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The Fundamental Clash between the Western and Islamic Culture

Adopted from the book : "Freedom; The Unstated Facts and Points" by : "Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi"

In comparing the Western culture with the Islamic culture, the first issue is humanism whose opposite is the supremacy of God. Those who believe in this view, just as the Muslims believe in God, do not consider the legislation. They are only thinking of their economic interests, welfare, comfort, and pleasures.

Of course, among the Western schools there are also more or less disputes such as, for example, whether pleasures and interests are individualist or collective. However, all these schools have one thing in common and that is, as much as possible conditions and limitations must be reduced.

In opposition to this atheistic thinking is the mindset of the divine school and Islamic culture, which state: Nobility does not lie on man; rather, God is the supreme. It is He Who is the genesis of all values, beauties, felicities, and perfections. He is the Absolute Truth. He has the highest right on human beings, and we have to behave in such a way that we establish link with Him.

God cannot be overlooked in life, or else man will forfeit his humanness. The essence of humanness lies on worship of God. Man is innately inclined toward Allah. Once we overlooked this inclination, we have remove man from his humanness. In any case, the main axis in the ideas, thoughts and values is only God, whose opposite is anthropomorphism.

The second issue is secularism whose opposite is the supremacy of religion. The most expedient and important affair for a faithful person is the choice of religion. Prior to thinking about his daily bread, he has to investigate first whether the religion he is professing is the truth or not, whether his religion is authentic or not.

Is belief in One God correct or not? Is it better to remember God or to deny Him? Which is correct, to believe in One God, or in Trinitarian God and many deities? Thus, on the very day that man reaches the age of responsibility, he has to determine whether or not he believes in God, the revelation and the Day of Resurrection.

Is the Qur’an the true word of God or not? Prior to choosing occupation, spouse and field of study, he has to choose his religion first because religion is related to all aspects of life. Thus, the second pillar of the divine culture is religion-centeredness, which is the opposite of secularism that regards religion as a marginal affair in life, stating that religion is not supposed to interfere in the main issues and not to be propounded as the most essential issue encompassing all facets of life.

Islam states that no subject is outside the ambit of religious values, and the lawful and unlawful of religion. Religion determines the lawfulness or unlawfulness of every thing. This trend is the opposite of secularism.

The third issue is liberalism; that is, the supremacy of freedom, lack of restrictions, and capriciousness. Liberalism means the preeminence of desire; since for the aforementioned meanings of freedom they have commonality on some levels, if we want translate them into Persian we have to say, is?a-lat-e delkha-h [the primacy of desire].

On the opposite side of liberalism is the supremacy of rightfulness and justice. Liberalism states that you have to act as you like, while the divine trend and divine culture states that you have to act within the periphery of rightfulness and justice. One must not make a step beyond the sphere of right and act against justice; of course, the two (rightfulness and justice) are interrelated, for if we take right in its general sense, justice will also be included:

“Justice is to give all rights to their rightful owner (claimant).”

Hence, the concept of right is blended in the concept of justice, yet in a bid to avoid misunderstanding, we mention the two concepts together.

So, liberalism upholds the primacy of desire and its opposite is religion that advocates the supremacy of truth and justice. In other words, religion says that there are really truth and falsehood and it is not that we have to look for anything that we like. Instead, we have to identify which is truth and which is falsehood; which is justice and which is injustice. Even though I wanted to commit injustice against others, I am not supposed to do so to anyone.

The expediency of liberalism is that we respect truth and justice so long as going against them would lead to crisis; otherwise, everyone can think about his own interest.

They say that compassion and fairness are concepts humanity has brought out while in a state of weakness. If you have the ability, you can do whatever you want to do unless you feel that this freedom (of action) will cause social crisis and since its dire consequences will also affect you, it (freedom) must be restrained.

Thus, the third principle in the Islamic culture is the supremacy of truth and justice whose opposite is the primacy of desire. These three pillars, i.e. humanism, secularism and liberalism are the three fundamental pillars in the Western cultures, which exert influence on the lawmaking process.

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