the month of Ramadan, and the profession of faith “There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his Messenger”.
Primarily utilitarian, they can be quite beautiful in themselves, and no particular number is required on an individual mosque. The minaret's function is to provide a high place from which the muezzin can issue the calls to prayer five times daily.
In Egypt are found minarets of Turkish, Moroccan, Persian and Egyptian styles.
Islam has become divided in more modern times into two sects: Sunni and Shia. The Egyptians are followers of the Sunni tradition. The chief difference between the two stems from the period after Mohamed's death. Some followers believed the rightful leadership should pass to a member of the Prophet's family and chose Alī ibn Abī Ṭ ālib, his cousin/son-in-law, to be their leader. That group became the Shia Muslims. Others of Mohamed's followers felt that an election should determine the leadership and they elected Abu Bakr as their first Caliph. These Muslims are now practitioners of the Sunni branch of Islam. Through the years other differences have arisen but they are mostly political and cultural. The chief beliefs of Islam are shared by both sects (the 5 pillars), the reading of Koran and the hadith (sayings of the profit), and the celebration of various holidays. There are many more Sunni Muslims than Shia—90% of the world's Muslims identify themselves as Sunni and only 10% as Shia. However, both sects recognize each other as Muslims. An important characteristic that Muslims share with Jews is their belief in one God only; no trinity or “son of god” is recognized in Islam. As a matter of fact, Mohamed cautioned his believers against too much praise and adoration offered to him. He said he was the “slave of Allah only” and not a divine being and specifically asked his followers not to deify him as Christians had done with the “son of Mary.”
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