|Unlike many other Arab nations, Syria does not
have a state religion. The countrys constitution guarantees freedom of
worship to all religions. The constitution originally did not mention Islam,
but at the request of the Syrian public, a clause was added that says the
head of state must be Muslim. The current government wants to keep religion
and politics separate.
Muslims make up 90% of the Syrian population. Islam,
the religion of Muslims, originated in Arabia in 6th century. Islam means
submission to the will of Allah (God). The Quran is the holy book of Islam.
|Muslims believe that Allah revealed himself to his prophet Mohammed. They observe five practices known as the five pillars of Islam. The shahada is the profession of faith: There is no God but God (Allah) and Mohammed is his prophet. Salat is the requirement to pray five times a day: at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. Zakat is the giving of alms to the poor. Saum is the requirement to fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic year. Finally, hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims must make at least once in their lives if possible, which may include a stop in Medina to pay respects at the Prophets grave.||
|There are two main forms of Islam:
Sunni and Shiite. In Syria, 78% of the Muslim population is Sunni Muslim.
Syrian Shiites may be members of the Alawite or Ismaili sects. There is
also a special sect called Druze. The Druze live in southern Syria. They
follow a religion that is similar to Islam, but contains elements of Christianity
Christians make up about 10% of the Syrian population. They include Armenian Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Assyrian Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox and the Assyrian Church of the East. There are also small communities of Roman Catholics, Protestants and Uniates (a religion that unites Orthodox and Roman Catholic practices).