While the religion of Islam is perhaps not as concerned with sacred objects as its Abrahamic counterparts, Judaism and Christianity, Muslims consider some items as sacred, especially Islam's holy book, the Quran. Islam was founded in the seventh century amid a largely pagan culture on the Arabian peninsula. The text of the Quran as well as the Prophet Muhammad aimed to distinguish this new religion from pagan beliefs and worship of talismans and statues, known as idolatry. Worship of anything or anyone except God is a grave sin in Islam.
Muslims consider their book, the Quran, to be the literal word of God. The book is so sacred that Muslims follow specific rules in handling and reading it. The Quran states, "This is indeed a qur'an Most Honorable, In Book well-guarded, which none shall touch but those who are clean." The word "clean" sometimes is translated as "purified," which means that ablutions must be performed before touching the book. In Muslim homes the book usually sits on a pedestal stand or in a clean, uncluttered area. It is never allowed to fall on the floor or sit on a shelf underneath other books.
The Ka'aba and Black Stone
The Ka'aba is a sacred Muslim shrine in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, toward which all Muslims pray. The cubical structure, called the House of God and believed to be constructed by the prophet Abraham, contains a black stone believed to have been given to Abraham by the angel Gabriel. Muslims circle the Ka'aba during their pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj, which is required of all Muslims who are able to make the journey. Pilgrims who are able to approach the meteorite stone kiss it in recognition of its sacred qualities.
The Prophet's Belongings
The Prophet Muhammad, considered in Islam to be the last prophet and transmitter of God's exact words of revelation, is seen as the leader of Islam and a model for Muslim behavior. Muslims distinguish between Christian worship of Jesus and the reverence they show for their own prophet, stating that only God can be worshiped. Nonetheless, they remember him daily in their prayers. Meanwhile, artifacts believed to have survived from the Prophet's household have been carefully preserved and are treated as sacred objects. They are housed in the Topkapi Museum in Turkey.
Members of the Sufi sect -- which is an offshoot of Islam popular especially in North Africa and Pakistan -- erect shrines to its Sufi saints and other holy men, such as the Zawiya shrine of Moulay Idris I in Morocco. Sufis' attachment to shrines and burial sites of revered saints is not as pronounced as that of Catholics, for example, but its shrines are considered to be sacred and sometimes house objects belonging to a particular saint. Sufis gather at these shrines to meditate and pray while remembering a saint or important spiritual leader.
- The Noble Quran: Surat Al-Waqi'ah, 56:77-79
- Sunnah.org: Conditions of Handling Quran
- The Free Dictionary: Kaaba
- Sky and Telescope: Meteors that Changed the World, The Black Stone of the Kaaba; Bradley Schaefer
- The Sacred Trusts: Pavilion of the Sacred Relics
- Oxford Islamic Studies: Sufism
- Sacred Sites: Morocco, Moulay Idris I
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