And on to the last of the culture clusters, the Arabs.The Arabic Cluster
Religion in the Arab World
- To be an Arab is a cultural identity, not a racial one. It is similar to being a North American. The Arab world stretches from Morocco across North Africa to the Persian Gulf and includes those countries whose dominant language is Arabic.
- The Arabic language is strongly identified with what it means to be an Arab. If your primary language is Arabic, you’re likely to be called an Arab. Although Iran and Turkey are sometimes affiliated with the Middle Eastern world, they are not part of this cluster. Their origins and cultural values align better with other clusters.
- Sixty percent of our planet’s oil reserves are in the Arabic cluster, and that resource has had profound influence on what’s occurred in the region—particularly in the last few decades.
- There’s nothing more important to being an Arab than your family. The family is the key social unit to the Arabic cluster. This loyalty influences all aspects of an Arab’s life.
- Arabs honor and respect their families. They value friendships, but to honor and respect one’s family and kin is most important. Arab culture is patriarchal and hierarchal: Fathers/elders dominate.
- A large family is preferred. Large families provide for possible economic benefits, particularly for the possibility that a son will care for his parents in their elder years. Large families provide the father with the prestige of virility.
- Family is the most important part of your identity. Next is clan or tribe, and only after that comes national identity. Male offspring are favored, because a son is expected to care for his parents in their advanced age, whereas a daughter becomes part of the son-in-law’s family.
- To be an Arab man means you may dress in any number of ways— from the traditional flowing robes to blue jeans, T-shirts, and Western business suits. At times, Arabs mix the traditional garb with Western clothes. Headdress pattern might be an indicator of which tribe, clan, or country the man comes from, but this is not always the case.
- Women’s dress is more varied across the region. Modesty is of concern everywhere, but the most traditional is in Saudi Arabia, where women are required to wear a full-length body cover in public—an abaya—as well as fully covering their heads. Some women veil their faces as well. However, in other places like Jordan and Egypt, women’s dress is much more contemporary.
- The hijab and head covering for women creates a great deal of controversy across the world. On the one hand, many Westerners view the veil as oppressive and restrictive, with some Arab women agreeing with that viewpoint. However, some Arab women talk about the freedom they feel of not being objectified by their appearance and saving their beauty for their husband, children, and female friends.
- Beware of becoming too dogmatic and judgmental when observing a Muslim woman’s dress. If you travel to the Arabic cluster, most countries don’t require visitors to adhere to their guidelines for dress, but it’s always a good idea to dress more modestly than you might back home.
- As a whole, the Arabs are also very resourceful people. This is sometimes surprising to outsiders because the Arabs score very high on the “being” scale of being versus doing.
- Taking time to enjoy life and one’s family is a dominant cultural value, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t very savvy businesspeople. The Arabs have been working as merchants around the world as long as anyone, and as you travel all over the world, you’ll find small shops run by Arabs.
Dos and Taboos
- Arabs are a religiously diverse group. There are significant numbers of Arab Christians in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq, and despite the huge tensions between Israel and most of the countries in the Arabic cluster, there are some Arab Jews as well.
- Furthermore, Arabs only make up about 15 percent of the Muslim world. The vast majority of Muslims are not from this cluster. The largest Muslim nation in the world is Indonesia, which is part of the South Asian cluster. However, there’s no way to discount the pervasive influence of Islam on the Arab culture as a whole. Islam is the dominant religion across this part of the world.
- Regretfully, many people in other parts of the world know very little about Islam apart from news media and entertainment, which typically emphasize extreme, fundamentalist groups within Islam. It’s simply unfair to equate all the extremist actions of al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist sects as being what the Koran teaches.
- Islam is the second largest religion in the world. There are many implications to how Islam influences both the day-to-day life in the Arabic cluster as well as the values beneath the surface of the water.
- For example, the Arabic cluster is very oriented toward the short-term side of the short-term versus long-term time orientation dimension. This value of the Arabic cluster is largely believed to be an outgrowth of the Islamic sense of God’s sovereignty over everything.
- Despite our familiarity with the term from the news, at its core, “jihad” means “to struggle.” It is the spiritual struggle against pride and self-sufficiency and the physical struggle against the enemies of Islam.
- As with any of the cultural dimensions and clusters, you can’t reduce all Arabs to a set of creeds and beliefs. We have to beware of presuming the religious and personal preferences of a person just because they’re Arab, but it’s safe to assume that Islam has some influence on their perspective and life if they live in this part of the world.
- Respect the cultural norms regarding men and women. You don’t have to agree with them, but be respectful. Women will often socialize in rooms separate from men. Avoid extended eye contact or shaking hands with the opposite sex unless they initiate it.
- Most Muslims won’t eat pork or drink alcohol and only eat halal food— meat that has been prepared according to the Koran guidelines (similar to kosher food for Jews).
- Avoid using your left hand. According to Islam, the left hand is considered unclean and is reserved for personal hygiene. Arabs traditionally use the right hand for all public functions, including shaking hands, eating, drinking, and passing objects to another person.
Pants-of-dog wrote:You worship a trinity of gods, ruled by an all father archetype.
Please point to any time that the three members of the Trinity (or Godhead, in my own church) acted at cross-purposes, as happens in every polytheistic religion.
Anyway, Santeria is no more Yoruba than it is Catholic.
You might want to go through the practices and myths of Santeria and ask which religion each comes from.
It just seems irredeemably stupid to pretend that all Africa shares a single culture, ...
True, which is a good thing that no one is making such a claim, any more than anyone is claiming the same for the other clusters. There's a reason why these are called clusters.
... and that this monoculture is also active in other places where blacks live, despite the historical fact that cultural ties were severed.
So apparently the elimination of the slave trade simultaneously somehow eliminated all cultural inheritances the slave trade brought with them, and all those slaves and former slaves now inherited their cultures from ... where, exactly?
Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.