Discovering More .... Dubai
Shahadah – sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”. Repeating this statement three times in front of witnesses is all you need do to become a Muslim. The Shahadah is written in Arabic on the flag of Saudi Arabia – the location of Islam’s holiest places Mecca and Medina.
Salat – performing ritual prayers in the five times a day. The times for prayer are set by the sun and alter during the year. Prayer times are published in the daily paper, on line and mosques call aloud when it is time for prayer – you may hear this when you are out and about. The times are:
Before praying, Muslims must be clean, and they do this by performing ritual washing called wudhu. All mosques have washing facilities for this. Muslims start by washing the right and then the left hand and arm up to the elbow three times. The mouth is then cleaned three times followed by breathing water gently through the nose three times. The face must be washed at least once, though it is usually washed three times. Water from the wet hands are passed over the hair once and using damp hands the back and inside of the ears are wiped. The right and then the left foot are washed up to the ankle – usually three times each. Where water is scare – such as for desert nomads, then the same washing actions take place but using sand.
Zakat : paying alms (or charity tax) to benefit the poor and needy. It is a set proportion of one’s wealth, usually 2.5%. The 2.5% rate only applies to cash, gold, silver and commercial items. There are other rates for farm and mining produce and for animals. Large companies are often very generous – construction companies giving away houses to the poor. Gifts are often given to their workers at the end of Ramadan - sacks of rice are a popular gift
Sawm : fasting during the month of Ramadan – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During the month of Ramadan adult Muslims must give up the following things during the hours of daylight:
There are some categories of people who may be excused the fast; those who are physically or mentally ill, children under twelve, the aged, pregnant, breast-feeding and menstruating women and those who are travelling. If an adult cannot fast for these reasons, then they should try and make up the fast at a later date.
Hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca. Mecca is a holy place to all Muslims and is so holy that non-Muslims are not allowed to enter. The Hajj is a journey that every sane Muslim must undertake at least once in their lives, if they can afford it and are physically able to do so. The pilgrims wear simple white clothes called Ihram and during the Hajj they perform acts of worship.
You can see a informative display on the Hajj and get a sense of the size of the crowds by visiting the Islamic Museum in Sharjah – they also have a section of the covering of the Kaaba. This black covering embellished with gold embroidery is made fresh each year and the old is shared out to places around the world.
Carrying out these Five Pillars provides the framework of a Muslim’s life and brings their religion into they everyday lives.