By Brian L. Brink
Fardosa Hassan, a Muslim Chaplin from Augsburg University, spoke at Thiel College about the history and culture of Islam on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
As-Salaam Alay-Kum, which translates to peace be upon you, was taught to the audience by Hassan. The response being, Wa Alay-Kum As-Salaam, which translated to may peace be upon you too.
Hassan clarified the difference Islam and Muslim. Islam being the religion and Muslim being the one who submits to God. Then, spoke about how important the Five Pillars of the faith are to Muslims.
The first of which being Shahada, the declaration of faith. Hassan said, this goes to the fundamental beliefs that makes one Muslim; there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.
Next is Salat or prayer, Hassan explained. This one is very important to the life of a Muslim. Before one prays, one must wash as to be clean in the eyes of Allah. They pray five times a day beginning the first time at dawn, then after midday, then mid-afternoon, then sunset, and finally about an hour and a half after sunset. Each time, facing Mecca which is where Muhammad was born.
The third pillar is Sawm also known as fasting. During the month of Ramadan Muslims fast while the sun is in the sky. After the sunsets they break the fast with a meal known as iftar. According to Hassan, the fasting is done as a way of learning self-restraint that will go with them throughout the rest of the year.
The fourth pillar is charity. Hassan said, Muslims practice Zakata where they give 2.5 percent of their savings to help the poor.
The fifth, and last, pillar is the Hajj which is the pilgrimage to Mecca. This is something all Muslims should do at least once in their lifetime. However, Hassan was clear that one must be debt free to make the journey so it is difficult to accomplish.
Islam is also one of the biggest religions worldwide with more than 1.7 billion followers, most of which are in Africa although seven million are in the United States.
It is also the most diverse, in terms of age, religion with the largest number of younger worshipers than any other. According to Hassan, this allows Muslims to be a part of almost every sector of the US. The large number of younger follower is to do with the larger families that is common for Muslims.
She said Islam is monotheistic meaning the followers believe in a single God, or Allah in Arabic. Directly beneath Allah are the angels of heaven, which is a lot like the Christian beliefs. Then come many prophets, four of the main ones being; Adam, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad and their words being revelations.
As in Judaism, Muslims are still waiting on their messiah to come forth. However, Hassan said, something that is different in Islam compared to the other religions is there is a chapter in the Quran named after a woman, that woman being Mary, mother of Jesus. She said this shows how women are seen in high regard within Islam.
Hassan, also, spoke briefly about going to Augsburg University in Minneapolis, where she experienced people of different religions from around the world and realized that her purpose is to bring those religions together.