Separating Culture from Religion
So when he looks at something and says, you know what? This is Haram, then if it is part of my culture, this is where Islam is drawing the line between my culture and religion.
It is very easy. Many times we ask this question, how are we to separate culture from religion? The answer is you constantly ask these whys. Some of that is Haram. This is where Islam is saying, you have your culture wonderful! But this part of your culture is going too far. We are going to stop it here!
There are other areas where it is Mubah [allowed] and Islam has no problem with you going about your own business, doing your own Mubah in your own way. It is part of your culture. You want to do it this way, that is fine.
I give this example many times, say a chocolate cake. Different people, different ethnicities, they'll make a chocolate cake in a different way.
If you come from the Iranian culture like me, even though it is a chocolate cake, at the end of the day, there is going to be some sort of a fruit that is going to make its way into this cake. Some pineapple, some date, something like that. It is just part of our culture.
Does Islam have this big problem with this? No, it is Mubah you do as you like.
If they ask you to make a chocolate cake, somehow, some way, some za'tar [Middle eastern spice] is going to make its way in there. How? What does that have to do with chocolate cake? It is culture. It is no problem.
That is a chocolate cake for you, that is a chocolate cake for me. If you ask another ethnicity, they will have something else in there. That is how we make chocolate cakes.
Does Islam have a problem with this? No, it is Mubah, you do as you wish.