Islam - Symbols
Star and Cresent
Contrary to the general public’s thought, the star and crescent is not Muslim in origin, but thought to be from the Ottoman Empire (the Ottoman Empire existed five centuries, and, at the height of it’s power, included the Middle East and parts of North Africa).
The color green also has a place in Islam. It is thought to be Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) favorite color, and it is also found in many mosques. Some people believe that the color green represents vegetation and life. Also, during the Crusades, green was the color that Islamic soldiers used. Some people think that Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) battle banner could have been green with gold trim, but others think that it is black with gold trim. The banner is locked in a chest in the palace of Topkapi.
The Five Pillars of Islam
The Five Pillars of Islam are the five most important acts in the life of a Muslim.
The First Pillar - Testimony of Faith (Kalima)
This simply a declaration, and when you say it is the beginning of becoming a Muslim. All you have to do is say, “I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger,” then you are a Muslim.
The Second Pillar - Prayer (Salat)
This pillar is formal prayer, the most important act of worship. Prayer gathers strength, guidance and peace of mind. It is not boring or mindless, it reminds Muslims of the purpose of life, it refreshes their faith, and keeps their belief in Allah.
The word Bimillah (in the name of Allah) is said before each prayer, and the word Alhamdilillah (thanks to be Allah) is said after each prayer.
The Third Pillar - Fasting (Sawm)
During the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islam calendar), Muslims fast. They do not eat or drink ANYTHING during the daylight hours. They fast so they suppress their desires and remember Allah alone. The month is filled with increased devotion, purity of the soul, body and mind.
The Fourth Pillar - Almsgiving (Zakat)
Every Muslim who’s financial condition is above a specified minimum, they must give a at least 2.5% of his savings to a needy person, a new convert to Islam, or a traveler, or one overwhelmed by debts.
The Fifth Pillar - Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Once in a lifetime, a Muslim who is financially and physically able must travel to Mecca, Saudia Arabia, during Hajj (the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar). Mecca is the spiritual center of the Muslim world because Mecca is where Abraham built the first house of worship. This house of worship is called the Kabba, and is where Muslims face when they pray.
All the pilgrims dress in pure white cloth, are required to supress passion, refrain from ANY bloodshed, and be pure in word and deed.
This pilgrimage is a international conference, where Muslims from all over the world stand equal in the face of Allah. During the ten days of the pilgrimage, several million Muslims come together to make the largest spiritual gathering in the world.