The Five Pillars of Islam were the original inspiration for having requirements for Mikraites. I would like to reconsider our requirements in the context of the Five Pillars of Islam, and reorder our requirements to conform to this. So let me consider the Five Pillars of Islam in order.
1. Shahada - declaration of faith. Our declaration corresponds closely to this. I think making this first makes sense even if this isn't the first thing someone joining Mikraite would do. It makes sense to be first as the first thing to be read by a visitor, an expression of what we are about.
2. Salat - prayer. We have no corresponding requirement. We could consider adding prayer, but I am against this as a requirement since it isn't required in the Old Testament. Prayer makes sense as a requirement of Islam because Islam is based on submission and prayer is an expression of submission. We are based on Torah/understanding, so our corresponding requirement should be for this. My suggestion would be to add a requirement of reading at least one Old Testament chapter each week. Those who attend meetings do this anyway. Those who don't should at least get some exposure to the Old Testament. This also has a basis in the Old Testament itself which requires reading the Torah to the population every 7 years.
3. Zakāt - charity. We have no corresponding requirement. But helping each other is one of our basic principles, so I think adding this as a requirement would make sense. Muhammad explicitly needed to implement charity because he had a mix of farmers with regular incomes and raiders with sporadic incomes, so income redistribution was critical for his society. In our case, we don't need charity, we need to actively help each more along the lines of helping another Mikraite's "stray ox or donkey" (Exodus 23:4). We could use this section to emphasize the fact that we help each other in business.
4. Sawm - keeping Ramadan. Our Passover requirement corresponds closely to this.
5. Hajj - pilgrimage to Mecca. Our requirement to attend a good religious service once a year corresponds reasonably well with this. In both cases, it is an infrequent event and a kind of pilgrimage out of modern culture.
This leaves 3 requirements - keep the sabbath, dress modestly, and no tattoos. The spirit of the Five Pillars of Islam is to summarize each requirement with one word that represents one concept. Following this, the word "appearance" could be one requirement defined as "Dress modestly and have no tattoos." We had these combined before and it would make sense to combine them again in this scheme as the 6th requirement. That leaves keeping the sabbath as the 7th requirement which makes poetic sense.
I think the 2 additions make a lot of sense, and reorganizing the list to make more sense to Muslims is also a benefit.
I thought more about this since the last meeting. My concern is that our list is getting long, and I think I see a better way to handle this. Right now in the top forum, we have a list requirements followed by threads that are just discussions or at most suggestions. We have no concept of rules that are less than requirements, things that are expected of members but are not strictly required. In religions like Islam and Judaism, most rules fall into this category. So my suggestion is to have a short list of requirements, and a potentially long list of expected behavior. The requirements should be things that reflect our core values.
A good example is the Attend Religious Service rule. This is something that I expect members to do, but it won't make any sense to a visitor to this site, so it doesn't belong in the list of requirements. I think the same is true of a rule to read one Old Testament chapter a week. On the other hand, a rule help each other is core to what we are about, so it makes sense to include this in the list of requirements.
I would like to keep the list to 5 items. To do this and add "help each other", we would need to combine "dress modestly" and "have no tattoos". I would like to discuss this again. Here is the history of this topic:
So in fact we had these combined and I wanted them separated when we had a very short list. Now, with a longer list, I would like to combine them again.
The rules that are expected but not required could be pinned under the list of requirements.
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