Religious Practice

Being Muslim impacts on every aspect of a person’s life. ‘Islam’ means submission to the will of Allah and it is by living according to this will that Muslims can demonstrate their belief. In leading a life of submission to the will of Allah, Muslims are always conscious of their obligations to Allah, to their families and to others.

At the centre of Islamic life and belief are the Five Pillars of Faith:

– Shahadah – this is the declaration of faith and states: There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

– Salah – five compulsory daily prayers as a mean of communicating with and worshipping Allah. The conditions for Salah, the times, the preparations and the words are carried out in accordance with the ways which were taught by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). All prayer is in Arabic.

– Zakah – ‘the purification of wealth by the payment of an annual welfare due’. This should not be confused with charity. Muslims give 2½% of their surplus income as zakah each year. Zakah began in al-Madinah to care for the widows and orphans. Wealth is seen as a gift from Allah and is to be shared. After paying zakah, the remainder of a person’s wealth is kept pure and people are kept free from greed and selfishness. As well as this, Muslims are urged to make additional voluntary payments called Sadaqah.

– Hajj – the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, which every Muslim must carry out at least once in a lifetime if he or she has the health and wealth. A Muslim man who has completed Hajj is called Hajji, and a woman, Hajjah. The pilgrimage is made during Dhul Hijjah, the twelfth month.

– Sawm – this is fasting from just before dawn until sunset during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims must abstain from all food and drink (including water) as well as smoking and sexual relations during the hours of fasting.

The fulfilment of these five pillars is the duty of every Muslim as a demonstration of their obedience to Allah’s wishes.

Each of these five actions is ibadah; an act of worship performed with the intention of obeying the wishes of Allah.

The Qur’an and books of hadith are treated with reverence; the Qur’an especially would be placed in a reverential position at home, work or the mosque. Most mosques traditionally have wooden cabinets or shelving for placing of the Qur’ans and also ensuring that they are accessible to the worshippers. There are also special Qur’an stands available in mosques and most Muslim homes on which the Qur’an is placed when being read. Many Mosques will also stock collections of Hadith and these too must be treated with utmost reverence. In the UK there are estimated to be some 1600 mosques, many are not purpose built but often just large houses or similar buildings converted to a Mosque.

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