Articles

At a party to celebrate the birthday of his son my friend, Shoukat invited people of all ages to share the festivities. Shoukat invited also the Imam of the local mosque. Just before cutting the cake, the Imam, to bless the occasion, recited a few verses from the Qur'an and said a prayer wishing the family and the child a long and prosperous life.

Atif was my best friend. Though our religious feelings and ideologies were different, it had not affected our friendship. Many of our acquaintances thought we were brothers or close relatives.

Now, Atif is no longer among the living. He was involved in a fatal car accident. At his funeral, friends, relatives and neighbours paid their respects and offered condolences to the family. After the funeral prayer, his body was buried in the graveyard with respect according to tradition and custom.

The Hajj, pilgrimage, was being shown live on T.V. Pilgrims were walking around the Ka'bah ceremonially. Many of the Muslims were kissing the special stone in one of the walls of this cube-shaped room called Hajr al-aswad, the black stone. It is said that Abraham and Ishmael used this stone to stand on while building the Ka'bah. According to some stories, the stone had the ability to change its shape to help them to build the building. After he finished the task, Abraham put this stone in one wall of the Ka'bah.

I was standing in the queue waiting for a taxi. It was heart-warming to see how politely people before and after me were calmly waiting for their turn. It was a further delight to see that, when my turn came, the taxi driver happened to be someone I already knew. After the customary greetings we were on our way to my destination. Very soon I realised that he was listening to the recitation of the Quran. At my request, he turned the volume up so that I could hear as well. An expert Qari was reciting passages of the Quran in a sweet but firm voice.

The local mosque committee was in an angry discussion with the building contractor. A supervisor made a mistake in his calculations and the direction of the Mehrab, the niche of the mosque, was not exactly in the direction of the Ka'bah in Makkah. Some members were afraid that all their congregational prayers over the past two months had no value.

Very often my friends and I have a conversation on spiritual matters. I know that whenever the prophet of Islam is mentioned, they add honorific words in Arabic, salal lahu alaihe wa salam or, in English, 'Peace be upon him'. They do so because the Qur'an and Ahadith, the traditions advise them to do so. During prayers (and even after) the following is repeated:

 

Prayer is one of the key factors in many religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Prayer is the central pillar of one's faith.

In Islam, prayer is of 2 kinds: Salat and Du’a. Salat is obligatory prayer done 5 times per day, performed at exact times and recited in Arabic, with set words and chapters of the Qur’an as well as set movements that coincide with the set words. Du’a is prayer that can be said at any time and place.

A few young university students were distributing leaflets. Some were talking to fellow Muslim students about the present political and religious situation of Muslims. What Muslims needed, they were arguing, is to go back to Islamic law, Sharia, and work towards choosing a Khalifa, (also known as Caliph) to be the leader of the whole Muslim world. In Islamic terms, Khalifa is the successor of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, and head of the Muslim community. He is addressed as Amirul Muminin, the leader of the believers.

I switched on the Radio. After some music, the announcer said, "This is Asian Sound Radio. If you have just joined us, Greetings, Good morning, Namastey, Sath siri akal, Salam alaikum to you out there." He catered for almost everyone in the community. Like many Muslim friends, most Christians from the Middle East, South East Asia and the Far-East also use the word Salam, Peace, when they meet others.

The Qur'an acknowledges that Jesus is a prophet and the promised Messiah. It affirms that Jesus is God's Word and 'the spirit from Him' (Surah 4:171). Even so, some Muslims believe that Christians are accused of believing that Allah is 'the third of three' and warned: 'Say not three ... Allah is only one God' (Surah 4:172).