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Core Religious Practices for Muslims

Dr Ali explains the core Religious Practices for Muslims
In this video, we are going to look at core religious practices and beliefs in Islam. So what are practices? Why are they Important or distinctive for Muslims? Practices, or religious practices, are a way of showing fidelity to God. Religious practices and rituals also disciplines a Muslim’s day. So, for example, a Muslim who prays five times a day, their day will be revolving around that prayer. They will time their day around those prayer times. Islam is a religion of doing, which is known as orthopraxy. In addition to just belief, which is known as orthodoxy. So it’s not only about beliefs, but fidelity is shown through actions and submitting oneself physically to God.
As far as beliefs are concerned, there are seven articles of faith. These are conceptual beliefs, and they are similar to the Judeo-Christian version of these beliefs. For example, the belief in in the oneness of God. To believe in prophets, so Muslims believe in all of the biblical prophets. To believe in angels, and that angels are God’s helpers who are helping God run the affairs of the world. To believe in all of the scriptures. Muslims also believe in the Torah, the Psalms, and also the Bible. However, they do not believe in the Old Testament and the New Testament, but they believe that there was a core Bible that was given to Jesus Christ, which is now being changed.
Muslims also believe in the concept of destiny alongside freedom of choice, life after death, and Judgment Day. As far as ritual practices are concerned, there are five main ritual practices Or four, because the first one is a Shahada or to believe in God, which is in the seven that we just looked at. The next one is prayer, prayer five times a day. Depending on the season, these prayer times can be quite wide apart, or they can be close because these prayer times are determined by the movement of the sun. So the first one is Fajr, which is basically pre-dawn. And then we have Dhuhr -and you don’t need to remember all of this- which is afternoon, early afternoon.
Then we have Asr, which is late afternoon, late afternoon is when the sun turns golden. And then we have the Maghrib prayer, which is the sunset prayer, which is immediately after sunset. And then we have the night prayer. So these are the five daily prayers, obviously, depending on summer or winter, either they’re all close by. So in the
winter you can have the night prayer at 6:00 p.m.,
whereas in the summer you can have the night prayer at 11:00 p.m. In the winter you can have the
the morning prayer around 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. Whereas in the summer, you can have the morning prayer
something like 2:30 to 3:00 a.m. And then the next one is fasting in the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth Islamic month. The Muslim year is based on a lunar calendar, a lunar calendar is ten days shorter than a solar calendar. And therefore
from one solar point to another solar point it takes the lunar calendar 00:03:57.933 –> 00:03:59.533 thirty years. So Muslims, they fast from dawn until dusk and it’s a way of embodying and feeling and empathising with all of the poor people in the world. Similarly, Zakat is a mandatory tax that Muslims give to all the poor people, providing that they have surplus wealth. So Zakat is basically not on one’s earning, it’s not also on one’s saving, it’s on one’s surplus wealth. And that is roughly around 2.5% every single year. And then there is the Hajj, which is the ultimate journey, making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
It is necessary for those people who can afford to actually do so once in a lifetime. Perfection of faith is to be perfect in faith. Faith is also a part of Islam, and that requires a nexus of relationships, horizontal relationships, and also vertical relationships. So, for example, in the vertical relationship, we have God on one side, and we have the Earth. Meaning that there are certain responsibilities that human beings, Muslims, have towards God and also certain responsibilities Muslims have toward the Earth.
There is a very beautiful saying of the Prophet Muhammad about wastage, and he says that even if you are on the banks of a river, then you are not allowed to use more water than is required for your ritual purification. Similarly, Muslims also believe in the concept of, you know, being good to family and being good to neighbour. So Islam is not only a religion of rituals and beliefs, but also is a communitarian religion. Important differences that a practitioner might see. One of the differences a practitioner might see is that they might see that people have a lot of confusion over the word mental.
Because the moment somebody uses mental, this is that somebody might think that mental is associated with madness. So even if you say mental health, they might basically think that you’re calling them mad. So to be aware of these nuances in the in the vocabulary. Similarly, some Muslims might view mental health issues or problems as a form of punishment from God. And so you, as a practitioner, may also see this. And also, some human beings, depending on their situation, might basically see that this is their destiny. So, for example, a woman who is in a very abusive relationship might have this idea that this is her fate and this is what God has fated for her.
So these are some of the variations that a mental health worker might see. More will be discussed about this, about the impact of mental health in Week 2. Thank you very much.

In this step, Dr Ali explains the core religious practices of Muslims, he explains what these practices are and why they are important to Muslims, describing Islam as “a religion of doing” and not just believing.

These practices are Shahadah (declaration of faith); Salah (five daily prayers); Ramadan (annual month of fasting, based on the lunar calendar); Zakat (charity); Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca, once in lifetime).

Dr Ali describes the importance for Muslims of maintaining their relationships with God, other people (family and neighbours), and the environment, as an Islamic practice and one of the ways in which Muslims embody and enact their faith. Islam is a communitarian religion.

Practitioners will find it helpful to know about these religious practices and their importance in the daily lives of Muslims. In very practical ways they may affect the ways in which Muslims can engage with support services, for example, attending appointments during Ramadan may be more difficult than at other times. Dr Ali then draws out some of the distinctive ways in which Muslims might understand mental health that might be noted by practitioners.

We return to some of the religious practices and beliefs in Week 2, to examine in more detail how they can impact directly on the mental health of Muslims. You may find it useful to refer back to this activity, to remind yourself of what these practices are, and their significance to Muslims, as you work through the course.

In the next step, Dr Ali explains in an article what is meant the ‘Muslim worldview.’

Over to you

Based on your experience, can you share an example of how a religious practice has meant that a Muslim person might engage with mental health support services differently to others?

If you have not yet come across this in your practice, can you consider what you might do if the situation arose?

If you share an experience with another learner, or can give some advice on any issues they have come across, reply to their comment to let them know.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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