Published on January 29, 2008
Islam: Islam Rites of Passage Revision Birth Rituals: Birth Rituals Always Tickle And Kiss Babies dhAna khaniT qqiAah nKtiha illsmBai Adhan: Adhan A new baby is welcomed into the ummah as soon as it is born. The adhan (call to prayer) is whispered into the baby’s right ear. It begins “Allahu Akbar” - God is great. The iqamah (the command to rise and worship) is whispered in its left ear, sometimes using a hollow reed or tube. The word “God” is the first word a baby hears. Tahnik: Tahnik Touching the lips of the baby with honey or sweet juice or pressed dates. Accompanied by prayers for the welfare of the child. This symbolises making the child sweet, obedient and kind. Aqiqah: Aqiqah When the baby is seven days old, its head is shaved. The equivalent weight of the hair in gold or silver is given to the poor and needy. This brings blessings on the child. Even if the baby is bald, a donation is still given, which is usually well above the weight of the hair anyway. Sacrifice The sacrifice of an animal is the ancient ritual of thanksgiving. Two animals are offered for a boy and one for a girl. The meat should be distributed among the poor and needy. Khitan: Khitan Naming The choice of names is very important to a Muslim. The name “Abdul” means “slave of”, and should be followed by one of the 99 names of Allah. Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin at the end of the penis. It is the practice of all those submitted to Allah, known through the revelations of the earliest prophets. Usually done at the same time as aqiqah. Bismillah: Bismillah As soon as a child is able, he or she begins to learn the Qur’an. At the age of four or five a Bismillah ceremony takes place. A senior relative, or perhaps the Imam, invites the child to recite surat al-Fatihah and to write the alphabet in Arabic. The successful child feels happy and proud. After this, the child learns how to perform wudu, and begins to have proper lessons in Islamic studies. Marriage: Marriage Mothers Never Quit Weddings aMhr iaNkh u’arnQ aWilam Mahr: Mahr It is obligatory for men to pay dowries to each of their wives, which remains the property of the wives. If, at a later stage, the marriage broke down, the wife could seek to divorce a husband unwilling to let her go, if she returned the mahr. If the husband divorced his wife, she would keep the mahr. Many women, therefore, are glad when a large dowry is negotiated, if they fear the marriage might end in divorce. Nikah: Nikah A nikah is a contract drawn up between the husband and wife before the wedding. Qur’an: Qur’an A truly Islamic wedding is a simple affair, and the bride does not even have to attend. If she chooses, she can send two witnesses of her agreement. The ceremony consists of readings from the Qur’an, and the exchange of vows in front of witnesses for both partners. No special religious official is necessary, but often the Imam is present. Walima: Walima This is the wedding party given for friends and family. It usually takes place either at the wedding or within three days of it. There is a sumptuous meal, and sometimes families go to enormous expense and invite hundreds of guests. Guests give money, the value of which is carefully recorded; presents of similar value are expected to be given when their relatives get married in turn. The party is a cultural matter and is not part of Islam. Ostentation and expense is opposed to the spirit of Islam. The main reason for the walima is to make public the fact that the bride and groom are now legally married and entitled to live together. Death Rites: Death Rites Slowly Go To See Beautiful Funerals hSaadhah hsuGl ayammTum hruoSd irBual uanrFel eparyr Shahadah: Shahadah Muslims hope to be surrounded by their loved ones when they die; however, even if they are alone, they know that the angels will help them. Those tending the dying should be respectful, tactful and sympathetic. If possible, the bed should be turned so they can be facing Makkah, with feet in the direction of the Ka’aba. It is always considered the best thing if a believer dies with prayer, or thoughts of Allah. “If anyone’s last words are “There is no God but Allah”, he will enter Paradise.” (Abu Dawud) Ghusl: Ghusl When the loved one has died, the eyes should be gently closed and a prayer said. The deceased should be given the final ritual wash. The mortal remains of a Muslim should be treated with dignity, love and respect, and the last services done to them in a prayerful and loving atmosphere. The final washing should be done by family members, male relatives for men, female relatives for women. Tayammum: Tayammum Ghusl is also known as tayammum. If clean water cannot be found, tayammum may be done with sand if available. Martyrs are traditionally buried “with their blood”. In these cases, they are usually shrouded in their clothes. If pilgrims die in ihram, they should be buried as pilgrims, with heads uncovered and faces unveiled. Shroud: Shroud It is not commendable to use expensive materials. Three white winding sheets are used for men, and five for a woman. The shrouding could, however, be two sheets, or even one, provided it covers the whole of the body. The sheets are spread out, one on top of the other, with the final one being the longest and widest. The deceased is lifted and laid on top of them and perfumed with incense. Then the edge of the top sheet is folded over the deceased’s right side, and the other edge over the left side. The second and third sheets are treated the same way. These are all fastened in place round the deceased and only unfastened when he or she is laid in the grave. A woman’s shrouding consists of a loin-cloth to bind her upper legs, waist wrapper to tie it in place, a shift, a head veil (after her hair is plaited, if it is long) and the final winding sheet. Burial: Burial Cremation is not allowed in Islam. People should always stand in respect when a funeral passes. It is more respectful to walk than to ride. The grave should be simple. Extravagance is forbidden in Islam. People should remain standing by the graveside until the person is buried. The grave should reach the depth of a man’s chest, and preferably have a qiblah niche in it. The grave should be orientated towards Makkah. A woman’s body should be lowered in by men in her family, and all bodies are placed in the grave legs first. The deceased are placed on their right sides, with their faces in the direction of Makkah, and supported so that they do not roll over onto their backs. The fastening of the shroud is undone, and bricks, canes, or leaves set in place so that no earth falls on the body. A little earth is sprinkled into the grave, saying, “We created you from it, and return you to it, and from it We will raise you a second time.” (Surah 20:55) Then the earth is heaped over, while the people pray. The surface of the grave should be raised by a hand’s-breadth so that it will be recognised as a grave and not trodden on. The grave may be marked with a headstone, but Muslims should not spend lots of money on a tombstone. Funeral Prayer: Funeral Prayer This is a collective obligation that has to be performed by at least one Muslim. The best person to perform it is whoever the deceased chose personally. After that, preference goes to the Imam or his deputy, the deceased’s father, or grandfather, then son, grandson, or closest male relative. The whole prayer is made standing; there is no prostration as in normal prayer. Now answer these questions: Now answer these questions a) Describe and explain the main rituals celebrating a Muslim birth. (10 marks) b) Explain Muslim teaching on marriage. (5 marks) c) “Muslims should not be afraid of death.” Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer, referring to more than one point of view. Refer to death rites in your answer. (5 marks) Birth Marriage Death References: References “Teach Yourself Islam”, Ruqaiyyah Maqsood, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1994.