Religion in Canada

Islam in Canada

Islam is based on the teachings of Mohammed, a prophet whose teachings are

found in the Muslim sacred book the Qur'an, and the hadiths. Islam's basic belief is that there is only ONE God, who is unique, incomparable, eternal, absolute, perfect, and without peer or associate.

Other important tenets of Islam are:

that God is the Creator of all that exists;

that God sent Messengers to humankind, of whom Muhammad was the last

that the Qur'an is the Word of God;

that humans are responsible to God for their actions; and that, on Judgment Day, an All-Knowing and Merciful God will judge all humans according to their faith, intentions, and deeds in this life.

Muslims accept five primary obligations in life, commonly called the "Five Pillars of Islam."

I - The profession of faith (shahadah): This is a simple statement of the words, "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God."

II - Prayer (salah): Muslims pray five times a day -- at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening -- facing toward the Ka'bah, which is the House of God, in the Great Mosque at Makkah. They may pray wherever they are when prayer-time arrives, in any clean place, preferably in the company of other Muslims. On Fridays at noon, Muslims pray in congregational mosques, or masjids; this weekly prayer is called the Jumah.

III - Charity: (zakah): A fixed proportion (2.5%) of a Muslim's net worth -- not just his or her current income -- is prescribed to be donated for the welfare of the community as a whole.

IV - Fasting (sawm): Every day from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual contact and, even more than at other times, they must also avoid undesirable, or imperfect behaviours.

V - Pilgrimage (Hajj): The journey to Mecca is obligatory once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to make it. The hajj proper is made between the eighth and 13th days of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, and every pilgrim carries out specified rituals at particular times. At any other time of year, Muslims can perform similar prayers and rituals and thus complete the 'Umrah, or "lesser pilgrimage."

In Canada, there are approximately 579,640 Muslims, who belong to one of the two main Schools of Islam -- the majority Sunni School (comprising more than 90% of believers) or the Shia' School. The basic difference between the two is that the Shia' School believes in the necessity for a spiritual leader, hence a religious structure. The Sunni School on the other hand, does not necessarily require such a structure.

Each local Muslim Community, whether Sunni or Shia', has one or more religious leaders (people who have attained formal Islamic education or who are self-taught in Islamic knowledge). This kind of leader is often referred to as an Imam, Director of the Islamic Centre, or Khateeb (one who gives the Sermon, or Khotba).

In Islam, worship is an active part of daily life includes: five obligatory daily prayers (Salaah) performed at dawn, noon , mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. These can be done at home, in the workplace, outdoors, or in a mosque/masjid. One can pray individually or in a congregation. Muslims also attend obligatory weekly congregational worship (Salat-ul-Joma) every Friday at noon. In addition to congregational prayers, a sermon (Khotba) is given during this time. Islamic prayer requires that one first performs ablutions (Wudu) with water, washing the hands and face, wiping the head, and washing the feet. One is also responsible for ensuring the purity of the whole body, the clothing, and ground used for prayer, as well as dressing properly and facing Makkah. Obligatory fasting (Seyam) occurs once a year during Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar Islamic Calendar. Islamic daily fasting, from the break of dawn until sunset, requires complete abstention from eating, drinking, intimate sexual contacts and smoking. The fast is broken at sunset.

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