In this lecture, Vivienne Stacey discusses the importance of learning the worldview of Muslim women in order to build effective relationships. These lectures are from the course Understanding Muslim Women and were given at Columbia International University.


Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Vivienne Stacey’s Lecture on Muslim Worldview:


I want to just, read 1 or 2 things about worldview. I’m reading from this book, which, which I was published last year. It’s a book I wrote on, introducing Islam. It’s called submitting to God, and there are copies over there. In it, I quoted, David Burnett, who who wrote a very fascinating book called Clash of Cultures.


And in his book, he quotes, he says, and I quote it, a worldview consists of the shared framework of ideas held by a particular society concerning how they perceive the world. So worldview consists of a shared framework of ideas held by a particular society concerning how they perceive the world. Now we need to know how Muslim women perceive their world, how Muslims perceive their world. He goes on to say everyday experiences are fitted into this framework in order to give a totality of meaning and comprehension to the individual. And he also I I say it now, quoting myself, so to speak.


In worldview, there is a deeper level of assumption than in philosophy or in theology, and it’s nearly always subconsciously assumed. If ask somebody, you you might meet on a train or a bus or airplane or something about worldview, and they might not, be aware of their worldview. They’re so used to living in it that they don’t analyze it and think about it. They don’t think about other people having different worldviews. But it’s a fact of it’s a fact that there are different world views.


In his book, doctor Burnett has sought to look at several world views, and he’s studying the following 6 themes in each. The cosmos, that’s the world, the self, knowing, community, time, and value. In the secular worldview, reason is the basis for establishing the truth about reality. Human beings are the center of the universe, and through their minds, they can study the material universe. There is, therefore, a focus on the natural order, which leaves no place for revelation.


And that’s the situation in USA to a large extent and in Britain, I think. The universe is controlled by its own laws. Everything must have a logical and scientific explanation. Humanity, the self, is part of this scheme of things. Secular humanism sees people as equals not because they are created in the image of God, and that’s in the Christian worldview, but as individuals each having a rational mind.


So it’s different. Now I want to focus here on the Muslim worldview. And, if you I don’t know if some of you will know John Stott’s, book on, basic Christianity. Do you know it? Okay.


It’s very interesting to do just look at that book on basic Christianity and see what the chapter headings are. If you look at the comparison with a Muslim theologian, there’s one book called Fundamental Truths written by a theologian a theologian in Pakistan. He’s, Maulana Khousa Niyazi Khousa Niyazi. And the three sections of his book, just are headed by 3 words, unity, prophethood, and the hereafter. So in Islamic thinking of theology, it won’t be these 8 or 10 chapter headings that John Stott has, although Muslims believe in 1 God and Christians believe in 1 God.


It will be for the Muslim, it will be unity, prophethood, and the hereafter. And if you take the most important of those three, it’s unity. Okay? 1 God. And it’s the Unitarian vision of God or Unitarian concept of God.


Not Trinitarian, Unitarian. Okay. Unity. The opening verse of the surah, 1st surah of the Quran says that Allah is Lord of the worlds. So there’s not only a unity of this world, but the next.


There will be there’s a unity of this world and the next, and also a unity in this world. So lord of the worlds is the unity of both worlds, and then the Muslim will look at the unity of this world. This world is all to become under the rule of Islam. So the house of peace, Islam, is where Islam rules, and, the house of war is where Islam doesn’t rule yet, but it’s to come under the rule of Islam. So that would make the unity of this world.


So one god and one world. The ideal is that every state should be ruled by a Muslim and the state governed by sharia or Islamic law. So one law, if you like, sharia. And that’s why Muslims today are trying to find their unity in that different countries adopt Sharia law. And the more this happens through the world, the unity is promoted.


There is no god but God, and Mohammed is his prophet. That’s on the flag of Saudi Arabia written there. It’s all about unity. No god but God. One God.


And there may be many races, and we’ve talked about different stereotypes in the previous sessions. There there aren’t stereotypes really, but, there are many, many versions and variations among Muslims. But, there may be many races and ethnic groups and many types of Muslim women, but there is only one community, and that’s the Umma of Islam. That’s the community of Islam. And there’s a tradition, a Muslim tradition, that says at the end of this world, when this world ends, the prophet Esau, Jesus, will return and make all human beings Muslim.


So that’s the sort of dream that there’s one community. There’s one God. There’s one world. Or there are 2 worlds which are actually one world, and then there’s one community. There’s also one system.


So this oneness you find coming everywhere. For the community, there’s one language, one system. The six articles of faith and the five pillars of Islam are absolutely the same through, Malaysia, Iran, Indonesia, in the south of the Philippines, and wherever you go. The words are the same. The Arabic words are the same, and, the practice, if you like, of the system is the same, 1.


So this is a concept of a focus of unity. There’s a oneness here, which is a kind of groundswell for the, for the whole culture and the practice of the religion. So it’s worldview. And Muslims have this worldview, whether they can express it or not. And Muslim women often can’t express it, but they know.


They know about the ummah. They know about the, the one god. They know about one practice. They know about sharia law. I mean, they know it’s something that’s almost like breath.


You you breathe it, your worldview. And I don’t know how much you thought about your own worldview, but you have one. And you might not know, but it doesn’t matter whether you know or not, you have one. You can’t live in this world without having a way by which you perceive reality and relate to it. So that’s sort of worldview.


Now I want to put up here another show you another diagram, which also relates to worldview, and we’ll just look at it a bit more carefully. Maybe it’s clearer. If I put it up high, can you see it? Can everybody see this? Yeah.


Oh, you’ve got a copy of it. Yes. So whether you’re here or whether you’ll be far away, you can see because you’ve got a copy. Okay. So worldview and then areas of life and customs so the areas of life and customs fit into the worldview.


The worldview is almost the air we breathe, but it belongs to one culture. The culture is incorporated in the worldview. It’s not that worldview is incorporated in culture. Theology, it’s not that the worldview is incorporated in theology, but theology is incorporated in worldview. It’s not that it’s philosophy.


Philosophy is incorporated in worldview. Worldview embraces it all. So we’ll look at it. Worldview is at the center of it. And for for the Muslim, God is at the center.


That’s true for the Christian, but there are 2 different, what you might call, what do you call them parademes or something? There is the Trinitarian one, and there is the Unitarian one. And for the Christian, God, the Trinitarian God, is the center of worldview for the Muslim. It’s the one god, the Unitarian model. There’s 2 models, if you like.


Trinitarian, Unitarian. If Muslims could think of a could adopt a Trinitarian model, they would become Christians. And if Christians adopt a Unitarian view, they’re not so far from being Muslim. Okay. Now let’s just look at this diagram in detail, some detail.


We’ll start why don’t we start with leisure? That’s a nice subject to start with. When the Muslim looks at leisure, he’s people intensive, or she is people intensive. The focus is, you know, who you do something with. You drink tea together or you, you go to, even women, they go to Quran readings, they go to get together.


It’s, it’s much more important who you do it with and, the relationships there than, and, than it is, for the, say, Westerner, generally, leisure for the Westerner is swimming for half an hour, at least it is for me, swimming for half an hour a day, preferably. Okay. But it’s time dominated. It’s not who I swim with, but it’s that I have swum so many lengths and, get so much exercise. I do enjoy doing it with a friend, but the thing is much more time dominated.


One, fits one’s day into slots of time and doesn’t have a sort of relax, even in leisure, not to relax. I think you know what I’m talking about here. Education. Well, in many countries, rote learning is preferred. People don’t learn through more inductive methods.


Somebody once asked me about Cyprus, which is mostly Christian, Greek Orthodox, but has some Muslims. What’s the education system like? And I just sort of had a guess and said, well, I’m guessing, but I think there’s a lot of rote learning here. And then about a week later, a UNESCO report came out on education in Cyprus, and I found I was right. It doesn’t rank very high on the UNESCO list, Cyprus, because there’s so much rote learning.


It’s a kind of cultural way that you learn. Memory, It doesn’t teach people to go in for creative thinking. It doesn’t do all the different things that most of us have experienced in our education, which makes us not put such a high priority on memorizing and learning by heart and writing back the same things that you’ve got in your notes to your examiner and all that. There’s a freedom about the way we’re educated. So there’s a different way by which this is done, and particularly in the Muslim world, where the Quran and here if you, I have a copy of, the Quran.


It’s The Quran is only the Quran in Arabic. So my Quran has Arabic here, and then it has an Urdu because I am familiar with that language, and then it has translation in English. The only a third of this book is the Quran, the the Arabic. And even if I if you don’t know much Arabic, it’s good to have Arabic English or whatever your language is, Arabic Urdu or Arabic, French or whatever. But the very fact of having a book which is to be memorized makes, learning an emphasis on rote learning, because as the book is to be memorized, the influence of the importance of memorization affects the system of education.


And then the system reinforces the generally general approach to education in some of the Middle East and and, African and Asian countries. So we have a very strong emphasis on on rote learning, rather than by learning in the inductive and interesting methods that we, I think, have mostly, in the West. Then, we come on to to religion. Muslims quite often have a a view of religion which is communal. Even women do these Bible, Quranic studies together and, but, men men meet in the mosque and pray.


It’s not it’s communal and it’s public. I think in certainly in Britain, we have privatized religion, So I don’t find a Christian worldview among Christians in Britain. I find a a privatized kind of religion. I mean, it’s just watch it’s up to the individual to believe what they want to believe, and, if it’s Christian, okay. But it’s a privatization.


There’s not a public and communal There is to some extent, I suppose, in sometimes through the churches, but in general, it’s your private business, what you believe. There’s not an open public statement. There isn’t much public truth that’s biblical where it should I think you could say this might be happening here, I don’t know, but, I won’t judge. Health? Well, I lived in a hospital.


I didn’t work in it, but I lived in the comp compound of a hospital in Pakistan, and often it was the last resort resort of Muslim women to come to the hospital. They first went to the local shrine and, tried to get some, not magical, but almost magical kind of help from the shrine keeper or from the religious leader in that place. And I actually have a bowl, which I got at a shrine complex. It’s got a verse of the Quran written on the inside of it, and that bowl, I asked when I bought it. Now, I tried to buy it, and I was told I could have given offering for it, so I never bought anything at a shrine after that.


I asked what the offering was. And I never buy a Koran and I never buy a Bible. I ask what the offering is because, because it’s got the word of God on it. It’s, for the Muslim, the word of God. It’s beyond price.


So I regard my bible as beyond price, so I take offerings for bibles and offerings for Qurans. And if I I don’t generally sell Qurans, but I do buy them sometimes. Okay. Well, so the last step might be to come to the Christian hospital. It’s a different view of health.


I wouldn’t go to a shrine and catch my health anyway, but and I don’t expect you would, but that’s what most Muslim women will do first. And, sometimes the, practitioner at the shrine says to the Muslim woman, well, why don’t you, if this medicine that I’m giving you doesn’t work or if this prescription of drinking some water from this holy bowl and after you’ve said something or the other over it and giving it, taking it yourself or giving it to your child, if that doesn’t work, then go to the hospital. And so then they will come to the hospital with the blessing of the local practitioner. So So when they get better, the local practitioner, is, they are very happy with their local practitioner and reasonably happy with the Christian hospital. But it’s a different view of health in many parts of the world.


And then after that, politics, not who you know. Who you know counts most. What you know what do I say? What you know counts most? Who you know.


Who you know counts most. Yes. In one, setup, the western one, it would be and I suppose, well, certainly Western, secular, what you know would count more than than who you know. You might you might need a lot of money either way. Social life, well, sometimes people ask me about, Cyprus, and I have to say that it’s, has segregated societies.


Partly, it’s in in Middle Eastern culture to be like that, and then Islam sometimes reinforces this. So Cyprus, the Christian section in Cyprus would have women do things together and men do things together. There’s a separation there, but in northern Cyprus, or the northern part, which is illegally a republic, only recognized by Turkey, in that section, Islam reinforces the Middle Eastern attitude. Male and female interact together in Western society generally, and in Christian society often, and male and female operate separately, in Islamic society, and often at the begin at the outside of the compound where a home is placed, there will be a room where the man meets his guests, and it affects the architecture of the home. For family, we have, the nuclear family, and we have the extended family.


But if things are changing, I I’ve read a book on Saudi Arabia on Jidda, a study of about 18 families, and many of these families are becoming nuclear families rather than extended families, but it’s a different different, system.