Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Monday, July 31, 2006

Arab & Muslim Honour Mentality: Civilizational Honour Problem

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The clash of civilizations between the West and the Arab-Muslim world is characterized by one over-arching problem with the Arab-Muslim mentality: the exaggerated importance given to honour, and the peculiar interpretation of honour in the Arab-Muslim culture.

First, following the news will show that the almost paramount concern of Arabo-Muslim culture is defending your honour, or the honour of the clan. There are honour killings, "arguments" for terrorism in the name of national honour, and so on. The nation is an extension of the clan here. The point is that actions are taken to "defend" honour that are totally unreasonable. It's as if the culture was stuck in the 18th century where people were challenging each other to pistols at 10 paces...

Second, the importance given to honour is greater than that given to life. It's as if the Arabo-Muslim culture saw it better to be dead than dishonoured (and if you die dishonoured, well you just plain suck). By contrast, life is much more important in the West, as in the saying, "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day." Ironically, Hezbollah keeps running away from the IDF so that civilians can be killed, but that's another post...

For this reason, amongst others, the West and the Arabo-Muslim world just don't see eye to eye. And it'll take some development in Arabo-Muslim culture whereby life is placed at a higher premium before the two can better understand each other.

Here is a great video reflecting what can be:

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