The five Islamic practices (pillars) overview
The five Islamic practices (pillars)
They are the framework for the Muslim‘s life and discipline. Successful and satisfactory adherence to the pillars satisfies the will of Allah. They form the basis for the Muslim‘s hope for salvation along with faith and belief in Allah‘s existence, the authority of Muhammad as a prophet, and the finality and perfection of the Qur‘an. The five pillars are:
1. The Confession of Faith or Shahada: It is the declaration that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. Sincerity in the voicing of the confession is necessary for it to be valid. Also it must be uttered in Arabic. It must be held until death and repudiation of the Shahada nullifies hope for salvation.
2. Prayer or Salat: Five times a day, preceded by ceremonial washing, the Muslim is required to pray facing Mecca. Specific formulas, recited from the Qur‘an (in Arabic), along with prostrations are included. Prayer is, in this sense, an expression of submission to the will of Allah. While most of Islam has no hierarchical priesthood, prayers are led in mosques by respected lay leaders. The five times of prayer are before sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and prior to sleep.
3. Almsgiving or Zakat: The Qur‘an teaches the giving of two and one-half percent of one‘s capital wealth to the poor and/or for the propagation of Islam. By doing so, the Muslims‘ remaining wealth is purified.
4. The Fast or Sawm: During the course of the lunar month of Ramadan, a fast is to be observed by every Muslim from sunrise to sunset. Nothing is to pass over the lips during this time, and they should refrain from sexual relations. After sunset, feasting and other celebrations often occur. The daylight hours are set aside for self-purification. The month is used to remember the giving of the Qur‘an to Muhammad.
5. Pilgrimage or Hajj: All Muslims who are economically and physically able are required to journey as a pilgrim to Mecca at least once in their life time. The pilgrim‘s required simple dress stresses the notion of equality before God. Another element of the Hajj is the mandatory walk of each pilgrim seven times around the Kaabah—the shrine of the black rock, the holiest site of Islam. Muhammad taught that the Kaabah was the original place of worship for Adam and later for Abraham. The Kaabah is thus venerated as the site of true religion, the absolute monotheism of Islam.