Page:A short guide to Syria (1943).djvu/13

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hammed only His prophet. The religion is called Islam and the people who follow it are called Moslems. There are five fundamental principles of Islam:

1. One God, and Mohammed the PROPHET.
2. Prayer five times a day.
3. Giving of alms.
4. Fast of Ramadan.
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca.

Moslems pray five times a day no matter where they are at the moment of prayer. They bow in the direction of Mecca in Arabia, the holy city of the Moslems. At the mosque (mosk) they bow in prayer which consists of reciting passages from the Koran, which is their Bible. Giving of alms is a religious practice.

All true Moslems observe a month of fasting called Ramadan. This period is similar to our Lent. In 1942, Ramadan begins September 12. In 1943, it will be about 2 weeks earlier. During this period the Moslems do not eat, drink, or smoke between sunrise and sunset. Do not offer them food, or ask them to drink or smoke except after dark. Respect all hesitations or refusals without persuasion. Any drawing of blood at this time is to be avoided. Even an accidental scratch or nosebleed inflicted on a Moslem by an unbeliever may have serious consequences. Remember that the Moslems' tempers are short during the strains of this month. They cannot be expected to work efficiently. So go easy on them. Respect the observance of their holiday.

Steer clear of mosques. Never smoke or spit near a mosque. To repeat a warning— avoid any kind of religious discussion or argument. After all, we are fighting this war to preserve the principle of "live and let live."

Mecca. The fifth important ritual of Moslem religion is the pilgrimage to Mecca. So vital is this to Moslems that the railroad from Damascus to Mecca, in Arabia, started in 1901 and completed in 1909, was built entirely from subscriptions by the faithful from all over Islam to make