Islam, meaning “peace” in Arabic, was revealed through the Prophet Muhammad. The message is recorded in the Quran, which is the holiest book for followers of Islam. Muslims believe in submission to one God (Allah), Muhammad as his messenger, angels of God, holy books revealed to mankind, other prophets (Adam to Jesus), the day of judgment and resurrection after death.
Followers of the faith have five duties (Pillars of Islam) to perform:
- Declaration of faith
- Five prayers daily
- Fasting in the month of Ramadan
- Payment of Zakat (annual charity)
- Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) at least once during their lifetime
Sunni and Shia are the two main schools of Islam. All Muslims follow a code of behaviour that clearly lays out what is Halal (acceptable/permitted) and what is Haram (prohibited/unacceptable) in their daily lives. Islam follows a lunar – Hijri – calendar.
This day commemorates the martyrdom of Hussain, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, in AH 61 (680 CE). Observed for 10 days from the first of the month of Ashura, the event is a time to remember two of Allah’s merciful acts: Noah’s safe landing after the Flood and the Israelites liberation from Egypt under Moses (observance begins at sunset of the previous day)
Birthday of Imam Aga Khan
This day celebrates the birthdate of Imam (spiritual leader) Aga Khan. He succeeded his grandfather as Imam. While in the office of the Imamat, he has been concerned with the well-being of Muslims, especially when faced with challenges. On his birthday, Muslims around the world celebrate and reflect on the work he has done.
This day marks the beginning of Spring.
"The Festival of Sacrifice" is celebrated at the end of the pilgrimage (Hajj). Eid-ul-Adha is celebrated to honour Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael to God. Muslims sacrifice a sheep or a goat and donate the meat to charity to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice. (Observance begins at sunset of the previous day)
"The Breaking of the Fast" celebrates the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. (Observance begins at sunset of the previous day).
This day marks the anniversary of the day that their present (or Hazar) Imam (worship leader) succeeded his predecessor to become Imam of the Time.
Isra’a and Mi’raj
Also called Laylat al Mi’raj, this day commemorates the ascension of the Prophet to heaven. Muslims may attend social prayer services at the mosque, or they may commemorate the holiday privately at home by telling the story to children or reciting special nighttime prayers (observance begins at sunset of the previous day.
"Annual Convention" is the formal, annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community initiated by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the community and claimant to the title of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi of the latter days
"Farewell Friday" is the last Friday of the month of Ramadan and the Friday immediately preceding Eid-ul-Fitr. While not a festival, it is a special day for many Muslims. (Observance begins at sunset of the previous day)
"Night of Power" commemorates the first revelation of Qur'an (Islamic Scriptures) to prophetMuhammad in 610 ce. (Observance begins at the sunset of the previous day)
This day celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (observance begins at sunset of the previous day)
New Year (Hijra)
The first of Muhaarram (first month of the Islamic year) celebrates Hijra (migration) of Mohammad and his followers in 622 CE from Mecca to Medina, where they established the first Islamic community (observance begins at sunset of the previous day)
Nisfu Sha’ban is observed on the fifteenth day of the eighth month (Shaban) in the Islamic calendar. On this day, Muslims observe prayers through a night long vigil, read the Quran and ask for forgiveness.
Ramadan (fasting month)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar and is considered one of the holiest months of the year. Muslims fast (abstain from both food and drink) during the daylight hours and eat small meals and visit the mosque and family at night. It is a time of worship and contemplation, as well as a time to strengthen family and community relationships.
"Day of 'Arafat" commemorates the last revelation to the prophet at Mount 'Arafat shortly before his death. Muslim on pilgrimage (Hajj) visit the Plains of Arafat to commemorate the final revelation received by Prophet Mohammed on Mount Arafat. Pilgrims attend the Hajj service and pray.