Modern Iraq almost covers the same ground as ancient Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia saw the rise and fall of a number of cultures. During medieval times, Iraq was the name of an Arab province which made up of the southern half of today’s Iraq.
In modern Iraq, Islam is the state religion. Approximately 95% of residents are Muslim. As a result, the majority of Iraqis identify with Arab culture. The second largest cultural group in Iraq are the Kurds.
Where is Iraq Located?
Iraq is in the Middle East. It is bordered by Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and the Persian Gulf. It’s capital Baghdad is in the central plains. The northern area experiences harsh winters while the rest of the country is generally desert. The climate has influenced the economies of different areas and ethnic groups.
The People of Iraq
In Iraq, Arabs make up three fourths of the population. The remaining people are Kurds, Assyrian, Chaldean, Yazidi, Jewish and various other ethnic groups.
Almost every Iraqi speaks and understands Arabic. Iraqi Arabic is very similar to the Arabic that is spoken in Syria and Lebanon. Uneducated people who cannot read or write Arabic can at least understand the language.
The main culture in Iraq is the Arab culture. Most Arabs are Muslim. Iraqi Muslims are divided into two groups. These are the Sunnis and the Shiites. Though these two groups hold different views, they both hold leadership positions in the government.
Daily Life in Iraq
Listed below are some very important aspects of Iraqi culture.
– Today, most Iraqis eat some sort of grain with sauce. Meat and vegetables are hard to come by.
– There is a big disparity between the rich and the poor. Even those who are educated perform unskilled work.
– The Iraqi military is believed to be one of the strongest in the world. The government has spent billions of dollars on its military.
– During the war with Iran women were required to fill roles that were normally occupied by men. While women in Iraq have more freedoms than women in other countries, there is still a lot of work to be done. Organizations for gender equality have popped in in Iraq in an effort to fight for womens rights.
– In 1982, Iraqi women were forbidden to marry non-Iraqi men. Women that were already married could not transfer money or property to their spouse.
Families, Marriages and Home Life
Previously, arranged marriages were common in Iraq. The practice is now becoming rare. Judges now have the authority to overrule parents when it comes to early marriage.
In urban settings, women and men can choose their spouse. The choice must have parental approval. Marriages of people within the same group are accepted as are marriages between people from different ethnic groups. The latter is rare.
Many men lost their lives during the Iraq-Iran war. The government started a campaign to boost the population. They gave men grants to marry war widows.
Polygamy was once rare in Iraq. Due to the war it has now become more common. Men are permitted to have multiple wives and women have become accustomed to “sister wives”. Many women now state that they prefer polygamy over monogamy.
Unlike in other Arab nations, divorce is permitted in Iraq. Unfortunately, it is left solely as the decision of the male. Men can get divorced relatively easily without any questions or problems. On the flip side, it is almost impossible for a woman to initiate a divorce.
A traditional family set-up in Iraq is when a couple lives with their in-laws or extended families. For instance, a couple may move in with one of the spouses parents and live with them and their unmarried children. The men are the heads of the household and are expected to accompany women on outings.
The Downfall of Saddam Hussein
While Saddam Hussein ruled, many people in Iraq lived in fear. They did not know whether they would be punished for questioning the government and/or making mistakes that would displease officials.
After, the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the USA went to war with Iraq. Saddam Hussein was captured and executed. People all over the world debated whether or not the American government should have gotten involved with Iraqi politics.
Whatever one believes, one thing is for certain – everyday citizens are struggling to lead normal lives in post-war Iraq. People who are working still need to make ends meet and look after their family. This is made more difficult with the lack of resources and food in the country.
The future of Iraq is uncertain. It is a country that has been torn apart by multiple wars. The US military has left Iraq but there is now talk of more military action. Whatever happens, the Iraqi people will still strive to make a better future for their families.
Watch this short video slideshow to get an insight look of the Iraqi Culture: