10.9 C
Σάββατο, 25 Μαρτίου, 2023
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionMuslims: Cultural and religious differences

Muslims: Cultural and religious differences

By Polina Pallieraki, 

It is crucial to express our respect for the sensitivities and particularities created by the cultural differences and the religious beliefs of each individual. If we know some of the habits regarding worship and some cultural elements of the Muslims, which constitute a large percentage of immigrants passing through the Centers First Reception, it is much easier to avoid misunderstandings, misunderstandings, and even serious tensions.

Religious habits and communication issues

1) Daily prayer and worship

For Muslims, prayer is a daily practice of worship during which they glorify God and ask for forgiveness and guidance. Prayer involves a series of rituals during which they read or recite passages from the Koran and may be standing, kneeling or sitting. The prayer is obligatory five times a day, at sunrise (Fajr), noon (Zuhr), afternoon (Asr), after sunset  (Maghrib) and late at night before sleep (Isha). The Muslims usually pray in a mosque where the Imam guides the prayer. However, anyone can be available for prayer space, as long as it is quiet and clean. If someone is patient and bedridden may wish to pray in bed, sitting up or by his bed on some prayer rug. Its duration does not exceed 10–15 minutes. It is equally important to know that Friday is a holy day for Muslims and at noon a special service is held.

2) Cleaning

Before the prayer and the recitation or reading of the Koran, the believers must be washed and specifically wash their hands, face and feet and in the mosque, there is a specific place for it this purpose. Anywhere else a faucet is sufficient for this purpose or even a jug of water. If someone is patient, he may need help or he can choose another cleaning practice without water, known as Tayammum. According to this practice, they simply rub their hands on a small stone, followed by their hands, they clean their face, rub their hands again on the stone and they first clean the right and then the left arm. In this manner, they feel that they are spiritually cleansed and ready for prayer.

3) Prayer carpets

Muslims residing in the First Reception Center may have their own prayer rug, and although many of them may have left their country under adverse circumstances, they may not have had the opportunity to take one with them. In case they are not provided with a carpet, they may use a sheet or a towel and the employees of this center have to show acceptance and respect towards this religious habit of theirs.

Image source: islamicity.org

4) The Quran

The Quran is the most important book of Muslims, it symbolizes for them the word of God and they use it by reciting his texts during prayer. Muslims in order to touch the Quran must first be washed. If an employee of the First Reception Center holds The Quran in his hands during checking or storing the items of a Muslim, must be considerate enough and show respect.

5) Ramadan

Ramadan is a Muslim Religious holiday of fasting. It is the name of the ninth month of the Muslim year –the start date of the celebration is not fixed every year— and during this month Muslims abstain necessarily from any kind of food even water, from smoking and sexual intercourse, from sunrise to sunset, but not during the night. Fasting is not obligatory for the sick, the elderly, small children, pregnant or lactating women. It is indeed worth noting that during this month Muslim foreigners of the First Acceptance Center, may spend many hours in prayer or reading the Koran. Ramadan ends with the feast called Eid al–Fitr which is the celebration of the “end of fasting”, a celebration of unity so for the community as well as the family. The second major Muslim holiday is Eid al–Adha or otherwise, the feast of the sacrifice which lasts four days but its date celebration is not fixed for us who use the Gregorian calendar and changes from year to year.

6) Diet

Muslims have specific rules about diet by dividing the foods into those that are permitted (halal) and those that are prohibited (haram). The main prohibited foods are pork and its by–products such as gelatin. Also alcohol, animal fat and meat from animals that have not been killed in accordance with prescribed by Islamic traditions way.

Sweets containing alcohol or vanilla extract, are also prohibited, as well as cheeses or yogurt and ice creams that have been prepared with animal fat.

7) Clothes

The Muslim religion requires modesty in dress both men and women. Women in particular must cover their entire body except for the face and hands. The issue of modesty should be considered during it their medical examination, which should be done by a female doctor. The staff of the First Acceptance Center, the registrars, the medical staff rank, etc. must respect cultural differences and choices of Muslim foreigners regarding their clothing habits and not allow discrimination against them.

8) Communication issues – Medical examinations

Modesty is important enough for Muslims. Both men and women may seem reluctant to expose their naked bodies during the medical examination to a doctor of the opposite sex. Showing understanding, respect and sensitivity to the particularities imposed by Islam religion, when possible, medical examinations must be performed by doctors of the same sex. It would also make it easier for the communication and register of women to be done with women recorders and interpreters again if possible.

The Muslim religion has strict rules that define the relations between men and women. These standards of conduct are upheld not only out of respect for culturally correct behavior but also because they often form legal requirements in their countries of origin. Although many times the strictness in applying the traditions differs from place to place, it is crucial to avoid shaking hands with men clerks, recorders, doctors, etc. with Muslim women.

9) Birth of a child

Customs and ceremonies following the birth of a child:

  • Call to prayer is whispered by the father in the right ear of the child and is followed by another one whispered in the left ear. Both last no more than five minutes.
  • A small amount of date, sugar or a little honey can be placed on the baby’s tongue.
  • Naming takes place on the seventh day after birth. On the seventh day, the child’s head is shaved and the boys are circumcised. In case of abortion of a fetus older than 120 days, parents may request to have a normal burial.

Image source: greenprophet.com

10) Breastfeeding

The Muslim religion requires children to be breastfed for two years. When a woman breastfeeds a child under two years of age, she is observed as his mother, even though he is not hers in a biological prism, and her biological ones are considered as his siblings. For this reason, Muslim women may seem reluctant to give their milk to another child or to let their own child receive foreign milk.

11) Imminent death

In case of imminent death, relatives or other members of the Muslim community may wish to read some verses of the Quran and pray for his soul. They may also be asked to recite a “statement of faith” (Shahadah) and turn their body to its right side so that it faces the direction of Mecca. After death, the relatives close the eyes of the deceased, straighten the joints of their hands and feet and cover his body. According to their usual traditions, they proceed to burial within 24 hours after the body is washed.

  • Θρησκεία και δίκαιο. researchgate.net. Available here 
  • Μουσουλμανισμός. apmarkakis.weebly.com. Available here 
  • Η θέση του Ιησού στο Κοράνι: Τα 6 στοιχεία που αγνοούσαμε μέχρι σήμερα. huffingtonpost.gr. Available here 



Polina Pallieraki
She was born in Athens and she is a student of Philosophy at National Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA). She speaks English, French and Spanish and she plays the guitar as a hobby. She is very interested in books and journalism especially in social and cultural issues, because she can externalize her thoughts and opinion. She is passionate about whatever she does and she is trying to do her best in every role she undertakes.