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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Coffee Hour on Street Prophets. This is our communities’ open thread where we can talk about what’s happening in our lives, our thoughts on current events, and anything else that strikes your fancy. I thought it might be interesting today to start the conversation with the Five Pillars of Islam.

The most important practices of Islam are known as the Five Pillars and define actions which support the entire religion.

Shahadah:

The first Pillar of Islam is the profession of faith:

I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammad is his Messenger.
The person who speaks these words sincerely in the original Arabic is a Muslim. These are the first words that a child should hear and the last words that a dying person should hear.

Salah:

Five times each day, Muslims pray together facing the Kaaba in Mecca. The times for prayer are at dawn, just after noon, at mid-afternoon, at sunset, and in the evening. This act is intended to focus the mind on Allah. It a personal communication with Allah, expressing gratitude and worship.

Zakat:  

Muslims has a personal responsibility for easing the economic hardship for others and to eliminate inequality. Zakat consists of spending a fixed portion of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy.

Sawn:

The fourth pillar, Sawn, is the practice of fasting during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations in the hours from dawn to dusk. The old, the sick, young children, and pregnant women are excused from the fast.

Hajj:

All able-bodied Muslims are obligated to make the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca during the during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah at least once in their lifetime, if they can afford it. Hajj is to be an expression of devotion to Allah, not a means to gain social standing. During the pilgrimage, there are no distinctions of class, wealth, or race. All are equal in the presence of god.

Open thread:

This is an open thread. Feel free to talk about what’s happening in your life, what you have been thinking about, and, most important, what’s for dinner?

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:16 PM PST.

Also republished by Muslims at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm only half-joking when I say the reason (12+ / 0-)

    wingnuts fear sharia law is the principle of zakat. Nothing scare a winger more than helping the poor. Especially poor brown people.

    Yeah, yeah, I know sharia isn't Islam, but they sure as hell don't.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:28:02 PM PST

    •  Would You (or Ojibwa) Expand on This? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, Ojibwa, weck, Portlaw
      Yeah, yeah, I know sharia isn't Islam, but they sure as hell don't.

      "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

      by midnight lurker on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 02:32:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good question (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mickT, Ojibwa, weck, Portlaw, midnight lurker

        Islam is a belief system, a religion.
        Sharia is a series of societal rules, many of which pre-date Islam.

        Much like Christianity stamped itself on Roman culture the laws of Rome (many of which we have in our common law today) the same happened when Islam showed up in countries thru out the Middle East and Africa.

        What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

        by ontheleftcoast on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 02:37:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does Your Explanation Reconcile with This? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ontheleftcoast
          Sharia is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Though interpretations of sharia vary between cultures, in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of God—as opposed to the human interpretation of the laws.

          There are two primary sources of sharia law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah.

          --Wikipedia

          "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

          by midnight lurker on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 06:46:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's mostly the latter... (3+ / 0-)

            ...but some of the former.  One of the better examples for shariah predating Islam are most (but not all) of the rites involved in the hajj.  However, the Wikipedia quotation is the better definition.

            Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

            by JDsg on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 07:57:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's one way of defining sharia (3+ / 0-)

            Some Muslims would like to say that only those two sources are accepted for sharia. But it's kind of like saying "All US law comes from the Constitution". Technically you'd be right. However, that ignores the history of English common law, Roman law, or even the code of Hammurabi, that contribute to it.

            And, much like any legal system, it has gray areas that can be abused by certain groups. The Taliban, for example, has decided to follow the most repressive understanding of sharia, in some cases creating whole new rules/punishments far outside what other Muslims accept. In some of those cases they're ancient traditions of the region they "adapted" to Islam. Others are taken from sects like Wahhabism.

            What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

            by ontheleftcoast on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 09:57:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Predating Islam doesn't make it not Islam. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa, JDsg

              There are plenty of precepts laid down in the Torah that almost certainly predate Judaism as an organized religion, but that doesn't make them not Judaism.

              For that matter, something like 90% of Christianity predates Christianity in one form or another.

              •  But it helps explain how some parts (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa

                of sharia, especially the extremist bits as practiced by some groups, aren't really parts of the Qu'ran or even the Prophet's teaching. When a new culture comes into an existing one it's natural for some of the previous culture to implant itself into the new one. Take the many pagan deities through out Europe that were absorbed into Christianity and re-imaged as saints. Strictly speaking that's kind of taboo to Christianity and Judaism. But it was necessary to make the new religion easier to accept for the locals. Are those figures part of Christianity as we know it today? For some Christians, sure. But they're not really "Christian" rather tradition that is accepted or tolerated as part of Christianity.

                What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

                by ontheleftcoast on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:12:04 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't think I can agree with you here. (0+ / 0-)

                  Once something becomes accepted as part of a religion, as distinct from being merely tolerated by it, it is as much part of that religion as anything else -- even if it did not originate with that religion.

                  Seriously, if you take that position to its logical extreme, there isn't anything in Christianity that's "really Christian" except for the specific identity of the Messiah/Son of God.

                  •  Well, only if you want to ignore all the teachings (0+ / 0-)

                    of Jesus, the writings of the Apostles, etc. That whole "New Testament" thing is supposed to be what Christianity is about after all. Much like the Qu'ran is what Islam is about. I'll admit that it's hard to separate the culture from the religion but that doesn't mean we shouldn't recognize there are different influences and sources for the practices.

                    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

                    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 01:17:33 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No, that's what I mean ... (0+ / 0-)

                      If Jesus hadn't been considered the Messiah, then his teachings and the writings about his life wouldn't have been made the basis of a religion -- and the whole concept of a Messiah is Judaic in origin.  Ergo, the specific identity of the Messiah is the only thing that's strictly Christian in origin.

                      Reductio ad absurdum, I know, and intended as such.

                      Anyway yes, there are different influences and sources for any set of religious traditions, and yes it's important to trace things back to their sources.  I just don't see it as useful to insist on a purist approach that only considers things genuinely part of a religion if they can't be traced back any further.

  •  I was also thinking of zakat; (11+ / 0-)

    This will be auctioned in March to benefit Okiciyap Food Pantry and Childrens Center

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/...

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:33:06 PM PST

  •  Beautiful diary----thank you. (8+ / 0-)

    Mayan Word For 'Apocalypse' Actually Translates More Accurately As "Time Of Pale Obese Gun Monsters."......the Onion

    by lyvwyr101 on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:53:53 PM PST

  •  In case people don't know about (6+ / 0-)

    Irshad Manji, she is an extremely brave Muslim woman who speaks out justice, women's rights, and reforms against religious dogma. She get death threats all the time, of course. She's also been on Chris Hayes' weekend shoW on MSNBC.

    She's got a good YouTube channel as well, and of course on YouTube you can receive email alerts when someone posts a new video.

    If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room", I'll be an elitist! - David Rees from "Get Your War On". //"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." - Denis Diderot

    by Oaktown Girl on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 03:39:19 PM PST

  •  Thank you for the diary. eom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, renzo capetti
  •  Both of these are slightly wrong. (5+ / 0-)
    These are the first words that a child should hear and the last words that a dying person should hear.
    The first words an infant should hear is actually the adhan, the call to prayer.  The reason for this is because the very first word an infant should hear is Allah (Allahu Akbar, God is the Greatest).  I did this with my daughter when she was born.

    As for the last words, it's not that the dying person should hear the shahadah, but that he or she should say the shahadah if at all possible.  If they're unable to speak, then someone else may say the shahadah for their benefit.

    All in all, a very nice diary.  I'll be republishing it to Muslims at Daily Kos.

    Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

    by JDsg on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 07:50:08 PM PST

  •  All together, I spent about 18 months (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, JDsg, Diana in NoVa

    In the Middle East.  As one without a formal religion, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed salah.  I took it as a time to sit back and reflect, be quiet...very welcome.

    As for the first call to prayer being at "dawn", I heard an interesting explanation while I was there...and I am sure someone can correct it or elaborate.  When the man making that first call to prayer could distinguish a white thread from a black thread on the back of his hand, that was officially "dawn".  (Still pretty dark as far as I was concerned!).

    There were other definitions of time (beginnings of months, and feasts, for example) that were explained to me as well, but what I found most interesting about all of them was that they were ALL based on natural phenomena.  Not clocks.  Not measured...observed.  Not only was the prayer time a time to slow down and reflect...but it took slowing down and reflecting to even know when it was time to pray.

    Salaam, JDsg.

    "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

    by Bisbonian on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 08:42:29 PM PST

    •  Wa 'alaikum salaam, Bisbonian. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bisbonian, Ojibwa

      Yes, salah is a time for reflection.  As you may have noted, after doing the formal, required salah (or after the optional sunnah prayer), many Muslims will sit down to reflect and pray.  We are told in the Qur'an (62:9) to leave off business during prayer but then, later, we may resume it.  As Ojibwa pointed out in the diary, salah is a time to focus on God-consciousness.

      The white thread/black thread explanation actually comes from a Qur'anic verse (2:187) that deals with fasting during the month of Ramadan.  The verse reads:

      Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint.
      At first, some of the earliest Muslims took this part of the verse literally; some were known to tie white and black strings onto their legs, and would continue eating in the morning until they could differentiate between the two. However, the point was actually being made more metaphorically:
      In one hadith, the Companion ’Adi bin Hatim said, “When the above verses were revealed:  ‘Until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread,’ I took two (hair) strings, one black and the other white, and kept them under my pillow and went on looking at them throughout the night but could not make anything out of it.  So, the next morning I went to Allah's Apostle and told him the whole story.  He explained to me, ‘That verse means the darkness of the night and the whiteness of the dawn.’”
      As for the prayer times all being based on natural phenomena, yes, that is true.  Of course the early Muslims had no clocks to tell time with.  In one hadith, the angel Jibril (Gabriel) took Muhammad (pbuh) out into the desert for two days, showing him how to pray and at what times of the day.

      BTW, the dawn (fajr) and evening (maghrib) prayers are not done exactly at dawn and sunset, but a little bit before and a little bit afterwards.  Muslims guide their prayer times based upon the sun's positioning in the sky, but do not worship the sun itself (astaghfirullah), and we don't want people to think that either.

      Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

      by JDsg on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 11:51:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for all the explanation (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JDsg, Ojibwa

        Last night , after I had written my comment, I realized that I could have looked it up on the internet, and clarified what I had heard.  I got home from those trips by 1992, so of course, I never thought to look it up, then, and never saw a need to later.  So much better just to have it explained by someone with a lifetime experience with it.

        Of course, businesses all shut their doors when the call to prayer rang out, which was always a nice break from dickering over the price of a rug!  On a couple of occasions, though, the shopkeeper said, "just wait here in the shop, I'll be back soon," and rolled the metal garage door down with me inside.  More quiet time.  I was always amazed at the simple trust, too.  I don't think they locked the doors.

        "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

        by Bisbonian on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 05:05:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is such a good diary I wish it could be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, Ojibwa

    republished when Ramadan begins.  I've often admired the principle of Sawn.  There have been times when I've attempted to practice Ramadan myself--never for the whole month, I'm afraid.  I usually last anywhere from one to four days.

    It's a useful exercise for someone like me, who has never known what it is to be truly hungry, day after day.  Experiencing what the poor and powerless feel day after day is an exercise in humility.

    The principle or pillar of Zagat is also praiseworthy.  Christianity also contains such teachings but somehow we don't hear about them much nowadays.

    Thanks for reminding us of the pillars of Islam, Ojibwa.  At one time I was learning Arabic in order to understand more about Middle Eastern culture.  Although I deplore the tribal customs of some peoples who follow Islam (the extreme misogyny for example), there is much to admire about the actual religion.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 05:17:18 AM PST

  •  Salah always thrilled me when we visited Jordan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, Ojibwa

    and Egypt.  I loved the sound of it and do to this day.

    There is something about the Middle East that draws me.  For years I've longed to visit Turkey and Morocco, but we're getting a bit too old to travel.  Still, I'm glad we had the experience of visiting two Middle Eastern countries when we did.  The people we met changed my life and thinking forever.  I wouldn't have missed that for anything.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 05:24:06 AM PST

  •  I am reminded of the line in Pirkei Avot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, JDsg
    Shimon the Righteous [...] used to say:
    On three things the world stands.
    On Torah,
    On service [of God],
    And on acts of human kindness.
    -Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 1:2

    "Service of God" is frequently interpreted as prayer, which stands in for the Temple service.

    I am always struck by how similar Judaism and Islam are.

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