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Write down five things people ( or even yourself ) commonly think ( maybe in the wrong way ) about Islamic culture . DO NOT WRITE DOWN TERRORISM!. Quiz time!. The answer was B   Christianity is the world�s largest religion. The third largest is Hinduism .

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Writedownfivethingspeople (orevenyourself) commonlythink (maybe in thewrongway) aboutIslamicculture.

DO NOT WRITE DOWN TERRORISM!

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The answer was B  Christianity is the world�s largest religion. The third largest is Hinduism.

The answer was B  Islam began in the Arabian Peninsula in 610 when the prophet Muhammad began to receive his revelations of the direct word of God.

The answer was C  Although the process is simple, the journey is far longer. Muslims are expected to treat converts as if they were born Muslim and to help them with their study of the Koran and progress in the Ummah, or community.

The answer was AZakat is a form of ritual charitable giving in which a Muslim annually gives up a proportion of their wealth. Its central theme is that prosperity and possessions are not really ours to covet; everything ultimately comes from and returns to Allah.

The answer was A  An imam is the leader of prayers in a mosque, not the leader of the mosque itself. They are important community figures but they do not necessarily have any more political sway than religious figures in other faiths.

The answer was C

The answer was B

The answer was A  While Christianity remains the overwhelming largest religion in the USA, there are now an estimated six million American Muslims. Approximately three-quarters of Muslims in the USA are immigrants. 

The answer was A  Sunni and Shia are the two main groups of Islam just as Catholicism and Protestantism represent the two main groups of Christianity. 

The answer was C  Muslims are told to recognise and respect Christians and Jews as the two other members of the �family of Abraham�, the three faiths that believe in the same universal god. But the Koran says they are earlier stages in humanity�s understanding of the divine. Among the many shared figures, Jesus appears in the Koran as Issa and Moses as Moosa.

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MeccaHajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It is the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Hajj takes place in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar and every Muslim who is physically and financially able must perform this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. It is a rigorous journey - a reminder of the purpose of life and man's ultimate end.Before going on pilgrimage, Muslims are recommended to discharge all debts, seek the forgiveness of anyone they have upset and re-establish good relations with all. Muslims believe that if their pilgrimage is accepted, all of their sins are washed away.

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Meeqat and IhramThe Meeqat is an imaginary boundary outside Mecca. It is a place where intentions regarding pilgrimage are purified and pilgrims enter into a state of Ihram. Ihram is the changing of the mental state to that which is most sacred. Pilgrims prepare to communicate with God in what is believed to be the world's most sacred ground.All men wear the same clothing: two sheets of plain white, unhemmed cotton. This dress is a mark of equality between all humans. It is also a reminder of the shroud Muslims wear in death. For the sake of modesty, women do not have to conform to this dress and may wear any modest clothing and may not cover their face.

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UmrahPilgrims first travel to the Kaaba and perform what is called 'the lesser pilgrimage'. They walk around the Kaaba seven times, praising God. Pilgrims then drink from the ZamZam well. This well is believed to be the one Ishmael and Hagar, son and wife of Prophet Abraham, drank from when they were left in the area.Pilgrims then walk between two mountains called Safa and Marwa, which are a distance of around 500 yards apart, seven times. This is again in remembrance of Hagar, who searched between these mountains looking for water for Ishmael, before the ZamZam water was found.

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MinaBefore and after the main Hajj, pilgrims stay in hotels. After the lesser pilgrimage, pilgrims return to their hotels. On the 8th day of the month, they remake their intentions and repeat their Ihram for the main pilgrimage.Pilgrims travel to Mina. This a large area of land a few kilometres away from the Kaaba and is completely tented. Mina is a preparation for the following day. Pilgrims stay in tents, each of which is big enough for about 100 people. The day of Mina is a feast day. Pilgrims meet Muslims from all around the world and spend their time making friends, as well as reciting the Qur'an and remembering God.

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ArafatAt dawn, pilgrims then make their way to the plain of Arafat. Arafat is the most important part of the Hajj. It is a reminder of the Day of Judgement, where Muslims believe mankind will stand on a similar plain, in scorching heat, waiting for judgement. It is also a reminder of another scene on the Day of Judgement. All humans will be grouped together with those of similar belief, just as those in Hajj often group together according to country, city and language.Muslims spend the entire day in Arafat, praying to God and thinking over the purpose of their lives. It is an extremely emotional time.

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MuzdalifahAfter the evening prayers, pilgrims make their way to Muzdalifah, another massive plain. Three million pilgrims spend the night here, under the stars, with no tents or other covering. People stay close to their groups and their guides so they do not become lost in the multitudes of people. Hajj is one of the best examples of how humans regardless of race, sex, language or status, can live without discrimination.The process of the pilgrimage was carried out by the Prophet Muhammad in remembrance of Prophet Abraham. Muhammad performed Hajj only once in his lifetime, despite living in the city.

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JamaraatThe day after Arafat is Eid for the rest of the Muslim world. Pilgrims do not celebrate Eid in the normal way, however, as they have yet to complete the rites of Hajj.After leaving Muzdalifah, pilgrims make their way over to the Jamaraat. The Jamaraat are three tall, stone pillars which represent Satan. The pillars remind pilgrims of the three temptations that were presented to Abraham as he was getting ready to sacrifice his son. Just as Abraham resisted the temptations, pilgrims symbolically reject Satan and all of life's temptations, by throwing pebbles at the pillars.

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SacrificeOn the day of Eid, Muslims must distribute what is known as Qurbani. This is the slaughter of an animal, which is then given to the poor of the community on Eid day. This is done all over the world.Pilgrims traditionally oversaw the sacrifice of their animals themselves, but there are now too many people to do this efficiently. Therefore, Muslims buy vouchers which guarantee that an animal will be sacrificed for them. After the pilgrims have left the Jamaraat, the animal will already have been sacrificed on their behalf and the meat given to the poor.

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ShavingOnce the pilgrim has completed the Jamaraat rite, they cut or shave their hair and in doing so leave the state of Ihram physically. It is recommended that men shave their heads completely, but women need only cut a lock of hair. This is symbolic of being reborn and cleansing the body as well as soul. Pilgrims may now wear normal clothes and wear scent, which they were not allowed to do in the natural state of Ihram.The next two or three nights will be spent at Mina, on each day of which pilgrims will return to the Jamaraat and throw pebbles at the pillars. The time is also spent in praying, reading the Qur'an and contemplating.

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Farewell TawaafThe final act of Hajj is the farewell Tawaaf. Tawaaf is the Arabic word for the circling of the Kaaba seven times. After this, the Hajj is complete. Many people then visit the city of Medina, which became Muhammad's home city. The Hajj is an act of remembrance of the footsteps of the Prophet Abraham who is revered in Islam. Abraham is regarded as the Father of the Prophets, from whose lineage came Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Both Mecca and Medina are extremely sacred lands for Muslims, because of their association with Abraham and Muhammad. It is also a reminder of death, and therefore the purpose of life. 

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The word Islam means 'submission to the will of God'.

  • Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.
  • Muslims believe that Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia.
  • Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
  • Muslims believe that there is only One God.
  • The Arabic word for God is Allah.
  • According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law.
  • Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God.
  • They believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad.
  • Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes, date their religion from the time of the migration of Muhammad.
  • Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Qur'an, and the Sunnah.
  • Muslims believe the Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad and that there are five basic Pillars of Islam.
  • These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca (at least once).
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The Qur'an is the holy book for Muslims, revealed in stages to the Prophet Muhammad over 23 years.

Qur'anic revelations are regarded by Muslims as the sacred word of God, intended to correct any errors in previous holy books such as the Old and New Testaments.

Origin

The Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God in Arabic.

Some Qur'anic fragments have been dated as far back as the eighth, and possibly even the seventh, century. The oldest existing copy of the full text is from the ninth century.

Although early variants of the Qur'an are known to have existed, Muslims believe that the text we have today was established shortly after the death of the Prophet by the Caliph Uthman.

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Contents

There are 114 chapters in the Qur'an, which is written in the old Arabic dialect.

All the chapters except one begin with the sentence Bismillahirrahmanirraheem, 'In the name of Allah the most merciful and the most kind'. This is the thought with which Muslims should start every action.

The longest chapter of the Qur'an is SurahBaqarah (The Cow) with 286 verses and the shortest is SurahAl-Kawther(abundance) which has 3 verses.

The arrangement of surahs does not correspond to the chronological order in which they were revealed.

The Qur'an is sometimes divided into 30 roughly equal parts, known as juz'. These divisions make it easier for Muslims to read the Qur'an during the course of a month and many will read one juz' each day, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

Translations

Translations of the Qur'an exist in over 40 languages but Muslims are still taught to learn and recite it in Arabic, even if this is not their native language and they cannot converse in it.

Translations are regarded by Muslims as new versions of the holy book, rather than as translations in the conventional sense.

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Memorising the Qur'an

At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, books were not readily available and so it was common for people to learn it by heart.

Committing the Qur'an to memory acted as a great aid for its preservation and any person who is able to accomplish this is known as a hafiz.

Respect

The Qur'an is treated with immense respect by Muslims because it is the sacred word of God.

While the Qur'an is recited aloud, Muslims should behave with reverence and refrain from speaking, eating or drinking, or making distracting noise.

Sunnahand Hadith

In addition to the Qur'an, the other sacred sources are the Sunnah, the practise and examples of the Prophet Muhammad's life, and the Hadith, reports of what the prophet Muhammad said or approved.

Both the Hadith and Sunnah must adhere to a strict chain of narration that ensures its authenticity, taking into account factors such as the character of people in the chain and continuity in narration. Reports that fail to meet such criteria will be disregarded.

One famous example is that of the scholar of Hadith literature, Imam Bukhari, who travelled several hundred miles on horseback to acquire a Hadith. When he arrived, he saw the man that knew the Hadith deceiving his donkey into thinking there was grain in a sack in order to induce him to move forward. Imam Bukhari promptly left without approaching the man because he was not willing to allow any individual with a questionable personality to join a chain of narration or contribute knowledge that would define the practice of the religion.

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Writedownfivethingsyouknownowabout Islam thatyoudidn’tknowbeforethisweek.

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Banning the burka

Gavin Hewitt | 08:35 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

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PARIS As I write this blog, a young woman from the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois is breaking the law. Even while she is dropping off her three-year-old at nursery she is breaking the law.

For from today the wearing of full-face veils in France is banned. Overnight the woman from the suburb has become a dissenter. She says no law should tell her what she can't wear. She also believes that her faith trumps French law, and therein lies her problem in an avowedly secular French Republic.

Failure to obey the law could lead to a 150-euro (£133, $217) fine and being sent to citizenship classes. A criminal record might follow.

Perhaps, most significantly, anyone found forcing a woman to cover her face risks a 30,000-euro fine.

The burka or niqais worn by very few in France - perhaps 2,000 women. The Muslim population is estimated at five million. Today - most probably - a few women will be defiant. Protesters against the new law are set to gather close to the flying buttresses of Notre Dame cathedral.

The police have orders to be restrained and respectful. The niqab-wearers, if any show up, will probably today be handed a leaflet. The authorities have printed 400,000 with the message that "the Republic lives with its face uncovered". A few women will see themselves as martyrs for a cause and already have their eye on the European Court of Human Rights. A businessman has offered to pick up any fines.

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This law is about putting down a marker. As I have written before, many European leaders now believe that multiculturalism can lead to parallel, segregated communities. A new emphasis is being placed on minority communities integrating into the society they join, rather than just living as they did before. So Western societies are becoming more assertive about the values they uphold and the ones they expect others to respect.

Jean-Francois Cope, the French MP who has taken a lead over the burka ban, argues that seeing someone's face is key to human beings understanding each other. He sees the law as a step against separation.

The Muslim community is divided. It is made up of many voices and many views. Some believe it is important to become part of modern France. Some support the ban. Some don't. Some Muslim women wear headscarves. Many don't. Some believe that the Koran calls for a woman's face to be covered. Others say that such teachings appear in the works of scholars, not the Koran itself. There are Muslim women running companies; there are those discouraged from leaving their houses. Some wear dark headscarves, some are brightly coloured. A few hide their faces, while others are comfortable with heavy eye-liner and bright lipstick.

Ultimately this is an argument between those who believe that living in France demands that you sign up to certain French values and those who say that tolerance should allow you to dress how you want and to respect religious diversity.

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The law is likely to be largely symbolic. There will be few prosecutions and it will be difficult to prove that a woman is being forced to wear a niqab because of her husband or family. Over time some women will choose not to wear it. Some shops stocking the niqab already say they will discontinue stocking it.

I suspect that this ban will generate a vibrant debate between Muslims. There are indications it has started already. Some say that the full-face veil is not a religious statement. It is purely cultural. Others say that it belongs to a strand of Islam. Others say that the wearing of headscarves is about asserting identity in a Western Europe that can still be frosty towards outsiders. Within traditional families there are daily arguments about how to live in a society that offers so much choice. Freedom can split families, as it has done with other religions.

What the French authorities want to avoid, at all costs, is a confrontation which could turn a debate about the covering of faces into whether the Muslim community is being singled out for special treatment.

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Why I decided to wear the veil

The piece of cloth is much more than material to me- it's my identity.

I am a British Muslim woman, and two years ago I decided to start wearing the hijab (headscarf).

Like thousands of Muslim women across the world - the hijab has become part of me, and I wear it with confidence and pride.

I made the decision to wear the hijab after going on my own personal journey to learn more about my religion, Islam.

The journey started a year before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, but my quest for knowledge accelerated after September 11th when the Muslim community around the world and in the UK were under intense scrutiny by the politicians and the media.

Solidarity

It was then that I decided that I wanted to be a visible Muslim.

I wanted people who walked past me in the street to know that I am a Muslim and that I am proud of my religion, heritage and culture.

In many ways I saw the hijab as an act of solidarity with Muslim women all around the world.

Here I am an educated Muslim woman in the West, and even though I have no idea what it's like to be an Iraqi, Bosnian, Somalian or Palestinian woman, I know that we share an identity through Islam and through the hijab.

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Since September 11th there has been a huge increase in the number of women, particularly young women who started wearing the hijab. And from what the women tell me, most do so by choice.

Walking down most high streets in the UK on a Saturday morning, you are bound to come across a young Muslim woman wearing the hijab, usually in a colour to match her outfit.

On my way to work every morning I can spot a handful of sisters, with their hijabs worn in different styles and in a rainbow of colours.

I have found a great deal of strength through wearing the hijab, and now every hair day is a good hair day as far as I am concerned!

When I see another Muslim woman on the street we always smile, sometime we nod at each other and other times we exchange greetings: Asalaam e-lekumWalikumAsalaam.

Reactions

I find the strongest reaction to my hijab comes when I am outside of the UK.

Recently I was in Cairo where I had arranged to meet a friend of a friend in a coffee shop.

I called her on her mobile and we arranged to meet in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying.

When I arrived to greet her, her mouth opened and her jaws dropped.

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Later in the café she plucked up the courage to ask me why I was wearing the hijab.

I thought this was quite funny; here was an Egyptian Muslim woman living in the Arab world asking a Muslim woman born in the West why she was wearing the hijab.

When I explained my reasons, she seemed to relax and then pulled out her cigarettes from her bag and started telling me about how she viewed the hijab as being restrictive, and that as a trainee TV newsreader the hijab wasn't for her.

Perception

I do think that in the West there is a pre-occupation with the hijab, the burkha and the chador.

I am not in denial; I know that there are massive problems in the Muslim world with equality and rights of women.

But women face problems relating to their gender across the world, be it on different levels.

Within Islam there is a wealth of diversity, the way Muslim women dress differs from country to country, the way a Muslim women wears hijab may also differ.

Islam goes beyond the boundaries of continents, cultures, languages and creed.

Through Islam I feel empowered and have been moved by the beauty and simplicity of wearing the hijab and the direction that it has given me in my life. 

By Shaista Aziz London