There are no concepts in Islam, except the unity of Allah, and our worshipping Him. Islam does not offer any of its worship-forms as a "symbol." Allah orders them, and each have their reasons.
At most, the joint acts (haj, namaz) are referrable as "symbolizing" unity, but that strains the word "symbol" to mean the most comprehensive term of "concept," rather than to "stand for" or to "represent" anything.
It is a pagan trait to assume some shapes (icons), to embody some powers. Islam rejects such, and even the worships the muslims pray, are more in a sense of sincere talk, with Allah.
Islam does not offer female-wear as a "symbol." It is for "hiding her treasures," as Quran expresses.
But people like to talk about symbolisms. That is an easy passtime. So trivial that, it can be clearly exaggerated, at a mass scale.
Muslims at haj, as the pilgrimage, in Mecca, repeat what Abraham (a.s.), and his wife Hajer (Rah.A.), had done. Muslims preserve those acts/moments of history, as Allah ordered haj to muslims, too.
Today, some of the events, may sound "symbolical." The example/case of stones-thrown-to-the-satan may be the only symbolic thing in Islam, but even that was, what Abraham (a.s) really did. I do not know whether Allah translates the stones thrown by the muslims, to any energy to hurt the satan, again. But even without any such guess, even the repeated-act itself, suffices to show, where we stand, who we support, for about that moment in history, where Abraham (a.s.) fought against the satan. It is camaraderie, of muslims-at-haj, with Abraham (a.s.), after millenia.
That is reminiscent of what we do about our prophet Muhammed (s.a.s.) who is our role model. For example, we prefer eating the way he ate at his time. By analogy, if it were about Jesus (a.s.), we would probably learn what they ate at the last supper, and when we felt cozy with it, or to commemorate on certain day, each year, we would eat what they ate there. This is history, as re-rendered. Haj is that way, too, as we may reflect on the very first reasons of those events, when they were, millenia ago.
By contrast, the christians eat what they believe to symbolize Jesus (a.s.), the bread and wine. That is not eating what he ate, but eating (what is to symbolize) Jesus (a.s.) himself. That way, the symbols of bread and wine, there assume a separate sort of existence. In Islam, such symbolism is absent.
Warning: The "transsubstantiation" is rather trivial to fake. Please do avoid the antichrist's fake-callings, which may suggest you "religious service," with such trivial trickery - the way suicide-bombers kill themselves, along with others. Such soul-mesh, magnoon phenomena, were always invokable through genies/satan, and since 1970s, there exist even patented technologies to merge two people, through soul-shots. That means, while a sincere christian might believe, that is Jesus (a.s.) who enmeshes, in fact, that may be a chuckling evil, over there, who uses some old technology, even the patent of which has expired by this time. (This is not a statement about the general christian beliefs, but about how it may be faked. I do not believe transsubstantiation, any way, though, because Islam does not tell about it.)
The haj starts there, as a series of events reflecting preserved-tradition, by faith, and further, we notice its fruits, too. e.g: The Islamic-unity, afforded by it, for real - not "symbolically." It is world-wide human relations, as it gathers muslims from everywhere. Black and white, and yellow, and red.
For example, it was in our recent 20th century, at haj, where Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) would finally realize that there are people who do not notice his race/color - only when he went to that pilgrimage, in Mecca. He was not living in a society without any newspapers, but such an information was not available to him, while he was in the USA. He noticed it, at haj.
Especially in past centuries, when Europeans colonnialized many Islamic countries, haj doubled as a news-center, where many people probably first heard-of what existed elsewhere, when they were at haj. The people of colonnialized periphery would learn about each other, and those who were not colonnialized would learn about the cases, there. This works right against the colonialist/imperialist attempt to divide-and-conqueor. That is one point, which presumably urged such colonnialists to urge/sponsor their tools to speak against haj.
At haj, the rich and the poor, all males wear the same. It is an unsewn white cloth. It reminds muslims about the judgment-day, where nobody is more privileged. All worldly status signs and symbols, stay out. Would we refer to it as a "symbol" of equality of humans? The concept is right, as it is about equal-rights as humans, but what is "symbolic" about it? It reminds.
Anything, by long-term co-occurrence, may signal the other. But is that a "symbol?" If I drink water every day, that is nothing about symbolism.I may drink water. I may insist with water. But it is not symbolism.
When Allah orders what we must wear, it is even more of a need than water. No alternatives. It is a requisite, and it is a this-worldly gift, too.
When I drink water, it does not even differentiate me from other people, unless they prefer not to drink water.
The newest label-gimmick, calls the Islamic female-wear (only) "symbolical." It is an example of popular absurdity. Compared to the previous labels, as if (only) a "fashion" comparable to mini skirts, or as if (only) a "protest tool" to signal non-conformism, comparable to the youth movements in 1960s-70s, this newer label as "symbolical" might sound as an improvement, but it is awful, any way.
It is only hypocritical that, when buried in worldly lust, people may enjoy women. But when a woman wants to keep herself away from such a public-presence (of her body), they pretend as if the woman is "over concerned," as if there were no such issue, but "only symbolical."
It is only that double-standard, which leads to interpret Islamic female-wear as if that were only to sort-out people with - sometimes even called as if (only) a political party-emblem.
If I were to claim in public that "French men do not recognize any sex-appeal, in the curvatures of a female body, or in her arms or legs, or in her head-region," the French may be bemused about it, but when they object to Islamic reservance of the sex-appeal of a female, to only her husband, they totally neglect that truth.
It is the point where Islam recovers chastity. Females are ordered, by Allah, to cover their treasures (their body), not to let other males see them. Males are no nudes, either. The story is about warmth, and sex-appeal. Islam optimizes it, for the couple, husband and wife, at home. Not as if showbiz at public places.
They may call muslims "over concerned," but themselves express their interests, at other contexts, and go on to live with it, as a life-style - at whatever the age; at teens, etc. That is, only hypocritical. e.g: I do not know the start-up age of all top models, but even the widely-known examples may answer those who attempt to claim naivete about the "school ages". Laetitia Casta was first noticed, on a beach, at an age of 15. We learn from the press that, it was her body profile that grabbed the attention. Naomi Campbell, was noticed, at a similar age, when she was walking somewhere.
Are we to infer that, the French lack the word "relativism?" In an age where adultery is so prevalent, a talk about how muslims conceive the term chastity , might offend a French politician, the way I would respond, if I learned that, what is there on my plate is snails, or frog legs. That is relative.
French either do not conceive chastity that way, or they do not care to keep it. Understandably, their religion does not necessitate it - although their nuns may wear it. Islam does require it, though.
The muslim males are also required to, but that is probably less noticeable, because it is within the western range of covered-body. If that were in some parts of Africa, the same sort of "symbolical" interpretation, could ban trousers, and shirts, too.
Is it per "symbolism," that the christian missionaries want such tribes, to dress more, since centuries? Who coined this new slogan, "symbolical," about it?
What Islam orders, is a gift, too. If it is available-scenery to everyone, it is less of an extra, for your spouse. That blunts the sex-appeal, as if water spread on a table. A wrapper keeps it within. Islam contains the energy within the privacy of a couple - presumably, this improves the pleasures of both of them, when they are intimate, together. The other sort of couples, do not appear to have a (sustainable) way of enjoying such a sex-appeal.
The unclothed alternative may be to show off with the "chick" he/she carries next. This is also listed in (western) social-psychological books. But, if we think of it, that is neither widely-applicable, nor sustainable. Not every woman/man would "turn people's gazes" to themselves. It would not increase with time, either. Especially so, about women. If she is going out today, and if her mate likes to show off his "chick," what is the future of it? Would that go on, for the next thirty years, or more? It does not appear as a sustainable sort of joy.
The story does not end even there. This was about who wears what Allah orders. Next, Allah orders not to look at the opposite sex, too - except the family members. From social-psychological experiments/surveys, we know that people like more, those other people who they see often. When we are reserved, as to whom we look, this should contribute to the pleasure of a man, with his wife, and vice versa, for the woman, too.
Namaz (or, salah) is an Islamic requirement, at least five times a day. Any act, and recited texts, in namaz, are very well-founded, sincere talk with Allah. It is a formal talk, though. Sincereity, in namaz, does not mean random-acts, at the whims of the person, at that moment. The namaz forms are composed. Everybody in a mosque, does it that way, together, for the farz namazes.
We are informed that, while we are at namaz, we are in a talk with Allah. Our acts reflect that respect, and our wishes are introduced, without any other intermediates. Although Allah knows every moment of us, at most times, our appeals get filtered in many levels, but at namaz (and a few other contexts), they are there.
When at a table, if we want a fruit, we need not see the face of our friend, to ask it. If we are at ease, when we know he/she is there, next room, or next to drawers. In namaz, we are supposed to act and appeal with that kind of felt-presence of Allah. That is the ideal to fight for, within our minds, - never to give up, even if the satan, and our worldly-thoughts, at namaz, may laxify our feelings/attention, so often.
The reverence, and kneeling acts are already what people do, when they show their respects toward each other, or to their kings. The saj-dah, where our forehead touches the earth, or to the mosque-floor, is the pinnacle of that respect, our worship for Allah. We know that we are designed and implemented by Allah, and our sincereity in acceptance of Islamic faith and worship, is a gift, too. It is a good indicator that we are loved, and on the road for heaven.
These are the reasons why muslims do namaz. It is not for exercise. But it is good for health, too. It turns out that, Allah has hidden the health help, in namaz (and abdest, with it), as yet other gifts for muslims.
The qblah (direction) towards al-Qaaba (Mecca), is to where muslims turn, five times a day, from all around the world. The existence of a single qblah may point out the unity of muslims, in service of Allah. This is what Allah orders.
It was not intrinsic with the geography itself. Allah ordered it that way. We obey. This is, I think, emphasized very well, by the two-step introduction of the direction. The first qiblah was in Jerusalem. Then, when in the middle of a namaz, new orders of Allah were revealed to our prophet Muhammed (s.a.s.), to turn towards the Qaaba in Mecca, the muslims, headed by our prophet Muhammed (s.a.s.), turned to Mecca, right then, and there. Period.
Islam does not accept neither the crescent, nor the cross, as valid.
Crescent. The crescent is reported to be the secular sign/symbol of old Turkish tribes. They had it in their wars, against the Europeans, too. The Europeans were with their religious symbol of cross, and thereby, crescent acquired a pop-meaning.
This information was from Encyclopedia Americana. I may add my guess that, the crescent, or horns/wings is/are possibly a Zulqarneyn sign - as the Ergenekon story/myth resembles a story in Quran. The possible Turkish-relevance (co-operation) of Zulqarneyn has nothing to do with my adopting this, for my e-mail address, and site-name. This is another story.
Cross. Quite obviously, Islam does not accept the cross as valid. We know that Jesus (a.s.) was not killed, at all. Allah illusioned them. Thereby, when christians may place a human figure on a cross, we may only interpret that, he is Judas, who was killed - not Jesus (a.s.), who was taken away by Allah.