Muslims do not regard Islam as a new religion, but the same truth that the One God revealed through all his prophts to every people since Adam. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life, and its values include peace, mercy and forgiveness. Muslims call God 'Allah' which is the Arabic word for God.
Muslims believe in One Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom his revelations and scriptures were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muslims believe that Islam is God's final message. It is a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all earlier revelations.
Mohammed was born in Mecca in the year 570AD. Mohammed detested the decadence of his society and would meditate in the Cave of Hira near Mecca. At the age of 40, Mohammed received his first call from God through the Archangel Gabriel, marking the beginning of the revelation of the holy book the Qur'an. He spent 23 years thereafter spreading the message of Islam.
Customs and Practices
Islam has five pillars that represent the foundation stones of Islamic worship and training for a life of good action:
Shahada: This is the declaration of faith, to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger to all human beings until the Day of Judgement. Inciting this with intention three times makes someone a Muslim.
Salat: Muslims perform five prayers a day as a duty towards Allah. Each prayer only takes a few minutes to perform and is a direct link between the worshipper and God. They are seen to purify the heart and prevent temptation towards wrongdoing and evil.
Zakah: This word is translated as 'to purify'. Wealth is purified by paying Zakah, a specified percentage of ones wealth to needy people. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to give as much as they can in voluntary work.
Sawm: During the month of Ramadan Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sexual acts from dawn to sunset, in addition to abstaining from all immoral behaviour. Fasting helps develop a sound social conscience, patience, unselfishness and willpower.
Hajj: This is the pilgrimage to Mecca which is to be performed at least once in a lifetime, by those who are physically and financially able to do so. The Ka'bah, which is in the city of Mecca, is believed to be the first house of worship appointed for mankind and was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael.
Places of Worship
Prayer can take place anywhere that is clean. Mosques will be used for communal prayers including the congregational prayer on Friday. They can also be used for community gatherings, social events such as marriage and burial, and for religious education.
There are two main festivals in Islam. The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr coincides with the end of the month of Ramadan. Eid ul Adha coincides with the time of performing the pilgrimage in Mecca.
Food and Diet
Muslims differentiate between food which is allowed (Halal) and food which is forbidden (Haram). Pork, carnivorous animals and blood is forbidden. Meat must also be slaughtered according to
religious rites by a Muslim butcher. The consumption of intoxicants is forbidden.
Click here for useful links to the Muslim communities in Scotland.
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