Taking off the Veil

By Iqra Malik

We are all familiar with Muslims. Instead of the fact that Islam is the second largest and fastest growing religion in world, people are not absolutely aware of the Islamic culture and traditions. Let me take you to a quick tour in the world of Islam!

First, let’s understand a basic difference between a Muslim and Islam.

A Muslim is a person who follows Islam and has a sound belief that there is no God but Allah, and Prophet Mohammed is His Messenger. Islam means a willful submission to Allah. Let’s dive in deeper and understand the basics. Islam is built on five pillars, namely, Shahada-the acceptance that there is no God but Allah, and Prophet Mohammed is His Messenger; Salah(Prayer)-an obligation which every Muslim has to perform five times a day, at specific times spanning from dawn to night and in the manner which has already been established; Seyam(fasting)-abstinence from any kind of food and drink during the month of Ramadan. It’s also a time where Muslims abstain from any sort of bad behavior; Zakah(charity)-an obligatory charity of 2.5% from one’s excess wealth which should reach to needy; Hajj(pilgrimage)- it is a duty of every Muslim to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are capable.

Talking of fasting and Ramadan reminds me of the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Zuha, two important and major festivals, and the luxury to indulge in lavish Biryani and Sheerkurma. So yes, after a month of fasting comes the day of feasting. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan while Eid-ul-Adha signifies the biggest sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim. It is important for them to dress up in new and clean attire and offer Eid Namaz. Muslim tradition states that both men and women should cover their body.

We often come across the term Shariah, so what exactly is it? Shariah is the code of practice, a guide which deals in all areas of life. Muslims abide by the Qur’an and Sunnah(the saying and deeds of Prophet Mohammed) which governs the laws of Islamic world. This is the reason why Muslims all over the world have common basic practices. The primary language for Muslims is Arabic as the Islam had spread from the Middle-east region, hence Qur’an is in Arabic language. Muslims offer Namaz in the language, which is common for all Muslims, i.e. Arabic and facing towards Kaa’ba. These things establish a sense of discipline and uniformity amongst Muslim people.

The basic traditions and culture are common for all Muslims all over the world. But as we go in different countries/regions, there is an influence of the regional traditions on them. Let’s consider Indian Muslims, they offer Namaz, fasts, gives Zakah, go for Hajj, follows Shariah but they have also mixed themselves up with the Indian traditions. Consider the marriage ceremony, for instance, they have all the functions of haldi, sangeet, and ceremonies varying from state to state instead of only the ceremonies of Nikaah and Waleema. A traditional Indian Muslim may refer their father as Abba and mother as Ammi and the language is a mixture of Urdu and some Arabic phrases such as Assalaam-u-walaikum, whenever they meet someone, In sha Allah. The traditional dress for Muslim women is salwar-kameez and for men kurta-pyjama.

Islam is not only a religion but a way of life. Muslim culture and traditions are a combination of Qur’an and Sunnah and the regional influence. But on a broader platform, their traditions have uniformity amongst all Muslims.

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