Islamic Practices
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Islam background

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  • The word Islam means submission to the one true God and His will.(4)

  • One of the major religions of the world. (1)

  • Practice throughout the Middle East, but also in Pakisan, India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United States.(1)

  • Was founded by the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca in the seventh century.(1)

  • `The revelations are compiled and written in the Koran and from the basis for the tenets of Islam.(1)

  • Islam shares some Judeo-Christian beliefs, such as the existence of only one God, and the account of Abraham, and the angel Gabriel.(1)

Five Pillars of Islam

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  • The Five Pillars of Islam are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam.(5)

  1. Shadhadat (profession of faith)

    • Most important principal of Islam. (1)

    • The belief that God (Allah) is the one and only deity and Muhammad is His prophet or messenger. (1)

  2. Salat (prayer)

    • After ritual washings, a Muslim must pray five times a day, facing Mecca, Islam's holy city. (1)

    • The prayers must be said at dawn, immediately afternoon, in the late afternoon, dusk, and at night. (1)

    • All must gather at the mosque for the noon prayer. (1)

  3. Zakat (alms giving)

    • Every Muslim must give a certain percentage of his yearly income. (1)

    • Traditionally that amount given is about two and a half percent of their annual income and is usually done in the month of Ramadan.(1)

    • The payment is believed to purify a Muslim's possessions.(1)

    • The other tax is to support the mullah, who is the religious leader in charge of the mosque.(4)

  4. Sawm ( fasting)

    • During the lunar month of Ramazan (Ramadan) no food or liquid is eaten between dawn and sunset.(4)

    • Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, is honored thus because it is the month in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad.(4)

    • Ramadan is an act of considerable devotion in itself, but when Ramadan occurs in midsummer, the torrid heat makes the denial of even a drop of water an extreme sacrifice.(4)

  5. Hajj (pilgrimage)

    • The last pillar is pilgrimage to mecca, which every Muslim tries to make at least once in his lifetime as the final stamp of his faith.(4)

    • Mecca was both the city of Muhammad's birth and a famous pilgrimage spot long before his birth.(4)

    • The pilgrimage to Mecca serves as a common bond among Muslims all over the world.(4)

Sunni vs Shiites

The difference:


  • The first four caliphs, Mohammed's successors, rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims (8)

  • They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders (8)

  • The Mahdi has yet to emerge into history (8)

Shiites (Shi'a)

  • Only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed (8)

  • The Mahdi, "the rightly-guided one” whose role is to bring a just global caliphate into being has already been here, and will return from hiding (8)

Jihad in Islam

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The Past for Jihad
  • The Arabic word jihad means struggling or striving and applies to any effort exerted by anyone(2).
  • According to Islamic teachings, it is unholy to instigate or start a war(2).
  • For Muslims, the term Jihad is applied to all forms of striving and has developed some special meanings over time(2).
  • Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored nor evaded(6).
  • The Qur'an says, "Jihad is ordained for you(Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike something which is good for you and that you like something which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know"(6).
  • "Forgiveness" and "mercy" are associated with slaying and death in Allah's way in the first verse(6).

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So how has the term Jihad changed?
  • In the case of al-Qaeda, they call themselves Jihadists and they don't mean an inner struggle for peace(3).
  • Today, Jihad is the world's foremost source of terrorism, inspiring a world wide campaign of violence by self proclaimed Jihadist groups(7).
  • Some Jihadist groups are: The International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, Laskar Jihad, Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami(7).
  • Jihad's most ghastly present reality is in Sudan, where until recently the ruling party bore the slogan "Jihad, Victory and Martyrdom"(7)

Link for more information on the past of Jihad

Video about Jihad

Parallels between Islamic Practices and The Kite Runner

"People went to mosques for their ten raka'ts of noontime prayer and then retreated to whatever shade they could find to nap in, waiting for the cool of early evening" (Page 108)
  • This demonstrates the Salat with the noontime prayer that every Muslim must participate in.
"Then I would pray namaz, cook something, eat, read some more, pray again and go to bed" (Page 203).
  • Demonstrates that he prays twice. He prays the namaz, one of the five daily prayers, and then he prays before going to bed.
"The book said part of the reason Pashtuns had oppressed the Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslim and, while Hazaras were Shi'a." (Page 9)
  • Illustrates the great religious divide between the Sunni and the Shi'a Muslims.
"...[Mullah Fatiullah Khan] lectured us about the virtues of zakat and the duty of the hadj..." (Page 15)
  • Zakat and the hadj are apart of the Five Pillars of Islam.


  1. In the book, the narrator questions if there is a God. Why do you think he goes from questioning to believing in God (Allah)?

  2. Do you feel that in a way there is too much required of the Muslim people?

  3. The divide between the Sunnis and the Shi'as causes social divides between the Pashtuns and the Hazaras. Some would say that religion does more harm than good for a society. Do you agree or disagree?

  4. "...You'll never learn anything of value from those bearded idiots." Why do you think Baba takes this attitude towards the Islamic teachings of the mullah?


1. Ali, S. (1995). CULTURES OF THE WORLD: Afghanistan. New York: Times Edition Private Limited.

2. Irshad, I. (n.d.) JIHAD EXPLAIN. Retrieved from

3. Raz, G. (2006, October 30). The War on the Word 'Jihad' Retrieved from

4. Clifford, M. L. (1989). THE LAND AND PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN. New York: Harper & Row, publisher, Inc.

5. Five Pillars of Islam.( 2009, September 08). Retrieved from

6. Banna, H. (n.d.) Jihad Retrieved from

7. Pipes, D. (2002, December 31). What is Jihad Retrieved from

8. History News Network. (22, February, 2011). What Is the Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims--and Why Does It Matter? Retrieved from