Living Islam

The Most Comprehensive Multimedia Guide to Islam and Islamic Cultures

Introduction

Muslims have a culture which consists of two parts:
  • a common part which they share with other Muslims
  • a part specific to the society or country in which they are living

The Religion

Islam can be said to be based on the Five Pillars of Islam.

Nations

All Muslims are part of the Ummah (the worldwide community of all Muslims) but, due to both religious and cultural reasons, different groups of Muslims have different customs and cultures. Some of these differences are due to religious disagreements within the Ummah. If one looks around the Web, every day one can see religious arguments raging between various Islamic groups. It is regrettable that, sometimes, these arguments flare into violence - something which Islam itself abhors and prohibits. Islam encourages healthy discussion and argument about the religion itself - but this must be reasoned, peaceful discussion and no more.

Symbols of Islam

Byzantium (Constantinople, modern Istanbul) was dedicated to Diana, goddess of the hunt, and the crescent was her symbol. In 330 CE, Constantine rededicated the city to the virgin Mary. Mary's symbol was the star and this was added to the previous crescent. When the Turks took Constantinople, they found many star and crescent flags and adopted it as a symbol of good omen (In 339 BCE, Philip of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) was stopped from conquering Byzantium because his army was spotted due to a bright crescent moon).

The Arabic Language

Anybody who has seen Arabic writing will know that it looks completely different from western writing, which is based on the Roman alphabet. Arabic has its own alphabet and a grammar which is very different from most western languages (the Romance languages). Arabic differs from the Romance* languages in a number of major aspects:

The Islamic Calender

The Islamic calendar is based on Lunar months. A lunar month is the time between successive new moons. As there is not an exact number of lunar months in a solar year (i.e. a Western, 365 day year), Islamic years do not correspond with Western years.

Islamic Sects

What is a sect? The dictionary definition of a sect includes the following:

The Mosque

A Mosque is the place used by Muslims for religious assemblies. However, the mosque is more than just a place for prayer. It is also an educational and social centre.
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