Islam as a religion has various practices that enable its followers to worship God as they believe he is to be worshipped. In this sense, you may like to focus on the five pillars of Islam which are talked about above and also the Quran, which is the Islamic sacred scriptures. These contain the essential nature of Islam and what it means to be an adherent of this religion.
Friday is the public prayer day. Maybe that's not the best way to phrase it, but Fridays for Muslims are like Sundays to many Christians - a day to visit the holy house, mosque, temple, church, etc.
To comment at the most general level on "how Islam is practiced" we might say that Islam is practiced in public, in private, and in the hearts of men and women as all religions are.
The specific cultural mores which are mandated and/or outlined by Islam are probably what you are looking for though...in which case funeral rites, worship practices, the arrangement of the mosque (interior: men on one side, women on the other side), and rules of diet might each offer more specific lines of inquiry for you.
While I have never had the opportunity to travel in Muslim countries or discuss this with Muslim women, my impression is that many Muslim women would maintain that the beliefs of Islam determine specific roles and responsibilities that give shape to actions of Muslim women. Not all Muslim women see some of what goes on in the Muslim culture in the same way that Western women interpret things, and there are differences of opinion and interpretation within the wide range of Islamic countries and traditions. Some Muslim women find the burqa demeaning and oppressive; some find it liberating and a protection against unwelcome advances.
Post three gives the basic pillar of Islam. However, I would add that there are lot of cultural variations as well. For example, most people would find that the most populous Muslim country is actually Indonesia. Hence, there will be some Asian influence.
With this stated, I would say that one of the most important elements of Islam is the idea of submission. All Muslims would agree.
To be clear, freedom for women is limited in some predominately Muslim countries. There is no sweeping generalization that covers 1.4 billion people in dozens of countries.
It should also be mentioned that Islam is overwhelmingly a religion of peace. Due to 9/11 and the War on Terror, and understandably so, America and the West have become preoccupied with the stereotypical association of Islam with terrorism. Wahabi Islam, as practiced by al-Qaeda, the Taliban and others, is a fringe group of radical Muslims. The vast, vast majority of Muslims worldwide view al-Qaeda like we in America view the KKK (who claim to be Christian). It's a very important distinction to make. How big of a social injustice would it be if the Muslim world was to characterize every American Christian as a violent, radical, insane white supremacist?
I'm a little puzzled by the second answer, since it seems to be the case that freedom for women is indeed limited in Muslim countries. There may be theological explanations and justifications for such limitations, and from an Islamic perspective they probably make perfect sense. I'd be interested to know, however, how it's possible to claim that no limitations exist. I'm not trying to start an argument here; I'd just be interested in more information.
Muslims are supposed to follow the Five Pillars of Islam. These include:
- Giving charity -- a certain percentage of income.
- Praying five times a day.
- Giving the public confession of faith that there is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet.
- Going on pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.
- Fasting during Ramadan.
Of course, the five times a day prayer is the one that affects daily life the most. Other things affecting daily life among devout Muslims would be the ban on alcohol and on pork.
Fasting in lunar month of Ramadan is one of the pillar of Islam as given in post 3.
Quran deals with the subject in various verses like 2:183-185, 187 and a part of these is being reproduced hereunder:
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you,
As prescribed for those who preceded you –
That you may be reverent:
For a certain number of days….
The month of Ramadan is one in which was sent down the Quran,
A guidance for mankind,
And clear proofs of guidance, and the discrimination.
Then let him amongst you
Who is present in this month fast therein. …
The rest of 2:184-5 & 187 deal in detail with the concessions, duration of fast and conduct during fasting.
Modesty is also one of the fundamental feature of Islamic society as quoted from Quran hereunder:
Say to the believing men that they cast down their eyes and restrain their appetites.
This is purer for them, and God knows what they do.
And say to believing women that they cast down their eyes and restrain their appetites and disclose not their ornaments except what is (usually) apparent thereof and they let fall their covering over their bosoms;
And that they show not their ornaments except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their fathers-in-law, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, or their women, or what their right hand possesses, or their followers from amongst the men who are not inclined to women or boys who are not aware of the secrets of women,
and they strike not (the ground) with their feet in order to make known their concealed ornaments;
And turn towards God, O ye who believe! altogether that you may succeed.
And there is no gender discrimination as can be seen in Quran 4:124, 16:97 and 74:38 as for as spiritual reward is concerned.
It is not for Muslims to practice the message of God (Quran) as practiced by His prophet Mohammad but to make this message reach the whole human race.
This is a message unto all mankind,
And they may be warned therewith,
And they may know that He is the only ONE GOD
And that those possessed of understanding may remember.
As said in the posts 9 & 19, the life hereafter is one of the fundamental beliefs in Islam. Every Muslim has to take care of his/her deeds all the time and be God fearing.
O ye who believe! Reverence God and let a soul look to what it sends forward for the morrow,
And reverence God.
Surely God is aware of what you do.
And be not like those who forget God so that He causes them to forget their own souls.
They are the people who are disobedient.
Not alike are the companions of the fire and companions of the garden.
The companions of the garden are the people who triumph.
Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain thou wouldst surely have seen it falling down;
Breaking up in God’s fear.
And these are parables We set forth for mankind that they may reflect.
But most of the Muslims have forgotten what they are required to do.
A life without fear of God leads to sin and disobedience, while believing that we have sinned so much that God will not possibly forgive us only leads to despair. In light of this, Islaam teaches that: only the misguided despair of the Mercy of their Lord. Additionally, the Holy Qur'aan, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains a great deal of teachings about the life hereafter and the Day of Judgement. Due to this, Muslims believe that all human beings will ultimately be judged by God for their beliefs and actions in their earthly lives. In judging human beings, Almighty God will be both Merciful and Just, and people will only be judged for what they were capable of. Suffice it to say that Islaam teaches that life is a test, and that all human beings will be accountable before God. A sincere belief in the life hereafter is key to leading a well-balanced life and moral. Otherwise, life is viewed as an end in itself, which causes human beings to become more selfish, materialistic and immoral.
Well said Najm
It is not only that a Muslim should be safe but the whole human race is to be protected:
For this reason have We Prescribed for the children of Israel
That he who kills a person without the latter being guilty of killing of another
Or doing evil in the land,
Then his action is such as if he had killed all mankind.
And he who saves one life is as if he had save all mankind.
And most certainly Our messengers came to them with clear proofs,
Most of them, surely, even after that act wastefully in land.
Islam is peace and justice for all irrespective of his cast, colour or religion.
Islam considers a woman to be equal to a man as a human being and as his partner in this life. Women have been created with a soul of the same nature as man’s. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
"O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever and All-Watcher over you." (Al-Nisa 4:1)
“The Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe. The Muhajir is one who migrates from what Allah has prohibited.”Hadith
The Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe. This is because true Islam is submission to Allah, perfecting servitude and establishing His rights and the rights of the Muslims. Islam is only perfected by loving for the Muslims what one loves for himself. This in turn can only come about if he saves the Muslims from the evil of his tongue and hand because this is the core and essence of this obligation. How can someone who does not save the Muslims from his tongue and hand establish the obligation of loving for them what he loves for himself?