The difference between culture and civilization
British Author and Writer
The best of systems “Islam prevailed because it was the best social and political order that the times could offer. It prevailed because everywhere it found politically apathetic peoples; robbed, oppressed, bullied, uneducated and unorganized, and it found selfish and unsound governments which were out of touch with any of its people at all. It was the broadest, freshest and cleanest political idea that had yet come into actual activity in the world, and it offered better terms than any other to the masses of mankind.”
No nation or group, whether primitive or advanced, is devoid of having a culture that binds it together and gives it its outstanding characters. Culture is a way of living, an attitude towards life and existence, and a set of values and a social system that govern aspects of life and all its elements. It is reflected in the forms of activity and behavior as a whole, and gives the community its identity and maintains its cohesion. As for civilization, it is considered more than just the cultural aspect of the group. It includes the meaning of progress, qualitative and quantitative excellence, a realistic achievement for the man in the street, a remarkable level of influence that is felt for many generations, and the playing of a major role in the shaping of events and in directing them - a role that could even be so great that it could make history take a new shining path at any particular time and place. Thus, every civilization represents a unique fabric of the natural and physical environment, politics, religion, culture, knowledge and ethics. All of these elements that we see melted together in one container is the civilization of these or those people, with all its unique characteristics and traits.
The Islamic civilization honors man
Islam successfully turned the hearts of the first group of believers from a nomadic life, which was dominated by intolerance and backwardness, to a life that showed high moral character and fostered high principles. This spread a community spirit and a civilization within a few decades during which they conquered the world. Myriads of people responded with this civilization at that time because of the ease, justice, fraternity and equality shown by the religion preached by Muhammad (pbuh). The Islamic civilization emerged at a time when people were tired of the old system based on slavery and tyranny, and were looking forward to a new system in which they could find their dignity and humanity, after the oppression they had tasted at the hands of autocratic kings and tyrant priests. Islam, therefore, was their golden chance, because it reformed much of their conditions and they saw in it that decent life they yearned for. At the same time, injustice, ignorance and backwardness was lifted from them.
William Montgomery Watt
A mark of false pride “It is appropriate to publish a study about Islamic influences on Europe in this time when the interdependence of Muslims and Arab Christians with the Europeans in the one and the same world is increasing. It has been recognized for some time that medieval Christian writers created an image of Islam that was in many respects denigratory, but through the efforts of scholars over the last century or so, a more objective picture is now taking shape in the minds of the people of the West. For our cultural indebtedness to Islam, however, we Europeans have a blind spot. We sometimes belittle the extent and importance of the Islamic influence on our heritage, and sometimes overlook it altogether. For the sake of good relations with Arabs and Muslims we must acknowledge our appreciation of them to the full. To try to cover it over and deny it is a mark of false pride.”
Islamic civilization raised the status of human beings. It has never distinguished between man and his fellow man on the basis of race, color or language. Rather, everybody finds in this civilization one type of treatment and also equal rights. The Islamic civilization effectively contributed to the progress of the human community after it replaced the tribal system, which was based on blood-ties and kinship, with a community which shared the same belief and thought-system, and which was bound together on the basis of fraternity and equality.
An English Thinker and Author
The world is heading toward suicide “The West is now in great need of Islam, more than at any other time before. Islam can give life a meaning and history a sense. It can alter the West’s method of separating science from wisdom, thinking from the means, and thinking from the results. Islam never erects a wall between science and faith. On the contrary, it ties them together as an inseparable whole.. Islam can revive the hope in our western societies, which are split apart by individuality to such an extent that they are pulling the whole world towards suicide.”
The first aim of a civilization from the Islamic point of view is to achieve tranquility, peace and security, the establishment of an ideal society and the happiness of mankind, holding all that is beneficial while fighting against all factors of evil. The reason for this is that the progress of civilization -in its various dimensions -is not intended and is not an aim in itself; for the correct aim of a civilization should be to achieve happiness and psychological reassurance for mankind, while at the same time achieving peace and progress of society and nations, by attaining all that is good and beneficial and by avoiding all that is evil and harmful.
It was unlike the modern civilization, which led to an increase in anxiety and agitation, grinding man in the prevailing material delusions, as well as the distancing from good morals, virtues, religion and the like of high human values, turning people into soulless human machines - the strong crushing the weak.