Islam 101

by Andrew Stein

Coming from Turkey and now being in Morocco, I feel it appropriate to at least learn some of the basics of Islam as it is now surrounding me. And in order to remember some of what I am learning, I will record a little here. Importantly, there are five pillars of Islam:

  1. Shahadah (Testimony): There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
  2. Salah (Five Daily Prayers): Daily prayers are offered five times each day as a duty towards Allah
  3. Sawm (Fasting): Muslims keep Ramadan, the fasting month by abstaining from food, drink, and marital intercourse from dawn to sunset.
  4. Zakah (Purification of Wealth): Material and monetary obligations to the Muslim community are given to those who can afford it.
  5. Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca): This pilgrimage is to be performed once per lifetime if it can be afforded.

Another central component to Islam is the Qur’an, the sacred book of Muslims who believe its complete text came through revelation. The opening chapter of the Qur’an reads:

“All praise and thanks are due to God, the Lord and Sustainer of all the worlds. Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. You alone do we worship. And You alone do we ask for help. Guide us to the straight way. The way of those whom You have favored. Not those who deserve Your anger. Nor of those who go astray.”

These are just the absolute basics of Islam, but at least it is a beginning and a reminder of the faith of so many of those surrounding me.