Muhammad lived from 570-632 AD. To the Muslims he was the prophet of God. He told them to follow one God. Before everyone was worshipping statues. Muhammad preached to his followers, telling them stories and ways to serve the one God. When Muhammad died it was a great time of mourning for the Muslims. Now in all the Islamic nations the Muslims follow the examples of Muhammad.
Click here for a map of early Islamic regions
To be a Muslim you must believe in and follow the five pillars of the Islamic faith.
Place of Worship (back to top)
Symbol (back to top)
The symbol of Islam is the star and crescent. The crescent is there because the religion of Islam is based on the lunar calendar. The crescent also represents Islam because it marks the beginning of Ramadan.
Clothes (back to top)
In the most traditional Islamic countries/societies (Saudi Arabia and Iran), women wear black dresses that go down to the feet with black veils covering the entire face except for the eyes. Men wear earth-toned tunics either in mosques or in everyday work. Out of religious circumstances women wear loose garments that are modest colors such as gray, blue, white, black and green.
Sects (back to top)
Within the muslim community there are several sects that practice little rights not required in the five pillars if Islam. Two groups that do that are the Shiites and the Sufis. Some things that the Shiites do are self-inflicting damage on themselves, mourning for the prophet Ali's grandson's death. They also dance until their bodies can't stand it and they faint from exhaustion. The Sufi's dance the dance of the dervishes. They do it to get closer to God.
Holidays (back to top)
1. New Year
The First of Muharram marks the New Year.
The date fluctuates (in the Gregorian calendar) from year to year as it
is based on the Islamic lunar calendar.
Ashura is celebrated on the ninth and tenth in the month of Muharram. The word ashura means "ten" and is a time of fasting, reflection and meditation. Jews of the city of Medina fasted on the tenth day in remembrance of their salvation from the Pharaoh. The Prophet Muhammad pledged he would fast for two days instead of one in this same remembrance, but he died the following year and so never fasted as he had hoped.
For many Muslims there is joy in commemorating
all of the wonderful events traditions say occurred on this day, including:
Noah's ark came to rest, the Prophet Abraham was born, the Kaaba was built.
Among Shiite Muslims, it is a day of special sorrow commemorating the martyrdom
of the Prophet's grandson ,Hussain, and his followers at the battle of
Kerbala in Islam's first century. It is commemorated in Shiite communities
with a reenactment of these events and is a time of mourning.
3. Mawlid Al-Nabi
Mawlud Al-Nabi is the Prophet Muhammad's
birthday. It occurs on the twelfth of Rabi Al-Awal of the Islamic calendar.
Speeches are given about the life of the Prophet in gatherings, and dinners
are held. This occasion was not celebrated in the early times of Islam
and is therefore unevenly celebrated today, with great and festive celebrations
in many Muslim countries (i.e. Egypt and Turkey) and none in others (i.e.
4. Isra wa Al - Miraj
Laylat Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj("the night journey and ascension") commemorates the journey of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Jerusalem, his ascension into the seven heavens, and his return in the same night. These events acknowledge that all the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have one and the same God as their source.
On this night, Muslims believe, the Prophet was instructed to establish the five daily prayers in their current form. On this night, Muslims believe, Muhammad prayed together with Abraham, Moses and Jesus in the area of the Al-Aqsa mosque. The rock from which he is believed to have ascended to heaven to speak with God is the one seen inside the Dome of the Rock. Isra wa Al-Miraj as it is sometimes called is celebrated on the twenty-seventh of Rajab of the Islamic calendar.
Laylat Al-Qadr ("the night of power.") falls on one of the last ten days of Ramadan on an odd numbered day (such as the twenty-third, twenty-fifth or twenty-seventh). In the Qur'an, this night is said to be equal to one thousand months and on this night the prayers of the sincere Muslims are certain to be answered.
Eid Al-Fitr is the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Just as festivities begin at the end of each day, at sunset, happiness becomes doublefold when the month of fasting is finally completed and the Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated.
The most elaborate dishes are served at large banquets to which relatives and friends are invited. These colorful celebrations are the climax of the sense of fulfillment that characterize a month of fasting, hardships, increasing affinity among humankind, and between humankind and God.
Eid Al-Adha ("The Feast of the Sacrifice") commemorates Abraham's willingness and obedience to sacrifice his son ,Ishmael, to God (and God's mercy in substituting a lamb for Ishmael). This feast is part of the Haj, and takes place on the tenth of Dhu Al-Hijja of the Islamic calendar. For those on the Haj and for many others, the day begins with the sacrifice of an animal in commemoration of the Angel Gabriel's substitution of a lamb as Abraham's sacrificial obligation. One-third of the meat is given to the poor, with the remainder shared with neighbors and family members. This holiday is then celebrated in much the same way as Eid Al-Fitr - with good food, gifts for children and general merrymaking.
Rabi Al-Awwal commemorates the Hijrah ("migration") of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Medina, and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar in history (622 A.D.).
Yom Arafat falls on the ninth of Dhu Al-Hijja, when people on the Haj are assembled for the "standing" at the plain of Arafat (in Mina near Makkah) during the Haj. Muslims around the world gather at the local mosque (masjid) for prayer in spiritual solidarity with those at Arafat.
8. Laylat Al-Baraa
Laylat Al-Baraa has been translated as "the night of repentance." (Laylat means night). It is the night when forgiveness is granted to those who repent. Muslims believe it is a night when God is setting the coming year's course for each person. It is therefore a time when one asks for God's blessings as well as for any specific request.
New Year: April 17,1999
Ashura: April 26, 1999
Mawlid Al-Nabi: June 26, 1999
sra wa Al- Miraj: November 5, 1999
Ramadan: December 9,1999
Laylat Al - Qadr: January 5, 2000
Eid al - Fitr: January 8, 2000
Ei al - Adha: March 16, 2000
2000 - 2001
New Year: April 7, 2000
Ashura: April 16, 2000
Mawlid Al-Nabi: June 16, 2000
Isra wa Al - Miraj: October 25, 2000
Ramadan: November 28, 2000
Laylat Al - Qadr: December 25, 2000
Eid al - Fitr: December 28, 2000
Ei al - Adha: March 4, 2000