Cognitive Dissonance and the Western Muslim experience

It is sad to hear some stories of Muslims who either come to the West, or are second generation Muslims born into conservative (cultural) families, who then go on to act worse than the average person in the West. They drink more, take more drugs, are more promiscuous and even gamble more then the typical Western practitioner of these habits.

However I think it reflects the cognitive dissonance experienced by cultural Muslims living in the West, who are taught a regime of discipline and self-control by their family, but are then faced with an over-stimulated environment in the West, which constantly agitates their impulses, and pushes them to satisfy these impulses. Like an elastic rope that is stretched too far, the regime of discipline clashes with the hedonistic Western culture, causing a cataclysmic reaction in the individual, resulting in an extreme reaction.

Cultural Muslims (unlike ideological ones) perceive Islam as merely a set of rules and traditions, and will find it difficult to maintain those in an environment based upon a radically different culture. My advice to them, is to search their souls , and if they are so driven to conform to the status quo of western society, they should consider what their purpose in life is really is – and be honest to themselves about what they want to be.

To those who want to make a conscious choice to be a Muslim, after understanding the evidences – they should become ideological muslims (i.e. Muslims that follow Islam with intellectual conviction, and not just blindly following their parents), and make their best attempt to create a self-reinforcing environment for like minded Muslims who wish to protect and preserve themselves.

Of course humans being humans, people will make mistakes, but it is not the making of mistakes with condemns a person, except if they give up trying to change, and become disparing of Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and mercy. To deny those, is to deny God’s attributes.

Of course, the worst group of people, are those who attempt to be Muslim AND justify their Western lifestyles by deluding themselves into thinking they are somehow enlightened if they call themselves ‘moderate muslims’ – which is as absurd as saying, ‘I’m only into moderate compassion’, or ‘I only want to drink moderately clean water’, or ‘I’m only moderately professional in my work’, or ‘I only want moderate justice for society..not too much”. As like most humans who put their tastes before their conscience, this is nothing more than vain self-delusion, like the story of the king who had no clothes.

So in essence, we must pick a purpose to believe in, and be consistent in affirming that purpose, even if we fall down from time to time.

But no human can make themselves happy or content to live a double-life without becoming a hypocrite. As the Arabic saying goes, a horse cannot have two saddles, and as the Christians say, a person cannot be a slave of two masters.

Categories: ARTICLES, The Muslim Debate Initiative, UK. Europe, North America & Muslim communities in the West

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3 replies

  1. Paul Salahuddin Armstrong: ‘I disagree that “Western” inherently refers to a culture of lecherous drugged up drunks. I’m sure plenty of other “Westerners” who aren’t Muslims, but nevertheless decent, ethical and moral individuals would too, whichever beliefs they hold dear. This is not to say that we don’t have such problems, just that I disagree that they are truly representative of the culture as a whole. One will find exactly the same problems in every society, even traditionally Muslim ones, and not necessarily as a consequence of “Western” influences, as some may claim. However, I do find myself in agreement with many of the other points you have made. Ma Salam’


    Yes, it is true that most people in the West are not at the extreme of being lecherous drunks – according to their own standards. However, according to (the more objective) Islamic standards, they do constantly obsess at the attractive people amongst themselves with lust, most people have tried one type of drug (even if it is ‘just’ canabis), and it is standard practice now to have a few lovers before marriage (if they marry at all), and most of those who drink, have gotten drunk more than a few times in their life. But since these things are considered ‘normal’ in the West, the goal posts about what is considered ‘extreme’ behaviour have been moved quite far back I fear.


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