Islamic Shame and the Woke Culture

In the book Honor and Shame, Roland Muller discusses three basic emotional responses to Adam and Eve’s original sin in the Garden of Eden: guilt, shame, and fear. After they sinned, they felt guilty because they had broken God’s command. They felt shame – they knew they were naked, and so they covered themselves. And they felt fear – they hid themselves from God.

Cultures and worldviews have been shaped by one or more of these emotional responses. Some cultures primarily operate with one clear worldview; others may be a mixture of all three. Most Western culture is primarily based on guilt/innocence – we clearly understand the concepts of right and wrong. Guilt/innocence-based cultures are typically individualistic. We believe individuals are responsible for themselves and their behavior.

A different worldview shaped Islam. In fact, the shame/honor basis of Islam can be traced to the Bedouin honor codes. Unlike the individual responsibility of those from a Western mindset, shame/honor-based cultures are attached to groups – families, tribes, nations, etc. Shameful deeds affect the entire group, and as such, they are hidden, and if they cannot hide them, then the shameful deed demands revenge. In this culture, the importance of the group outweighs the importance of an individual. If a person shames the family, and the family is unable to hide the shameful deed, the mindset says that the family must avenge. Islam is conformity to the point of submission.

Interestingly, the “woke” culture of today’s social media is quite successful in operating within the parameters of a shame-based culture. Freedom of speech and facts have little effect on public opinion once the social media overlords have determined the woke position. Countless people have been publicly shamed for simply daring to express an opinion contrary to the group thought. Often this public shaming has led to the loss of jobs and, in a couple of cases, even the loss of life. Much like Islam, “wokeness” also insists on conformity to the point of submission. 

Understanding this difference in worldview helps Western Christians understand and reach out to Muslims. But perhaps it will also help us understand and learn how to reach the “woke” generation, which is now threatening to reshape our own culture. 

Prayer Point:

Lord, the sense of guilt, shame, and fear are strongholds in the lives of those who are followers of Islam, and they need the teaching of the truth of the Word of God to bring deliverance. We pray that You will reveal to the hearts of Muslims that by becoming a follower of Jesus they can receive the emotional freedom and liberty that will be life changing.

We Take Up the Rod of Heaven’s Authority:

Based upon Psalm 32:7, we declare that through Christ, You will be the hiding place of Muslims who come to Jesus, You will protect them from trouble and surround them with songs of deliverance, bringing the emotional freedom they long for.

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