Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The ever so visible effects of Globalization

It can be seen everywhere, the blatant effects of Globalization. It can be seen in the tall buildings which make up the City’s skyline; in the cars we drive, the music that blares from some of those cars; it can be seen in the television programmes- in every sphere globalization is vivid and obvious. Perhaps the most obvious effect of globalization however, is in the way that people dress and more specifically in the way that women dress.

Indeed, identical name branded clothing and shoes can be found worldwide and this is regarded as a mark of progress towards globalization. Let's not even talk about fashion trends; All that has to happen is for some model or actress to promote a certain style of clothing and suddenly the whole world is dressing that way.

A while ago I walked into a store in the Oriental Plaza, a shopping centre in Johannesburg, which comprises of mainly Muslim owned shops. I remember shopping at this particular shop with my mother and sisters when I was much younger. We used to go there when we were looking for Eid Clothing because they always had suitable Islamic clothes; fashionable clothing yet modest. I was quite shocked when I walked into this store after a long while. Now the racks of the shop displayed sleeveless dresses and tight fitting pants, as well as short tops and skirts. Perhaps it was intended for people to put together a suitable outfit, but this store looked very far off from the store I once knew and it struck me that it very closely resembled one of the other global fashion stores.

Then the other day I was driving through the Johannesburg CBD and I noticed two young African women in tight blue jeans and sleeveless tank tops. Their image was exactly the same as the people we see on TV. This once again reminded me that more and more cultural forms of dress are beginning to disappear. In Johannesburg you can still spot women dressed in traditional African garb, bright colourful materials with African prints. This is usually long stylish skirts and tops, and often it includes matching headgear. I always admire women who are dressed that way, but I have to say that these women are in the minority.

A while back I was at a conference and someone came up to me wanting to talk about my work on Muslim women that was displayed. She said to me “I was wondering whose work this was but I assumed it’s you since you’re dressed traditionally”. On that day I wore a knee long top and a pants and of course my headscarf. But that’s exactly what things have become-anyone who doesn’t fit within the global norms of dressing is dressed “traditionally”, and they stand out like a sore thumb.

Once again it makes sense to me why the dress of Muslim women attracts so much attention. It simply does not fit within the framework of a global world. Of course this does not only apply to the dress of Muslim women, it applies to anything that opposes globalization. The recent comments made by politicians worldwide about Muslims needing to assimilate into “mainstream” society are testimony to this. Globalization means that everyone is the same. It puts forth a blueprint which the whole world needs to follow. So people should all dress the same, eat the same types of foods (think about global franchises), drive the same cars, do the same work, build the same buildings, speak the same language... you get the picture right.

So since the only blueprint for Muslims to follow is the Holy Quraan and Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him), I guess in a global society we will never be able to fit in completely. Our form of dress alone will always make us stand out and thus people will inevitably regard us as different. So what do we do? Do we follow suit and join the globalized world? Or do we continue to assert our identities as Muslims? I guess in the end the choice is up to each individual. This just reminds me of a talk by Sheikh Khalid Yasin entitled “The Strangers”. (Available at the following link http://kalamullah.com/khalid-yasin.html). He said in that talk something to the effect that Islam began as a stranger and Muslims were regarded as strangers in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and Islam will end as a stranger and Muslims will once again be regarded as strangers. It just seems to me that in the global world of today perhaps this is inevitable.

Almighty Allah knows best about everything!

Image taken from: http://senthamizhvanan.blogspot.com/2010/11/globalization-impact-on-employment.html


  1. Assalaam Alaikum Zarina,

    Wonderfully written post, MashaAllah. And I agree with your thoughts. Globalization has not only been responsible for the "assimilation" of Muslims into a global society that holds a certain standard for one's attire, behavior and so forth, but has also become a means to manipulate the destitute and those living in 'third world countries', who have come to rely corporate world for food, jobs, etc.

    I think we all need to wake up to what's really going on in the world and understand the kind of impact globalization is truly having.

    P.S. The Strangers is one of my favorite lectures by Khalid Yasin. =)

  2. Wa-alaykum salaam Sara

    Jazakallah Kahyr for your comment.

    Alhamdullillah the Strangers is a brilliant lecture.

    You make some valid points here- the effect of globalization on poorer communities is often ignored or attempts are made to sugar coat the truth.

    Often people see the impact of globalization as only positive, but in fact it takes away the very basis of peoples identity, their cultures, traditions etc are undermined by globalization until it no longer exists.

    Here in South Africa people celebrate globalization because they believe that it will strengthen the country. However this rarely happens and the country is only left in a worse state.

    I pray that Allah (SWT) gives us the strength to understand things the way they truly are, inshaa Allah!

    Stay well sister and may Allah always give you such insight.:)

  3. You received an award :) <3

  4. Salaam Zarina,

    JazakAllah khair to your du'a. And may Allah continue to inspire you to write about such compelling topics. =)

    I'm not sure if you've seen it before but I wanted to share a really great video about this very topic that I think you might like.


    The others on the site above are really great as well but the specific video I'm referring to is titled Stuff. Let me know what you think of it!

  5. Was-salaam Sara

    Thank you for the link to the video. I watched it and really found it very interesting. It says so much about the situation we are currently in, and its the same story in every country. Consumerism has increased and people spend most of their time shopping, its unreal. We all work and work to buy things that we dont even need. The interesting thing is that if we follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) then we won't be so easily caught up in this system. It really is a vicious cycle and the other thing is that it takes us away from the worship of Allah. Within a system like this we tend not to appreciate what Allah has given us and we are constantly searching for more materialistic things, which takes up our time as she mentioned in the video. I agree that peoples happiness and contentment has decreased, but its sad that so too has our spirituality, because we are all so busy and so caught up within this material world.

    I think its time for us all to begin to make a change, within our own lives first and then we can try and inspire others as well. Inshaa Allah

    I'm going to watch the other videos on the site soon inshaa Allah.

    Thanks again for sharing:)

  6. You're most welcome Zarina. =)

    I agree with your thoughts. I think as Muslims we really need to remember that none of this 'stuff' our nafs give in to will go with us to our graves. It is only our deeds that will accompany us. This is why it's so important to try and ensure there's a balance between deen and dunya in our lives.

    Insha'Allah, I hope you find the other videos beneficial as well.

  7. Assalam Alaikum Sister Zarina,

    We embraced Islam recently and did so out of adoration for the self-respect that Islam allows women to portray in both manner and attire apart from all the other beautiful aspects.

    We are often asked by non-Muslim family members as to why we dress the way we do because they work with Muslims (who were born in the religion) however they don't dress like us. They wear tight jeans, shoes without socks and other conventional clothing.

    We are proud Muslims and would not change our dress style for anything in the whole world.

    JazakAllah for the informative blog!

  8. Anonymous

    Wa-alaykum salaam

    JazakAllah Khayr for your comment. Firstly, Masha-Allah that you have been guided by Almighty Allah to see the true beauty of Islam. It is sad that many people, including born Muslims find difficulty in following all the rules of Islam, but Allah is the Knower of All Things and we pray for guidance for all, Inshaa-Allah. After all we will be lost without Allah's guidance.

    Alhamdullillah for your conviction in faith and your insistence on dressing in the Islamic way. May Allah reward you and take you from strength to strength. It can't be easy having to explain things to your non-Muslim family members, especially when they are given examples that oppose what you are doing, but Inshaa-Allah with your strength and true understanding Allah will make all your difficulties easy for you.

    I wish you all the best in your quest towards Allah (swt) and it would be lovely to hear from you again.

    Stay well, and May Allah be with you always.