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The Culture of Islam | General Muslim Customs and Traditions

There are over billion of Muslims in the world living in different countries, speaks
different languages but share one common Muslim culture. This culture ingrained
in our common belief that “There is no Lord but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is
His Messenger.”
By Muslim culture, we meant the culture which represents the consolidation of all
the cultures formed by common beliefs and practices. The religious practices and
beliefs of Muslims are centralized around the Islamic religion. Muslim’s literature
is in Prophet’s language that is Arabic and most of this literature is religious.

‘Muslim culture’ represents many distinct Muslim cultural groups such as the
Asian Muslims, the Middle Eastern, the African, the European and the American
Muslims, all of them with their own divergence in customs and traditions. Some
customs and traditions may be more motivated by culture than by religion.
Though, some aspects of their religion or culture are accepted by all Muslims of
the world. Such as, Muslims believe in the Oneness of Lord, the Holy Books, and
all Prophets from Adam to Muhammad (PBUH) without discrimination, and the
Day of Judgment. If we consider Cultural commonalty it includes giving charity, an
expectation to maintain a balance between responsibility to the Creator and to
their fellow man, and focusing particularly on the care, love, and respect for the
elderly and younger. Islam is also seen as an all-comprehensive way of life
relatively strict exclusive religious code because of its focus on balancing personal
and public life.
The universal culture and traditions are based on the Quran and Sunnah while the
variables are based on local customs and traditions of various people living in
different societies. Some general Islamic customs, traditions, and etiquettes are
given below:

o Pronouncing Allah’s name before Eating or Drinking: The announcement of

Allah’s name before eating or drinking has a double purpose. Firstly, as a
recognition of Allah’s countless blessings upon us, and secondly as a
supplication for the continuity and prosperity of these blessings in future. The
Prophet (SAW) has stressed strictly on the obedience to this etiquette in a
number of sayings attributed to him. The Prophet (PBUH) said in one of his
sayings that: Whenever anyone of you eats, he should say: ‘[I begin] with
the name of Allah’. If he forgets, he should then say: ‘With the name of
Allah, at the beginning as well as at the end”.
o Muslim Greetings and Response against it: At the time of meeting a Muslim
should greet his brother with the words: “Assalaam –o-Alaikum”. The
addressees should later respond with the words: “Wa Alaikum Assalaam'”.
These words are indeed a supplication for the addressee for peace and
blessings. As a further etiquette of greeting others, the Prophet also
said: “The young should take precedence in greeting the old, the passer-by
should take precedence in greeting the one who is sitting and the smaller
group should first greet the larger group”.
o Reciting Adhan in the Right Ear of Newly born: Recitation of the Adhan in the
right ear of a newly born personify, on behalf of the parents, that like their
respective physical contributions in the formation of the child, they have also
proposed the communication of their spiritual beings to the child, through the
salvation of Allah’s message.
o Blessing after Sneeze and its Response: A sneeze is a relief from a common
temporary disorder in the human body. After being relieved from this
temporary disorder, a Muslim should thank the Almighty with the words: “Al-
Hamdulillah”. While those present around him, who hear him praising and
thanking the Allah Almighty, should pray for Allah’s mercy and blessings for
him with the words: “Yarhamukallah”.
These were some common tradition and etiquettes that every Muslim around the
world is following. We should try to follow the customs and tradition as
mentioned by Allah Almighty in Holy Quran and the ones Holy Prophet (PBUH)
practically did in his life.
“Thus we have appointed you a mid-most nation, that you may be witnesses upon mankind.” (Quran,

The Islamic Civilization is today and was in the past an amalgam of a wide variety
of cultures, made up of polities and countries from North Africa to the western
periphery of the Pacific Ocean, and from Central Asia to sub-Saharan Africa.


Muhammad The Prophet (622–632 CE)

Tradition says that in 610 CE, Muhammad received the first verses of the
Kuran from Allah from the angel Gabriel. By 615, a community of his followers
was established in his hometown of Mecca in present-day Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad was a member of a middle clan of the high-prestige Western
Arabic tribe of the Quraysh, However, his family was among his strongest
opponents and detractors, considering him no more than a magician or
soothsayer.In 622, Muhammad was forced out of Mecca and began his hejira,
moving his community of followers to Medina (also in Saudi Arabia). There he
was welcomed by the local Muslims, purchased a plot of land and built a
modest mosque with adjoining apartments for him to live in. The mosque
became the original seat of the Islamic government, as Muhammad assumed
greater political and religious authority, drawing up a constitution and
establishing trade networks apart and in competition with his Quraysh
cousins.In 632, Muhammad died and was buried in his mosque at Medina,
today still an important shrine in Islam.
II. The Four Rightly Guided Caliphs (632–661)
After Muhammad's death, the growing Islamic community was led by the
al-Khulafa' al-Rashidun, the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, who were all
followers and friends of Muhammad. The four were Abu Bakr (632–634),
'Umar (634–644), 'Uthman (644–656), and 'Ali (656–661), and to them
"caliph" meant successor or deputy of Muhammad.The first caliph was Abu
Bakr ibn Abi Quhafa and he was selected after some contentious debate
within the community. Each of the subsequent rulers was also chosen
according to merit and after some strenuous debate; that selection took
place after the first and subsequent caliphs were murdered.

III. Umayyad Dynasty (661–750 CE)

In 661, after the murder of 'Ali, the Umayyads, Muhammad's family the
Quraysh took over the rule of the Islamic movement. The first of the line
was Mu'awiya, and he and his descendants ruled for 90 years, one of
several striking differences from the Rashidun. The leaders saw themselves
as the absolute leaders of Islam, subject only to God, and called themselves
God's Caliph and Amir al-Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful).The
Umayyads ruled when the Arab Muslim conquest of former Byzantine and
Sasanid territories were taking effect, and Islam emerged as the major
religion and culture of the region. The new society, with its capital moved
from Mecca to Damascus in Syria, had included both Islamic and Arabic
identities. That dual identity developed in spite of the Umayyads, who
wanted to segregate out the Arabs as the elite ruling class.Under Umayyad
control, the civilization expanded from a group of loosely and weakly-held
societies in Libya and parts of eastern Iran to a centrally-controlled
caliphate stretching from central Asia to the Atlantic Ocean.
IV. 'Abbasid Revolt (750–945)
In 750, the 'Abbasids seized power from the Umayyads in what they
referred to as a revolution (dawla). The 'Abbasids saw the Umayyads as an
elitist Arab dynasty, and they wanted to return the Islamic community back
to the Rashidun period, seeking to govern in a universal fashion as symbols
of a unified Sunni community. To do that, they emphasized their family
lineage down from Muhammad, rather than his Quraysh ancestors, and
transferred the caliphate center to Mesopotamia, with the caliph 'Abbasid
Al-Mansur (r. 754–775) founding Baghdad as the new capital.The 'Abbasids
began the tradition of the use of honorifics (al-) attached to their names, to
denote their links to Allah. They continued the use as well, using God's
Caliph and Commander of the Faithful as titles for their leaders, but also
adopted the title al-Imam. The Persian culture (political, literary, and
personnel) became fully integrated into 'Abbasid society. They successfully
consolidated and strengthened their control over their lands. Baghdad
became the economic, cultural, and intellectual capital of the Muslim
world.Under the first two centuries of 'Abbasid rule, the Islamic empire
officially became a new multicultural society, composed of Aramaic
speakers, Christians and Jews, Persian-speakers, and Arabs concentrated in
the cities

V. Abbasid Decline and Mongol Invasion 945–1258

By the early 10th century, however, the 'Abbasids were already in trouble
and the empire was falling apart, a result of dwindling resources and inside
pressure from newly independent dynasties in formerly 'Abbasid territories.
These dynasties included the Samanids (819–1005) in eastern Iran, the
Fatimids (909–1171) and Ayyubids (1169–1280) in Egypt and the Buyids
(945–1055) in Iraq and Iran.In 945, the 'Abbasid caliph al-Mustakfi was
deposed by a Buyid caliph, and the Seljuks, a dynasty of Turkish Sunni
Muslims, ruled the empire from 1055–1194, after which the empire
returned to 'Abbasid control. In 1258, Mongols sacked Baghdad, putting an
end to the 'Abbasid presence in the empire.
VI. Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517)
VII. The next important rulers of the Islamic empire were the Mamluk Sultanate
of Egypt and Syria. This family had its roots in the Ayyubid confederation
founded by Saladin in 1169. The Mamluk Sultan Qutuz defeated the
Mongols in 1260 and was himself assassinated by Baybars (1260–1277), the
first Mamluk leader of the Islamic empire.
VIII. Baybars established himself as Sultan and ruled over the eastern
Mediterranean part of the Islamic empire. Protracted struggles against the
Mongols continued through the mid-14th century, but under the Mamluks,
the leading cities of Damascus and Cairo became centers of learning and
hubs of commerce in international trade. The Mamluks in turn were
conquered by theOttomans in 1517.

IX. Ottoman Empire (1517–1923)

The Ottoman Empire emerged about 1300 CE as a small principality on former

Byzantine territory. Named after the ruling dynasty, the Osman, the first ruler
(1300–1324), the Ottoman empire grew throughout the next two centuries. In
1516–1517, the Ottoman emperor Selim I defeated the Mamluks, essentially
doubling his empire's size and adding in Mecca and Medina. The Ottoman Empire
began to lose power as the world modernized and grew closer. It officially came
to an end with the close of World War I.
3.Culture and Civilization in light of Hadeeth:
The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization
The Prophet's Sunnah is not only the second source, right after the Qur'an, of
which Islamic Legislation (Shari'ah) flows, but also the second source, again right
after the Glorious Qur'an, of which both knowledge and civilization flow.

Primarily, the Qur'an establishes the bases and principles of legislation, whereas,
the Sunnah provides theoretical interpretation as well as example and practical

The Prophet's guidance as exemplified in the Sunnah guides Muslims to three

basic inseparable aspects of civilization, namely:

1. Civilized Fiqh

2. Civilized Conduct.

3. Civilized Structure.

The Sunnah and Civilized Fiqh

"It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a Messenger from among
themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to purify them, and to instruct them in
the Book and the wisdom - although they had been, before, in manifest error."

This process of teaching the Qur'an and the Sunnah created what we might call a
civilized consciousness, or in other words, the Islamic term Civilized Fiqh.

By this Fiqh it means the science that focuses on elevating man from the abyss of
superficial and primitive perception to the apex of profound understanding of the
universe in general, and life in particular. It revives his stagnant, imitative,
enslaved, whimsical, superstitious, biased, pretentious, and presumptuous mind
and turns it into an active, free, independent, realistic, empirical, tolerant, and
modest one. As a result, it realizes the limits of what he knows and he does not
feel ashamed to say: I do not know or does he feel embarrassed to admit his

Imam Malik commented on this issue saying: Fiqh does not mean that acquiring
much knowledge, rather it is a gift bestowed by Allah on whom He wills. He
further explained: Knowledge is not acquired through learning by heart, for it is a
light that Allah implanted into the hearts. [Note: See jami' Bayan Al-'ilm Wal
Fadlih by Ibn Àbd Al-Barr, pp.20, 25]

Therefore, perception and illumination is much more important than learning by


1. 1 Fiqh of Ayat and Sunnan

2. Fiqh of Knowledge

3. Fiqh of Life

4. Fiqh of the Targets of

5. Fiqh of Virtues of Shari’ah

6. Emphais on the Sublime Ends of Life

7. Following in Religious Matters and Innovation in Worldly Affairs 8. Constructive


9. Man Is Essence Rather than Appearance

10. Sincere Devotion and Adhering to the Islamic Shari’ah as Prerequisites for the
Acceptance of Deeds .

The Sunnah and Civilized Manner

But concerning here,we will discuss Sunnah and Civilised Manner in the light of

Many hadiths prohibit abuse for its negativity and futility.

In agreed upon hadith, Abi Sa'd and Muslim reported on the authority of Abu
Hurairah that the Prophet said: "Do not abuse my Companions. By Allah in Whose
Hands my soul rests, if any of you spent money as high as Uhud mountain in
Allah's Way, he will not be half as near to the piety, generosity and righteousness
of one of them."

Al-Bukhari and others reported on the authority ofÀishah that the Prophet said:
"Do not abuse the dead, for they have reached the rest of what they have done."

Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah reported on the authority of Al-Mughirah that
the Prophet said: "Do not abuse the dead and hurt the living.

Muslim reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:"Do not
abuse the Dahr (Time) for Allah is the Dahr."Abu Dawud reported on the authority
of Zaid Ibn Khalid that the Prophet said:"Do not abuse the cock for he wakes
Muslims for Prayers."

Muslim reported on the authority of Jabir that Prophet said: "Do not abuse fever
for it is blots out the sins of Adam's sons just like what the bellows does to iron."

Regarding good deeds,The Holy Prophet(Saww) said, "Allah does not care about
your looks or fortunes, He cares about your hearts and deeds." [Note: Reported
by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah]

The Holy Prophet(SAWW) also condemned bodyshaming and we should also not
do so. One day Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud climbed a tree and his thin legs were seen by
some of the Companions who were standing under the tree. His legs were so thin
that it made them burst into laughter and the Prophet (Peace be upon him)

"Do you dare to mock him because of his skinny legs: By Allah in Whose Hands my
soul rests, these two thin legs are heavier in Allah's Scale than the mountain of

Holy Prophet(SAWW) commanded Muslims to give charity as it help to build good

moral character and can be a way from abstaining sins:
the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "A man said that he would give something
in charity. He went out with his object of charity and unknowingly gave it to a
thief. Next morning the people said that he had given his object of charity to a
thief. On hearing that he said "O Allah! All praises are for You. I will give alms
again. And so he went out again with his alms and unknowingly gave it to an
adulteress. Then next morning the people said that "He had given his alms to an
adulteress last night". The man said: "O Allah! All praises are for You, I gave my
alms to an adulteress. I will give alms again." So he went out with his alms again
and unknowingly gave it to a rich person. The People next morning said that "He
had given his alms to a wealthy person. He said: "O Allah! All praises are for You, I
have given alms to a thief, an adulteress and a wealthy man." Then someone
came to him in vision and said "The alms which you gave to a thief might make
him abstain from stealing, and that given to the adulteress might make her
abstain from illegal sexual intercourse and that given to a wealthy man might
make him take a lesson from it and spend his wealth which Allah has given him, in
Allah's Cause." [Note: Agreed upon]

Muhammad Bin Qasim:

Muhammad bin Qasim was born around 695 AD. He belonged to the Saqqafi tribe
that had originated from Taif in Arabia. He grew up in the care of his mother he
soon became a great asset to his uncle Muhammad Ibn Yusuf who was the
governor of Yemen. His judgement and skills forced the rulers of that time to
appoint him in state department. He was also a close relative of Hajjaj bin Yousuf.
Because of the influence of Hajjaj, the young Muhammad bin Qasim was
appointed the governor of Persia while in his teens, and he crushed the rebellion
in that region. There is also a popular tradition that presents him as the son-in-law
of Hajjaj bin Yousuf. He conquered the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus
River for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Why Umayyad Caliphate Attacked Sindh?:

There are both long and short term causes for the conquest of India. Arabs had
trade with India and Eastern Asia. The trade was carried through sea route. The
route was unsafe due to the plunder of the Pirates of Sindh. The Arab rebels also
get refuge in Sindh. Thus the Umayyad wanted to consolidate their rule and also
to secure the trade rout. During Hajjaj’s governorship, the Mids of Debal (Pirates)
plundered the gifts of Ceylon’s ruler to Hijjaj and attacked on ships of Arab that
were carrying the orphans and widows of Muslim soldiers who died in Sri Lanka.
Thus providing the Umayyad Caliphate the legitimate cause, that enabled them to
gain a foothold in the Makran, and Sindh regions.

Attack On Sindh:
The Umayyad caliphate ordered Muhammad Bin Qasim to attack over Sindh. He
led 6,000 Syrian cavalry and at the borders of Sindh he was joined by an advance
guard and six thousand camel riders and with five catapults. Muhammad Bin
Qasim first captured Debal, from where the Arab army marched along the Indus.
At Rohri he was met by Dahir’s forces. Dahir died in the battle, his forces were
defeated and Muhammad bin Qasim took control of Sindh. Mohammad Bin
Qasim entered Daibul in 712 AD. As a result of his efforts, he succeeded in
capturing Daibul. He continued his Victorious Progress in succession, Nirun,
fortress (called Sikka), Brahmanabad, Alor, Multan and Gujrat. After the conquest
of Multan, he carried his arms to the borders of Kigdom of Kashmir, but his
dismissal stopped the further advance. Now Muslims were the masters of whole
Sindh and a part of Punjab up to the borders of Kashmir in the north. After the
conquest, he adopted a conciliatory policy, asking for acceptance of Muslim rule
by the natives in return for non-interference in their religious and cultural
practices. He also established peace with a strong taxation system. In return he
provided the guaranty of security of life and property for the natives.

Hajjaj’s Death:
Hajjaj died in 714. When Walid Bin Abdul Malik died, his younger brother Suleman
succeeded as the Caliph. He was a bitter enemy of Hajjaj’s family. He recalled
Mohammad Bin Qasim from Sindh, who obeyed the orders as the duty of a
general. When he came back, he was put to death on 18th of July, 715AD at the
age of twenty.

In history, it was a miraculous that almost entire Pakistan was conquered by a younger skillful
general. Muhammad bin Qasim aged below 20, ruled these territories his pluralist view point.
Because majority of Hindu people would have treated in tolerance and religious freedom.
lthough Muhammad bin Qasim’s rule was according to Islamic shari’a, Hindus were allowed
to rule their villages and settle their disputes according to their own laws and traditional
hierarchical structures such as those of village headmen(Rais), chieftains(Dihwans) were
Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin)

I. Saladin: Courageous and Brilliant

Salahuddin Ayyubi, popularly known in the West as Saladin, was a courageous and
brilliant Muslim leader during the 12th century. His firm foundation in the religion
and its prime values, leading to his commitment to the Islamic cause, enabled him
to accomplish great things.

His Ayyubid Empire united Egypt and Syria. Above all, he played an instrumental
role in turning the tide against the Crusaders by successfully reclaiming Jerusalem
and earned a name for himself in the annals of both Muslim and Western history.

Saladin was born in 1137 AD in Tikrit, Iraq, and studied the Quran and theology
along with astronomy, mathematics, and law. He joined the military as a young
man and was ably trained by his uncle Asad-al-Din Shirkoh, a commander of the
Zengid Dynasty. Saladin’s impressive performance in his early battles enabled him
to take on leading responsibilities during military campaigns. [Click here to read
about Islam’s rules of engagement in war.]

His rise from a soldier to the King of Egypt and Syria was the result of both
cleverly executed tactics and advantageous circumstances. He held key posts in
Egypt, enabling him to consolidate power and overthrow the Fatimids. Syria, at
the time, was ruled by the Zengids; when the Zengid ruler unexpectedly died,
leaving an underage successor, the road was eventually cleared for Saladin to
capture Syria. During his reign, Saladin built many schools, hospitals, and
institutions in his quest for intellectual and civic achievements. He was also
determined to bring justice, peace, and prosperity to those within his domain.

Sh. Omar Suleiman tells us the story of Jerusalem. Can Jerusalem once again be
home to all three faiths, Muslim, Jews and Christians. Once upon a time, they all
lived together in theme. This talk takes us back to Jerusalem to the time Muslim
rule. Watch this brief video to get some answers. This video is produced by 877-
Saladin reconquered Jerusalem from Crusaders

Salahuddin is best known for repelling the Crusaders and reconquering Jerusalem.
He defeated and decimated large numbers of the Crusaders in the decisive Battle
of Hattin in July, 1187. On his way to Jerusalem, Saladin conquered almost every
Crusader city. After a siege, Jerusalem was handed over to him in October of the
same year. Subsequent efforts by the Crusaders to win back Jerusalem were
resisted until they finally gave up and retreated homewards.
Although one would expect Saladin to be hated among the Crusader nations, he
became one of the most esteemed Muslim figures of the medieval Islamic world
because of the generosity he displayed towards the Christians despite the
brutality Muslims had endured at the hands of the Crusaders. When the
Christians had overtaken Jerusalem during the very first Crusade, they carried out
mass atrocities and killings, creating a bloodbath in which the Muslim residents
were the most prominent targets, as graphically documented in the PBS
series Islam: Empire of Faith. In the words of the chronicler of Crusades, Raymond
of Agiles, the massacre was so extensive that the Crusaders “rode in blood up to
their knees and bridle reins.”

When Saladin retook Jerusalem, the Christians waited for a similar onslaught.
However, Salahuddin not only spared the Christians but treated them honorably,
allowing those who wished to leave to do so in peace, and for those who wished
to stay to do so in harmony. Truly, he was a living example of the tolerant,
progressive, and inclusive faith which was so dear to his heart. By showing
restraint and peaceful treatment, Salahuddin was upholding the central tenets of
Islam such as freedom of religion and protection of non-Muslims. [Read
more: Medina Charter of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Pluralism]

The Chivalry of Saladin

Moreover, his chivalrous conduct toward King Richard I, and the mutual respect
which ensued despite their warring roles, won him further accolades in quarters
that could not bring themselves to despise him. “When Richard falls sick at the
siege of Acre in 1192, Saladin not only sends his personal physician Maimonides
over to treat him, he sends ice to help him fight the fevers and certain healing
fruits. When Richard’s horse is killed during battle, and the English king finds
himself on foot facing the entire Muslim army, the Muslims let him walk by their
entire phalanx without attacking. Later, Saladin sends him two fresh mounts so he
will not be at a disadvantage,” wrote Michael Hamilton Morgan in Lost History.

According to the French historian, Rene Grousset, “It is equally true that [Saladin’s]
generosity, his piety, devoid of fanaticism, that flower of liberality and courtesy, which
had been the model of our old chroniclers, won him no less popularity in Frankish Syria
than in the lands of Islam.”
Salahuddin Ayyubi died in 1193 AD at the age of 56. Although he was at the helm of a
vast empire stretching from Egypt to Syria, he himself owned very little. At the time of
his death, his property and assets included a horse and money which was not sufficient
even to bury him. He had devoted his entire life to the service of Islam and his subjects,
avoiding the pomp and splendor which often distract rulers. Indeed, he was the epitome
of a true hero and a devoted Muslim.