The Five Pillars
Muslims are monotheistic. They pray to their god Allah. The five pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life. They are summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel. The five pillars are:
- The testimony of faith: “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah.” This saying means “There is no true God, but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger (prophet) of God.” “There is no true God, but God.” Means that no one has the right to be worshipped but God alone, and that God has neither partner or son. This Testimony of Faith is called Shahada, the Testimony of Faith is the most important pillar of Islam.
- Prayer: Muslims preform 5 prayers a day. Each prayer is only a few minutes long. Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God. Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid- afternoon, sunset, and night. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere such as in fields, offices, factories, or universities. This is referred to as Salat.
- Giving Zakat (Support of the needy): The original meaning of Zakat is both, purification and growth. Giving Zakat means giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people. The percentage which is due on gold, silver, and cash funds that have reached the amount of 85 grams of gold and held in possession for one lunar year is two and a half percent. Possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, the cutting back balances and encourages new growth.
- Fasting the Month of Ramadan: Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded as a method of self-purification. This is referred to as Sawm.
- The Pilgrimage to Mecca: The annual Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. The annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Male pilgrims wear special simple clothing which strip away distinctions of class and culture so that all stand equal before God. The rites of the Hajj include circling the Kaaba seven times and going seven times between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa, as Hagar did during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together in Arafa and ask God for what they wish and for His forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Day of Judgment. A festival marks the end of the Hajj, Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers. This, and Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the two annual festivals of the Muslim calendar.