Islamic Religious Practices

Islam has a many religious practices. The act to express faith is called Din. Most of these come from the five pillars of this religion, as described in the Qur’an. These five pillars are obligatory acts for Muslims to serve as a basis for worship and obedience to Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam

1. Declaration (Kalimat Shahaddah)

Muslims show faith by confession (Kalimat): “There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Witnessing through the Islamic creed (Tashahhud). It is a practice in Islam to do this confession when a Muslim wakes up, when he goes to bed, when a new baby is born and when a Muslim dies. The confession is also part of the five mosque calls for prayer time. The result of the declaration is that a Muslim will be in a dedicated way connected to Allah, with his guidelines and to the sayings of Muhammad. It is a testimony as a Muslim.

2. Five daily prayers (Salat)

Prayer is a mandatory activity for every Muslim according to the Qur’an, five times a day. Prayer times are:
  1. Fajri – Dawn prayer
  2. Zuhri – Noon prayer
  3. Asri – Late afternoon prayer
  4. Magrib – Sunset prayer
  5. Isha – Night prayer
The call for the prayer (Adhan) will be given from a mosque with a loud speaker to notice the area for a prayer session. The call for prayer opens with the phrase: “Allah is the greatest” (Allahu Akbar). When possible, the mandatory (Fard) prayers are in the mosque. The direction of prayer (Qibla) is with the face to Mecca. It is a best practice to pray on a mat (musallah). Traditional (Sunna) and optional (Nafl and Tahajjud) prayers can be done in the mosque or on personal initiative. The moral benefits of Islamic prayer are communication with Allah, coming closer to Allah, to get a passionate relationship with Allah, thanksgiving to Allah, asking for forgiveness of sin to Allah and asking for needs and wishes to Allah.

3. Fasting (Sawm)

The month of Ramadan is for Muslims a holy month. It an obligation for a Muslim to fast every day in this month, pray and read the Qur’an. People who are not healthy, those who travel or menstuating woman do not fast, do it at another time. Its allowed to take food after evening prayer and before morning prayer. Strict guidelines don’t allow swallowing the person’s own saliva, perfume or oil on the hair. During the fasting period in the month of Ramadan are additional prayers and about 3 percent of the Qur’an is recited every night. Possible benefits of fasting are obedience and dedication to Allah, oneness of Muslims, motivation to grow in holy life, encouragement to become more spiritual and to be protected against bad moral.

4. Alms-giving (Zakat)

Alms-giving is regular generosity. A Muslim is required to pay 2.5% of his income to Alms-giving (Qur’an 2:43). Non-mandatory generosity is called Sadaqah. Guidelines for alms-giving are that it should be given from freely and from the heart, the amount should be given on the same day as promised and it should be given to the same congregation. Possible results for alms-giving are blessings and purification for the giver, to reduce suffering of poor people, to work hard and being involved in generosity in the congregation and to create oneness of poor and rich people.

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)

The pilgrimage is a trip to visit religious centers during about 5 days in Mecca. It is mandatory for every Muslim who has enough health and financial power. In Mecca, men are dresses in two simple pieces of white clothes (ihtam). Women wear decent clothes. Top event is the feast of sacrifice (Eid ul-Adha). One of the religious centers is Kaaba, before Islam a pagan place to worship idols. Some of the rituals before Islam still exist, such as kissing the black stone, a rock set in Kaaba. The pilgrimage is an opportunity to show faith and dedication to Allah. For Muslims the Hajj is a time to remember the obedience of Abraham will to sacrifice.

Consultation by elders (Shurah)

Shurah is an Arabic word for consultation. In Qur´an 42:38 and 3:159 are references to arrange their affairs of Muslims by discussion and negotiation. For example, life style education of children is a duty of both father and mother, based on agreement with each other and to help a child. It is also needed in private affairs, such as the relation with other Muslims and between husbands and wives.

Qur’an studies

Muslims are performing Qur’an studies in the mosque, Islamic schools. Important part of learning the Qur’an is reciting and memorizing. Another part is to learn the doctrines of Muhammad. According to tradition in Islam, learning Qur’an will be done in a mosque. Within Qur’an studies Arab language is also part of the program, including learning a set of rules for the correct pronunciation of the Arabic letters (Tajweed).

Holy war (Jihad)

Jihad is the obligation of all Muslims to work in the path of God by word and deed. Most Muslims use jihad as personal inner struggle, to fight against the own flesh and bad habits. However, today jihad is understood as religious warfare. In the view of jihad the world is divided into two territories: the territory of Islam (dar al-islam) and the territory of war (dar al-harb). The territory outside Islam motivates to start robbery and conqueror. Muslim terrorist say that they are involved in jihad and inspired by the Qur’an and Islam.