These are the guiding principles of Muslim life.
A simple and sincere declaration of faith is required of all those who choose to follow Islam.
The below words must be uttered freely and with conviction by all Muslims.
“Ash-hadu anla ilaha illal-Lahu Wahdahu la Sharika Lahu wa-ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluhu.”
Which translates to:
“I solemnly swear that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.”
Muslims believe that the only purpose of life is to serve and obey God. According to Islam, throughout history God sent His chosen messengers, or prophets, to guide us.
The three prophets were Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
That there is just one God is central to Islam and can be found in all aspects of Muslim life.
Another aspect central to Muslim life is regular, obligatory, ritual prayer.
Prayers are performed five times a day: at dawn, midday, late afternoon, sunset and nightfall — reminding one of God throughout the day.
Regular prayer helps worshippers to form a very personal relationship with Allah and to fully depend on, trust and love Him.
Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H) said:
“Indeed, when one of you prays, he speaks privately with his Lord.”
Regular prayer helps one to achieve inner peace and harmony, prevent destructive deeds and to seek God’s pardon for any misdeeds.
The Prophet once asked of his followers:
“Do you think if there was a river by the door and one of you bathed in it five times a day, would there remain any dirt on him?”
When the Prophet’s companions answered in the negative, he replied:
"That is how it is with the five daily prayers. Through them God washes away your sins."
Friday is an important day for Muslims to get together. The midday prayer, or Jumma, on Fridays is different from usual daily prayers in that it includes a sermon.
At other times prayers include verses from the Qur’an and take only a few minutes to complete.
All Muslims are obliged to give an annual payment of 2.5% of their assets to charity.
The concept that possessions are meaningless as everything belongs to God is central to Islam.
Wealth is seen as being held in trust by human beings and, as such, should be distributed fairly.
The word “Zakah” means purification and growth and the idea is that cutting back on what you own can also encourage good luck and the creation of future wealth.
Each Muslim calculates their own Zakah personally and a calculation of one’s assets excludes the value of your house, car and professional tools.
The principle of Zakah is to eliminate poverty and take care of the needy.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Those who spend their wealth (in charity) by night and by day, in secret and in public, have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
Ramadan is a time when Muslims give abundantly to various charities.
On the morning of Eid charity is also given traditionally to ensure that even the poor have something to eat during the celebrations.
However, giving in Islam can go beyond material goods.
The Prophet Muhammad said: "Even meeting your brother with a smile is an act of charity."
Staying away from evil when one has nothing to give is also seen as charity.
Fasting for Muslims is about learning self-restraint and empathy with those in poverty.
It means to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse between dawn and sunset.
Followers of Islam fast for the whole of Ramadan, a very special, spiritual month.
During Ramadan Muslims must also refrain from impure thoughts and acts such as swearing, lying and violence — although ideally these should be avoided at all times.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” (Holy Qur’an, Surah 2 V 183)
Fasting is thought to help Muslims empathise with those people who are less fortunate.
All Muslims fast except:
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the month after Ramadan.
Muslims celebrate the fact that they’ve fasted for a month with their family and friends by eating a large meal.
They go to the mosque, give charity, and celebrate together. What is eaten and how the festival is celebrated varies widely around the world.
Making the pilgrimage to the Hajj, or Mecca, is a religious obligation for all Muslims who are physically and financially able.
The Hajj takes place annually in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.
Because the Islamic year is lunar the Hajj takes place during different seasons.
More than two million people from all corners of the world undertake the Hajj pilgrimage annually.
During the Hajj Pilgrims must eschew certain behaviours that might damage their state of sacredness.
This includes refraining from arguing or fighting, killing animals or cutting plants.
Pilgrims wear simple garments and leave all symbols of status, class and culture at home.
The Hajj provides the opportunity for Muslims from all nations to meet as equals before God.
They perform the rites of the Hajj, which include visiting the Ka’ba and standing together on the wide plains of Arafat.
Pilgrims have the opportunity to pray for forgiveness, reflect on their lives and find spiritual fulfilment which they can take with them back with them.
Eid Al Adha, or the festival of sacrifice, marks the close of the Hajj.
During this time the Pilgrims sacrifice a sheep or goat — an echo of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his own son for Allah.
The meat from these sacrifices is distributed to the needy.
All around the world Muslims celebrate with prayers, ritual sacrifice and exchange gifts.