N U M B E R S . Moslems attach special
significance to the number five. Five is used to represent
the five pillars of Islam, the five members of
Mohammeds family, the five daily prayers, or the five
fingers of Mohammeds daughter, Fatima.
GESTURES. The raised open hand is a
powerful sign of good fortune and the ability to
STYLES. The beard symbolizes a mans
integrity. The moustache is a symbol of virility,
masculinity, dignity, and strength. When a man strokes
his moustache in connection with an oath or promise, it
is a sign of sincerity. It is an insult to touch or defame
a Moslems moustache.
Now that we have looked at the rites and symbols
of Islamic religion and culture, lets look at some of the
major events in a Moslems life cycle.
LIFE CYCLE EVENTS
Private ceremonies in a Moslems life cycle include
celebrations at birth, circumcisions, weddings, and
funerals. An event Moslems take great pride in is a
childs memorization of the entire Quran. After a child
has memorized the Quran, the family holds a party to
honor the student and the teacher, both of whom receive
In Islam, the purpose of marriage is for a man and
woman to build a home; live together in love, kindness,
mutual sympathy, support, and companionship; meet
one anothers sexual needs; and rear children together.
An Islamic marriage is a working partnership, with both
partners assuming responsibility for their common life
To provide a home and maintenance for every
woman in society and partly to make provision for other
special situations, Islam permits Moslem men to marry
more than one woman. You should realize, however,
that it is very rare for most ordinary Moslems to have
more than one wife. Permission to contract marriage
with more than one woman is contingent upon the
observance of scrupulous fairness among the wives and
the ability of the husband to support more than one wife.
Although divorce is permitted, the Holy Prophet
proclaimed it to be the most hateful of all permitted
things in the sight of God.
Marriages are often arranged by relatives.
individual does, however, have the right to refuse.
simplest form, the actual marriage ceremony consists of
readings from the Quran by the Imam, a sermon by the
Imam on the institution of marriage and the couples
obligations, and the pledges or contract by which the
couple seals their relationship. This ceremony is
performed before two witnesses. An exchange of rings
is optional. Dress for a wedding is by choice although
customarily the couple will dress in their national
A Moslem burial and funeral service occurs as
soon after death as possible. A deceased Moslem
servicemember should not be an exception. Unless
the family or the dying person has requested the
presence of an Imam, it is not imperative for you to
Islamic religious law allows for no change in the
body after death.
Burial takes place before
decomposition begins. Under ordinary circumstances,
embalming is not permitted. Cremation is never
allowed. In combat or situations where the body cannot
be buried immediately or must be transported for burial,
embalming may be permitted. An autopsy is not
allowed unless required by civil law.
RESOURCE PUBLICATIONS AND
To understand Islamic life, law, culture, and the rites
of worship, you can consult several available resources.
The first resource you should consult is Islam
Facilitation Guide, compiled by the U.S. Navy
Chaplain Corps. Other valuable resources are books,
such as Essentials of Muslim Prayer Fasting Guide, by
Dr. Hosny M. Gaber; Glimpses of Islam, by Mohammad
Tawfik Owaida; Understanding Islam, by Harvey Cox;
and What Everyone Should Know About Islam and
Muslims, by Suzanne Haneef.
You can obtain other valuable sources of
information by contacting The Islamic Center,
Washington, DC; Islamic Center of New York; Library
of Islam, Des Plaines, Illinois; Wadsworth Publishing
Company, Belmont, California; and other publications
by the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps.
Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. From
Judaism grew two of
Christianity and Islam.
the worlds great religions,