Because I am in the Witness Protection Program, I will reveal my name only as Ahmed. I live in Chicago and I am a devout Sunni Muslim. I pray five times a day, or as many times as I can, facing the most sacred site in the world – Mecca. Someday soon, if Allah wills it, I hope to visit the Middle East and make a pilgrimage to Mecca and see the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
Mecca is sacred to me as a Muslim because it is where Muhammad, the great founding prophet of Islam, taught in the early 600’s. He began to teach in 610, and for twenty-three years Allah revealed to him the Quran, the sacred book to all Muslims. I am slowly learning to read Arabic so that I can see the Quran as it was meant to be seen, but in the meantime I still read the English translation. I am almost finished with it, and it has made me even more eager to visit the Middle East.
I am not a very good Muslim, no matter how hard I try to follow the Five Pillars: belief in Allah and the prophet Muhammad, group prayer, tithing, fasting in Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca. I find that often I unconsciously disrespect the ideals I hold dear: that Allah created the universe and that he still sustains and guides it and judges its people. Luckily, I can still attend services at the mosque and pray, because I personally believe that Allah is accepting and not judgmental. I can still fast during Ramadan, the month celebrating Muhammad’s Quran from Allah, and I can still enjoy the Eid-al-Fitr (Feast of the Fast) afterwards.
Incidentally, I just saw the crescent moon – sacred symbol of Islam – rising, and I realized I haven’t prayed at all today. I’d better go do that now…
Boehm, Richard G. “Islam.” World Geography and Cultures. Columbus: Glencoe/McGraw Hill, 2012. Print.
“n00021501–b.” Photograph. Islamic Blog – Articles on Muslims, Quran, Ramadan, Dua, Islamic Issues, Zakir Naik. N.p., 16 August 2011. Web. 10 January 2012. http://islam44.blogspot.com/2011/08/muslims-praying-pictures.html