Know these five pillars. If you sincerely want to develop friendships with Muslims, you need areas of common interest, and it would behoove you to know what it is that they believe and are obligated to do. Muhammad said many things that are true, particularly some his teachings about Jesus. Remember to stick to your goal – live and speak Jesus.
The specific practices (din) of Islam include confession of faith (al-tashahhud), the prayer ritual, legal alms giving, the annual fast, and the pilgrimage to Mecca. As with statement of faith, the significance of these ‘pillars’ of Islam (arkan al-‘islam) for ordinary Muslims differs from the meaning formally expressed by the religion’s theologians. However, you will find that those who are devoted to them are exemplary people who may not feel or even appear as though they are in need of more, or a different religion. This is, in fact, true – Jesus is what they need – not another religion. Those who live outside of these tenets, if they are allowed to maintain their own faith, are typically required to pay zakat, a form of taxation. Islam is based largely on works. In Sunni mosques, balance scales are depicted on the walls to represent how God ultimately will judge each person by their deeds, prayer mats are on the floor, and every space is pervaded with a sense of devotion that seems to be borne of equal parts anxiety and desire.
The words of the confession (kalimat al-shahada). There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. This is a confession of belief in God. Commonly believed to supernaturally able to drive away evil. They are often on Muslims lips, along with the bismillah’, as they traverse areas that are the territory of hostile trans-empirical beings. If you belief that Allah is the God of the Christians and Jews then you will have no difficulty being invited into a Muslim home. Don`t attempt to argue with the confession. It will take a revelation from the Holy Spirit before this is up for discussion.
The prayer ritual (salat). Muslims are required to pray at certain times each day — at sunrise, shortly after noon, mid afternoon, after sundown, and after nightfall. The Muslims who live near a mosque will respond to the azan (the call), and the prayer commences with a series of statements and responses. Facing Mecca, is partly a protective measure against incursions from the spirit world. Among some Muslim Hausa in northern Nigeria, more emphasis placed upon the ablutions, performed assiduously, than upon the actual prayers, which might only partially performed.
The Muslim at prayer often places an object (sutra) on the ground between himself and the qibla. One hadith in his collection commands the moving about of fingers during prayer, so that there’s no nestling place for demons. The posture of prayer is important to all sects and varieties of Muslims. You will seldom see a Muslim man wearing shorts, as it`s considered immodest. All Muslims remover their shoes in order to respect what is holy during prayer. Each time before prayer the feet are washed, as are the hands and forearms, as a ritual cleansing. It is commonly believed that a clean outside reflects a clean inside, and you will note that most Muslims are extremely clean and tidy.
Prayer often becomes a mere ritual and is sometimes relegated to the holy day, which, in Islam, is Friday. In many Muslim communities, the worship at Friday prayers includes elements of popular devotion. The prayers are recitations, and they are pronounced in sets and intervals. The steps are followed wit a prostrated bow, in acceptance of and submission to God`s greatness. The dhikr ritual, such as – prayers, ecstatic chanting, drumming, Qur’an recitals and incense burning – has traditionally been a part of congregational prayer among Nubian Muslims. To respect them, be careful not to walk in front of a praying Muslim – go around, or wait. When praying yourself, stand, kneel, or hold out your with the palms upward. Let your Muslim friends know that you pray. Muslims often think that Christians don`t pray, because they don`t see us publicly praying as they do.
Alms giving (zakat) finds its own rationale in the folk-Islamic world. Fear of being hurt by the evil eye of a beggar is a motivation for giving alms among many Muslims. By and large, each Muslim is required to give at least 2.5% of their assets to the poor. Despite the fact that giving is obligatory, many Muslims do give out of compassion. Jesus is exemplified by compassion. He can be a primary discussion point when you are conversing with a devout Muslim about suffering and compassion. You can show respect to your Muslim friends by participating when you can and share your motivations for doing so.
There are several occasions for fasting (saum) in Islam. Many acts of popular devotion occur during Ramadan, including detailed and enthusiastic veneration of Muhammad. You can respect your Muslim friend by simply not eating in front of them during Ramadan.
During the beginning of the month of Dhul-Hija and in the two months preceding it, the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca enjoined on Muslims who can afford, once in their lives, to make such a journey. Associated with the rituals of the hajj are many elements that find meaning in a folk-Islamic outlook on life. Sight of the kaba accompanied by an opening of heaven, so that prayers are heard and accepted. At the Yemenite corner, 70 angels say amen to the prayer of the believer. Between the black stone corner and the door of the kaba stands a part of the wall known as multazam. The black stone (al-hajaru’l-aswad) figures as the centre of specific ritual kissing as pilgrims move around the kaba. On the Day of Resurrection, when it will have two eyes by which to name all those who will have touched or kissed it, and when it will be given a tongue by which to speak, it will offer evidence in favour of those who have honoured it.
The ‘stoning of Satan’ is a part of pilgrimage procedure in Saudi Arabia at a place called Mina. A connected hadith about the use of seven pebbles for each stoning emphasizes importance of odd numbers in the hajj rituals.
Drawing of Zamzam water offers the prospect of baraka – endowed refreshment, for relatives or sick people, when the pilgrims return home carrying the especially collected water.
Apart from the two mosques at Mecca and Medina, the mosque at al-Aqsa in Jerusalem is the third most important pilgrimage destination in the Muslim world. Muhammad’s footprint impressed in the Sakhra (rock) on the Temple site is the focus of veneration for Muslims at this significant centre of the faith.
From whatever pilgrimage, a hajj has extra baraka or power, especially if he is already recognised as a practitioner in some folk-Islamic sense – the hajj confers much authority on such a person.
In the hajj context, folk Islam comes especially to the fore in substitute pilgrimages made, throughout the Muslim world, by those unable to visit Mecca and Medina. Such ‘paupers pilgrimages’ involve shrine visitation and saint worship on a massive scale.
The two worldviews of official and popular Islam often coexist within the same Muslim – in their differing goals, both of which are as valid and sought after by an individual Muslim.
The fundamental fact that needs recognition is that both worldviews do exist, even within the foundational formulas of the Islamic faith.