Being one of the main religions in the world, Islam undergoes prejudice and is associated with violence nowadays. However, a description of Islam beliefs, practices, and rituals should present the description of the religion itself, reminding us that knowing the issue should precede any judging.
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Historically, Islam originated from revelations of Prophet Muhammad (570-632) that were written down as the Quran. According to Ali and Leaman (2008), Islam is an “Arabic word meaning submission or surrender, understood to mean to the will of God specifically” (p. 56). Islam followers are called Muslims.
Islam’s key concept is faith (“iman”) formulated in six main postulates: “belief in God, angels, his Books, his Messengers, the day of judgment, and destiny” (Ali & Leaman, 2008, p. 32). Hence, faith in Islam is not just thinking but also acting. “Every Muslim believes that Islam is a complete code of life” (Kayani, 2011, p. 324). There are five pillars known from Muhammad’s hadith, though not listed in Quran, describing obligatory practices for each Muslim. They include Islam declaration of faith (shahadah), five times praying a day (salat), fast during a month called Ramadan (sawm), obligatory charity payments (zakat), and Mecca pilgrimage (hadj). (Ali & Leaman, 2008). Although jihad, a holy war, is not a part of mandatory Islam practice, Martin and Nakayama (2013) speak of Islamophobes that consider violence to be an essence of Islam (p. 15).
Islam Practices and Rituals
Speaking of the Islam practices, many young Muslims criticize their parents for not following Islam practices strictly, “fathers […] prayed only on occasion […] mothers did not usually use the hijab” (Rozario, 2011, p. 289). Indeed, five times a day praying seems to be rather complicated in performing. The morning praying should be done between the dawn and the sunrise, and it consists of two so-called rak’ahs (prostrates); the second one at midday consists of four rak’ahs; the third one in the afternoon before the sunset consists of four rak’ahs; the fourth one at sunset and the fifth one at the beginning of the night consist of three rak’ahs (Ali & Leaman, 2008). Moreover, the new generation of Islam followers, for instance in the United Kingdom, complain about lack of true knowledge about the Islam practices and rituals, describing their performing of the Islamic rituals as “empty and mechanical” (Rozario, 2011, p. 289).
The rituals connected with the idea of purification oneself after sexual relations, touching a dead person, and even “ritual bath given to a dead Muslim before burial” can be illustrated by ghusl, a ritual bath. (Fasasi, 2013, p 72). Interestingly, the recommendations for ghusl illustrate the same complexity as the rules for praying. There are at least four kinds of ritual baths, that is “washing (1) both hands up to the elbows three times […] (2) gargling three times […] (3) wiping the hands on the whole body […] (4) combing the hair with the fingers to ensure that the water reaches the hair-roots” (Fasasi, 2013, p. 72). Hence, a ritual bath in Islam is like an act of worship close to praying.
On the whole, Islam is a rather young religion but presented in almost every corner of the world. The key concepts of Islam are truly complex including a range of beliefs, practices, and rituals having much more to offer its young followers than common knowledge of its violence and.intolerance.
Ali, K., & Leaman, O. (2008). Islam: The key concepts. London, UK: Routledge.
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Fasasi, M. I. (2013). Ritual bath in Islam (Ghus Janabat). Ife Psychologia, 21(3), 72-74.
Kayani, S. A. (2011). Islam: Past, Present and Future. Dialogue (1819-6462), 6(4), 320-338.
Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. (2013). Intercultural communication in contexts (6th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
Rozario, S. (2011). Islamic piety against the family: From ‘traditional’ to ‘pure’ Islam. Cont Islam Contemporary Islam, (5), 285-308.