Five Pillars of Islam

Shahada

Shahada is the basic statement of the Islamic faith: anyone who cannot recite this wholeheartedly is not a Muslim. The Shahada is “There no god but Allah, Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah”

When a Muslim recites this, he proclaims that:

  • Allah is the only God, and that Muhammad (pbuh) is his prophet
  • They personally accept this as true
  • They will obey all the commitments of Islam in their life

The Shahadah is the first of the Five Pillars of Islam. Reciting this statement, one becomes a Muslim. A Muslim is expected to recite this statement out loud, with total sincerity, fully understanding what it means.

Salah

In Arabic, “Salah” has many meanings including “prayer”. It is the practice of formal worship in Islam. Its importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. People who find it physically difficult can perform Salah in a way suitable for them. To perform valid Salah, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by ritual ablution. Prayer is regarded as a dividing line between a believer and a non-believer. Salah helps Muslims avoid wrongdoings and stick with the path of Allah.

There are five obligatory prayers daily at specific times:

  • Fajr: Dawn prayer before the sunset.
  • Duhr: Midday prayer at noon.
  • Asr: Late afternoon payer.
  • Maghrib: After the sunset prayer.
  • Ishaa: Between sunset and midnight.

Alongside these, there are also additional prayers as “Sunnah” or “Nafl” meaning extra prayer (Non-obligatory, there is no sin in missing it). Children are encouraged to start learning how to pray at the age of seven years. Muslims can pray at anywhere when the time of prayer is due. However, it is more rewarding to make congregational (Jamaat) prayer in Mosques.

Zakat

Zakat means purifying. Zakat is the third pillar of Islam. It requires Muslims to give 2.5% of their qualifying wealth each year to help Muslims who need it across a range of categories. According to Islamic jurisprudence, the collected amount should be paid to the poor and the needy, Zakat collectors, recent converts to Islam, those to be freed from slavery, those in debt, in the cause of Allah and to benefit the stranded traveller.

Zakat is both a spiritual duty and a vital part of the Islamic social welfare system. It is not just a fundamental pillar of Islam; it is also a potential way of easing the suffering of millions of people through a sustained charitable effort. It’s a unique form of religious social welfare which benefits the whole community.

Sawm

Sawm is an Arabic word for fasting regulated by Islamic jurisprudence. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity during daylight hours. The observance of sawm during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, but is not confined to that month.

Muslims who are physically or mentally unwell may be excused some of these, as may those who are under twelve years old, the very old, those who are pregnant, breast-feeding, menstruating, or travelling.

If an adult does not fast for the reasons mentioned above, they should try to make up the fast at a later date, or make a donation to the poor instead. Muslims do not only abstain from physical things during Ramadan. They are also expected to do their best to avoid evil thoughts and deeds as well.

Hajj

The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.

In Islamic terminology, Hajj is a pilgrimage made to the Ka’ba, the “House of God”, in the sacred city of Mecca. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to Allah (swt). The word Hajj means “to attend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions. The pilgrimage to Mecca takes place each year during Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.

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