One of the most wonderful things happened to me on Monday. I received an email from a lovely young woman named Brittany, who is studying Religion in Queensland, Australia.
The assignment we have been given is about religion in Australia, so we have to pick any religion and talk about how rituals are carried out in smaller communities. So I was wondering if by any chance you wouldn’t mind answering some questions for me?
I have no idea how Brittany found me, but I was thrilled to be able to be a resources for her. I responded Yes!
The next email from Brittany included her questions. Some of them are redundant, and most of the questions seem like they are formatted from her assignment paperwork. 🙂 I took some time last night to answer her questions, but then I realized that we don’t observe all of the holidays and/or rituals that she is asking about, and I might get some information wrong, so I asked Brittany if I could ask you. She said yes.
Here are the questions and my own answers. Please make comments. Please. Tell me what you do, tell me if I got something wrong. Let’s help Brittany with her research paper. Its due in 2 weeks.
What are the main rituals carried out daily and throughout your life as a Muslim?
The main rituals of daily life are 1. Making Wudu, 2. 5 Daily Prayers, 3. Abstaining from Pork and Alcohol.
Do certain people have to have authority to perform such practices and rituals or can each ritual involved with Muslims be performed in an adherent’s home?
Anyone who is a Muslim can perform these rituals.
In a small community were there might not be a Mosque, how can adherents of Islam continue to practice the rituals (such as funerals, weddings, birthdays, Akikah, Shadada, Ramadan, Id ul-Adha, Al-Isra Wal Miraj, Maulid al-Nabi and rituals such as these) that are required?
The presence of a Mosque is not a necessary element in Islam. 1. Burying the deceased can be performed by a mortuary and the loved one can be buried in a cemetery. 2. Weddings can be performed by a legal representative of the government. It is not necessary to have Muslims present during marriage. 3. Birthdays are celebrated in the home, according to the family traditions. 4. Akikah is not something I am familiar with. 5. Shahada can be performed by yourself. You do not need witnesses to become a Muslim. The only necessity is for converts who wish to travel to Mecca. Travel into Mecca needs special documentation of your religion and at that time, someone would need to seek outside assistance. 6. Ramadan can be observed without a formal religious space. Everything can be done inside a person’s home or even outside. 7. Eid al Adha/Eid ul Fitr – Holidays that can be observed in a person’s home or even outside. If a person is not able to perform the sacrifice for Eid al Adha, there are national charity organizations that will sacrifice on your behalf and distribute the food to the needy. 8. Isra wal Miraj & Maulid al-Nabi are not holidays and are not celebrated. If one chooses to acknowledge these days, they follow the prophet’s example and fast that day.
Are daily and annual rituals required by adherents of Islamic faith in order to stay on their journey as a Muslim? If so how do people in smaller towns with fewer resources perform these rituals?
The only daily and annual rituals are the 5 pillars. 1. Shahada 2. Pray 5 times a day 3. Give Charity 4. Fast during Ramadan 5. Make the Hajj to Mecca. Of these, only the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca is dependent on another person.
As adherents of the Islamic faith do you have a person who is believed to have the authority to perform each ritual? Or can any adherents conduct and perform these rituals?
Any adherents can conduct the rituals.
Have certain rituals, had to be adapted for adherents living in smaller towns so they can still perform the practices? NoIf changes and adaptations have occurred to make it possible for each of these adherents to continue living a Islamic lifestyle, has the original meaning of each ritual diverged from what it was made for – due to living conditions, lifestyle, over time, and people not being able to attend a mosque in their local town?
Is it necessary for a Muslim to attend a mosque regularly to call them self-Islamic?
Islam is the religion; one who follows Islam is a Muslim. Islamic may refer to a book, a painting, architecture or clothing, but not people. If there is a Mosque within reasonable distance and it does not cause the follower hardship, attending the Mosque on Fridays for prayer is mandatory for Men. If it causes hardship, then Friday prayer can be performed by a group of men in a house or in an outside space.
Do adherents of the Islamic faith have to attend a Muslim school? If so what do they do if there is not a school within their local area?
No, Muslim children are not required to attend any special school.
Do you have a mosque in your local area?
Yes, in my city, we have 3 predominant mosques and 2 or 3 smaller prayer spaces.
How do you perform rituals in your everyday life such as praying and how do you perform special rituals such as funerals, weddings, birthdays, Akikah, Shadada, Ramadan, Id ul-Adha, Al-Isra Wal Miraj, Maulid al-Nabi and rituals such as these?
Rituals surrounding Funerals, Weddings and Birthdays are more cultural in nature than religious.
We do not observe Akikah, Isra wal Miraj and Maulid al Nabi.
Ramadan observing is waking for breakfast, fasting all day long, and breaking the fast in the evening. Anything in addition to that is cultural in nature and not specific to Islam.
What is the significance about the marriage, death and the five pillars ritual? Can each of these rituals be carried out by any Muslim if they are living in a town without a Mosque?
The 5 pillars are not a ritual. The 5 pillars are the tenants of faith. These are the hard and fast rules of being a Muslim. Anything else is negligible.
Is the significance of marriage ceremony lost if any Muslim carries out the ritual? If so what is the significance that an Imam or mosque brings to this ritual? And if any Muslim cannot perform this ritual do they have to get someone to come in who has authority?
I was not married in a Mosque. My marriage was performed in a space that was not religious in nature.
Is the significance of departed ceremony lost if any Muslim carries out the ritual? If so what is the significance that an Imam or mosque brings to this ritual? And if any Muslim cannot perform this ritual do they have to get someone to come in who has authority?
No. There is no hierarchy of religious persons in Islam. Any Muslim can perform the rituals.
Is the significance of five pillars lost if any Muslim carries out the ritual? If so what is the significance that an Imam or mosque brings to this ritual? And if any Muslim cannot perform this ritual do they have to get someone to come in who has authority?
Adherents living in rural towns where there is no mosque or Imam can they still practice the rituals Islam? If they can practice this ritual is there a divergence from the original meaning of the ritual in order to adapt the ritual to the facilities and area the adherent (where there is no mosque or Imam due to having a smaller community and smaller town)?