Information on Saudi Arabia Population: 28,686,633 Capital: Riyadh Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. 80% of the land is unpopulated desert.
Islam is an Arabic word meaning “peace”, "surrender" or "submission." A faith that covers approximately one-fifth of humanity. Islam teaches that one can only find peace in one's life by submitting to Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul and deed.
Introduction to Islam They believe in one God, who they call Allah. Muslim people believe that Muhammad was the last prophet and so his words are the final and most important words to live by today. Like Judaism and Christianity that came before it, Islam is a religion of peace, kindness, and forgiveness. They believe in the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book.
Articles of Faith The basic beliefs of Muslims fall into six main categories, which are known as the "Articles of Faith": Faith in the unity of God Faith in angels Faith in prophets Faith in books of revelation Faith in an afterlife Faith in destiny/divine decree In Islam, faith and good works go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough. There are five formal acts of worship which help strengthen a Muslim's faith and obedience. They are often called the "Five Pillars of Islam."
The Five Pillars of Islam Shahada: (Faith): Make a statement of belief that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah. Salat (Prayer): Pray five times a day. Zakat (Giving charity): Muslims must give part of their income (2.5%) for charity, such as helping the poor. Sawm (Fast): Muslims must fast in the daytime during the month of Ramadan. Hajj: (Pilgrimage): Muslims must try to make a pilgrimage (travel) to Mecca at least once in their lifetimes.
How does Religion Affect the Living in Saudi Arabia? No pork products or alcohol, these products are illegal. Homosexual behaviour and adultery are illegal. No importing drugs. No pornographic material or pictures of people wearing inappropriate clothing. Praying occurs five times a day, you will often hear the call for prayer from the mosques. Foreigners are expected to observe and respect. Most businesses and services are closed on Fridays because it is the Muslim day of rest. You are not allowed to try to convert Muslims. The Saudi authorities do accept the private practice of religions other than Islam. Bible is to be used for your own personal use.
Muslims are required to wear modest clothes, and women are required to cover their hair and entire body except for the hands and face when in the presence of unrelated males. Muslims believe this protects women from being stared at and that helps people to give them respect.
A religious police force ensures that people adhere strictly to Islamic laws and dress codes in public.
Women and men cannot socialize together in public, and women must be accompanied by a male relative in public.
Men either shake hands or kiss on the cheeks during a salutation. Women do the same. However, a man and woman who are unrelated do neither.
Marriage and Family Life Marriages are usually arranged, but some people are being allowed to choose. Muslim law allows a man to have up to four wives, though most Saudi men only have one wife. To have another wife, a man must receive the permission of his wife or wives and must provide equally for each. Failure to do this is considered a crime and is punished severely. A Saudi woman does not take her husband's last name as she is legally considered to belong to her own family for life. Families tend to be large and the extended family is quite close. Saudis highly value hospitality to guests. Even if a host or hostess has a domestic staff, it is customary for him or her to personally serve guests.
Each night at sunset, families and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast (iftar). The festivities often continue well into the night. During the holy month of Ramadan all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing. Foreigners are not required to fast; however, they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public. In general, things happen more slowly during Ramadan. Ramadan Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule and shops may be open and closed at unusual times.
School and Work Boys and girls are educated separately in a school that includes both academic and religious studies. Many jobs are not open to women because women are not allowed to mingle with men who are not close family members and they are only allowed to work only in jobs which can be performed by and for women such as education and health care. However, this is slowly changing, and women are beginning to enter all ranks of employment, from skilled labour to professional positions. Men and women have separate workplaces. Female doctors treat women and children; if they treat men, they are veiled.
Recreation Soccer is the national sport, but only men are allowed to play or watch at the stadium. Women are generally not involved in sports and do not participate in most other leisure activities. Women visit other women, go on family outings to museums, playgrounds, and amusement parks, and do volunteer work. Videos are popular among all, but they are often edited a lot. There are no cinemas.