Islamic Practices

Muslims live their faith by performing the Five Pillars of Islam. The shahada is the Muslim declaration of faith that proclaims the belief in the oneness of Allah (tawhid) and that Muhammad is his prophet (rasul). Salat is the performance of ritual prayers each day (usually five times for Sunnis and three times for Shi’a) facing toward Mecca. Zakat is paying an alms tax to benefit the poor. Sawm is the practice of fasting during the month of Ramadan, which is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Finally, hajj is the pilgrimage that every able adult Muslim should undertake to Mecca at least once in his or her life. Dietary restrictions include prohibitions on pork, blood, carrion, and alcohol, and all meat must come from herbivorous animals slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Christian, or Jew, thus making it halal, or permissible. While most Muslim communities adhere to a form of Islamic law (sharia), Islam’s decentralized leadership allows for a variety of interpretations.