Followers of Islam are referred to as Muslims of which there are two main groups Sunni, (approx 90%) and Sh'ia, (approx 10 %) worldwide. The difference between Sunni and Sh'ia Muslims are of a historical ideology and political nature. The Muslim community in the Republic of Ireland has approximately 32,500 members residing across the country. Muslims have five main religious duties known as the Pillars of Islam:
1. Belief in one God (in Arabic - Allah) and in Muhammad the Final Prophet.
2. Prayer (Salat) five times a day (before sunrise, noon, late afternoon, sunset, late evening). The prayers are carried out as a form of submission to God. The ritual combines specific movements and spiritual aspects, preceded by ablution (washing). It is also supposed to serve as a reminder to do good and strive for greater causes.
3. Giving to charity.
4. Fasting from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan.*
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (once in a lifetime, for those who are able). The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) around 571 AD. Muslims believe him to be God's final messenger to mankind. Other messengers include Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. The scripture of Islam is the Holy Qur'an, a record of revelations received by Mohammad from God through the angel Gabriel. Muslims believe that God revealed his direct word for humanity to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel and the earlier messengers. The fundamental concept in Islam is the Oneness of God.Mosques may have a minaret, a tower from which the faithful are called to prayer. Muslims can pray anywhere but it is preferable, where possible, to come together in the mosque. Friday midday prayers must be performed in the mosque. This is mandatory for all male adult Muslims except people travelling and the sick. Muslim women may or may not go. Outside the prayer room there will be running water for people to wash before prayer. There may be separate entrances into the mosque for men and women. When you enter a mosque you will be expected to remove your shoes. Muslim men tend to cover their heads for prayer. Women should dress modestly with their head, arms and legs covered. There may be a separate prayer room for women. If women and men pray in the same area the mens' rows are in front of the women and childrens' rows. Some mosques have a religious elementary school where young scholars learn to read and memorise the Qur'an. *Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Islam uses a lunar calendar - that is, each month begins with the sighting of a new moon. Because the lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar used elsewhere, Islamic holidays move each year.
Pork and shellfish are seen as unclean and are forbidden to Muslims. Other meats are subject to ritual slaughter known as halal. In the case of strict Muslims, alcohol is forbidden
Some men and women in the Muslim tradition keep their bodies covered at all times with their faces tilted downwards. Some Muslim women cover virtually all of their bodies apart from the eyes. Removal of any part of her clothing before a male other than her husband may be traumatic for her.
A dying Muslim should be turned to face Mecca (south east). Prayers are said when a Muslim is near death and again after death. When death occurs, all jewellery and any surgical attachments are removed, eyes closed, limbs straightened and the chin is strapped up. The body is ritually washed by a Muslim of the same sex, then covered with white cotton sheets and laid on its right facing Mecca. The remains of the deceased should be interred as soon as possible. Muslims are always buried, never cremated. Only men attend a funeral, even if the deceased is a woman. Muslim graves are raised above the ground to stop people from walking or sitting on them as this is forbidden in Islam. Muslims see death as the end of the present life followed by life thereafter. They believe that everybody will be brought back to life on the day of judgement and, if God wills, be reunited with their families once more. Post mortems are only permitted when legally required.
Generally, it is uncommon for Muslim men and women to shake hands with someone from the opposite sex. When meeting a Muslim woman, only shake her hand if she extends it to you. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet (and also that his mother, Mary, produced him from a virgin birth). For this reason Muslims will generally feel offended when 'Jesus!' or 'Jesus Christ!' is exclaimed.
For further information contact:
Islamic Centre, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14 Tel: 01 2080000