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Pakistani girl's moving explanation of Islam read out in US Senate

WASHINGTON, October 20 (Internews): A Pakistani girl student's letter to
an American senator on Islam and what the religion really means has been
read out by him in the US Senate.

Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada and assistant majority
leader, received a letter from Sanaa Khan, a ninth grade student from
Las Vegas, on the five pillars of Islam.

"So moved was the Senator by what his young constituent had written that
he stood on the floor of the Senate and read out her letter to his
colleagues," Senate sources said here Saturday.

Reid said he appreciated very much Sanaa sending him the letter and that
it was his hope that everyone in the Senate would become familiar with
her letter and become familiar with the tenets of her religion.

"I have been on the floor before, speaking about Islam and what a great
religion it is. I have said before and I repeat that my wife's primary
physicians are two members of the Islamic faith, her internist and the
person who has performed surgery on her. I know them well. I have been
in their homes. I have socialised with them. I have talked about very
serious things with them. We have helped each other with family
problems," Reid said.

"I have been to the new mosque with them in Las Vegas. They are
wonderful people with great families. I have come to realise Islam is a
good religion. It is a good way of life. Muslims maintain a good health
code as their religion dictates, and they have great spiritual values as
their religion dictates," the senator said.

"It is too bad there are some people, evil people, around the world who
would target the innocent in the name of Islam. I believe that the
strength of Islam, and the faith and fortitude of more than one billion
Muslims around the world, will overcome these evil people and their evil
deeds."

Following is the text of Sanaa's moving letter:

"Dear Senator Reid, It is unfortunate that Americans do not have the
basic knowledge about Islam. This is the faith practised by almost seven
million Muslims living in the United States, and over one billion people
around the world. It is the fastest growing religion in the world.
"As a research topic for my ninth grade English project, I chose to
highlight the basic tenets of Islam, in order to develop a better
understanding among my friends and teachers in school. I would like to
send this to you so that you may share with your friends and colleagues.
"The Islamic belief is structured around five main pillars: 1) the
profession of faith; 2) daily worship; 3) fasting during the month of
Ramadan (based on the Islamic lunar calendar); 4) charity; and 5) making
the pilgrimage to Makkah.
"The profession of faith is simple. It's declaring that one believes in
one God and that Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is the messenger of
God. By reciting this, one may convert to Islam. Muhammad (may peace be
upon him) was the last Prophet of God who lived from 570-633 AD.
"Daily worship is praying five times a day: at dawn, midday, afternoon,
evening, and at night. These prayers are short and include recitation of
verses from the Quran, the holy book for Muslims. During these prayers,
Muslims bow their heads in the direction of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the
holiest place for Muslims.
"Charity in Islam is called 'zakat.' This is the obligation to share
what one possesses with the poor. Muslims are required to give 2.5 per
cent of the money and jewellery they own once a year to less fortunate
people.
"Fasting during the month of Ramadan is also mandatory. Fasting is
refraining from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Muslims go by the
Islamic lunar calendar making Ramadan the ninth month. Fasting is
significant because it makes you a stronger person by realising the
significance of self-control, discipline, and restricting one's desires.
"The last pillar is making the pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. This
pilgrimage is called Haj. The holiest mosque is in Makkah,
Masjid-al-Haram. Haj occurs only once a year during the twelfth month of
the Islamic calendar. It is required that you perform Haj at least once
in your lifetime if one can financially afford it.
"The Prophet of Islam is Muhammad (may peace be upon him). He was born
in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in 570. In 610, the angel Gabriel carried the
revelation from God and brought it down to Muhammad (may peace be upon him). After a period of time, these revelations were placed into one
book called the Quran.
"I hope this information, though very basic, would at least provoke some
thought process toward efforts to better understand Islam. Sanaa Khan.
Las Vegas." -Internews

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