Five Pillars of Islam

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What are the five pillars of Islam?

What are the Five Pillars of Islam? There are various ethical sources of Islamic moral teaching that establish the shariah, the Pathway to Allah. Allah (God) decrees what is right and what is good. The Pathway lays down two main spheres of duty. The Five Pillars of Islam (the first sphere) contains the duties towards Allah (God) himself. There are five basic activities that comprise the Five Pillars by which the Muslim shows surrender or submission to God.

What is the first of the Five Pillars of Islam? Nearly every religion contains a creed and a pivotal individual who orients the believers’ lives. Islam’s creed, Shahadah (confession/profession) is brief and explicit: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet.” This affirms that God is a unique being and that Muhammad is God’s greatest prophet. Muslims believe that Islam reached its definitive form through Muhammad. Born approximately A.D. 570, the prophet lost his father, mother, and grandfather by the time he reached eight years. Although raised by his uncle, the youth never learned to write. Upon reaching maturity, Muhammad traveled the caravan route, and at the age of 25 entered the service of a wealthy widow named Khadija. Though she was fifteen years his senior, they were married and the match proved happy in every respect.

Muslims refer to the Night of Power when Muhammad, alone in a cave, encountered a Revealer. The vision commanded him three times to “Proclaim!” Arousing from his terrified trance, Muhammad rushed home and fell into convulsions. Coming to, he told Khadija that he was either a prophet or “one possessed -- mad.” At first she resisted his assumptions, but on hearing his full story she became his first convert -- which Muslims often remark, in itself speaks well for Muhammad’s authenticity, for if anyone understands a man’s true character it is his wife. “Rejoice, O dear husband, and be of good cheer,” she said. ‘You will be the Prophet of this people.” Muhammad’s aim was to show that the life and character of Jesus had been totally misunderstood and misrepresented; that Jesus had really come only as a prophet, only to begin the work which Muhammad himself was destined to complete; namely the restoration of the one true religion to its original purity of a monotheistic faith of Abraham.

What is the second of the Five Pillars of Islam? Muslims require a very physical type of prayer (Salat) as a physical act of worship. Five times each day the Muslim is expected to face towards Mecca and, either alone or in a congregation, go through a ritual of prayer which signifies in both word and action their submission to Allah. Muslims are admonished to be in constant prayer to keep their lives in perspective -- to see it objectively. Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day.

What is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam? One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. Islam turns to the practical issue of what should be done about disparity. Zakat (almsgiving or charity) requires that 2½ percent of income and holdings (all capital) be given. Poorer people owe nothing, but those in the middle and upper income brackets should annually distribute among the poor one-fortieth of the value of all they possess. The poor are designated as: those in immediate need; slaves in the process of buying their freedom; debtors unable to meet their obligations; strangers and wayfarers; and those who collect and distribute the alms.

What is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam? Ramadam is a month in the Islamic calendar. To commemorate this holy month, able-bodied Muslims fast for the entire month. From dawn to sunset the Muslim practices Saum, refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, or sexual intercourse. The purpose of fasting underscores self-discipline, dependence on God, and compassion for those who go hungry. For those who can afford it, there is an alternative to fasting --- feeding a poor person.

What is the fifth of the Five Pillars of Islam? The final act of submission is a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca. At least once in their lifetime Muslims are expected to make the journey during the twelfth month. There they perform a ritual recalling the beginnings of the Islamic religion. The Hajj brings together people from various countries, demonstrating that they share a loyalty that transcends ethical groupings. If a fundamental principle underlies Muslim ethics, comparable to covenant righteousness in Judaism or love in Christianity, then that principle is Islam, submissiveness to Allah. The Pathway details the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ought nots’ of a way of life that has been totally surrendered to Allah.



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