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Five Pillars of Islam

Islam is one of largest religions in terms of followers with estimates indicating that several millions of people all over the world are believers in this religion. Muslims believe in the teachings of their first leader, Prophet Muhammad whom they believe was sent by Allah, the one and only God. One unique thing about Islam as a religion is that they have various doctrines whish they strictly observe and which are in accordance with the teachings of the prophet. Among the various teachings and doctrines of Prophet Muhammad are the five pillars of Muslims which every follower of the Islam religion must observe and adhere and strictly.

This discussion focuses on these pillars by identifying them and discussing the manner in which they are observed by the Muslim faithful (Feener, 2004). The five pillars of Islam are duties which every Muslim faithful is required to observe. They are duties that seek to unite all Muslims the world over. Muslims believe that every person who subscribes to the Islamic faith and observes the five pillars to the letter will go to Jannah which means paradise. However if you do not repent you will go to hell (Stewart, 1967). 1. Shahada

The first pillar of Islam is Shahada. This is the proclamation that” There is no other true God who deserves to be worshipped but Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is his messenger (Neusner, 2003). This is normally an endorsement of the Islam religion which says that only Allah is worth of worship and that he is the only sovereign God and that He (Allah) does whatever he wills and to whomever he desires. This means that all that is contained in the Koran is to be followed without questioning. In other word, Muslims believe that all other religions are false.

The followers of the Islamic faith also believe that it was through Prophet Muhammad that the Islam Religion came to be (Neusner, 2003). They therefore have great respect for Prophet Muhammad and believe that he is the only true prophet of Allah as it was through him that Allah revealed himself to the believers. There are seven very important conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the proclamation to have meaning. To begin with one must be aware of the meaning of the phrase that is repeated.

One must know how to affirm and must also know the negation. One is also required not to have any doubts as regarding to the meaning and thus certainty is of importance. Sincerity is yet another important aspect that one needs to have when making this declaration to Allah. Any signs of insincerity depict bad faith and render the declaration meaningless and one will not receive blessings from Allah. One must also express his love for this declaration and show that he is happy with it (Penney, 2005).

When making this declaration truthfulness is also important and any element of falsehood must be eliminated before making this very important declaration. 2. Prayer/Salat This is the second pillar of the Islamic Faith. It involves confessing one’s sins so as to be purified. The purification is that of the body and also the soul and process begin with the former and ends with the latter. Believers are required to pray five times with the performance of the first prayer being done at dawn and the fifth prayer in the evening when the sun is setting.

Each prayer has a name and the first prayer is known as Fajr which is done at dawn. It is closely followed by Shurooq which is said before mid day. It is then followed by ASR which is said after midday after which the believers perform Magrib just before sunset. The last prayer is Isha and is said after sunset (Rippin, 2005). The prayers are done while facing a particular direction which is believed to be the Kaaba which is in Mecca. This is a time when every Muslin believer takes sometime to have a personalized communication with Allah.

It is a time to show appreciation and gratitude to Allah for his goodness and it is also believed that this prayer helps one restrain from doing what is considered evil. The place of prayer must be cleansed before the prayers are performed although there is no formal kind of clothing or posture while praying. The prayers began after a call to prayer is made buy the minarets in the mosque (Neusner, 2003). 3. Fasting Fasting also commonly referred to as Saum is yet another pillar of the Islam faith. It is normally done for a period of one month which is referred to as the Holy Month of Ramadhan.

It is a month that is in the Islamic Calendar during which the Muslim faithful are required deny themselves all that is pleasurable including food, drinks and intimacy of spouses (Penney, 2005). The fasting is done on a daily basis for a whole month from sunrise to sunset. This they do in remembrance of the time when Allah made his revelations of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. During this period Muslims are taught to be patient, selfless and to have humility with one another (Millet, 1995). All these are done in honor of the one and only true God, Allah.

During this period Muslims are required to pray more often than they usually do and it is also a time to ask forgiveness from Allah for all sins that may have committed in the past(Ruthven, 2002). It is also during this time that Muslims shoe mercy to the larger society especially the needy in the society by donating material things like foods and being of service to them It is also during this period that Muslims are expected to reconcile with those whom they may have disagreed with in the past. Simply put it is a period of self denial and self reflection.

The Holy month of Ramadhan is marked by a holiday known as Eid ul-Fitr which is an Arabic word meaning ‘To Break/End the Fast’ (Feener, 2004). This is normally when a new moon has been cited. This is normally 28, 29 or thirty days after the beginning of the fasting period. The difference is determined on when the moon cited depending on what part of the world on is. It is a main occasion for the Muslim faith where everybody is in a celebratory mood (Rippin, 2005). There is a lot of feasting and food items are donated to the needy as assign of gratitude to God.

Communal prayers are held followed by relatives and friends visiting each other. One need not say the five daily prayers on this day but instead the two rakaahs are considered sufficient. 4. Alms/ Zakat This refers to the charity that is given to the poor. Muslims believe that it is of great importance in ensuring spiritual richness to always assist those who are needy in the society. They therefore give to the poor and by so doing they believe that their relationship with Allah. Alms is viewed as a form of worship and appreciation to Allah for his provision.

This is a responsibility that is bestowed on every Muslim who is a position to give. More often the rich who have accumulation of wealth are expected to give more to ease or lessen the economic hardship that the have nots in the society may be going through. Zakat is of two types (Emerick, 2001). The first and the most common perhaps due to the fact that it is compulsory is Kajj. This is usually a fixed amount which is dependent on the prices of food which the head of the family pays for him and other members of the family during the Holy month of Ramadhan.

The second one is based on how much one has made from his business, his investments and his general wealth. There are four main rules that must be followed when giving alms. Firstly, the person giving the alms must declare to Allah the purpose for which he has given the alms. It is also a requirement hat one is timely in giving the lams. Late giving carries the impression that one has the intention to rob God what belongs to him. Alms must therefore be given when they are due. Alms may be given in form of money or in kind.

This means that if you are able financially then you are required 2. 5% of the money you make. However if your financial status does not allow you can pay a similar amount but by giving material things like cattle, foodstuffs among other things. It is also requirement that what is collected in form of Zakat be distributed in the same community where it was contributed. In other word the community that contributed the alms should be the beneficiaries (Millet, 1995). 5. The Hajj This is also known as pilgrimage and is the fifth pillar of the Islamic faith.

This is usually a journey by all the Muslim faithful to the city of Mecca and is done once every year. This has always been described by many as one of the biggest sacrifices in the Islamic faith as one greatest sacrifices as it is not only physical but also financial. As already mentioned the Muslims have a calendar that no ordinary one. The lunar year according to this calendar has two halves and the pilgrimage falls on the last month of the first half of the lunar year (Cornell, 2007).

The hajj is a sign of solidarity and unity of the Muslims all over the world. Pilgrimage is done in Mecca as it is believed that this is the city where the first revelations by Allah to Prophet Muhammad were done. It is also the most celebrated pillar among the Islam Community as it is believed to be one of the most pure in the sense that it is done well in accordance with the will of Allah, (Rauf, 2004). Every Muslim who is able physically has an obligation to make the journey to make at least once in their lifetime if financially able (Clarke, 2007).

However people with mental disabilities, women without people to accompany them, children, salves and those without financial ability are not under obligation to take the trip to Mecca. Pilgrimage is a one week’s occasion after which those who successfully complete are celebrated by their communities and a title of Hajji is given to them. When the pilgrim is approaching the city of Mecca, at least 10 kilometers from the city of Mecca he is required to change his clothing and dress into two sheets that are white in color a dress that is referred to as Ihram.

Pilgrimage is open to both genders and thus one may make the trip to Mecca regardless of their gender. There are rituals that are conducted during the Hajj which include entering the Holy Mosque a ritual that is commonly referred to as Umrah (Bloom, 2002). While at the Mosque the pilgrims walk round the Kaaba seven times while kissing the Black stone. In conclusion Islam being one of the largest religions in the whole has strict adherence to their doctrine as outlined in Quran.

They believe and practice the teaching of Prophet Muhammad as they believe he was sent by Allah the only true God and thus he is the only true prophet. That is in summary the five pillars of the Islam religion. Words: 1915 List of References Bloom, J. & Blair S. (2002). Islam, a thousand years of Faith and Power, New York: Yale University Press. Clarke, M. (2007). Islam for Dummies, India: Wiley. Cornell, V. (2007). Voices of Islam, London: Greenwood Publishing Group. Emerick, Y. (2001). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam, London: Alpha Books. Feener, M. (2004).

Islam in the World Cultures, Washington: ABC-CLIO. Millet, T. (1995). America’s Alternative Religions, London: SUNY Press. Neusner, J. (2003). World Religions in America, New York: Westminster John Knox Press. Rippin, A. (2005). Muslims: Their Religious Behavior and Practices, London: Rouledge. Ruthven, M. (2002). Islam in the World. Washington: Oxford University Press, United States. Penney, S. (1995). Islam Heinemann. New York: SAGE. Rauf, F. (2004). What’s Right with Islam, San Francisco: Harper Press. Stewart, D. (1967). Early Islam, London: Time, Inc.

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