We should not prioritise our culture over our religion
We must be very careful when we are going about our daily lives to ensure that we are not prioritising our traditions and culture over our religion. Traditions are wonderful things that show us the beauty of the diversity Allah has created in the world. However, it is of utmost importance that we keep our religion at the forefront of our minds, refraining from practising the parts of our tradition or culture that clash with Islam. We should understand that above any other label or grouping that we may be a part of, we are Muslim.
Growing up, some people may find that their elders or other people they were around were not very accepting of other cultures. It could be because they picked this up from seeing the previous generation, or because they were not living in a very diverse place. It could even be just because they have a discriminatory attitude. We must remind ourselves that this is not a part of Islam, as we are taught to establish unity and be accepting of everyone regardless of their background. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no favour of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin, nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?” (Musnad Aḥmad)
Also, Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an:
“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islam). So, make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.” (Qur’an 49:10)
The topic of education for females is something that has caught a lot of attention on a worldwide scale. It has become known far and wide that across the globe, access to education has not been something automatic and simple for females. In some cases, problems could have arisen because of cultural beliefs. We must remind ourselves that education is something that we are all supposed to gain, regardless of whether we are male or female. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (Tirmidhi)
With regards to marriage, business partnerships, and other scenarios, we may find that people are treated differently due to their culture. We must remind ourselves that we were all created by Allah, so it is never acceptable for anyone to believe their culture is above the culture of another. We should ask ourselves that if Allah created each person equally, how can we possibly believe our culture is better? We read in the Holy Qur’an:
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Qur’an 49:13)
It could be that we were taught a certain practice when we were growing up, but we did not completely understand it. This is why it is so important, when we are old enough to understand, that we should seek to learn for ourselves the meaning of each practice. This will lead us on a journey towards ensuring we are prioritising our religion above anything else, whilst also helping us to be more sincere in our faith.
It is wonderful to see the various traditions of the world, and they surely do encourage everyone to learn about the world and the different cultures. However, we should always be careful not to value our culture in a way that leads us to practise things that are not in line with our religion.