Muslims Worldwide Mark Holy Events

 This issue of Saudi Arabia magazine appears at a particularly joyous time of year for the world's more than one billion Muslims. Islam is based on five pillars: shahadah (profession of faith), salah (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting) and Hajj (pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Makkah). During the current Islamic year of 1420, the last two pillars are observed by Muslims between December 1999 and February 2000.
Ramadan, the month during which the first verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, is the time that Muslims dedicate to fasting. All healthy Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and all sensual pleasures from sunrise to sunset as a means of focusing on the spiritual aspect of life and becoming familiar with the plight of those less fortunate. During Ramadan, which this year corresponded to December 9, 1999, through January 7, 2000, Muslims participate in many religious activities, such as performing extra prayers, going to mosques, making donations to charitable organizations and performing the Umrah, the voluntary pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Makkah.
In addition to being a time of prayer and religious devotion, Ramadan is also a joyous time for Muslims. Throughout the month, Muslims gather with families and friends for fatur, the meal for breaking the fast, and during the evening hours. At the conclusion of the month, Muslims observe the Eid Al-Fitr, three days of celebrations that are marked by new clothes, toys and gifts for children, banquets and gatherings of friends and families.
In addition to being a time of prayer and religious devotion, Ramadan is also a joyous time for Muslims. Throughout the month, Muslims gather with families and friends for fatur, the meal for breaking the fast, and during the evening hours. At the conclusion of the month, Muslims observe the Eid Al-Fitr, three days of celebrations that are marked by new clothes, toys and gifts for children, banquets and gatherings of friends and families.
The other holy time of the year for Muslims is during Hajj, the pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Makkah. Obligatory for Muslims whose health and means allow it, the Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. The rites of the pilgrimage are based on those performed by the Prophet Muhammad in his last visit to Makkah. More than two million Muslims from throughout the Kingdom and the world gather in Makkah every year to achieve what is considered to be the spiritual high point of their lives. Eid Al-Adha, the conclusion of the pilgrimage, is celebrated by Muslims throughout the world as a day of festivities and joy.
During the Hajj and on special occasions in Ramadan, such as Friday prayers and Laylat Al-Qadr, the night on which the first verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, as many as 1.5 million Muslims perform prayers at the Holy Mosque (photo, cover). These occasions bring into sharp focus the spiritual nature of Islam, a religion that advocates equality, benevolence, compassion and peace.
 

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