Question

What is required of Muslims in day to day life and how does this relate to the ummah?

Readings:
Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History, Chapter 3 - Culmination, Pages 81-111
C. Warren Hollister, The Islamic Empire, pages 91-101.

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The notion of the ummah, or the community of Muslims, is central to the Islamic theology and practice. It would be accurate to say that the religion of Islam, on the whole, pays more attention to day to day life and routine activities than Christianity with its stress on inner life and individualism. Therefore, the main duties of a Muslim as reflected in the Five Pillars of Islam are of a practical nature and have a collective dimension.

The Five Pillars embrace the life cycles of a Muslim. They are: “the declaration of faith; prayer five times a day; fasting during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan; charity towards the needy; and pilgrimage to Mecca if possible” (Hollister, 90). As we can see, some of the religious duties are to be fulfilled on a daily basis (prayer), others are done every year (fasting and the giving of alms), while a few are done once per lifetime (pilgrimage). The declaration of faith signifies that a person joins the ummah and becomes a Muslim if one is a convert. Muslims repeat the declaration of faith many times during their lifetime (for example as part of their daily prayers), thus reiterating their commitment to the ummah....

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