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Islam and the 12 Steps

Islam is the youngest and fastest gowing of all the major faith traditions, founded on the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. It does not consider itself a religion but an all-embracing way of life. Much like the 12 Steps, its teachings are a guide or a path for human life.

The word Islam means "surrender" which is a key principle of the 12 Steps which transforms a self-centered focus to an other-centered focus through a process of surrendering to a set of principles and a power greater than the individual self. This resonates with the practice of Islam through which a Muslim surrenders to God.

Central to Islam is the belief, "There is no god, but God (La ilaha illa'llah)." This is the same God (Allah) who was revealed to Abraham, Moses and the Jewish prophets and whom Jesus called, God the Father. In the 6th century God returned to reveal Himself once again through the prophet, Muhammad. He received Divine revelation for twenty-three years which was recorded in the Qur'an, (Koran) the Islam holy book, which Muslims believe is the living word of God. Islam does not regard itself as a religion, but a set of beliefs and actions which create a way of life. Much like the 12 Steps, its teachings primarily provide guidance on most aspects of life.

The Five Pillars of Islam

The Five Pillars define the proper relationship to be maintained between man and God and represent the way of Islam:

  1. Recitation or Testimony of the Shahadah:
    There is no god but God (La ilaha illa'llah)
    Muhammad is His Messenger (Muhammadan rasulu'llah)
  2. Daily prayer of Salat:
    Muslims are required to pray five times a day. Some prayers are said silently, some aloud. During each prayer time Muslims move through the postures of standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting on their heels while reciting one or more units (rak'a) of prayer.
  3. Almsgiving or Zakat:
    The compulsory annual giving of a portion of one's holdings to those in need. Muslims are required to give 2-3% of their earnings to the poor.

    "Whatever alms you give shall rebound to your own advantage provided that you give them for the love of God. And whatever alms you give shall be paid back to you in full: you shall not be wronged...Those who give alms by day and by night, in private and in public, shall be rewarded by their Lord. They shall have nothing to fear or regret." Koran 2:272-274

  4. Fasting or Sawm: During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual relations from sunrise until sunset.

    "You who have believed, fasting is decreed for you as it was for those who came before you, with a view to a deep sense among you of devotion to God....When anyone, of his own free will, outdoes what is enjoined that is certainly to his own good. For when you fast, you do good to yourselves, did you but realize it." Koran 2:183-184

  5. Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Ka'ba
    All Muslims must make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca during their lifetime. For them, Ka'ba which is a cubical building in the center of the Great Mosque at Mecca, is the holiest place on Earth which was found by Abraham and his son, Ishmael. The pilgrimage is completed with a ritual circumambulation of the Ka'ba.

    "We made a House (Ka'ba) a resort and a sanctuary for mankind, saying: "Make the place where Abraham stood a house of worship." We enjoined Abraham and Ishmael to cleanse our House for those who walk round it, who meditate in it, and who kneel and prostrate themselves....Abraham and Ishmael built the House and dedicated it, saying: "Accept this from us, Lord. You are the One that hears all and knows all."

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