Free «American and Saudi Arabian Cultural Diversity» Essay

American and Saudi Arabian Cultural Diversity

People from different geographical regions have different cultures. Cultural difference is defined by the different ways people perceive life and do things, and different practices they perform. There are distinctive differences, but, at the same time, there are still some similarities and common grounds in various cultures. Cultural diversity at times results into conflicts, but it is the strength of the world. Americans have their culture, which is unique to America, although it may have overflowed to other continents and countries. Similarly, Saudi Arabia has its culture, unique to it and its people. There are vast disparities between American culture and that of Saudi Arabia, including work, religion, family, marriage, education, entertainment, literature and many other aspects. Cultural diversity and similarity is a wide topic, which would be difficult to cover with all its aspects. Therefore, this essay will focus on the cultural diversity and similarity between American religion and that of Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia, the only legal religion is Islam, while all others are prohibited. Unlike Saudi Arabia, America gives freedom of worship. In America, there is no prohibited religion, which allows people to practice any religion publicly as long as the practices are within the law. In Saudi Arabia, non-Islam religions should not be practiced in public, even though they are allowed to be practiced in private. There are few non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia with the majority being foreigners. Almost all citizens of Saudi Arabia are Muslims by birth. After being born by Muslim parents, children go through full teaching of Islam, hence, becoming committed Muslims by their maturity. Since Islam is the only legal religion, there are low chances of conversion or even dropping the religion for anything else. On the other hand, in America, there are many religions that are being practiced and few religious practices are illegal according to the constitution. Therefore, every citizen has a right to belong to any religious group and practice that religion both in public and private. As a result of influence of other cultures, children that are born by parents of a certain religion may eventually convert to another. In addition, it is possible to marry for couples of different religions. As a result, their children will be of mixed religions. Even in such cases, children may choose to belong to another, third religion.

In Saudi Arabia, religion is the overall guiding principle, which is not the case in America. Every other aspect of life in Saudi Arabia is based on, guided by and referenced to religion. For example, the Saudi Arabian government operates on sharia law, making provisions that are permissible under sharia law and prohibiting everything sharia law prohibits. Like the monarchial type of government, the sharia law is not based on democracy; therefore, there is no democracy in Saudi Arabia (Al-Gahtani, Hubona, & Wang, 2007). The monarchial government is also a result of the Muslim religion that recognizes the royal family. Therefore, the operation of the Saudi Arabian government depends on the Muslim religion and the sharia law. The American government, in its turn, operates on the basis of democracy and the constitution. Religion has no influence upon what happens in the government or upon the decisions made by the government.

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In addition, religion in Saudi Arabia dictates individuals what lifestyle to lead, including dressing, relationships and food. In America, religion has little effect, if any, on people’s lifestyles. It is actually difficult to tell the religion of Americans from their mode or dressing or relationship. Saudi Arabian ladies dress in black abaya (long black cloak) and a veil covering full face while men wear thobes, either white colored during warm seasons or dark colors during cold seasons (Al-Gahtani et al., 2007). Americans dress according to occasion, job, status and preference. Dressing in America has little to do with religion, unlike it is with Muslims in America. In Saudi Arabia, pork products are prohibited since Islamic religion views a pig as a filthy animal. In this case, Islamic religion dictates what Muslims should eat and what they cannot. In addition, during celebrations, there are specific foods that Muslims eat. In America, people eat any kind of food without any restrictions from religion. Since America is a multi-religion country, it cannot impose prohibitions from every religion. In Saudi Arabia, cross-gender relationships are restricted in accordance with Islamic religion. In America, cross-gender relationships are as popular as the same gender relationships.

Both the American religions and Saudi Arabian Islamic religion have a holiday of worship. In both cases, the holy day of worship influences the calendar in the region since it has to accommodate the worship day. Therefore, working days in both cases are determined by religion in that the holy day of worship must not be a working day. Since America has many religions, it has several days of worship, but it uses the Greek calendar that recognizes Sunday as a worship day. In Saudi Arabia, Friday is a worship day in accordance with the Islamic religion (Davis, Goff, Stein, Thuesen, & Wheeler, 2014).

Similarly, both American religions and Saudi Arabian Islam acknowledge that there is a deity or deities with authority over human beings. These deities are worshiped. All human beings have this in common: they feel incomplete, and hence, seek explanation in a supernatural being that has authority over life and death. In all religions, be it in America or Saudi Arabia, their followers hold in reverence supernatural beings, known or unknown to them. The Muslims in Saudi Arabia direct their worship to Allah, Christians in America direct their worship to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (the trinity), Buddhists to Buddha, Hindus to multiple gods and goddesses, and others to their respective deities.

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