17 August, 2008

Two Muslim Practices Explained

29th April 2007

People often wonder what the point of Ramadan is. Ramadan is the month in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. So here is why.

Basically, Muslims are meant to fast so that they don't forget what it feels like to have nothing to eat. It's a means to sympathise, in a very literal way, with the poor. It's indeed much easier to feel sorry and generous towards poor people when you have an intimate experience of what they go through. Keep in mind that in Islam, giving to the poor (charity) is not advisable, it's obligatory. Then, will you ask, why do believers have to be intimate with that experience if whatever happens they must give? I honestly don't know enough about Islam to say, but I figure the exact amount of what you must give is not prescribed for Muslims, and helping others for no other reason than obligation is not very noble. So in a way, the Ramadan makes it more likely for believers to act with real concern.

The second practice I'm about to explain is the 5 prayers. A Muslim must pray 5 times a day. You may think that a prayer is worthless if it is done out of obligation; and I think that a prayer done purely out of obligation is not a valid one according to Muslim standards, but that's pure speculation from me, I'm not quite sure. So you're not only forced to pray, you're forced to really pray. Why? Well here is the explanation. It's easy to live our lives without thinking of God at all. Most of us know that. It is equally hard to consider life in a religious way if God never comes into play during your daily life. The risk is to lose sight of all things religious, God comprised. Thus, the Muslim person is made to pray 5 times a day so that God shares a place in the believer's daily life, and isn't so easily forgotten. That may sound like an admission of weakness from God, but it isn't. As the Koran says, God doesn't need anyone, not you, nor your prayers. The fact that the Muslim must pray 5 times a day is in fact a good thing for him, because it makes it easier for him to believe in his religion since it has a daily occurrence in his life. Faith isn't something you either have or don't have, it is something you must work on like a garden. If you don't water your faith, it'll wither away and die. That's why Christians consider faith a virtue.

PS: I'm no specialist of Islam, I may have been wrong, or partially wrong on some, or many, points.

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