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Journals from Traditional and Modern Healthcare in SE Asia

2014-02-07 Discussion with a Muslim Family

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All the women are dressed in Muslim clothing and wearing hijabs.

In the evening, we had the opportunity to dress in traditional Muslim clothes and ask our home stay families about their Muslim religion and their culture. The women wore long dresses with long sleeves and a hijab (head covering) to cover our hair. Islam promotes Muslim women to dress modestly, with their body shape indiscernible and extremities and hair covered, so that they don't attract attention from men other than their husband. Young girls sometimes wear the hijab in public and must wear it to the mosque, while women are required to wear the hijab in public.

Muslims believe that the purpose of existence is to serve Allah (God). The Quran is their religious text and they believe it is God's final word. Islam has five pillars or basic acts that Muslims must do. First, they must swear under an oath that God is the only deity and that Muhammad is God's messenger. Second, they do ritual prayer five times a day. The prayers are made of verses from the Quran and spoken in Arabic. Third, if they have more money than they need, they should give it to charity or the less fortunate. Fourth, they fast from dusk to dawn during the month of Ramadhan. The fasting includes not eating and not drinking. It is done to bring them closer to God and to remind them of the needy. Lastly, every Muslim who is healthy enough and can afford it should make a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca during their lifetime.  

Some prohibited foods for Muslims are alcohol, pork, and blood. When they eat meat, it must be halal, which means that the animal was slaughtered by a Muslim and that the person who did the slaughtering recited a saying that means it was done in the name of God and gives thanks to the animal. The meat must be drained of blood to be halal.

According to the Quran, a man is allowed to have up to four wives and he must treat them equally and without favoritism. Also, the man must get the permission of the first wife in order to marry subsequent wives. However, in this community, the marriages are all monogamous because the women won't allow their husbands to marry second wives. Some of the marriages are arranged and some are not; it depends on the family. Most of the women marry around age 14. 

Kristin Jung

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