Islam (To Be At Peace)
Islam worships One Universal God, who in Arabic is called Allah. I say the God, that Muslims choose to call Allah, is the God of Humanity. Others only choose to call Him in different names. Islam confirms the truths of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
The word ‘Islam’ (Salam) means to have done ones duty, to be at peace. Islam also means to submit (to the will of God) Islam could be understood as a brotherhood of man, whose aim is ‘to execute God’s will.
The name of the Prophet of Islam, is Mohammed. It is believed that Mohammed was born in 570 A.D. in a respected family of the Banu Hashim of Quraish. Quraish was a well known tribe in Mecca. The Quraish were custodians of the Kaaba. Mohammed was sensitive and gentle. He would wander into the hills to meditate. Mohammed did not know a father’s love, and a mother’s care. He was an orphan. As a child, he was gentle and loving. He grew up to be a thoughtful youth , and progressed to become a faithful friend, and a devoted husband.
Mohammed thought deeply about how life should be lived, and also on its deeper mysteries. He struggled and went through immense difficulties to achieve what he believed in, but he never despaired…because he believed in God’s mercy. He was humble, even when he was widely admired, and considered a great dispenser of justice. Despite his followers, he mended his own clothes, milked his goats and often went without food…For days he would live on only, dates and water… yet would share whatever he had, even during trying times.
Mohammed loved children, respected elders and tended the sick. He accorded equal respect to the slaves and consoled those in pain. It has been 1400 years since he walked on earth, yet he is without a doubt, a prophet who inspires love, admiration and tremendous respect and awe!
One night the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mohammed in a vision and cried: “Recite” It is believed that God chose him, so that He may speak through him.
What Mohammed uttered is recorded in the Koran and is considered, what God wills.
Mohammed’s wife, Khadija was the first to believe in him and encourage him. The teachings of Mohammed, enraged the merchants. Mohammed had to flee Mecca in 632. He fled to Yathrib, which was later renamed as ‘Madinat an- nabi (City of the Prophet) The year that Mohammed fled is called the year of the Hegira and is considered the Year One in the Muslim calendar. Mohammed became the religious leader and governor of Tathrib. In the year 630 Mohammed entered Mecca triumphantly.
The faith of Islam teaches how man should behave in this world. It also concerns itself with what happens in the after life. Mohammed urged his followers to observe, what is known as ‘The 5 pillars of Islam’
- There is only 1 God.
- One should perform prayers 5 times daily, facing Mecca; and on Friday, in the mosque.
- Alms giving.
- The fast of Ramadan.
- Pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Koran also provides other moral values. It also speaks about the delights of heaven and explains the terrors of hell. What I find beautiful in Islam is the binding force of Muslims around the world. Muslims come from different parts of the world, to Mecca, as members of the same family.
The literal meaning of ‘Haj’ in Arabic is to set out towards a definite objective, heading for an honorable person or place. Ka’aba means: The Sacred House. All pilgrims, in Mecca, wear identical clothes, do not shave, cut their hair, and abstain from sex. Most beautiful: No harm is done to any living thing!
Let us remember, that not only Muslims, we are all members of the same family. We all believe in a higher power, even though we may give it a different name. And why ‘not harm any living thing’ only when we go on a pilgrimage? Why not abstain from any harm, the year round. I do not convey this message to only the Muslim brothers and sisters, but to all the rest of us, all over this wonderful beautiful world, that was given to us to enjoy, as long as we live, until a natural death take us back to our Maker!
Some more information on Haj
The Haj is the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Pilgrims travel the nine miles from Mecca to the plain of Arafat and back stopping at the sacred sites of Mina and Muzdalifa Haj.
The Haj begins on the eighth day of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelth month of the Islamic year, and lasts for as long as 6 days.
The Story of Haj:
Prophet Ibrahim brought his wife and son Ismail to Arabia from Palestine.
Ibrahim left them with some supplies of food and water as per the instructions of Allah.
After the food and water was exhausted Ismail struck his foot on the ground and a spring of water gushed forth. They then ran a profitable well.
According to the Koran Allah told Ibrahim to build a shrine. Ibrahim and Ismail then built the Kaaba, the shrine in Mecca.
How is the Haj performed?
‘Tawaf ‘is performed which consists of circling the Kaaba four times in a fast pace.
Then, in an anti-clockwise direction, three times at a leisurely pace.
Then pilgrims walk back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times in a rapid pace.
The above ‘performances’ complete the ‘Umrah’
Not a compulsory part of the Haj
1) Pilgrims often travel to visit the city of Medina.
2) Performance of the final three acts of faith: Al Hajul Akbar:
i) Journey to the hill of Arafat
ii) Pilgrims travel to the city of Mina and participate in the stoning of the devil.
iii) A second tawaf is performed around the Kaaba to complete the Haj
Stoning of the devil:
This consists of picking pebbles from the ground and throwing them at the three pillars of Mina. The pillars of Mina represent the devil.