Culture refers to the way of life of a particular people. It is worth noting that culture may entail religion, values, customs, and the overall traditions upheld by people in a community. Culture has also been known to bring people together through a common identity and overall living among people within the community. People in a community or a country also develop a sense of belonging through their cultural practices and values. Different countries and groups of people within these countries have different cultures, which they identify with largely. Ahmad and p’Bitek present various issues concerning culture around the globe and the perceptions held toward cultural practices. For instance, Ahmad asserts that the veils worn by Muslim women are a significant representation of culture, but most other people perceive them a sign of women oppression in society. p’Bitek also reiterates that some of the cultural values in society have been interfered with largely because of the increasing levels of tourism into African countries such as Kenya. Politicians also contribute to the interference of cultural values through their movements from one country to another. P’Bitek is also of the opinion that Western countries especially those from Europe played an instrumental role in stealing some of the cultural aspects from Africa and pretending to advance them. Culture could have grown toward a positive direction in cases where there were limited questions concerning the manner in which people operate within society.
This essay compares and contrasts Ahmad’s and p’Bitek’s views on culture.
Both Ahmad and p’Bitek are of the view that the West has affected most significant cultural values. Ahmad asserts that the West has always portrayed the veil worn by Muslim women a sign of women oppression and the lack of equality for women in society (Ahmed 93). The West has raised numerous questions pertaining to the relevance of the veil worn by women in strong Islamic states such as Egypt and Iran. This has had a negative perception on the entire concept of wearing veils among Islamic women in Muslim states. For instance, Ahmad reiterates that the question has made most of these women to think about their equality and the nature of their lives even as they continue to live under patriarchy. Similarly, p’Bitek emphasizes that the coming of Europeans in the form of colonialism was instrumental in affecting the vital cultural aspects existing within the African cultural community. They came to steal some of these cultural aspects such as art and went to use them for their own personal gains. P’Bitek emphasizes this with the assertion that the tourist taste matters largely in Africa. For instance, individuals at the Bomas of Kenya are taught by a white to dance naked with the aim of impressing tourists. This is a show of cultural interference by the outside world. Therefore, both Ahmad and p’Bitek hold the view that Western forces have affected and stolen some of the desirable cultural aspects with the pretence of criticizing them.
Additionally, both Ahmad and p’Bitek are of the opinion that culture has been in existence since time immemorial. For instance, Ahmad asserts, “Veiling existed in pre-Islamic days and was not introduced by Muhammad.” (Ahmed 95) This is an indication that the wearing of veils among Muslim women is not a new thing as viewed by the Western societies. It is not a form of oppression against anyone in society and it is only in existence with the aim of emphasizing cultural values and giving people an identity. Cultural values have been inexistence and it is a complex task to identify the original emergence of cultural practices among individuals around the globe. p’Bitek also asserts, “culture is the way of life of people which has existed for a long period and is inseparable from them.” (p'Bitek 14) This is an indication that culture has been in existence for a long period and people have been utilizing it for a longer period for significant interactions through effective gains. According to p’Bitek and Ahmad, culture remains a vital part of all people around the globe. Western societies pretend to criticize Arabian and African culture with the aim of utilizing it for their self-interests. For instance, they came to Africa as early as the fifteenth century with the aim of colonizing the continent. p’Bitek notes that they came to loot and stole some of the most vital cultural aspects that had been in existence for a long period.
On the other hand, p’Bitek asserts that culture is inseparable from people and forms a common identity for everyone while Ahmad asserts that culture could be separable in cases of increased debates and faults. p’Bitek reiterates the view that culture identifies people of a particular culture and establishes a significant link between the people. Culture ensures that society is strong and is able to move on in an effective manner. Additionally, p’Bitek is of the opinion that culture plays a vital role in giving people an identity and ensuring they prosper in their values are enhanced (p'Bitek 12). This is especially common in cases where stronger cultural values are upheld by individuals within society hence ensuring there is the generation of effective ideas that lead to the growth of all people within the community. For instance, p’Bitek reiterates that culture is inseparable from the way of life of individuals and that is the reason that led to the establishment of the Ministry of Culture in most countries such as Uganda. Ahmad is of the view that immense forces of reaction and resistance to a particular form of culture could lead to its separation from the people who own it. For instance, the continues questioning of the veils worn by Muslim women makes them feel uncomfortable as they develop a feeling that by wearing the veils, they would be deemed inferior in society. In line with Ahmad’s view, it can be noted that negativity toward a particular form of culture can lead to the separation of people from that form of culture.
According to the story Why the Veil is Such a Contentious Issue, there are significant limitations of the concept of culture, success, happiness and religion. Culture exhibits its limitation by perpetuating inequality in society. For instance, the cultural practice of wearing veils among Islamic women is a show of male dominance and the submission of women in society hence indicating one of the key limitations of culture. The wearing of veils does not represent renewed hope for women to succeed, but it represents continued submission and the dominance of males within society. This has led to the questioning of the culture pertaining the continued wearing of veils among women in the Islamic culture. Religion also exhibits a limitation of reducing women in society to individuals who are undermined effectively. According to Ahmad, the Muslim concept of wearing veils expresses its limitations by ensuring that women continue to be undermined in the Muslim religion. This undermining makes it difficult for Muslim women to advocate their rights and lead a free life within society. Ahmad reiterates that there would be continued questioning of the relevance of the veils worn by Muslim women and this would lead to more controversies in the religion as these women ask about their rights.