Religious Influences: Culture of Islam

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Religious credentials are highly respected and often determine leadership in villages and towns in predominately Muslim societies. Local religious leaders are called Mullahs. Instructions and judgments of religious leaders are based on the word of God as cited in the Qur'an or the practices of Muhammad. Mullahs are often connected to other senior leaders in a vast network throughout the Islamic world. Mullahs can be exceedingly powerful and influence entire regions. Their word is generally considered infallible even when it contradicts fairness and equity [7].

Culturally, Islam guides most peoples' lives from birth to death. It influences daily activities in profound ways. Islam is the official religion of Pakistan. Education, government, and laws are all heavily influenced by Islam. In order for Pakistan to balance religious values and personal freedoms, Sharia law co-exists with a more Westernized business and legal system. Sharia law is based on interpretations from the Qur'an and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Sharia law deals with many aspects of daily life including politics, business, and family.

The concept of Inshallah, which means "Gods will" or "if God wills it," is the belief that an individual's fate lies in the hands of God more than anything else. This concept is a regulating factor in daily activity. For instance, Pakistani people may not be in a rush to get to a meeting because if God wills them to get there on time they will. If there is an ambulance trying to get to a hospital the cars on the street will most likely not move out of the way because if God wills it for the hurt or dying individual to live, they will.

Though Pakistanis can be tolerant of other religions, any criticism of Islam is unacceptable. It is best not to talk about religion unless specifically asked about one's beliefs. Some Muslims may ask you to convert to Islam out of a genuine concern for your salvation and care about your well being. You can respond by saying that you respect Islam, but prefer your own religion.


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