The question of culture is central to debates concerning Islam today. Though it must be repeated that Islam is primarily “a religion” and not “a culture”, one should immediately add that religion never finds expression outside a culture and that, conversely, a culture never takes shape without referring to the majority values and religious practices of the social group that constitutes it. There are, therefore, no religiously neutral cultures, nor any culture-free religions. Any religion is always born – and interpreted – within a given culture and in return the religion keeps nurturing and fashioning the culture of the social community within which it is lived and thought. Those inevitable and complex links make it difficult to define – whether in the relationship to Texts or in religious practice – what belongs to religion proper and what rather pertains to the cultural dimension.
Read More: Reinventing Ourselves: On Culture, Arts and Entertainment, by Tariq Ramadan