Understanding Islam by Christopher Hewer

By Christopher Hewer

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He showed humility in his relations with other people and always claimed only to be the Servant of God. In practical ways, too, he was a role model. He often dressed in white, and so many Muslims now dress in white, especially for prayers. He wore his beard and hair at certain lengths, and so men imitate him in this. He often wore a turban with one end hanging loose, cleaned his teeth with a particular fibrous piece of wood, sat to drink, slept in a certain position and so on; all these actions are imitated by pious Muslims in various cultures around the world.

669) and Husayn (d. 680), were all called ‘under the blanket’ and purified by God. This rendered them the highest of creation and from this family must come the legitimate successors of Muhammad. On the return journey from the last Hajj that Muhammad made, in March 632, he halted the Muslims with him at the oasis of Ghadir al-Khumm. Here he publicly raised the hands of Ali and said that whoever held Muhammad as their leader should regard Ali in a ­similar way. This is held by the Shi’a to be evidence of the divine selection, supported by the action of Muhammad, to say that Ali should be his successor.

This is not compulsory. Many people never make umra, while others perform umra many times in their lives. indd 21 19/1/06 12:51:17 pm  understanding islam The areas surrounding Makka, and the city to which Muhammad migrated to the north, now called Madina, are reserved for Muslims only as they are regarded as the holy places of Islam (Q. 28). Before the pilgrims making the Hajj enter the area surrounding the Ka’ba itself, they are required to take off their customary clothes and wear special garments.

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