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Differences Between Arab and American Culture

Arab vs American Culture

The differences between Arab and American culture are both staggering and yet negligible. Both countries are deeply political, and throughout both countries’ histories are deeply committed to their spiritual, moral, and social standards. But the similarities could not go deeper – origins, religion, and cultural backgrounds are the main reasons that both cultures could never agree on key points and have been a source of chronic conflict through the history of the world.

Religious Differences

While America is originally founded by Christianity (Puritans from the United Kingdom), the Arab countries, on the other hand, embrace Islam since the 6th BC. This religious difference is one of the major contributors of sporadic clashes that are often mistaken as “political” in nature. Since Arab nations make sure that the state religion is kept, the American culture fights for the individual’s faith, the freedom to choose what religion he or she thinks would be best for him or her. This has been one of the flashpoints between both cultures. The American eagerness to “free” the Arab press is one good example of the widening gap between both cultures. While Islam preaches one God, the majority of those who embrace Christianity believe in a God represented by the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. To this day, both cultures are forcing the other to heed the call to accept their religions.

Language

The Arab language and the American language are both regional languages. The English language is seen to be the default Western language, while the Arabic language is seen as an Eastern language that has its roots in the Aramaic and Hebrew languages. The Arab language, however, is not just a regional language but also a religious language as well that is closely attached to Islam. Countries that are predominantly Muslim speak and write Arabic with schools teaching the language extensively. The English language (American), has its influence tied to global commerce making it the default international language. The glaring differences are also stressed on how these languages are perceived by the other – often creating animosity and clashes on socio-political, economic, and religious issues.

Literature

English literature has a long history and has been seen as the foundational platform of the existing world literature. The Arab literature, however, is more localized and, again, spread around by the Arab religion – Islam. Although the Arab culture existed before the creation of Islam, Islam successfully overpowered previously written literature and replaced it with excerpts from the Qur’an and other Islamic texts and derived poetry.

Media

The socio-political climate of both the American and Arab cultures dictates the activities of their respective media. This is one of the clearest differences between the Arab and American cultures. American media is freer but can also be severely unregulated, causing legal debacles from claims and counterclaims of published reports. Some call this the curse of democracy to American media. This often leads to the conflict of privacy, personal interests, and national security. The Arab media, on the other hand, is burdened by the responsibility to support the existing regime – oftentimes dictated by Islamic clerics. This often leads to severe regulation and censorship. Worse yet, it is also prone to manipulation and propaganda. Although these issues are as real in the American media, it is often downplayed by the fact that freedom of the press is alive and well in the American culture.

Terrorism

Terrorism has been an ongoing battle and a key part of defining the differences between Arab and American cultures. “Terrorism” in both cultures has different meanings. American interference in Arab affairs within Arab lands (the Jewish issue) has been hailed as terrorism by the Arab nations. Suicide bombings and Islamic insurgencies are terrorism for the American public. These terror “acts” from both cultures also have different motivations. The American side see it as a socio-economic pursuit to establish a presence in the Arab region, while the Arab side see it as expressing their sovereignty – socially, politically, and spiritually through the integration of the Islamic reasoning for the attacks (often attributed to Islamic extremism).

Summary:

  1. American culture promotes individual faith while Arab culture often embraces Islam.

  2. American culture utilizes English while the Arab culture makes use of the Arabic language.

  3. American literature serves as one of the major foundations of world literature while Arabic literature is more localized and is mostly based on Islam.

  4. American media has more freedom than Arab media.

  5. Both the Arabs and Americans have various views regarding terrorism. Arabs see it as a way to express their sovereignty while Americans see it as a socio-economic pursuit.


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3 Comments

  1. You’ve moved Islam back 1300 years before it began. Whatever you think of Islam, 600 BC doesn’t cut it.

    Then, on a more substantive note, there’s this: “both cultures are forcing the other to heed the call to accept their religions.” Well, the article was not written by a person whose native language is English, which is ok. What is not ok is when the mistranslation destroys meaning. What do you mean when you say that the US is forcing (say) Saudi Arabia to “accept” Christianity?

    And, do you believe that (say) Saudi Arabia wants the US to “accept” Islam? Well, last time I looked, the US accepts Muslim-Americans, so I can’t think it’s a big stretch for the US to accept Muslim Saudis.

    Or this: “English literature has a long history and has been seen as the foundational platform of the existing world literature.” thanks, but let’s get real. there is a HUGE world literature that was not written in English, nor even translated into English; to say that English (is) the “foundational platform for the existing world literature” is at best an exaggeration.
    Then there’s this: “Countries that are predominantly Muslim speak and write Arabic.” Accoring to the CIA world factbook, Indonesian languages include “Bahasa (the official, modified form of Malay), English, Dutch, and local dialects (of which the most widely spoken is Javanese). Arabic doesn’t make the list.
    Or this: “American interference in Arab affairs within Arab lands (the Jewish issue) has been hailed as terrorism by the Arab nations.” First, you conflate Islam and Arab, which are independent, if overlapping, concepts: There are Christian Arabs and there are non-Arab Muslims. That said, whatever the “Jewish issue” is (and as a Jew I haven’t a clue what you mean here), no form of American interference in Arab affairs within Arab lands has anything to do with Judaism. you continue: “The American side see it [sic] as a socio-economic pursuit to establish a presence in the Arab region.” Whatever “it” is, the sentence cannot be read with the word “terrorism” in place of the word “it”, unless you think that terrorism is in any sense a “socio-economic pursuit”

  2. Islam began after 600 AD… who let you write this article to fool everyone?
    Christianity was well established before mohammad was born.

  3. I agree with Mr. Bruce Hyman for all things he said.

    You are who wrote the article involved yourself in a knowledge that has nothing to know about!!!

    You Made from American an Ethnic group and race. They are not!

    Being Arab means Semitic, Arabic speaker and has Arabian culture.
    Being American is being someone else ( European, Latino, negro, Chinese, Arab,…….etc) but living in what is politically called USA and have a paper that says that he is citizen of USA.
    If you say that Americans are English speakers, then I tell you that my grandmother who can say 10 words in English only is also American because she has the PASSPORT.

    Arabs as ethnic founded 500 BC. Americans are founded 200 years ago if not mistaken.
    Besides all, Arabs are the longest survived ethnic group in the entire world. No other group kept itself as same group for 2500 years than Arabs. (Romans kept themselves for 1 400 years).

    Arabs can be Muslims, Christians, Jews and sabians only. No other than these.

    Arab is an Arab in his treatory or outside it. American need to show his ID to be recognized as American inside America. And most times the America is called with different identity in America itself like Black-american, Arab-american, Latino-american and even Arab-american.
    American can NOT be an Arab. But Arab can be an American.

    From today and perhaps till year 2500, if USA keep itself united and isolate itself from other parts of the world, that time an ethnic called American will be established. independant ethnic and culture.

    If the economical situation become very bad in America. Half population of America will return back to their home countries. That time, they will never call themselves Americans, but they will return to their ethnical backgrounds. This has happened with Chinese Americans when china got better living condition.

    With my respect to all Americans including the black Americans ;)

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