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published: 3/17/04
updated: 6/24/14

Muslim Rituals & Practices



What are the rituals of Islam

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Islam is approximately 1,400 years old, having been founded by Muhammad in the 600's A.D. Muhammad's teachings were complied after he died by his followers and makeup the sacred text for Muslim, called the Quran. Islam is one of the largest religions in the world at the beginning of the 21st century. (Also see Islamic beliefs)

The religious rituals of Islam are relatively few in number, but great in importance. The Five Pillars of Islam are five practices regarded by all sects as essential to the Muslim faith. Other notable Islamic practices include the mystical rituals of Sufism and various distinctive Shi'ite practices.


Islamic religious practices

The Five Pillars of Islam

The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic arkan ud-Din, "pillars of the faith") are the five religious duties expected of every Muslim. The five pillars are mentioned individually throughout the Qur'an and Muhammad listed them together in the Hadith when he was asked to define Islam.

Confession of faith (shahada)

The first of the Five Pillars of Islam is the shahada. Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith, expressing the two simple, fundamental beliefs that make one a Muslim:

La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah.

There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God.

Ritual prayer (salat)

Perhaps the most well-known Muslim practices among non-Muslims is ritual prayer, or salat, which is performed five times a day: at dawn (al-fajr), midday (al-zuhr), afternoon (al-'asr), sunset (al-maghrib) and evening (al-'isha).

Alms tax (zakat)

Almsgiving is a central activity in Islam. The Qur'an explicitly requires it (9:60) and often places it alongside prayer when discussing a Muslim's duties. ("Perform the prayer and give the alms." 2:43, 110, 277)

For those who are greedy and use their money outside of the will of Allah, the Qur'an has harsh words: the fires of hell will heat up the coins and the greedy will be branded with it (9:34-35).

Fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm)

Sawm (also siyam), fasting, commemorates the revelation of the Qur'an to humanity during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year.

Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)

At least once in his or her lifetime, each Muslim is expected to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca, the sacred city of Islam. This holy journey is called the hajj in Arabic.

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