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Culture is a social conduct and way of life found in human social orders/society. Culture cannot be accurately explained, it has various definitions based on different perceptions. It is an experience that an individual learns in his or her life through various modes, such as family, community, and surrounding. Numerous cultures are practiced by human beings in different parts of the world. A particular culture, globally recognized as a religion as well, but in my opinion, could be considered a way of life, is Islam. It consists of different pillars such as moral values, religion, beliefs, ethics, etc. I had a great experience talking to one of my co-workers regarding this culture. I came to know about so many different things that I wasn’t aware of. His name is Abdul Shahid and he belongs to the Muslim community. Initially, he was anxious to go through with the interview due to religion being a controversial topic, however, he was quite enthusiastic as well because he is very fond of his culture and was looking forward to talking about it. I consider this interview an exciting opportunity as it was a great experience for me to gain knowledge about a different culture. I had little knowledge about Islamic culture, but after having an interview with Abdul, my whole perspective of Islamic culture changed.

Abdul Shahid was born in the United States of America, and since he was little, he lived with his family. Later on, in 2016, he moved to Canada to pursue higher education. According to him the best part of his culture is the prayer ‘namaz’ because it’s the time when he feels that he is close to Allah (God). According to their holy book, Qur’an, they are required to pray five times a day. They call their daily prayers ‘salat’. As per Qur’an, their religion is categorized into two different levels called Sunni and Shi’a. According to him, the generation and their cultural beliefs have changed over the past few decades, he respects the ethics and moral values that his parents have taught him since he was born as he feels these values are a blessing provided to him by Allah (God).

Further on, I inquired him about the gender specification in his family and the culture, to which he replied that women are highly respected in their community and raised on a high pedestal. In most families, men are usually dominant over women due to the male members being the breadwinners of the family, but they are treated equally to the males in the family. In terms of education, it really matters in his family, however, his mom is the least educated in the family because she had a lot of responsibilities on her. From the perspective of religion, Muslim women have the right to pursue an education.

In his opinion, the most beautiful part of Islamic culture is the month of Ramadan, during which they fast from dawn to dusk for thirty days after which they celebrate the end of Ramadan with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. It is difficult to fast in the month of Ramadan for today’s generation, especially for those who are raised in a Western community where Islam is not a norm and the new generation is not raised with the same values as their ancestors. The two integral festivals in Islam are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

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I asked him about his expectations from life, and he simply replied that he does not expect more from life, the only result one gets is what one works for, and destiny just plays along.

He has experienced racism many times in his life. In his opinion, the way people view Islamic culture is wrong, especially in the Western part of the world. To most people, the first thought that comes to mind when they hear the word ‘Muslim’ is terrorist. It is quite tragic to see how they are treated just because of their cultural identity. I feel that the world needs to understand that the people who follow Islam are humans too and they too have the right to access everything like others do. My friend shared an incident when he was coming to Canada for his higher studies in which he was not comfortable with the behavior of the attendants at the California Airport due to the excess security checking he had to go through while most people went through immigration within minutes. The world needs to change its thinking toward Islamic culture. He decided to stay in Canada because he feels like it’s a secular country with multiculturalism, which is what he appreciates most about the country. He personally feels that there is no discrimination in Canada and everyone is treated equally and provided with all human rights as compared to the feeling he had during his childhood in the US where he felt victimized. The aspect he does not like about living in Canada is that he is away from his family, and because of his closeness to them, he feels like a part of him is missing.

I also asked him a few questions about the rituals of marriage in Islam. Marriages should be done accurately amongst Muslims, which means they should be practiced with a religious ceremony and also legally. There are some laws in his culture with which he strongly disagrees, such as polygamy, however, he continues to respect this practice because he does not want to go against his community. In most countries, polygamous marriages are still practiced. It means that one person can have more than one wife or husband in his or her life at the same time. However, in Islam, only men are allowed to marry more than one woman and can exceed up to four wives, provided that he treats each one equally. Individuals from different foundations can be extremely upbeat together if their comprehension and routine about Islam are perfect. He presented an example of one of his cousins, who married twice in his life, but to Abdul, it was wrong because he believes that one should be loyal and committed to one person in life. This goes to show that every individual has their own personal experiences.

I believe I can relate to some aspects of the life experiences faced Abdul, such as staying away from my family and my home country. I am also an international student in Canada and sometimes even I feel alone without my family. It is hard to survive when you are alone in a different part of the world, but I feel privileged at the same time to know that I am living in a multicultural society that has various benefits. On the other hand, there are so many differences between our life experiences because our surroundings were opposite to each other, such as family background, moral values, history, and religious beliefs.

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