Islam contains many rules for daily life and human relationships. The first source of these rules is the Quran and the second is the hadith or reports of the prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h’s) words or actions.
Islam teaches the importance of both belief and practice; one is insufficient without the other. There are six beliefs which are held by Muslims that are shown through the light of Quran and Hadith. These beliefs are: Belief in the oneness of God, Belief in the Angels of God, Belief in the Books of God, Belief in the prophets and messengers of God, Belief in the day of judgement and Belief in fate (the decisions of Gods will).
In this essay, I will be identifying the differences between Muslims carrying out their religion in 2 different countries. I will be suggesting the differentiation in both religious terms and practical daily life. These differences will show how a single person practising the same religion in 2 distinct countries can react to their religious duties. The content I will show will consist of the following issues: Government Laws, Environment and Routines of Daily life.
The legal system in Saudi Arabia is followed on the basis of the Muslim holy book, the Quran. This system being known as the shariah.
The Saudi Government law includes different punishment levels and standards to that of the UK. Some of these punishments might be considered harsh by British standards nevertheless they are carried out according to the severity of the crime. They give different punishments for different crimes, for example if someone is caught stealing, then they are sentenced to have their hands chopped off. As you can see, this type of judgement might seem extreme and is totally different from the type of sentencing you might get in the UK.
Every act of crime is considered extreme in Saudi Arabia thus reducing the rate of crime dramatically. People will be more cautious before thinking of committing a crime, because they will know the consequences. A crime of theft in the UK has a less severe consequence compared to Saudi Arabia if found out so people have less fear of giving it a try. If an act of theft is carried out in the UK, then the person who committed the theft will be liable under the 1968 Theft act. That person will then have a trial and the judge will decide what sentence to give according to the severity of the crime.
As you can see the sentence given in the UK is less severe then the one given in Saudi Arabia. People would rather spend a bit of time in prison rather than have their hands chopped off.
Another issue, which is of concern, is that of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and drugs are totally banned in Saudi Arabia. This is whether a member of the public consumes it or it is smuggled to another country. In the UK, Alcohol is not banned, though there are some restrictions in the way it is consumed. You are not allowed to drink and drive. Drugs though are restricted here. The sentences for Alcohol offences in Saudi Arabia range from a few weeks or months imprisonment for consumption to several years for smuggling or selling. In the UK if you are caught drink driving, then you are arrested and put for trial. The judge then decides how long the sentence should be. The Saudi Government takes a particularly serious view of drug offences. If someone is caught smuggling drugs, then they are sentenced to the death penalty and if they are caught with possession of even the smallest quantity, they can get imprisoned for approximately two years.
Reports show that the rate of execution in Saudi Arabia is the highest in the world. Some people might argue that this could mean that the rate of crime is also greater in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 2 people are executed every week (from records in 1999). The death penalty is given if you are caught smuggling, consuming drugs, Adultery and for some non-violent activities as well. For committing an act of adultery, the method of punishment is stoning to death.
The death penalty as stated above also applies to some non-violent activities. This includes adultery as well as ‘witchcraft’ and ‘apostasy’. As for in the UK, there is no death penalty so the rate of crime is bound to be higher as more people will be willing to give it a try. This would be a bit lenient for the people living in Saudi Arabia because of the death penalty set in their country.
You can see clearly the difference between Government laws in Saudi Arabia and in the UK. In Saudi Arabia you are imposed a greater threat to your life whereas in the UK you are merely sentenced to a few years imprisonment, if that. Take the example of a person who stole an item from a shop. That person would have their hand chopped off if they were living in Saudi Arabia whereas in the UK they would get have to spend a few years in prison. Now which of the two sentences would seem more severe? Obviously having your hand chopped off would be more severe.
People tend to think that the Saudi way is a more harsh way of dealing with things. They think this because of the severe consequences that are being used by the Saudi Government. For example the chopping of the hand as mentioned above for an act of theft. If your hand is chopped off, then you will have to live with that for the rest of your life, thus making you question your own act of theft.
In one way you can say that the laws of Saudi Arabia are good because it will reduce the rate of crime. On the other hand some issues like women not being allowed to drive can be argued for. This will be shown in the later part of the essay.
The Environment in Saudi Arabia is quite different to that of the UK.
The Saudis are dignified and hospitable people. Work and social life are strictly divided by sex. Outside the family, sexes do not mix at all. Most women cover their faces in public.
Saudis will not generally be offended by a social mistake. They set great contacts with each other and value each individual personally. They wont discuss any business at all, until tea or coffee is served. If someone is seen to be rushing and hasty towards business, then this is taken a sign of bad manners.
People in the UK are generally hospitable though there are a few inconsiderate people. People involved in business shall set fourth as they wish and usually rush to get things done. All sexes are allowed to take part in business and mix freely between each other.
An issue of concern that arises is that of women not being allowed to drive. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive alone. They may only drive if they have a man who is a mahram (A man who the women is not allowed to marry by Islamic law) sitting next to them. The purpose of this might be because women are more vulnerable than men, so in their own safety they shouldn’t drive. Sometimes this can be a problem. If a woman wants to get somewhere urgently and there is no person about to get her there, and she has a car, it would be very difficult for that woman because she would not be allowed to drive the car. She would have to find another way around the problem of getting to that destination.
In the UK, women are allowed to drive alone as long as they have a valid UK Driving licence. The above issue of the women needing to get somewhere urgently wouldn’t be a problem because she would be able to go by herself. Though sometimes this can be a problem. If a women is coming back or going to a supermarket in the evening or at anytime alone, she is more prone to get mugged or have her car stolen. So in a way this can be a problem, because it would mean that the crime rate in the UK would go higher.
To travel to Saudi Arabia it is essential that you have a valid and appropriate visa for entering the country of Saudi Arabia in your passport. You must not try to import any videos or literature, even some pharmaceutical products or drugs are liable to detention even if taken with good faith.
The dress code for Saudi Arabia is not totally set, the best way for both men and women to avoid any difficulties is to dress conservatively in public. Most women wear an abaya (black cloak) and most decide to cover their hair in order to avoid confrontation with the religious police. These police patrol the markets and shopping centres looking for women not covering themselves. Men are not permitted to wear shorts in public.
This dress code is quite rightly used by the Saudis. I say this as my point of view because it doesn’t leave women revealing and lustful to men so men are less likely to involve themselves in lustful acts.
In the UK, because of the lack of sensible dress code, men are more likely to be involved in lustful acts with women, as women tend not to cover their heads and sometimes even other parts of their body.
This is a controversial issue which can have arguments for and against according to different points of view and are shown below.
According to most people living in the UK, they are happy with the way people dress. They say this because they are used to the western ways of dressing. Also because in the UK many people have relationships and are outwardly revealing to the general public, so people are comfortable with the way things are done. The only people who would oppose this decision are practising Muslims. This is because, it is not permissible as part Islam to have relationships before and outside marriages. With the way women dress, not covering their hair, it is more difficult for practising Muslims to control their desires and restrict themselves. As for other nominal Muslims, there is of no concern how people dress. This is because they have been influenced by the Western society. They too get involved in dressing up and going out so aren’t concerned about the rest of the Islamic environment.
As for people in Saudi Arabia, the main religion is Islam, so every one, by the law, has to dress appropriately. Nobody is felt left uncomfortable as everybody is equal and dresses the same. If there were any non-Muslims living here then maybe they might feel uncomfortable. This would be because they would also have to cover themselves appropriately, and especially if you are female, then you would be obliged to wear a headscarf and cover the rest of the body with a black cloak (abaya). They would feel uncomfortable because they wouldn’t be use to it, and in the heat they would get very hot.
Another issue in Saudi Arabia is of Education. Education is segregated by gender and divided into three separately administered systems: general education for boys, general education for girls and traditional Islamic education (for boys). The Ministry of Education is the main authority over the general education for boys and education for girls. Both sexes follow the same curriculum and take the same annual examinations.
This segregation of the sexes is appropriate. I say this because practising Muslims of older age (14+) need to be separate form the opposite sex, so as to stop their desires against females and follow their religion properly.
In the UK, both male and female are allowed to mix in the same school. These are mainly primary schools and comprehensive secondary schools. As for primary schools, I wouldn’t say there is much of a problem because the children are young and immature and there would be no sexual attraction between them. Though there are some other problems. In some primary schools Muslims are sometimes directed to Christian hymns in assembly. By singing these hymns they might get influenced and get directed away from the religion of Islam. Also they might get confused as to what hey are following because on one hand they are singing Christian hymns and when they come back from school their parents will send them to the mosque to learn the Quran.
Another widespread problem is that of lunchtime at primary schools. The Muslim youth are not permitted to eat the food that is provided by the school due to the fact that it might be unlawful. Usually they are provided with a different diet or because of ignorance from their parents might end up eating the unlawful food. The Muslim youth wonder why they have a limited choice of food, only that which is lawful (Halal) whilst their non-muslim friends have a larger variety of foods to choose from.
In Saudi Arabia this is not the case. All food provided to Muslims in schools is Halal and therefore they have nothing to worry about. Also the only religion taught in Saudi Arabia is Islam so they wont get confused about what they are learning.
As for the older generation in secondary schools in the UK, I say there is a bigger problem. This is because the teenagers are at a stage where they are likely to feel attracted to girls, though it is against the religion of Islam to have relationships before marriage. In the situation of a comprehensive secondary school, Muslim teenagers would find it hard to control their desires and would therefore resort to relationships. This in turn would weaken their faith thus making it difficult to practise Islam properly. Also the issue of school dinners can be a problem in secondary schools. This is because the pupils would not know whether the food provided by the school is lawful or not, thus making their diet limited.
Overall, I think that it would be easier for a good Muslim to practise their religion in a school strictly with their own sex, rather than have their education in a mixed sexes school and also in a school where they have a separate Halal diet for Muslim students.
Routines of Daily life
The Routines of Daily life for a practising Muslim are similar what ever culture or country they in or from. The main things that are of concern and which I will be discussing are: Prayers, Holidays, Working conditions, Entertainment and luxuries.