- Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith.
- Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day.
- Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy.
- Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan.
- Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca.
Personally I am an atheist, although I am not necessarily anti-religion, but I want to acknowledge that my ruminations on religion are about as valid as someone who is colorblind commenting on art. And I'm certainly not an expert on Islam, but I do have some reflections on my limited experiences in Morocco.
Wherever you are in Morocco you are probably within sight of a mosque. The tall minarets punctuate the landscape, and the call to prayer, or azan, is the first sound of dawn. Islam permeates the daily life of a muslim and is inseparable from Moroccan culture. If I had to delineate the most apparent manifestations of this culture I would site humility, compassion and piety. In addition to the mosques, Muslims pray out in the open, or in a small room of their home. The simple act of getting down on all fours and touching one's head to the ground has a salutary effect that is as much physical as spiritual. Try it, and see if it doesn't pull you out of an egocentric orbit.
The Five Pillars of Islam are:
This video was created by the Moroccan students who hosted our Ithaca students and was shared prior to the trip.
I first went to Morocco in 2012. The experience was transformative for me in many ways. This was the first time I had ever been in a predominantly Muslim country and it was my first exposure to Morocco's rich culture. I was immersed in a flood of new sounds, sights and scents. I was treated with overwhelming hospitality and I ate a lot of great food. When I returned to the U.S. I was determined to find a way to share the experience with some of our students. Five years later I returned with two colleagues and 23 students. This blog is a collection of some of my experiences and reflections during that trip.