Table of Contents
It is the responsibility of every well-mannered person to regard the religions of others as we would appreciate ours to be regarded. In general, Christianity and Islam are close confessions. They have much in common, both in doctrine and practice, but there is additionally something that divides them. This finding is obscured by a history of tensions and a tendency to concentrate on distinctions, sometimes to the detriment of shared positions. From a practical point of view, Islam and Christianity are united by prayer, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimage, and in history — even the well-known “holy war”.
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The distinction among the two faiths and cultures
There are some distinctions in the particulars, but the fundamental principles remain alike. Understanding dialogue from the perspective of shared positions is both a symbolic impulse and an acknowledgement of reality. Such an attitude often results in simply disregarding disagreements and accepting an uncomfortable and impractical ceasefire. Alternatively, it can be the starting point for an assertive message that is realistically constrained by the recognition that the shared position can equally ensure a sphere in which everybody can benefit from the others. There is no mission more useless than a unilateral, bigoted one.
While adherence to trends in clothing may appear to be unacceptable to Islam, it should be borne in mind that Islamic wear is the custom that is most noticeable for non-Muslims. Islam cannot give in to Western concerns or demands on the issue of personal decency. Muslims, however, should promote modesty in this matter from the point of view of taste. It is quite fitting for immigrant Muslims to remain displaying the style of dress of their native country. We should not convey the impression that Europeans who convert to Islam should adhere to the same look. They should abide by the similar laws of modesty, but in a relevant way to their own country and culture.
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The fact is that Islam and Christianity share traditional attitudes of modesty to varying degrees. However, the number of Christians who dress as modestly as Islam has considerably decreased over the last century. Clearly, modesty is a feature not unique to Islam. It is controversial that this question has been turned into a political dispute in many regions, particularly in Europe, given that Christians, theoretically, undertake the identical responsibilities, consistent with their own religion, as Muslims.
European Muslims have occasionally suffered a setback in the question of style. Possibly, some propagandists of Islam paid too much attention to the tenets of modesty and too little to how they should be adjusted to contemporary trends. The fashion of replicating foreign styles has spread particularly within women. This is one of the fundamental problems for the adoption of Islam by Westerners. They believe that it is necessary to dress in black and conceal the face, because that is how women wear in this or that country. There needs to be a trend among European Muslim women to develop and adopt styles of dress that maintain Islamic modesty and simultaneously represent characteristics of Western styles of dress.
Nevertheless, the distinctions between Christian and Islamic customs extend far beyond mere particulars. There are some experiences, such as the Christian usage of music, that are completely inappropriate for Islam and should be acknowledged as such. More nuanced, even shared customs possess underlying distinctions, some of which go back to the most appreciable differences between the religions. When such Christian traditions serve to reinforce church prestige and even secularism, they deviate significantly from Islam. In dealing with Christians, it is crucial to finally grasp not only the specifics of Islamic practices, but also what they represent mentally, operationally, and morally. There is invariably a risk that a Christian converting to Islam will carry a cultural and incompatible background with Islamic belief and tradition. But even dialogue that does not lead to people accepting Islam is most beneficial when it enhances a genuine appreciation of why people perform the things they do and how they relate to the practice of their belief.