Far from being a once-a-week kind of faith, Islam is more of an all-encompassing lifestyle than just one part of life. Islam's holy texts, including the Quran and the Hadith, include guidance and direction for virtually every aspect of life, from socializing to praying. The daily life of a Muslim is heavily influenced by the words of Allah and the prophets.
Daily prayer is central to the lives of millions of Muslims and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Islam requires its followers to pray five times daily: once in the morning, at noon, early afternoon, at dusk and at night. The prayer is preceded by a ritual washing (called "wudhu") of the hands, arms, feet, legs and head. Muslims may pray anywhere provided they are facing the direction of Mecca, Islam's holiest site. In many Muslim communities, mosque officials use a public address system to call followers to prayer; this is both a reminder and a suggestion to pray with others, which is preferable to praying alone.
Islam urges its adherents to dress modestly at all times, both to discourage showing off one's body and to minimize sexual temptation. Though it is not explicitly required by Islam, Muslim women often wear a head covering called a hijab or a scarf to keep their hair--an often attractive and very feminine trait--from the view of men. Some even wear covering that hides all of the face except the eyes. Muslim men are also encouraged to dress modestly in loose-fitting clothes and to wear a head covering called a kufi.
Islam provides guidance on what daily activities are haram (forbidden) and halal (encouraged and beneficial). For example, consuming alcohol, using mind-altering drugs and engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage are all haram. Alcohol and drugs cloud judgement and remove inhibitions, while infidelity shows disrespect to the sanctity of marriage. Muslims are also prohibited from consuming pork, as pigs are considered dirty animals. Other prohibitions include theft, cheating, greed, showing disrespect to parents (especially mothers) and other family members and being uncharitable to widows, orphans and neighbors.
Interacting with Others
Muslims are required to treat everyone, even enemies, with courtesy and respect. With other Muslims, they offer a traditional Islamic greeting: "As-salamu alaykum," which translates to "Peace be with you." Islam also strongly encourages Muslims to adopt an attitude of forgiveness and forbearance in everyday life, even with strangers. The Quran states that the ideal mindset would enable a Muslim to forgive others instantly, be blind to faults and do good deeds even to those who wrong them. Sharing the Islamic faith is also an important part of living a good Muslim life, provided it is done gently, without pushiness or aggression.
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