Muslim Practices

  • Created by: aaminac
  • Created on: 30-05-19 00:22

The 5 Pillars of Islam

5 Pillars= the most important duties for all Sunni Muslims. They help to support the main priciples of Sunni Islam and have a significant impact on the daily lives of Sunni Muslims:

Shahadah= the declaration of faith- ' There is no God but [Him] and Muhammad is his messenger .'

Salah= Prayer

Zakah= charitable giving

Sawm= fasting

Hajj= pilgrimage

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The Ten Obligatory Acts

Shi'a Muslims have ten duties called The Ten Obligatory Acts- These include all the five pillars of Islam except the Shahadah:

Salah= prayer


Zakah=charitable giving

Khums= 20% tax on income once all expenses are deducted. Half goes to charity and the other to Shi'a religious leaders.

Hajj= pilgrimage

Jihad= the struggle to maintain the faith and defend Islam

Amr-bil-Maruf= encouraging people doing whats good

Nahi Anil Munkar=discouraging people from doing whats wrong.

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The Ten Obligatory Acts

Tawallah= to be loving towards the friends of God, including Muhammad and the Imams

Tabarra= disassociating from the enemies of God

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The Shahadah

The basic belief in Islam that there is only one God and Muhammad (PBUH) is God's prophet. 

Sincerely reciting this statement in front of a Muslim witnesses is the only requirement for joining the Muslim community.

It is said many times in  a Muslim's life, including daily prayers . It is said when a baby is born so that it is the first thing they hear, and a muslim would try to say it as their last words before they die.

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The Shahadah in Shi'a Islam

Some Shi'a Muslimsa add an extra phrase to the Shahadah- ' I declare that there is no God but [Him] and Muhammad (PBUH) is His messenger. I bear witness that Ali is the beloved of [God] and the rightful trustee of the prophet, and his immediate succesor .' 

This demonstrates their belief that Ali was the true successor of Muhammad and that only he and his descendents know the true meaning of the revelation given to Muhammad.

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Sunni Muslims are required to pray at 5 set times of the day which are worked out from the times of the sunrise and sunset, this means the times can change. Muslims use prayer timetables to help them do this based on where they live in the world.

Fajr=just before sunrise

Zuhur=just after midday


Maghrib=Just after susnset


Shi'a Muslims may combine the midday and afternoon prayers, and the sunset and night prayers. So in total may do 5 prayers but only pray at 3 set times.

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Preparation for prayer= Muslims coming to pray following the Adhan and being spirtually clean before they pray which is achieved by abulution called as wudu. Muslims follow detailed instructions to do this properly which are outlined in the Qur'an- ' yow who believe, when you are about to pray, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, wipe your heads, wash your feet up to the ankles and, if required wash your whole body.'  - Qur'an 5:6.

The spirtitual cleaning allows Muslims to focus solely on God in their prayers. 

It is important that Muslims face the holy city of Makkah when praying so that they they are focused physically and menatally on one palce associated with God. 

Prayers are led by an Imam who is positioned at the front of the congregation but also facing the mihrab. Men and women pray at the same time but in seperate spaces

Prayer is important because God tells Muslims to pray in the Qur'an' Salah is a perscribed duty that has to be performed at the given time by the Qur'an.' - 4:103

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The Rak'ahs

The daily prayers made up of rak'ahs which are sequences of actions and recitations .e.g. morning prayer has 2 rak'ahs while the evening prayer has 4.

Rak'ahs can change depending on which prayer its used in but they all include:

Whilst standing- Muslims will recite the 1st chapter of the Qur'an, While bowing- Muslims say in Arabic ' Glory be to my lord who is the very greatest ' three times. Returning to an upright position, they make a recitaion praising God. They kneel with their forhead, nose, hands, knees and toes touching the floor which is known as postration and recite ' How perfect is my Lord, the most high.' Muslims then sit while reciting ' God is the greatest ' and after pausing postrate themselves once more and repeat same as before. Once the required number of rak'ahs is completed, in a kneeling position they turn to face the right and then the left and recite ' Peace be upon you, and the mercy and bkessings of god.' 

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The Rak'ahs

Personal prayer may be added (du'a) to the end of final rak'ah- not always in Arabic and don't follow a set form.

Set prayers and more personal prayers may take place at home

Shi'a Muslims have their hands by their sides whilst standing snd touch their heads to a wooden block when kneeling and also position their feet differently.

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Midday prayer on Friday is considered to be special and is called the Jummah Prayer. All male Muslims are expected to attend the mosque and women if they wish do so too. 

After the prayer is complete the Imam will deliver a sermon that reminds Muslims of their obligations and duties to God. 

Friday is not a day of rest, so once Jummah is complete, Muslims may return to work

Jummah prayers are important as they bring Muslims closer and also due to the sermon the Imam gives.

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Prayer at home

Muslims may and do pray at home, they must perform wudu before they do but do not need a special room in their house to pray.

Many Muslims will use a prayer mat and position it to face Makkah. Muslim women may pray at home more frequently if they have kids to look after.

More informal personal prayer (du'a) may also be performed at home or other places outside the mosque- these perosnal prayers are important to build a relationship with God

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Sawm- Fasting During Ramadan

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and the most important as it was the month the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). During this month Muslims will focus on fasting, charity and pleasing God.

During daylight hours, Muslims will go without food and drink for the whole month. The command to fast is written in the Qur'an and has been obligatory since the 7th centuary.

Fasting from food is a thought to cleanse the soul and free it from harm, allowing Muslims to focus on God. It requires self- discipline and demonstartes a Muslims submission to God. Fasting also means fasting from bad habits too like smoking. 

Some exceptions to those who don't need to fast are: pregnent women, mothers nursing babies, those who are ill and children unnder 12. Later on they're expected to make up for them.

One benefit of experiencing hunger= it reminds Muslims of the poor and in need. This awareness may inspire Muslims to find ways to help the poor by inviting those in need to share their evening meal or by choosing to pay Zakah during Ramadan.

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It is the act of givinng charity.

For Muslims who have enough savings, obligatory to give 2.5% of their savings every year to help the poor. Many do this at the end of Ramadan.

Giving Zakah acknowleges that everyhting a Muslim owns comes from and belongs to God- they should use their wealth to remember God + give to those in need.

It frees people from desires and teaches people honesty.

Zakah means to 'purify'- Muslims believe giving it will help cleanse the soul, removing greed and selfishness.

In the Qur'an it says- ' They ask you what they should give. Say whatever you give should be for parents, close relatives, orphans, the needy and travellers. God is aware of whatever good you do.' - Qur'an 2:215

Muslims with savings greater than a certain figure sre required to give- nisab worked out as 87g of gold.

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The key pilgrimage in Islam is called Hajj and should be made at least once during a Muslim's lifetime, provided a person is wealthy and healthy to do so.

Hajj starts and end in the holy city of Makkah and takes place during the last month of the Islamic calender from the 8th to the 12th of Dhul- Hijjah. Approx 3 million Muslims take the journey each year.

The Qur'an refernces Hajj 'Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by people who are able to undertake it.'

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The origins of Hajj can be linked back to Prophet Ibrahim who was told by God to take his wife Hajira and son Ishmael to Arabia.He was commanded to leave them on their own with supplies of food and water.

When the supplies ran out, Hajira and her son suffered from dehydration, causing her to run up and down two hills called Safa and Marwah before collapsing. Hajira prayed and when Ishmael struck his foot to the ground, a spring of water gushed up from the ground, they sold this water to buy food supplies.

When Ibrahim returned, God instructed him to build a shrine, this is known as the Ka'aba and Ibrahim was commanded to make it a pure place of worship, calling people to perform Hajj there. Centuries later, the city Makkah was established close by using the Zamzam water fro Ishmael's well.

Centuries later, Makkah was home to idol worshippers who stored their idols within the Ka'aba. In 628 CE, Muhammad (PBUH) journeyed from Madinah to Makkah with a large group of Muslims. This is seen as the first pilgrimage. In 630 CE, the Ka'aba was dedicated back to God.

These stories are all reflected in Hajj.

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Jihad= 'To struggle against evil.' 

The 2 types of Jihad are:  

Greater Jihad= Refers to the personal inward struggle of all Muslims to live in line with the teachings of their faith and is therfore a constant struggle to live a good life.

Lesser Jihad=  Less imporatnt than Greater Jihad and is the outward struggle to defend Islam from threat. In the early days of Islam this was important as Muslims were being persecuted and needed to defend their freedom in order to practise their faith.

Reference to Jihad is found in the Qur'an 2:218 and Hadith: ''This is my path, leading straight, so follow it and do not follow other ways: they will lead you from it- 'This is what He commands you to do, so that you may refrain from wrongdoing.' 

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Some might argue that in the context of war, violence can be justified but this does not mean that lesser jihad can be used to justify terrorism which hurts innocent people.

Fighting for a religious cause is referred to as a Holy War and must follow the criteria:

Must be declared by a fair religious leader

Cannot be used to force people to convert to Islam

Must be in response to a threat to the faith

Must not be used to gain territory or wealth

Must be the last resort when all peaceful methods have been tried first.

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Eid-ul-Fitr= 'Festival of the breaking of the fast.'  

It marks the end of the month of Ramadan where Muslims celebrate not only a whole month of fasting but thanking God for the strength and help He has provided.

Muslims also thank God for providing his wisdom through the Qur'an, the first revelation of which was made in the month of Ramadan.

It is celebrated for a duration of 1-3 days. Muslims gather together in mosques or large outdoor areas to say special prayers. The Imam's sermon is usually based on forgiveness, the forgetting of disputes and helping the poor. 

Muslims will wear their best clothes and decorate their clothes. Special food are eaten and processions take place in the streets. It's a festive time.

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Eid-ul-Adha= The festival of scarifice/ Greater Eid.

Celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah and lasts for 4 days. It remembers and honours Prophet Ibrahim who was willing to sacrifice his son Ishmael on God's command.

The Qur'an records how Ibrahim had a recurring dream where God asked him of this and although he loved his son, he decided to obey God's command provided Ishmael agreed to this aswell and they both did as it was God's wish for them to do, Before the sacrifice could be complete, God provided a lamb instead. Ibrahim had passed God's test of his obediance.

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Eid-ul-Adha is part of Hajj but is celebrated all around the world by Muslims. 

In Britain, Muslims take time to visit their friends and family and enjoy festive meals. It begins with prayers in the mosque, where the Imam will preach about sacrifice and remind Muslims of the festival's important message.

During this festival, animals are slaughtered to remember Ibrahim's sacrifice and cards and presents are usually given, community celebrations are organised. Muslims may invite neighbours to their celebration meals and visit those in hospital to ensure no one is left out.

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The Day of Ashura (Day of Rememberence):  It's a major Shi'a festival that takes place on the 10th day of Muharram.

Sunni Muslims also observe Ashura but refer it to as the Day of Atonement and use it to remember the day the Israelities were freed from slavery in Egypt.

Others believe that this day also refers to when Nuh left the ark after the flood.

After visiting Madinah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) nominated Ashura as a day of fasting from sunset to sunrise and is a voluntry fast for Sunni Muslims. For Shi'a Muslims, it is a day of sorrow as it remebers the events at Karabala.

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Shi'a Muslims use the festival to remeber the death of Hussein, son of Imam Ali and the grandson of the Prophet. It is a day of mourning for the martydom of Hussein.

In many Muslim countries a public holiday takes place to remember the event. During the day Shi'a Muslims take part in a public expression of grief and mourning. 

Re-enactments and plays may be preformed to retell the story of Hussein's death. A small minority will go as far as to beat themselves on the back with chains, pond their head or cut themselves.

They do this in attempt to connect with Hussein's suffering and death. Recently, some Shi'a authorites have condemned this practice and stated they are wrong actions for Muslims to take.

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