5 Pillars of Islam
Islam has five primary obligations, or pillars of faith, that each Muslim must fulfill in his or her lifetime. These are the 5 Pillars of Islam:
1. Shahada = Declaration of Faith.
“There is No god, except Allah/God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah/God”.
So, who is Allah? – Allah is God. God is English, when God is translated in Arabic it is Allah. When the Angel Gabriel revealed the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed, it was recited in Arabic. Therefore the Quran is in Arabic and Allah is God. Muslims around the world, despite their native language, pray in Arabic and pray to Allah.
When we declare, “There is No god” – we are saying that god (with a small “g”) can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of God (big “G”) – wealth, power, etc.
When we declare, “except God” – we are saying God (big “G”) is the source of all Creation and is the One and Only.
When we declare, “Mohammad is the Messenger of God” – we are saying a message of guidance has come through a man like ourselves.
2. Salah = Prayer.
The obligatory prayers are performed five times a day. They are a direct link between the Muslim and God. These five prayers contain verses from the Quran, said in Arabic, but personal supplication can be offered in one’s own language. Prayers are preformed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. They put a rhythm in every day and help remind the Muslim of what is important in life. It is prefered to pray in congregation in a Mosque; however, Muslims can pray anywhere. Living in a Muslim country, it is beautiful to see bus drivers and policemen praying on the side of a busy road and to see co-workers praying in their offices.
3. Zakat = Charity.
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God. Therefore, wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The Arabic word Zakat means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Essentially, our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need. A minimum payment of two and a half percent of one’s capital, is required each year. Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually and gives preferably in secret.
An example of the Prophet Mohammad teachings is the following regarding giving Charity: The Prophet said: ‘Charity is a necessity for every Muslim. ‘ He was asked: ‘What if a person has nothing?’ The Prophet replied: ‘He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.’ The Companions asked: ‘What if he is not able to work?’ The Prophet said: ‘He should help poor and needy persons.’ The Companions further asked ‘What if he cannot do even
that?’ The Prophet said ‘He should urge others to do good.’ The Companions said ‘What if he lacks that also?’ The Prophet said ‘He should check himself from
doing evil. That is also charity.’
4. Sawm = Fasting.
Every year during the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sundown. During these hours they abstaining from food, drink, smoke, and sexual relations. Those who have chronic illness, are elderly, children before puberty, are traveling a far distance, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, or nursing are not required to fast. Fasting is regarded as a method of self purification. Abstaining from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains sympathy and understanding with those who go hungry. This month of Ramadan is also a time to read Quran, perform extra prayer, perform good deeds, and grow spiritually.
The completion of Ramadan is marked by the Islamic holiday, Eid al-Fitr, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities around the world.
5. Hajj = Pilgrimage to Mecca.
The annual pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj, is required for those who are physically and financially able. It is the largest pilgrimage in the world. Each year, around two million Muslims, from around the world, go to Mecca each year. Pilgrims wear simple white clothing, which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that they all stand equal before God.
To learn the specifics of Hajj, please visit this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj
The completion of the Hajj pilgrimage is marked by the 3 day Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha,which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities around the world.