The Mosque

Mosques are places for the Muslim faithful to gather and worship God. The mosque has no idols, nor images and no visual representations of Allah – which is the Arabic name for the One God – nor of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Before entering the prayer hall of a mosque, all persons are to remove their shoes. Separate areas in the mosque are allotted for men and women.

Both men and women’s attire should be modest and decent according to the norms of the society they live in. Some mosques provide temporary scarves and cloaks for non-Muslim women. Guests can sit or stand along the side of the prayer hall, but they should not walk in front of a person who is praying. Taking photographs in the mosque is allowed, but prior permission should be obtained from a mosque official.

Worship

Muslims perform salat (their ritual prayers) five times in a day. These times are known in advance and can be found in all mosques in Singapore or obtained from the Singapore Muslim Religious Council (MUIS).

Optional supplications can be said at any time and in any language. Ant clean place can be used for prayer. Attendance at Friday prayers, which are said at midday, is compulsory for adult males, and these are occasions for the exposition of the teachings of the Holy Qu’ran in the form of a sermon.

Festivals

Hari Raya Haji is also known as Aidil Adha. On this day Muslims remember the sacrifice of the son to Abraham, Ishmael (Ismail). To commemorate this event, Muslims sacrifice goats, sheep, cattle or camel and distribute the meat to the poor, friends and family. It is also an occasion to mark the Hajj (end of the pilgrimage to Makkah). Eidil Fitri (Hari Raya Puasa) marks the end of the period known as Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, in which there is abstinence from food, drink, smoking and marital sex from dawn to dusk.

In the Muslim world, one of the most important events is the celebration of the mawlid al-nabi, the anniversary of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on the 12th month of Rabiul Awwal. Central to these celebrations is the recitation of a mawlid (panegyrical poem) followed by a standard sequence of introductory praises of God, an invocation and an account of the life of the Prophet and is practiced throughout the Muslim world. Most Muslim countries e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, mark this occasion with a public holiday.

Other events include the date of the first revelation of the Qu’ran (nuzul qu’ran), and the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to the city of Yathrib, which was later named Madinah. The Muslim lunar calendar is marked from the date of this historic migration called the Hijrah. The Muslim calendar of 12 months begins with the month of Muharram and ends with Dzul Hijjah. The New Year is commemorated with special prayers for God’s blessings.

Diet

Ideally halal food has to be tayyib (wholesome and healthy), and prepared with utensils that have not been in contact with haram (forbidden foods), which could include pork and blood, and with drinks containing alcohol. Muslims are forbidden to eat meats that have been ritually dedicated to things, or beings. Most Muslims are concerned that any meat served must be prepared in accordance with Islamic slaughter rites. Generally, Muslims are happy to have vegetarian food that has no alcohol, meat or by-products such as animal gelatin. Such purely vegetarian food can be considered as halal.