” (Bartkowski, 2003, p. 72).
The most important symbol to many groups either in support of Islam or against Islam, is the veil. The veil is a proponent meant to signify the overall oppression of women in Islam, indicative of their being owned by men or treated as property. Shirazi (p. 32) argues that the veil is a multi-faceted symbol with meanings related to the context. The author states that there is “semantic versatility of the veil in western popular culture, Saudi advertising, Iranian and Indian poetry and films, and for Iranian, Iraqi, and UAE women soldiers (Shirazi, 2001, p. 32). This same argument is supported by the main authors.
Issues of symbols as a means of conveying thoughts toward Islam and Muslim women surround the veil. Objects or people become symbols and with those symbols particular associations which spawn from politically minded propaganda, in the case of cartoons or other graphic depictions of the veil or the prophet.
There is an assumption from the West and from the Muslim community that the veil is meant to cover the female body because of female sexuality. Female sexuality was also primarily associated with sin and impurity. The veil is thought by many Muslims as a means of being controlled by men, making them subservient, meant to keep their enticing sexuality covered so that men would not be tempted. However, none of the verses which pertain to the wearing of the veil link female sexuality with sin or impurity, but rather, leaves the female sexuality as something separate from impurity, though it can be used for sin. Castelli (p. 439) raises issues about which this author use as examples for those who hold contemporary ideas about the veil and Islam as oppressive. Castelli supports the idea of “Islam as a lesser religion and less developed” (p. 439).
There have been misinterpretations of verses from the Qu’ran, mistakes made by Muslims who have interpreted them as requiring women to remain covered. It is posited that, “if the Qur’an asks women to cover their bosoms but leaves other allusions imprecise, it may be because what it means to generalize is a concept of modesty, not Arab dress” (Barlas, 2009, p. 5). Attention is also drawn to the emphasis on women being oppressed by the veil because it symbolizes their possession, being subservient to men. “A great deal is also made of the Qur’anic reference to women as harth, a word many people interpret as land and, hence, as property. However the Qur’an does not designate a wife her husband’s property…
“The jilbab as having been space and time bound, hence as a specific mode of veiling in that it only acquired meaning in a particular social context” (Barlas, 2009, p. 4). The Barlas viewed it as outdated given the context of the legal implications; if it was originally meant as a means of protection against other men, a way to state that a woman was taken, current laws against sexual abuse now take on that role.
In terms of the prophet as symbol for the West to use against Islam, the prophet remains part of collective memory for western cultures, as Europeans associate Islam “as the harbinger of the West’s destruction in the form of the Antichrist” (Barlas, 2009, p. 7). Barlas raises issues of the graphic cartoons of the Prophet as a terrorist which caused much debate, and how the freedom of speech is really a legal means of domination, allowing westerns to say whatever they want to cast negative shadows on Islam and Muslims.
The misuse of symbols such as the veil and the prophet for the purpose of drawing attention to gender inequality presumed to be associated with Islam is protected through freedom of speech: “Europeans have always felt free to say rather execrable things about Islam…That they now rely on free speech to impugn Islam or Muslims should tell us that speech permits not only satire and critique but also assertions of power and dominance” (Barlas, 2009, p. 8). There are many schools of thought pertaining to the veil as a symbol of oppression, all of whom have used freedom of speech to emphasize their interpretations of Islamic symbols. “The veil is seen as quintessentially traditional” (Bullock, 2002, p. 19)
More attention is drawn to the fact that many presume the veil meant as a means of keeping men from thinking impure thoughts about women, thereby associating women and their bodies with sexuality and sin. Overall, preconceptions about gender inequality have been supported through symbols of oppression by the west and ignorant Muslims which have thereby managed to sustain incorrect assumptions about Islam through symbols, particularly the veil and the Prophet.
Barlas, A. (2009). Islam and Body Politics: Inscribing (Im)morality. In Conference on Religion and Politics of the Body Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion (pp. 1-12). Reykjavik: University of Iceland.
Bartkowski, J., & Reed, G. G. (2003). Veiled Submission: Gender, Power, and Identity Among Evangelical and Muslim Women in the United States. Qualitative Sociology, 26(1), 71-92.
Bhutto, B. (2008). Reconciliation: Islam, democracy, and the West. New York, NY: Harper.
Bullock, K. (2002). Rethinking Muslim women and the veil: challenging historical & modern stereotypes. Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought.
Castelli, E. A., & Rodman, R. C. (2001). Women, gender, religion: a reader. New York, NY: Palgrave.
Hoodfar, H. (n.d.). The veil in their minds and on our heads: Veiling practices and Muslim women. Retrieved from http://www.umass.edu/wost/syllabi/spring06/hoodfar.pd
Shirazi, F. (2001). The veil unveiled the hijab in modern culture. Gainesville, FL: Univ. Press od Florida.
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Islam is the Arabic term meaning submission or surrender, this is the will of their God Allah. It is interesting because the Islamic religion believes it was founded by through his first son, Ishmael while Judaism is believed to have been founded by his second son Isaac. It is said that after the birth of Isaac, Ishmael left his fathers country and went to live in Arabia with a group who were not of any religion of the time apart from their own belief, that there was only one God, the Hanifs. This group was and nomadic and for this reason as a child Muhammad is to have learnt of monotheism (the belief in only one god) through association with them when he was young. The Arab means nomad and this rightly describes the life style of the many Arab tribes that roamed the Arabian Peninsula. There was no government in the region and each tribe held their own small area.
Early Arab Religion worshipped many Gods and nature spirits. During the early centuries of the Common Era there were although a minority of Christians and Jews in Arabia. The Prophet as he is know but he is actually named Muhammad had a difficult childhood as he was orphaned at a young age and then moved through two more homes before he was eventually adopted by his uncle. It is said that even at a young age Muhammad showed a deep and reflective character and often conversed with the Hanifs and also went in to the nearby hills for days on end to seek solitude, pray and contemplate what were possibly, the big deep questions in religion.
As he aged he began to hold all night rituals at Mount Hira, a barren rock a few kilometres south of Mecca. He had many revelations at this spot, revelations, which eventually were the base of the religion he formed. The Quran is the Holy Book of Islam, which is worded by the actual commands given to the archangel Gabriel by God. The other authorities text in the Islamic religion is the Sunna (traditions), which is based upon the Hadith (statements). This text is basically an autobiography of Muhammad who was considered to be the perfect Muslim and therefore is used as a role model in this text for other Muslims.
This text contains various sayings, teachings and deeds of the prophet. The sunna is considered to be a secondary authority to that of the Quran. The basic beliefs of Muslims were summarised by Muhammad into five articles; The Muslims believe in Allah, in his angels, in his books, in his messengers and in the Final Day of Judgement. They also believe that God is the supreme judge and that there is life after death.
The basic concept of Islam is the belief in one God (monotheism) and all other deities are thought of as insignificant fabrications. Muslims believe that Allah is their God, and any others religions views of God are not rue and do not rival Allah. They believe Allah is the eternal and all-powerful creator. It is in this way that Muslims believe that Christians are in error when they believe Jesus is as powerful as God although he is his son, they believe that decedents of any prophet or God are only regular people they dont have any special treatment unless they show their own special abilities. The Muslims believe that Allah is, as we believe our God is, all seeing, all knowing and all hearing. Ninety-nine titles of praise for Allah in the Muslim religion, these include; The Holy, The Merciful, The Generous, The Sheltered of Orphans, The friend of the Bereaved and The Deliverer from all Afflictions.
The Muslim faith exonerates the angels of their God more than the Catholic faith does not exonerate their angels in this way although the angels of both faiths seem to share names, for example, Gabriel. The Quran has a large focus on the fact that Muslims should be free to choose their actions and that they will be eventually judged by God although according to this extract they are not said to have freedom of speech as we know it. Muslims have strong ethics to follow, which are basically theyre religious law, The Five Pillars Of Islam. These are to believe there is no greater God than Allah, That they must pray regularly, Tat they must pay a special charity tax, They must fast for the month of Ramadan and that all Muslims in their lives should try to take a pilgrimage to Mecca or pool there money and have one person go one their behalf. The Muslim faith places a huge importance on humanity, the meaning of life and the world image. They believe that Mecca, their Holy City was created first and is basically the middle of the material world and that each person is an individual and should act as one.
The Muslim faith also places also places a large importance on that Muslims should see The Prophet Muhammad is the ideal Muslim. The Islamic religion believes that there are many virtues that Muslims should follow and acknowledge. These include, humanity, courage, fidelity, hospitality and compassion. As many if not more evils are condemned as virtues are exonerated in this faith and although our faiths are so there are also many similarities. There are also many traditions of the Muslim faith that those who consider themselves to be true Muslims adhere to but many Muslims have altered these traditions slightly to fit in with modern life.
In the Muslim religion, women are seen to be equals in faith, although many Islamic countries are only now accepting that women should have equal rights to men, with voting and salaries. Muslim women also have almost, rules that they are to adhere to, these rules are those, which show preference for Muslim women to wear clothing that is appropriate and to not how an excess amount of their bodies. The Islamic religion brings up many controversial issues among Westerners, such as that of circumcision of males, normally soon after birth. The Islamic religion also deals with death in different ways to which we are used to and what we find to be normal. Although at times it does not seem to be the case in current times, the Muslim religion has a high religious tolerance.
Although the Muslim religion is very different to what I know, I can see many similarities and have to believe that a lot of the bad imagery we see about Muslims today is Western medias opinions or view and if it is true what the media says then I believe it is only a minority which is the problem and you would probably find the same minority, although maybe not as extreme in the Christian faith.
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