Officially, Islam is an Arabic word meaning commitment. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. In fact, 80% of Muslims are non-Arab. Overall the Islamic religion is faith in peace, mercy, and forgiveness. There are so many things to learn about this religion or all religions in that case. As Americans we come from all over the world. With that said, it is our duty as Americans to learn more about the religions and cultures not only in the U.S. but around the globe! The more one knows about every aspect of opinions, beliefs, and history, the more educated they are to form an opinion or belief of their own. The sacred book of the Muslims is the Qur’an. It is composed of the revelations that came to Muhammad. “Qur’an means something recited or read. Muslims believe it is the highest and final instance of god offering guidance to straying humanity through scriptures by his chosen messengers” (Encyclopedia). No other book, including the bible, has been studied or commented on as much as this book. The book is never to touch the ground or come into contact with filthy substances.
The basic duties of Muslims toward God are the Five Pillars of Islam. The first pillar is repetition of the Shahadah or short creed. “There is no God but the one God and his prophet was Muhammad.” The second is Salat, the daily ritual prayer. Muslims pray five times a day and Fridays they assemble in mosques. The third is Zakat, or Almsgiving. Believers are required to contribute a fixed percentage of his or her property for wayfarers and the poor. The fourth is the
sawn, the feast. The Qur’an demands they do not eat food or drink during the daylight hours for an entire lunar month. The fifth is pilgrimage, or hajj. One of the biggest aspects of the Islamic religion is that “. . . Muslims believe there was a holy place called the ka’aba even before Adam and Eve, or creation itself. The fifty feet high replica is in the center of Mecca, which is a city in the western mountains of Saudi Arabia. It symbolizes the worship of Abraham” ("Inside Mecca"). It is said that it was built by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham after the great flood. The Kiswah is the new cover for the ka’aba. It’s a 7,000 square foot silk drape that weighs a ton, literally. It cost $5 million to make this drape. The Qur’an says every Muslim must (if possible) visit this place before death.
In and around Mecca a five day fest of salvation and redemption takes place called the hajj, which consists of rituals between the 8th and 13th days of the last month of the Islamic calendar. Ihram is the state of being essential to performing hajj. It is a pure frame of mind consisting of patience, courtesy, and respect. When in the state of Ihram grooming, arguing, and sex are forbidden. The Saudi government has put up 44,000 fire resistant tents for the pilgrims. Many people have to stay ten to a room. You have to prove you are Muslim in order to go there, and women need permission from a male family member to travel there. Pilgrims also must dress the part. All men look alike whether they are rich, poor, educated, or not educated. They dress in what looks like two towels wrapped around their bodies. Women dress in very conservative dresses and they must also cover their hair. The hajj rituals are so complex that studying is needed. They believe a prophet named Abraham instituted the pilgrimage. Many of the rituals were established by him. They believe Abraham went to Mecca with his wife, Hagar, and son, Ishmael. God asked him to abandon his family in a valley in current day Mecca. He visited
sometimes and on a visit god asked him to build the ka’aba and call the people to pilgrimage. In the early 7th century a new prophet emerged from the line of Abraham. He was a Meccan named Muhammad. In 630 he cleared the ka’aba of idols, returning people to the worship of one God.
First they travel a few miles from Mecca into the Valley of Mina where they rest in a massive tent city. The