Many people think that there is no difference between Islamic culture and Arabic culture. Not only that, according to many Muslims and Arabs are same but that is not true. Muslims are the people who are following Islam as a religion whereas Arabs are people who belong to the Arabian areas. Arab represents a nationality whereas the Islam represents a religion.
Arabic countries are those where Arabic is used by most of the people or is an official language, but they are allowed to follow any religion of their choice, whereas Islam in itself is a religion and people following Islam can belong to any nation in the world and can speak any language.
The two – Arabs and Muslims – are mistaken as same most probably because Islam was the faith that predominated Arabian areas during the time when Prophet Muhammad travelled to Arabian countries and spread the religion.
What is the difference between Arabic culture and Islamic culture?
Islamic culture includes practices and principles that are mostly mentioned in the Quran and even those which are not mentioned in the Quran but are still followed by most of the Muslims.
Language and Literature
Islamic Culture: Quran is considered to be the most important book in Islam and the people following Islam have complete faith in Quran as it is believed to contain the words of Allah that were dictated to Prophet Muhammad through an angel. The Islamic literature has been written in more than one language. Arabic is the oldest language used by Islamic people as Prophet Muhammad had travelled to Mecca and Medina in Arab countries to spread the message of Islam. The original Quran is also written in Arabic by the companions of Prophet Muhammad. As Islam spread through the world, other languages were used for Islamic literature. The languages other than Arabic in which Islamic literature is present include Persian, Turkish, Indo-Islamic and the modern languages like English.
Arabic Culture: Quran has played an important role in building the culture of Arab countries because of Muhammad’s visit to Mecca and Medina.
Islamic Culture: Islamic architecture is one of the most impressive architectural style in the world and the historical monuments that still exist in the contemporary world prove this fact. Most of the common features that are included in buildings built according to the Islamic architecture include small and large domes, large courtyards, huge prayer halls, a niche representing the direction of Mecca, use of geometric shapes, repetition of shapes, fountains, etc. As it is forbidden in the Quran to use paintings that depicts any living things or things that only Allah can create, the Islamic people started using Arabic calligraphy as a means of decoration.
Arabic Culture: Most of the architectural structures built in Arab countries are also based on Islamic architectural style as they also include the basic features that prevail in the Islamic architecture.
Dance, Music and Theatre
In Islam, dance is only permitted for women, that too only in presence of women and during celebrations, while men are forbidden to dance. Islamic people usually listen to music like Qawwalis, religious music, Arab religious music and other modern music. Even though theatre is permitted in Islam, the theatres cannot depict anything related to the religion, Allah, Muhammad, companions, angels etc.
Islamic Culture: In Islam, family and family members are given a lot of importance and everybody is taught to respect the elders as well as the youngsters. It is believed that a lot of valuable life lessons can be learnt if the three generations live in the same house.
Arabic Culture: Arabic culture is also in support of good family values. They believe that being in a group and working for a group is much more important than working for oneself only. They focus more on groups instead of individuals. Even though they are taught to be self-dependent, they are also taught the importance of a family.
Islamic Culture: As Islam is followed by a large number of people all over the world, the dressing may vary from one place to another. Though most of these countries follow the basic rules that are mentioned in the Quran.
Arabic Culture: In Arab culture, the men are supposed to wear a scarf, or ghotra which may vary in size, shape, colour, style etc.
Women in Arab countries are supposed to wear dresses that cover their complete body as well as the head should be covered by them with a veil.
Though there are many similarities in both the cultures, the main difference between the two is that Islam is a religion whereas Arabic culture is the culture that is followed in the Arab countries.