One should be mindful not to judge another, as faith is between a person and God. One must always think good of another; it is essential.
We encourage all Benedictine community members – students, staff and visitors – outside of the Islamic faith to review this information to help in our larger mission of promoting mutual respect and understanding for all religious groups represented on campus.
This website serves as a primer on Islam, its traditions and sensitivities. Please note that it represents an overview of mainstream Islam only and that there may be other schools of thought or variations of details within the religion not mentioned here.
- Halala - Zabiha Food: Pork products and alcohol consumption are forbidden for Muslims. Meat consumption in general has some restrictions and the limitations differ from one school of thought to another.
Important Religious Texts
- Qur'an: The Qur’an was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammed verse by verse by the angel Gabriel and memorized verbatim by Mohammed’s companions. It was then compiled by the third Caliph Uthman into the version still in use to this day, which has been memorized cover to cover by hundreds of thousands of Muslims.
- Modesty: Muslims are required to cover their bodies and wear modest clothing. The exact type of dress is left to the individual and the culture in which Muslims live. Modesty is more than just clothing. Muslims should also be modest and humble in their actions and interactions.If a Muslim does not shake hands with you, do not take it personally. It is not a sign of disrespect. It is an acknowledgement of modesty.
Worship, Prayer, and Practice
In Islam, there are Five Pillars. Just as a pillar is used to support a building, the Five Pillars of Islam support our faith. They are:
- Testimony that there is no deity but God: There is no deity but God and Mohammed (peace be upon him) is the servant and the prophet of God. This testimony is called the Shahada.
- Praying five times a day: Muslims pray five times a day – in the early morning, sometime around noon, in the afternoon, in the evening and at night. The timing of each prayer is based on the movement of the sun. Morning prayer must be before dawn, noon prayer around noon, afternoon prayer in the afternoon and before sunset, evening prayer after sunset and night prayer about one hour after the evening prayer. Noon prayers on Fridays are special for Muslims. Friday prayers must be observed in communion.Prayers must be done on a clean surface. The direction (or qibla) one must face while praying one of the five daily prayers is very important. It is based on the location of the Kaaba, Islam's holiest structure in Mecca, which is located in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Those observing a Muslim in prayer should be mindful to avoid talking to the person who is praying and not cross in front of them. The prayer itself can take a few minutes or more depending on the individual. The prayers do not have to be performed at an exact time. They can be done during a window of time. For instance, the period between some prayers may be as short as 1½ to two hours during the winter and can be as long as five hours during the summer. For this reason, Muslim students are advised to make plans ahead of time in order to accommodate their academic schedules and prayer obligations. Wudu (Ablution) occurs prayer, one engages in a ritualized cleansing. This includes washing of the face, hands and feet. So do not be surprised (or judgmental) if you see a person washing his/her feet in the bathroom. Muslims must keep their bodies clean at all times, necessitating minor bathing throughout the day after using the restroom.
- Fasting in the month of Ramadan: According to the lunar calendar, Muslims must fast for one month during Ramadan, abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations. Because Ramadan and other Muslim holidays are based on the lunar calendar (which is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar) most holidays start 11 days earlier each year than the year before.The fast starts before dawn and concludes at sunset. During the summer, fasting can be a challenge as the days are longer and hotter. Since the fast is rigorous, Muslim students or staff members may be tired. Thus, my advice for non-Muslims is to be patient and attempt to withhold eating and drinking in front of those who you know are fasting as a sign of respect. Iftar, which is the breaking of the fast, is a time for fellowship and is often done among a community of friends and family. At the end of Ramadan, there is a three-day celebratory period called Eid ul-Fitr. During this time, Muslims are expected to visit their families, friends, elders and the sick. The first day is particularly important and is recommended for supervisors to give Muslims the day off work, as there is a special Eid prayer in the morning. The second celebration is called Eid ul-Adha, the “sacrifice celebration” where adult Muslims of means are expected to “sacrifice” an animal (a sheep, a goat, a cow, a camel, etc.) for God and share the meat with the poor, as well as their neighbors. In the United States, the sacrificial observance is actually conducted at slaughterhouses by trained professionals. The first day of the Eid is again important for Muslims for they observe a special prayer in the morning and observe the sacrificial responsibility. If Muslims cannot take the full four-day holiday off, it is recommended supervisors allow at least one day off for the holiday.
- Giving Alms to the Needy: Muslims are required to dedicate a portion of their wealth to serve the needy. This amount is 2.5 percent of their annual savings after deducting for necessities such as housing, food and transportation.
- The Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca): All Muslims who can afford to make Hajj (the Pilgrimage to Mecca) are obligated to do so once in their lifetime. They must visit Kaaba in Mecca, which is located in Saudi Arabia, and worship God by performing various rituals in different areas of Mecca. Hajj coincides with Eid ul-Adha. Considering the travel time and the voluntary parts of the worship, the trip takes about 10 days. Students are advised to plan for Hajj during the summer or winter break period to avoid any conflict with study obligations.
In Islam, there are six articles of faith know as "Iman." They are:
- Existence, Names and Oneness of Allah: Muslims believe in one unique God who created the whole universe. He has many attributes, 86 of which are mentioned in the holy book, the Qur’an. To name a few, He is all-powerful, all-merciful, all-compassionate, all-fair, all-wise, all-knowing, the all-creator, etc. He created the Prophet Adam as the first man and human, and then Eve as the first woman. All human beings are created through Adam and Eve.
- Belief in Angels: Angels are created from light and they have no carnal self. They do not have free will like humans do, therefore they have absolute obedience to God. There are millions of angels. They do not have human needs like eating and drinking. They see us, but we do not see them unless God permits. They are not helpers of God, for God does not need help. God uses them as representatives of some orders in the eyes of humans. Four of the biggest known angels are Gabriel, the angel of revelation; Israfil, the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Judgment Day; Mikail, the angel responsible for distributing food among the creatures; and Azrael, the angel of death.
- Belief in the Qu'ran: The Qur’an was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammed verse by verse by the angel Gabriel and memorized verbatim by Mohammed’s companions. It was then compiled by the third Caliph Uthman into the version still in use to this day, which has been memorized cover to cover by hundreds of thousands of Muslims.
- Belief in the Prophets: When humans went astray, God sent thousands of prophets (we only know the names of 25 from the Qur’an) to direct them to the straight path. Muslims believe Mohammed (peace be upon him) is the last prophet and mentioned in the gospel. Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Job, Solomon, Joseph and David (peace be upon them) are all great prophets. The Virgin Mary is honored in the Qur’an and one of the chapters of the Qur’an is named after her. In Islam, it is believed that Jesus was the son of Mary and that he had no father. It is also believed that Jesus was not crucified, but elevated to the heavens by God at the end of his worldly life. Some Muslim scholars believe that on the cusp of Earth’s demise, he will return as the Messiah. Muslims have great respect for Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and they cannot be considered Muslims if they do not believe in their existence.
- Belief in the Day of Judgement: The Day of Judgment is the day when all the bodies are resurrected through the sound of the trumpet of Israfil. On this day, all will provide an account of their lives, revealing both good and bad deeds. Then, God will decide who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. Only God can make this final judgment. He can forgive all sins – except claiming anyone or anything other than God is a deity. Heaven and hell are eternal, but it is possible through God’s mercy that those in hell can later be moved to heaven.
- Belief in Qader: Muslims believe God sees everything, hears everything and knows everything regardless of time and place. He gave free will to humans, and through the revelations in the Qur’an, as well as the Torah and Bible, showed mankind how to live a righteous life (the straight path) and warned against its opposite, the path that leads one astray. God orders humans to stay away from sins and to comply with the rules and regulations provided in the text of the Qur’an. However, humans are free to do whatever they want with the condition that each person will have to give accounts of his or her life on the Day of Judgment. Since God knows the past and the future, He has already written everything that has and will happen in advance. He knows who will go to hell and who will go to heaven. But this does not keep humans from doing whatever they want. Muslims also believe that God sometimes helps and regulates what humans do as He wants through His encompassing will. This is the most complicated issue in Islam and is difficult sometimes for people to grasp it fully. Good or bad, Muslims believe everything is created by God, but humans are asked to do only good and to stay away from the bad.
Ways to Be Involved at BenU
Here are a few classes offered at BenU about this faith tradition. Please visit the Course Catalog for more information and click here to learn about the Interfaith Studies Emphasis.
- HIST 291 History of the Silk Road
- IDS 201 Jesus and Mary in the Qur'an and Bible
- LITR 150 Muslim Women's Literature
- RELS 130 Abrahamic Faith
- THEO 212 Land, Justice and Peace