Islam teaches that God is merciful and all powerful
The start of the holy month of Ramadan is the perfect prompt for our next faith feature. This month we are featuring the Islamic faith, of which many Bermudians identify.
Islam is a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion that originated in Saudi Arabia in the 7th century CE. There are over 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, making Islam the second largest religion on the globe.
Islam is an Arabic word which means surrender, submission, commitment, and peace. As such, the foundational principal of the Islamic faith is complete and voluntary submission to the divine will of God, or Allah as Muslims would refer to it.
The faith is founded by Muhammad, who is believed to be the last in a long line of prophets. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the chosen messenger of the word of God through divine revelations from Allah. These revelations are recorded in the Koran, the holy book of Islam.
Islam teaches that God is merciful and all powerful and has guided humanity through prophets and the revelation of scripture.
Muslims adhere to and practise five basic tenets, or pillars. These are guides for daily life and help to put their beliefs into practice.
Shahada – declaration of faith. Muslims believe there is only one God, Allah, and the prophet Muhammad was his messenger. This belief is central to Islam. While Muslims believe in other prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, they believe Muhammad was the final prophet. While Muslims do acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, they do not consider him the son of God like Christians do.
Salah – prayer. Muslims pray five times a day, facing Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad. These prayers take place at dawn, noon, midafternoon, sunset, and nightfall. Prayer may also include the reciting of scripture. Muslims pray as part of their religious duty but also for spiritual nourishment and as an expression of love and gratitude to Allah.
Hajj – a pilgrimage to Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim, whether male or female, is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Muslims revere Mecca as a holy city and the Masjid al-Haram (Scared Mosque) is located there. In 630 the prophet Muhammad declared it a site of pilgrimage upon his return to the city after exile.
Zakat – charity. Muslims who are able are required to participate in charitable giving and community building. Members set aside a fixed portion of their income for the long-term benefit of their community. This charitable contribution can also be made by giving one’s time to help others, such as volunteering, caregiving, and other acts of kindness.
Sawm – fasting. Healthy Muslims fast during the ninth month of the Islamic year, known as Ramadan. During this time, they do not eat or drink from dawn until sunset. This is also a time of increased prayer, study and personal reflection. Fasting is obligatory, however young children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, seniors and those with health conditions are exempt.
Those who observe Ramadan would have begun their month of intentional fasting with the sighting of the new moon on the evening of April 1, and will end on May 1.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. It is believed that during this month the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. To commemorate this revelation, Muslims fast from sun-up to sundown, increase their prayer time and recite scripture from the Koran.
In addition to fasting and praying, Muslims are also called to abstain from immoral acts such as gossiping, lying, and fighting during this time. For a Muslim this is a time for piety, reflection, and charity.
Above these deeds and acts of service, Ramadan is a time to intentionally drawing closer to God by eliminating distractions and focusing on strengthening one’s personal relationship with Allah.
At the end of this holy month, observers will celebrate with the Festival of Eid, where they will break their fast in community with other Muslims and friends.
There is much more to learn about the Islamic Faith and over the Ramadan period we look forward to sharing more from members of the Muslim community in Bermuda.
Ramadan Mubarak. Blessed Ramadan.