Sunday, October 9, 2011

Culture

Following are some random points from a talk on Culture. Vast topic, do not try to draw any specific conclusion. I happily accept and welcome any disagreements.


Culture
Beginning quote:
There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance; no greater heritage than culture and no greater support than consultation.
- Imam Ali a.s.

Definition of culture:
-          164 definitions of Culture, according to Western sources only, so it is hard to define Culture in one definition.
-          Three basic senses:
o   Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
o    An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
o    The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group
-          As beauty has a virtually external aspect, such as the refreshing appearances of a flower, moonlight, a river fall, or beautiful handwriting, so does culture, like observable examples of morals, works of art, and architectural characteristics representing various external acquisitions and ideals.
-          “The proper quality or deserved methods used for those of man’s physical or spiritual needs based on human logical thoughts and emotions arisen from reasonable evolutionary lifestyles.”

A random question:
Question: Culture is usually ‘evolved’. Evolution can have creativity. Also, man’s evolutionary needs are those of “perfection” (Kamal/کمال ). So, can we be creative in setting up new forms of culture? Or adding new values/norms to it?
Keeping in view, some things are bound to change (Heraclitus: “Nothing endures but change”), some don’t(core principles, maybe, for example; Justice).  

Centuries passed; and a new one began; the moon is the same, but the water flowing by is not.

How to? (With reference to above question)
I personally believe human race is innately creative. So, if culture can be a creative entity, we need to tear the curtains meddling our hearts, and start inferring.
As Rumi says, apparently irrelevant though – but speaks my mind:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Culture and Religion:

چیست دین بر خواستن از روی خاک
تا کھ آگھ گردد از خود جان پاک

What is religion? Rising from the earth, to achieve self- awareness of the soul.
- Iqbal

Another random question: Is Islamic Culture Compatible with Western Culture?
In brief, Islamic culture is based upon a “logical mode of life”, which originates from the commonalities among divine religions (actually, all from Abraham's religion); undoubtedly, any culture -Western or Eastern -able to adjust itself to these common basics can have a profound role alongside Islamic cultures in reviving the prosperity of human societies.

Couple of important points:
-          Disharmonious Cultural elements in real facts may demolish all of Human Culture/specific Culture
-          Moral Corruption is the main reason for the deterioration of Western Culture

Some interesting terms regarding Culture:
Counterculture - a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day (post-Vietnam war hippies culture of 60's etc).
Creative Culture - brings imagination; diversity, curiosity, experimenting and idea sharing into daily activities.
Urban culture – Mostly driven by economics.

Sources:
Pioneer Culture to the Rescue of Mankind - An Introduction to Islamic Culture
by Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari

Zain
6th October 2011.

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