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ISLAM

Islam means obedience to the will of Allah (God) and honors the laws and teachings revealed to his prophet Muhammad in the sacred book known as the QUR’AN. Followers of Islam are called Muslims (“obedient ones”).

WHERE DO MUSLIMS WORSHIP?

Muslims can pray anywhere, but often gather in a mosque to pray together. A mosque usually has a minaret tower, from which a muezzin (caller) chants a call to prayer five times a day. All Muslims pray facing east toward Mecca, and a small niche (mihrab) is always set into the mosque wall nearest Mecca.

WHY DO MUSLIMS PRAY TOWARD MECCA?

Mecca in Saudi Arabia is Muhammad’s birthplace and the holiest city of Islam. In 610 CE, Muhammad received the first of his revelations from God on a mountain outside Mecca. All Muslims are supposed to make the HAJJ at least once a lifetime, if they can.

HAJJ

The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca made once in every Muslim’s lifetime, if it is possible. It is one of the five Pillars of Islam—which also include the statement of faith, daily worship, charity, and fasting.

WHAT IS THE KA’BA?

The Ka’ba is a holy shrine at the heart of Mecca’s Sacred Mosque. Muslims believe it was originally built by Ibrahim (Abraham) on a site made holy by the first man, Adam. In the pre-Islamic period it was a shrine to 360 Arabic deities. In 630 CE, Muhammad rededicated the shrine to Allah.

QUR’AN

Also spelled Koran, this is Islam’s holiest text, believed to have been revealed to Muhammad by Allah. The Qur’an unites all Muslims in a single language—they must learn Arabic to read Allah’s original words.

HOW DOES THE QUR’AN SPEAK?

The Arabic name Qur’an means “the recital.” Muhammad’s first revelation began with the angel Gabriel’s instruction, “Recite!” The verses (Ayat) and chapters (Surahs) are arranged to help reading aloud. Marks show when to breathe at the end of each verse.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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