Arab Culture PRISMs?
1. In today’s world, should all cultures be
2. Can religion be the basis for social law?
3. Have organized religions helped or hurt
the world more?
4. Should all cultures be subject to a
universal code of civil rights?
5. Should cultures have the right to
discriminate on the basis of religious
Extended family
Low Context
High Context
Social Ambiguity
Social Certainty
Low Power Distance
High power Distance
Emotionally Neutral
Emotionally Expressive
Quantity of Life
Quality of life
Arab culture is diverse
There are 22 Arab nations
1. Only 20 % of Muslims are Arab—
Indonesia & India both have more
Muslims than all Middle East nations
2. A fourth of all people are Muslim.
3. Islam is second largest religion in many
European nations (especially France &
Britain) & the fastest growing.
American religion (with 1200 mosques
in the USA).
4. Large populations of Muslims live in
India, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia
& East Asia.
5. The Arab nations that have traditionally
cooperated with the West have been
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia,
Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, &
6. The West has experienced the greatest
frictions with Iran, Iraq, & Libya.
7. Islam has no official ruling agency
(such as the Vatican) and Muslims
don’t have to belong to a mosque.
8. The 3 Muslim holy cities are Mecca &
Medina in Saudi Arabia, and Jerusalem.
Zone 1: Arabic (mainly the Arabian
peninsula (Dominant language: Arabic)
Zone 2: Iraq to the Persian Gulf: Iran,
Afghanistan, Tajikistan. (Dominant
language: Farsi (also called Dari & Tajik)
Zone 3: Black Africa (150M people):
Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Chad, Sudan,
Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Libya
Zone 4: Turkic zone people groups:
Chechen, Uighur, Uzbdk, Kirghiz,
Turkeman (Dominant language: the Altaic
family of languages)
Zone 5: Indian subcontinent: Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Muslims scattered
throughout India & Nepal
Zone 6: Malay populations in Southeast
Asia (220M Muslims): Indonesia,
Malaysia, Brunei, sizable minorities in
Thailand & the Philippines; smaller
minorities in Cambodia & Vietnam
Zone 7: European Muslim minority
populations: Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia,
Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia; North Africans in
France, & large populations of Turk &
Kurd immigrants in Germany & 2M Indian
Muslim immigrants in Britain
(the higher the score, the more democratic)
Morocco: 35
Lebanon: 34
Iraq: 32
Jordan: 32
Qatar: 31
Kuwait: 30
Syria: 20
Algeria: 18
Libya: 15
Saudi Arabia: 13
1. Unlike Westerners, most Arabs don’t have a
strong nation state concept (because so
many of today’s Middle Eastern nations were
set up by the colonial West in the first half of
the 20th century). Arabs identify more with
tribal identities and Islamic sects than with
nation states, yet Western powers continue
to relate to the Middle East from an
unrealistic nation state perspective.
2. From a philosophical point of view, Arab
cultures never went through the equivalent
of the Western Enlightenment with its
emphasis on secularization, nation states, &
scientific skepticism.
Growth in per-capita income in Arab
nations is the lowest in the world
except for sub-Saharan Africa. On
average, citizens in industrialized
nations double their income every
decade vs. 140 years for the average
Arab citizen. Of 280M Arabs in 22 Arab
nations, 65M are illiterate (2/3 of
whom are women). The combined GDP
of all 22 Arab nations is less than
Spain’s; 1/5 of Arabs live on less than
$2 daily.
American Muslims are fairly
affluent, averaging more than
$50,000 in annual income (vs. a
national average of $32,000).
Two-thirds have college degrees
(vs. below half of the American
adult population). American
Muslims have larger families than
1.Precise time of sunrises
and sunsets
2.Longitude and latitude
3.Magnetic compass
4.Extracted perfumes
from fragrant flowers
and herbs
5. Silk weaving
6. Steel forging
7. Harp, bagpipe, lyre, zither, drum,
tambourine, flute, oboe and reed
8. Water wheel, cisterns, irrigation
9. Arab mathematicians developed
the concept of zero, the decimal
system, algebra, and made great
strides in trigonometry.
10.Reformed the calendar with a
margin of error only one day in five
thousand years
11.Investigated the relative speeds of
sound and light
12.Arabs grafted a single vine so that
it would bear grapes in different
colors, and their vineyards were
responsible for Europe’s future wine
13.Brought cotton to European
Arabic Calligraphy
28 characters read from right to left
Petra (Jordan)
1. Sufi Muslims led the development
of classic Arab literature.
2. Famous poets include ibn al-Farid
(died in 1235) & Jalal ad-Din
Rumi (1207-1273). Classic prose
writers include al-Ghazali (10581111), Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani
(1077-1166), ibn Arabi (11651240) & Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya
1. Islam is meant to be a worldwide religion,
not just for the Middle East. Muslims
consider Allah to be the same deity
worshipped by Jews & Christians (but
Muslims don’t believe in the Christian
Trinity, viewing it as polytheism).
2. Islam means “those who submit” (to Allah)
3. Most strict Islamic cultures are theocracies
(religious rule) with no separation of
church and state
4. Holy law (Shari’a law) is based on the
Qur’an rather than secular law
5. Fatalism: God’s will overcomes man’s will.
Man is thus seen to have limited “free will.”
1. Monotheism
2. Abraham (who fathered the 2 sons
whose lineage led to both Judaism
& Islam)
3. Old Testament based
4. Legalistic/Ritualistic
5. Classifying people into two
categories (true believers vs.
gentile unbelievers)
Those who submit to Allah
Most historically Islamic nations are
still strongly Islamic, while most
historically Christian nations are only
marginally Christian now.
Mosques hold religious services
at noon on Fridays (because Allah
created humans on a Friday).
1. About 90% (800M) of Muslims are
Sunni, the moderate branch of Islam in
the practice of Islam & interpretation of
the Qur’an. In 661, the Sunni split from
the Shiites (10% of Muslims—100M), a
more religiously conservative branch of
2. Most Middle Eastern nations have Sunni
majorities, as well as Pakistan, Turkey,
& Afghanistan.
3. The Shiites are most prominent in Iraq &
4. The Wahhabi of Saudi Arabia are the
strictest Muslim group, who interpret the
Koran literally.
5. The Sufi historically practiced Islam with
an inward-focus somewhat in the same
vein as monastic monks in the Medieval
Christian tradition, emphasizing mystical
closeness to God through intense
religious experience, self-denial,
simplicity of life, & disdain for
materialism. They strive for the religious
state of al-insan alkamin (“the perfect
human being”), which they feel was
modeled by Mohammad.
“Millions of people in developing
nations (such as the Middle East)
know Western culture only through
television and film. The picture they
see is of a rich but morally decadent
society corrupted by alcohol, drugs,
family breakdown, crime, abuse of
sex, and economic exploitation in
which many innocent victims suffer
without redress. They want to resist
any forces that could lead them in the
same direction.”
1. The prophet Mohammad (Ubu’l-Kassim)
was born in Mecca in 570; died in 632.
Islam considers Mohammed to be the last
of the line of Old Testament prophets that
includes Abraham, Moses, & Jesus.
Mohammad means “the most praised one,”
or messenger.
2. He was orphaned at an early age & raised
by his grandfather & uncle. He later
married & became a prosperous merchant.
3. He encountered the angel Gabriel during
Ramadan in a cave on Mt. Hira (above the
city of Mecca) in 610 and developed the
Qur’an (“recitation”) over many years.
5. Mohammad was a social reformer who
sought to end age-old conflicts between
family clans & tribal groups. He called
people to radical change in the personal
faith & lifestyles, serving as a personal
role model of religious rightousness.
6. His reform efforts threatened the
Quraysh established social elite, who
violently resisted Mohammad’s success.
7. Mohammad was a prophet for 10 years
in the present day Saudi Arabian city of
Mecca & then another 10 years in the
city of Medina. During this time he
united the warring clans, unifying
8. In a quest to spread Islam, Muhammad’s army
achieved its first victory in 624. Within 21
years after after Muhammad’s death, armies
of his successors (the caliphs) expanded
Muslim territory to an area as large as the
Roman empire. For the next 700 years,
Christian armies (fighting a series of
“Crusades”) pushed the Muslims out of France
& Spain.
9. After Mohammad’s death, Islam split into
major factions over disagreement on which
caliph was to be his successor. The Sunni
faction felt the successor should primarily be a
political leader who would protect the borders
of Islam & maintain peace. The Shiites
preferred a leader who was a scholar in
Islamic law.
10.The minority Shia also accepted Ali
as the first legitimate Islamic Imam
(religious leader). Those who
supported Ali were called the
followers of Ali, or Shi’a Ali (today’s
11.The Sunnis were the majority
Muslim group, choosing Abu Bakr
(died in 656) as the Caliph (leader).
His immediate Sunni successors
included Umar (led from 634-644),
Uthman (died in 656) & Ali &died in
12.“The way Mohammad lived has become a
role model for Muslims down through the
centuries. He set the example of hospitality and
trustworthiness in all his dealings. He showed
humility in his relations with other people and
always claimed only to be the servant of God.
In practical ways, he was also a role model,
such as dressing in white, especially for prayer.”
13. Muslims don’t regard Mohammad as divine,
but rather as a messenger form God who
brings good news. He is seen as God’s final
prophet, not the founder of a new religion, but
rather as the prophet who restored the
alleged historical corruptions of Judaism &
The Qur’an
1. Beginning in 610, Muhammad began
receiving a series of messages from the
angel Gabriel that continued until for 23
years until the remainder of his life.
2. The resulting Qur’an (“recitation” or
“gathering”) is divided into 114 sections
(suras, or chapters arranged nonchronologically by length) & contains 6,225
verses of varying lengths. It consists of
two kinds of revelation: literal dictations
from Gabriel & Muhammad’s inspired
writings. The Qur’an is considered by all
Muslims to be the literal, undistorted word
of God.
3. The prophet Mohammad’s were
put into writing by various
disciples & interpreted by as
series of caliphs (especially Abu
Bak & Uthman) who succeeded
Mohammad after his death.
4. Like Christianity, Islam is divided
into different schools of thought
(sects) based on different
interpretations of the Qur’an.
5. The Qur’an holds the Hebrew &
Christian religious traditions in high
respect, with 93 references to Jesus,
who is viewed an an important
prophet & teacher, though not the son
of God.
6. Many Muslims view Jesus as an
example of selfless devotion to God.
7. “The Qur’an sees Jesus as a prophet
to the Hebrew nation, but not a
universal prophet sent to all mankind,
a role reserved for Mohammad.”
Today Islam is divided into 3 levels
of believers based on the depth &
intensity of their faith. The first
level, called Muslims, are those
who surrender to Allah & Islam;
the Mumin, who master the faith
intellectually, compose the second
level; the third level of Mushins
seek to maximize virtue through
their righteous practice of the
faith. The hafiz are those who
have memorized the entire Qur’an.
1. TAQWA: the over-riding purpose of
Islam: remembering God in every aspect
of life & living accordingly.
2. SALAT (“formal”): the formal group
prayers required of all Muslims 5 times
daily, which build taqwa (bringing
believers closer to God). Salat can be
offered anywhere people congregate at
home or work.
3. ADHAN: the formal “call to prayer”
4. SURAT AL-FATIHA: the Friday holy day
prayer which is compulsory for Muslims
to attend a mosque
1. Salat al-Fajr: Prayer before
2. Salat al-Zuhr: noon prayer
3. Salat al-’Asr: late afternoon
4. Salat al-Maghrib: prayer directly
after sunset
5. Salat al-’Isha: nighttime prayer
THE ADHAN PRAYER (Shahada Creed)
“God is most great
I bear witness that there is no god but
I bear witness that Muhammad is the
Messenger of God
Hurry to prayer
Hurry to success
God is most great
There is no god but Allah”
An imam (“one who
presides”) leads Muslim
prayer services. “Imam are
the sinless guides of a
Muslim community who
hold both religious &
political power. They are
held to be infallible in
interpreting the Qur’an.”
SURAT AL FATIHA (Friday holy day prayer)
“In the name of God, the compassionate,
the merciful.
Praise be to God, the Lord of creation.
Master of the day of judgment
You alone do we worship & to you alone we
pray for help.
Guide us to the straight path,
The path of those whom you have favored,
Not of those who have incurred your wrath,
Nor of those who have gone astray.”
1. In prayer rituals, the average Muslim
invokes the name of Allah 20 plus times
a day.
2. More Muslims are named Mohammed
than any other first name in the world.
3. More passages of the Qur’an are
committed to memory than any other
religious book.
4. Women may say prayers with men in
mosques, but physical separation is
maintained to avoid distraction.
5. The Qur’an forbids Muslims from
consuming alcohol & drugs & prohibits
RAMADAN (sawm, or fasting)
1. The most important Muslim annual
religious time period which celebrates
the angel Gabriel reciting the Koran
(“recitation”) to Mohammad
2. Al haj, the trip to Mecca, is next in
3. Occurs during the 9th month of the
Muslim calendar (based the Arab lunar
calendar which is 11 days shorter than
the solar year Western calendar)
Ramadan, the holiest time of
the Muslim year, is a monthlong daytime fast from all
food, drink, tobacco, & sexual
activity. Both psychological &
physical purification is sought
via intensification of prayer,
recitation of the Qu’ran, &
acts of charity (zakah).
1.The fast-breaking evening
meal after sunset is know
as the “iftar”
2.Eid al-Fitr begins at the
end of Ramadan (when the
new moon is sighted), with
2 or 3 days of joy &
1. Zakat: To purify personal wealth by giving to
the poor
2. Haji: to make a pilgrimage to Mecca (the holy
Islamic city in Saudi Arabia) once in a lifetime,
if health & wealth permit. Takes placeon 5
days during ther Islamic month of Dhu ‘l-Hijja
3. Amr bil munkar: the command to do good
4. Nahy anil munkar: forbidding evil
5. Halal: Living in righteous ways, including
eating religiously blessed food & not
exploiting others.
1. The Qu’ran’s religious rituals &
practical applications are
gathered into books (the Sunnah
& Hadith) which compose the
laws for personal conduct called
the Shariah (“road” or “path”)
2. The Islamic laws of
jurisprudence (proper judicial
decision-making) are the usul alfiqh.
3. Key developers of Hadith in Sunni
law: Al-Bakhari (810-870); Abu
Dawud (817-888); Al-Tirmidhi
(824-222); An-Nasa’i (830-915),
Ibn Majah (824-886)
4. Shi’a legal scholars: al-Kulayni
(died 940); Shaykh Saduq (923991); al-Tusi-Ali (995-1067)
There are 5 schools of Sharia-based
Islamic legalistic regulations which range
from mandatory to optional:
1. Wajib (or fard): Obligatory laws such
as supporting one’s family, feeding the
hungry, or paying a dowry for one’s wife.
2. Mandub: Recommended behaviors such
as extra charity beyond what is required
or performing extra prayers beyond the
daily minimum.
3. Haram: Laws over forbidden activities, such as
murder, adultery, theft, eating pork, usury
(charging interest), drinking alcohol, & gambling.
4. Makruh: Laws against abominations such as
cross dressing or making an offer on a piece of
property that already has a valid offer made on it.
5. Muhad: Permissible behaviors such as eating
ceremonially unclean meat when one is starving.
(Muslims are required to eat only halal meat,
which has been ceremonially slaughtered in the
name of Allah.)
Figh is the science of Islamic
law. When confronted with
questions about how to live in
proper accordance with Islamic
law, Muslims can contact
“judges” (mufti) who will issue a
legal opinion (a fatwa). More
than one legal judgment may be
rendered by different mufti on
the same question of law.
A male-led culture
A paternalistic culture
1. Take care of those you are
responsible for at home & in
the workplace.
2. Your honor (“face”) is on the
3. Be loyal to your friends,
nation/kingdom & religion.
1. In most Muslim cultures, the
woman is the “mistress” of the
household (master of her domain)
& the husband is the “guest.”
2. In pre-industrial times, Shari’a
law extended Muslim women
considerably more economic
rights than most other cultures.
3. Muslims feel the main freedom of a
women is to be able to stay home
with her children and to mange the
family (a freedom most Western
women no longer have).
4. Mohammad taught that God put men
“a degree above” women and that the
men should be “managers of the
affairs of women.” However, he
clearly did not advocate male
domination or insensitivity toward
Maintaining face
Face is the reputation
you earn (or lose) in the
eyes of the community.
Face is your “MBA”.
1.Maintaining paternalistic
2.No backing down in public
3.No tolerance of insults,
especially to Allah
4.Retribution is required to
regain lost face.
A Strict Islamic Nation
Cultures of gender
A More Open Islamic Nation
Sparkling wealth for some
1. Arab nations vary widely in how
strict their behavioral standards
are. Saudi Arabia & Kuwait forbid
alcohol, but wine, beer, & liquor are
sold throughout Egypt & women
have been voting for nearly a
hundred years.
2. Saudi Arabia bases its constitution
on the Qu’ran, yet Lebanon’s
constitution doesn’t even contain
the word Allah.
• Theocracy
• Fatalism (ELOC)
• Emotional
• Close proximity
• Bargaining
• Western pragmatism
1. Muslims believe that the rights of those
who submit to Allah’s laws should take
precedence over those who don’t
2. For example, it is not against the law
for an American to curse God on a city
street, but he or she could be sued for
cursing an individual. The reverse is
true in Islamic societies. Islamic culture
values their tradition of freedom of
religion over the prevailing Western
tradition of freedom from religion.
3. Muslims have historically viewed Islam
as a key means for protecting society
against political tyranny & violation of
individual rights. The theocratic
(religious based laws) orientation of
most Muslim governments has acted as
a buffer zone between government
power and individual/family security.
4. Even in the less democratic Muslim
nations, the average citizen plays a
decisive role in choosing the political
leaders—local village officials– who
actually wield the greatest amount of
influence over the lives of individuals.
5. Muslims would point out that the
outcome of most elections in Western
representative democracies is
determined mainly by the campaign
financing of political machines, thus
greatly nullifying the influence of rank
and file voters in elections and political
6. The main freedom desired by Muslims
today is the freedom to confront their
own political problems and find their
own solutions within a Islamic religious
Why do Arabs face
an uncertain future?
1. Many absolute autocracies—
most Arab governments are not
representative of their
2. Widespread bogus elections
3. Weak courts system
4. Low freedom of the press
5. Intolerant social environment
6. Unequal status for women
7. Only 1 in 5 Muslim nations have
democratic institutions.
8. The GDP of most Islamic nations has
fallen or plateaued over the past 25
9. Per capita income growth over the
past 20 years in Muslim nations (.5%)
is the lowest in the world except for
10.20% of Arabs live on $2 a day.
11.Yemen’s median annual income is
$190; Syria’s is $900; Sudan’s is
$170; Egypt’s is $1000-$1500.
12.75%-90% of all books produced in the
Arab world today are religious in nature,
& 90% of the funding for publishing
them comes from Saudi Arabia.
13.The main causes of division between the
Arab world & the USA are support of
Israel & the creation of a Palestinian
14.The main internal challenge Arab
nations face in the future is developing
institutional societies & controlling the
political instability brought on by
Islamic fundamentalist groups.
15. In traditional Arab culture,
personal “face” (honor, reputation,
or dignity) is on the line when
someone, or their family, is
insulted or wronged in some
manner. Face can be regained only
through personal retaliation or
revenge. Impersonal institutional
remedies (courts of law, etc.) are
rarely a satisfactory substitute for
personal intervention.
Face & Allah are on the line
1. A small minority fringe of militant Muslims
believe that Western secularism &
America’s support of Israel justify
terrorism as a way to save the face of Arab
nations, as well as Allah.
2. Arab militants aspire to take over the
Middle East to establish it as Allah’s
kingdom on earth. During the 1990s they
largely abandoned the strategy of civil war
within Arab kingdoms & switched to
attacking the U.S. outright to remove its
presence in Arab regions.
3. Most Arabs disagree with terrorism but support
the policy of kicking the USA out of Arab lands.
1. The first half of the 20th century saw heavy
British, European, & Soviet exploitative oil
colonialism in the Middle East. In 1918, the
secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between the
British & French divided up the Palestinian
region into colonies. France got Syria & half of
Palestine, while Britain got Iraq, Saudi Arabia,
& the other half of Palestine.
2. Israel was created by a British/U.S./UN deal
in the mid-20th century, & the USA has
aggressively backed Israel financially ever
3. This long period of Western
colonization left many areas of the
Middle East more secularized than any
point in its history (especially with
secular Western “puppet” leaders
imposed on Egypt & Iran), setting the
stage for a major resurgence of Islamic
theocracy in the 1970s.
4. During the 1980s, Soviet Russia took
over the central Asian Muslim nations
(Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, &
Kyrgyzstan) & drew arbitrary/artificial
borders around them, creating civil
unrest between Muslims.
5. The U.S. backed the Afghan Mujahedeen
against Russia in the 1980s; replaced
democratic Islamic regimes in Iran &
Indonesia; supplied arms to both Iraq
and Iran in their 1980s war; invaded
Iraq in the 1990s & again in 2001;
ousted the Iraqi government in 2002 &
set up secular Western political &
economic prototype systems.
6. Lack of cooperation between Arab
nations has been a major historical
roadblock to stable relations with the
West & peace negotiations with Israel.
Iraq’s new coalitional
government is dominated by
Shias & Kurds (secularleaning). The large, internally
divided Sunni community feels
“There is practically no part of the
ummah (Muslim culture) that hasn’t
been ruled by others and remains
today, to a greater or lesser degree,
under the influence or occupation of
the West. Arab nations have been on
the losing end of history for the past
500 years, and especially in the last
decade. This explains why so many
Muslims today cling to the powerful
combination of national and religious
Salafism, a new fundamentalist movement,
is spreading rapidly in liberal Arab
nations (especially Egypt, Jordan &
Lebanon). Aided by Saudi-based
religious television & the Internet,
Salafism is a direct offshoot of Saudi
Arabia’s Wahhabism, the most
puritanical sect of Islam that has the
strictest standards for Muslim dress,
public piety, & martyrdom/jihad.
“When people are filled with stress and
uncertainty, black & white is very good
and it’s easy to manage.”
Salafism reflects the trend towards
growing nationalism throughout
the Middle East. Traditionally
“quietist” (non-violent and
obedient to rulers) Salafists worry
many moderate Muslims who fear
that the many dictator-leaders in
Muslim cultures will use the
Salafist combination of obedience
& nationalism as a means to rule
via both religion & the military. In
Algeria, Salafists have recently
slide into violence, aligning
themselves with the terrorist
organization A-Qaida.
1. In its most general sense, jihad refers to
withdrawing from evil or corruption,
whether in the private lives of Islamic
believers, in organizations &
institutions, or in international affairs.
2. “Jihad means to struggle & strive on the
path of God to establish goodness and
justice and to root out evil oppression.
The Muslim is not supposed to sit back &
allow evil to pollute the world. This
helps to explain why some Muslims are
prepared to fight against injustice even
at the cost of their own lives.”
3. “When action is necessary, Islam is not
a pacifist way of life. If there is no
alternative & everything else has been
tried, the Muslim is permitted & indeed
required to fight for the just cause” (a
military jihad).
4. However, military jihad is subject to
strict standards of conduct: (1) fighting
only in defense; (2) protecting the
innocent; (3) not seeking territorial
gain; (4) a collective effort based on
consensus; (5) avoidance of weapons or
tactics of indiscriminate or mass
5. Muslim religious & military leaders are
currently split over the issue of whether
martyr by suicide is an acceptable tactic
of jihad.
6. “Those Muslim scholars who have given
a justification for these acts have
argued that they are a legitimate form
of warfare specifically against the
overwhelming military superiority of
what they see as the oppressors. A
strong majority opinion among scholars
on this question has been achieved only
in the case of Palestinian attacks on
(If God wills)
“Man plans his way, but God
directs his steps” (Solomon—Proverbs)
1. Fatalism: Muslims believe Allah is in
charge of human affairs, so people
should not act as though they are the
authors of their own fate. By contrast,
the mindset of Western secularism
implies that God perhaps controls one’s
soul, but people call the shots in their
professional lives.
2. Arab businesses have a fatalistic
tendency to stay small and
uncomplicated so as not to imply that
their owners are seeking to usurp Allah’s
guiding hand.
3. Muslims believe that time belongs to
Allah, not to us. Allah controls the
future, & our knowledge of it is
4. We should wait on Allah to intervene
into human affairs rather than to plan
out grand strategies which reflect only
man’s finite (& perhaps self-serving)
5. Muslim fatalism directly reflects a
cultural external locus of control in
which man is ultimately not in charge
of human affairs.
1. Should the American government act as
a “theocracy” by backing certain
religious beliefs: outlawing abortion &
stem cell research & gay marriage;
funding of religious organizations to
carry on welfare activities; funding of
school vouchers; regulating television
content, etc.?
2. Or should such be left up to the private
decisions of American citizens?
3. The compartmentalized religious
tradition of the West sees religion as a
private matter (often relegated to
Sunday mornings).
“Bukra inshallah”
(polychronic culture)
It will happen as soon as possible, but only
Allah knows when that will be.
Western culture has an empire building
mentality that ignores God’s possible
providence in historical events.
Arab passion conveys
conviction & adds color &
drama to life
Close physical proximity in public
Arabs feel that words (reflecting
philosophical commitment) are often
an acceptable substitute for action.
Personalized, close-proximity,
emotional deal-making
(Emotion binds people together
& motivates them.)
Strong Arab coffee
for every occasion
Turkish Proverb:
"Coffee (espresso)
should be black as hell,
strong as death, and as
sweet as love."
1. Ever since Mohammed and his
wife Khadijah pursued business
activities, the merchant class
has always played an honored
role in Islamic society.
2. Village bazaars (bazari) are not
only the hub of business activity
in most Arab cultures, but also
social activities as well.
Business at its most
basic & interpersonal
No need to lock the business up
when the owner is running errands.
A sole-proprietor/bartering
(due to lack of capitalism)
The ancient caravan
imprints from West to East
are still visible by satellite.
1. Traditional Sharia law outlaws the
charging of interest (riba), but many
Arab banks have experimented with
innovative ways to lend money at a
profit, primarily through giving lenders a
share of the company’s future profits.
2. Sukak is a Sharia-approved type of bond
that pays no direct interest & cannot be
used for improper products or activities
(alcohol, gambling, tobacco, etc.).
Refineries: Not a typical Arab
Entrepreneurs must be self-sufficient
(due to weak business
1. The global market for halal products
(prepared to Islamic religious standards) is
2. McDonald's recently experimented with
halal fast food in London. Coca Cola uses
the Ramadan Islamic holy season to feature
marketing initiatives focused on key
themes such as tolerance and charity.
3. A Syrian company markets the Fulla darkhaired doll as an ethnic alternative to the
ubiquitous Barbie doll.