Islam teaches that if humans can tame their whims and desires and strengthen their will power by paying attention to the spiritual aspect of their existence and through submission to Allah, they will be able to live the best possible life, both materially and spiritually. To this end, Islam legislates for certain rituals whose essence is spiritual but whose benefits are both spiritual and social.
The aim of all acts of worship is to attain a state of Taqwa. The word Taqwa literally means to guard against or take precaution against something harmful. In the miraculous terminology of the Holy QURAN this is used to mean protection of the self against whatever may be harmful to it, whether individually or socially, both in this world and in the afterlife.
Salat: The Daily Prayers
Salat is the most important act of worship in Islam. It is a means of communication with God and purification of the soul. Muslims are obligated to pray five prayers every day. The time and method of Salat is something set by Divine legislation. The prayer times are set in such a manner as to punctuate the day -during which people may forget or become oblivious- with an injection of spirituality and remembrance. This helps people to keep perspective and to not get caught up in their daily pursuits by reminding them of their responsibilities towards others, their final abode, and their greater purpose.
“Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer; surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do.” (29:45)
To learn more about prayer, and how to pray, click here.
In the Qur’an, Salaat is always coupled with Zakat, a term which literally means growth through purification. In Islamic legislation, this term encompasses the compulsory charity which a Muslim must pay as a percentage of their savings, as well the voluntary charity which is not limited in any way by legislation. This wealth is spent on the orphans, the poor and the needy, as well as projects that benefit the community and society. The struggle to pay charity nurtures the spirit by overcoming selfishness and encouraging compassion, whilst paying the charity nurtures society by protecting the financially and socially vulnerable.
“By no means shall you attain to righteousness until you spend (benevolently) out of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah surely knows it” (13:22)
“…and whatever good thing you spend, it is to your own good; and you do not spend but to seek Allah’s pleasure; and whatever good things you spend shall be paid back to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (2:272)
To learn more about charity in Islam, click here.
Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca
Every Muslim who is financially and physically able is obligated to travel to Mecca at least once in their life to perform certain rituals there. This journey and composition of rituals is called Hajj. Hajj is the most beautiful manifestation of the fundamental Islamic teaching that social and spiritual perfection are interlinked and inseparable. People from almost every corner of the world converge on one place, wear exactly the same clothing, and in a sea of white, move from one ritual to the next, showing their submission to their Lord, together and in exactly the same manner, free from any differentiators and conflicts.
“The pilgrimage is (performed in) the well- known months…and whatever good you do, Allah knows it; and gain provision, for surely the best of provision is Taqwa, and be dutiful to Me, O people of understanding.” (2:197
To learn more about Hajj, click here.
Muslim fast from dawn until nightfall during the holy month of Ramadhan. Fasting is a practice of self-restraint to gain Taqwa. By fasting we learn submission, self-control and empathy with the poor and needy.
“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa (2:183)
To learn more about fasting, click here.
Hijab: Modest Dress
Hijab is an important Islamic practice. It refers to dressing and acting modestly. Men and women are both expected to dress and act in a modest way in order to maintain social and family values.
To learn more about Hijab, click here.
Dietary Restrictions: Halal Food
Muslims abide by certain dietary restrictions and can only consume food and drinks which are Halal. Plant products are all Halal, whilst animal products are only Halal if the animal is slaughtered in a merciful way according to Islamic legislation. Certain animals, such as pigs, cannot be consumed regardless of how they are slaughtered.
To learn more about Halal food, click here.
Abstinence from Alcohol and Drugs
The consumption of alcohol and the use of any substance which impairs the intellect is forbidden in Islam. Muslims are enjoined to avoid these substances, whose devastating social consequences are clear.
“Surely Satan wishes to sow enmity between you through intoxicants and gambling…” (Q 5:91)