(c) Annual Charity. We must give a certain portion of our wealth in charity every year. Qur’an gives it the label of Zakaat. If you have wealth put away for a whole year that is over and above your regular needs, you must take out a percentage of that excess wealth and give it to the poor or spend it in other worthy causes.
(d) Annual Fasting. We must fast during the day in the lunar month of Ramadaan. During this blessed month, Muslims all over the world fast during the day and pray during the night. It is spiritually a most uplifting and exciting time of the year throughout the Muslim world.
(e) Pilgrimage. Once in a lifetime, we must perform pilgrimage to Makkah, provided we have the means to do it. The Qur’an gives it the name of Hajj. Every year, between three and five million Muslims gather in Makkah, all at the same time, to perform Hajj. It is a gathering in which men all wear an identical uniform of two white sheets and perform the rituals and requirements of Hajj all in the same way. Women, however, are free to choose their own clothing during Hajj.
Hajj is a most impressive and miraculous sight. Everybody, millions upon millions of people, both men as well as women, perform the same actions, and repeat the same chants and prayers, like clockwork. During the three days of Hajj, heaven and earth in and around Makkah ring with these most blessed sounds.
There is no other gathering of human beings like this anywhere else in the world. No one can even imagine how majestic, grand and spectacular the Hajj is unless they have done it themselves or seen it with their own eyes.
Hajj is a most amazing marvel of human organization and spirituality at the same time. Once again, this is something that was directly revealed by God Almighty in the Qur’an and that was personally taught and practiced by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, 1400 years ago.
(f) Good Manners. More than anything else, Islam wants us to behave in the nicest possible way with everyone. And in particular be mindful of our neighbors and relatives and those who are less fortunate than us in society.
Respect for parents and love and compassion for our younger ones are also required by Islam. So is kind and loving treatment of our husbands and wives. So is respect for law and order and working for peace and justice in the community, society and the world. In the same way, being honest and truthful in our speech, conduct and dealings with others is a fundamental requirement of Islam.
(g) Five Pillars of Islam. Belief in God and his messenger, peace be upon him, daily prayers, annual charity and fasting and pilgrimage are generally referred to in Islamic culture as the five pillars of Islam.
These are then some of the basic practices that Islam requires of us. They are all given to us by God directly in the Qur’an. That is why they all have names that Qur’an gave them. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, showed us in practice how to do these things. We must follow his example in these practices. And, to the extent we can, in everything else we do in our life.
This is a very brief and quick introduction to the divine way of life that God in the Qur’an calls Islam. It is God’s chosen way to worship him and to live a happy, productive and successful life in this world. God gives the name Muslim to those who embrace these beliefs and observe these practices.
(E) Some Things Islam Forbids
At the same time, Islam also forbids certain things. And they are all things that are bad for us as human beings, both individually and collectively as communities and societies. Among the things Islam forbids are gambling, alcohol consumption and use of all kinds of narcotics and drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and the rest.
Just like Jews and Christians in the olden days, Islam also forbids eating pork and pork products. Also forbidden by Islam is the eating of dog meat, snakes, beasts of prey and dead animals as well as animals that have not been properly slaughtered and thus made formally and spiritually clean or Halaal.
Islam also forbids all forms of sex outside of marriage, whether it is adultery, fornication or homosexuality. Also forbidden by Islam is stealing; taking of human life without due process; cruelty to animals; and making mischief on earth.
There are a billion and a half Muslims in the world today divided in about 60 Muslim-majority countries and spread in different numbers in almost all parts of the world from Europe to Asia and from America to Australia. They belong to all races and nationalities.
The Muslim world supplies a large part of the world’s energy and petroleum needs and contributes in a major way to the world’s prosperity and economic stability. What we call oriental carpets come to us mostly from Muslim lands and cultures such as Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and the Caucasus region and mountains.
Thus, Islam and Muslims are a most important, integral and vibrant part of our world today. We hope we have been helpful at least a little bit in giving you some idea about Islam and Muslims in today’s world.
Please do not hesitate to call us or write to us with any questions or comments you may have about Islam and Muslims. Our contact information is as follows:
May God Almighty bless you and your family!
– END –
© 2010 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.