Islam


Almost all Turks profess to follow the teachings of Islam which may be regarded more as a way of living than a religion. In short one can say that the religion and the way of living in a strange way interact. However there are huge differences in the extent to which Turks follow and live up to the many rules, commands and directions of their religion. A rule of thumb is that people in big cities and tourist areas are less strict in their following of the religion than the more traditional people in villages.
Islam was proclaimed by the prophet Mohammed who received messages from Allah (God in Arabic). These messages were written down and became known as the Koran. Islam is based on five pillars of wisdom.
1. Creed: There is only one God (Allah) and Mohammed is his prophet.
2. Five daily prayers: Before sunrise, midday, in the afternoon, before sunset and at night. Prayers are made facing the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. They are called to prayer from the minaret.
3. Ramadan: A 30 day period of fasting in which it is not allowed to eat, drink or enjoy many other pleasures in life between sunrise and sunset. This however does not apply to pregnant women, the elderly, ill people or others for whom fasting could cause damage to their health.
4. Alms: Everyone should donate 2.5% of their annual income to the poor.
5. Pilgrimage: If possible everyone who believes in the Koran should try to visit the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

It should be noted that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk introduced religious freedom in Turkey in 1928. For this reason Turkish schools do not specifically teach students about Islam. This is left to Koranic Schools usually connected to a mosque. By far, most of the mosques are built using donated funds. However the state still pays and chooses the imams. In this way the state can curb the influence of imams from fundamental countries.

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