Islam dates back to the 7th century and originated in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Islamic faith is based on the Qu’ran which Muslims believe is the direct word of God as given to his prophet Muhammad. (Rajaram & Rashidi, 2003). According to Rajaram and Rashidi (2003), Islam “exerts a significant influence on daily social practices such as health, food, language, values, beliefs, customs, etc.” (p.88) through the adherence of the five pillars of Islam as well as other major concepts.
The five pillars of Islam are:
Shahada: Muslims believe there is one God, Allah, and that Muhammad was his last prophet.
Salat: Muslims have the responsibility to pray five times a day for about 15 minutes. Cleanliness is required for prayer.
Siawm: Muslims are required to fast from sun rise to sun set during the month of Ramadan in order to purify themselves physically and spiritually.
Zakat: Muslims grow in purity as they give alms to the poor in order to encourage social justice and an equal distribution of wealth.
Hajj: Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least one time in their life. (Rajaram, & Rashidi, 2003)
Other major concepts which affect the daily lives of Muslims are:
Hejab: Modesty is central to the social interactions of Muslims. Muslims must not reveal or discuss private parts of their body with the opposite gender. Men and women alike are required to lower eyes to the opposite gender.
Hadith: Community, family bonds and physical and emotional closeness are important. Allah will reward those who visit the sick.
Hallal (lawful) or Haram (unlawful) consumption of food: Alcohol and pork are prohibited. Muslims believe the body is a gift from God therefore any substances that are harmful to the body should not be ingested.
Men and women who are not related are prohibited from being alone or having physical contact of any kind. (Rajaram & Rashidi, 2003)
Rajaram, S. S. & Rashidi, A. (2003) African-American Muslim women and health care.
Women & Health, 37(3), 81-96.