take place within established time periods five times a
day. The five times of worship are daybreak, noon,
afternoon, the close of day, and night, and correspond to
the organization of mans time around various daily
activities or routines.
l Sawm, fasting.
Sawm takes place during the
month of Ramadan. Islam has a lunar calendar in which
the months are all either 29 or 30 days long. The ninth
month, Ramadan, is the month in which the first
revelation of the Quran came to the Holy Prophet. The
fast from food (total abstinence), drink (Moslems may
never drink alcoholic drinks), and sex trains Moslems
in both self-discipline and scrupulous obedience to
. Zakat, giving to the poor. A Moslem worships by
means of his or her wealth through an obligatory form
of giving to those in need. Included in Zakat is voluntary
charity, to the extent that one can afford, to those in need.
l Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. To every
Moslem, Mecca, the city where Mohammed was born,
is the chief holy city. Five times a day, a devout Moslem
turns toward Mecca and prays. A Moslem is also
supposed to visit Mecca at least once during his or her
lifetime. Hajji is a title that refers to a Moslem who has
made the holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
Of the essentials in the rites of worship, the mosque
is the most important symbol. To Moslems, the
mosque-the place of kneeling and site for worship-is
the most important building. The mosque has a mihrab,
or niche, which points to Mecca, the holy city. Each
mosque is equipped with a pulpit for the Imam or
religious leader and a lectern for the Quran.
A mosque has at least one minaret, or tower, from
which the muezzin chants the call to prayer. A court and
water fountain provide for the ceremonial washing
before prayer. Colorful arabesques and Quranic verses
written in large Arabic letters usually decorate the walls
of the mosque.
As an RP, you must realize that mosques are not
open to all non-Moslems.
Unless you obtain special
permission, you will not be allowed to enter a mosque.
If you should receive permission to visit a mosque,
remember to remove your shoes before entering, speak
only in whispers, and do not attempt to take
photographs. You will see Moslems at prayer wherever
they happen to be when the call for prayer is heard.
Most mosques house a religious elementary school
where young scholars learn to read and memorize the
Quran. Some special Islamic centers have a religious
college where students may complete their religious
education. A graduate, called a mullah, may teach in a
primary school or preach in a mosque.
No statues, ritual objects, or pictures are permitted
within the mosque.
Ceremonies connected with
marriage and birth are never permitted in the mosque.
Moslems do not use music and singing with the service,
but the Quran may be chanted by professional chanters
called Muqri. Islamic tradition recommends group
worship for each daily prayer, but Islamic law requires
Moslems to pray the noon prayer on Friday.
Consequently, many worshipers will enter the mosque
for the noon Friday prayers and a platform may be
required so the Imam or leader can deliver the sermon
to the crowd of worshipers.
The Imam, or religious leader, is the chief officer in
the mosque. The Imams duty is to assume religious
responsibilities, lead the people in prayer, deliver
sermons, counsel readers, officiate at conversions and
marriages, and take charge of an Islamic center. On
special occasions, a distinguished visitor or religious
leader may lead the public prayers. Although the Imam
or leader will usually deliver the sermon, any Moslem,
in fact, can conduct the service. Of course, the deeper
the personal knowledge, the more entitled a person is to
lead the service.
Other Essentials and Symbols
In the culture as well as the religion, the world of
Islam includes certain symbols. Some of these symbols
are essential gear for worship; others represent cultural
standards and practices. Lets take a look at a few of
these symbols and their associated rituals.
PRAYER RUG. A prayer mat or rug on which to
kneel for prayer is desirable and is usually placed in a
ritually clean space for prayer. A prayer rug often
contains symbols of Islamic beliefs. The symbols are
highly stylized because of Islams prohibition against
the representation of animals and humans on any article
that might enter the mosque or Islamic place of worship.
COLORS. The color blue is associated with
certain powers and is thought to have the power to ward
off evil. Green is the holy color of Islam.