Of Alien Traditions

December 7th, 2015

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This is a picture from a Muharram procession in a Shia gathering. When we talk about world views, it is extremely difficult for us to separate the things that creates a particular world view. It is also rather difficult to recognize that your world view might be completely nonsensical to other people. For me, this gathering was the epitome of normalcy, but this time, I tried to look at it from the perspective of an outsider. I asked myself, what would my friends say? Would they be at ease I am? The answer was an obvious no. When we were reading Suns of Independence and the Saint’s Lamp, many traditions and norms came up that were alien to many of us. Female genital cutting came up and we were all opposed to it but then if everyone’s socialization varies, who are we to decide what is correct or a moral injustice, as we all saw FGM to be. The ‘cultural studies’ approach does not only apply to cultures that are unknown to is but even ours. Sometimes, embracing the shoes of an outsider helps us reconsider things.

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