OCTOBER 18, 2001

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader, received a letter from his constituent, Ms. Sanaa Khan, a ninth grade student from Las Vegas, on the five pillars of Islam. Senator Reid read Sanaa’s letter on the floor of the United States Senate, and delivered his own remarks on his feelings about Islam. The text of Senator Reid’s statement and Sanaa Khan’s letter follow:

I appreciate very much Sanaa sending me this letter. I hope everyone in the Senate will become familiar with her letter and become familiar ith 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 socialized with them. I have talked about very serious things with them. We have helped each other with family problems.

I have been to the new mosque with them in Las Vegas. They are wonderful people with great families. I have come to realize 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. It is too bad there are some people – evil people around the world – who would target the innocent in the name if 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.


October 15, 2001
Dear Senator Reid,

It is unfortunate that Americans do not have the basic knowledge about Islam. This is the faith practiced 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; 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 .

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 Qur’an, 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% of all the money and jewelry 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 until dusk. Muslims go by the Islamic lunar calendar making Ramadan the ninth month. Fasting is significant because it makes you a stronger person by realizing 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 “Hajj.” The holiest mosque is in Makkah, Masjid-al-Haram. Hajj occurs only once a year during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. It is required that you perform Hajj 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 Qur’an.

I hope this information, though very basic, would at least provoke some thought process toward efforts to better understand Islam.

Sanaa Khan
Las Vegas

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