Pillars of Islam

Islam has five primary obligations, or pillars of faith, that each Muslim must fulfill in his or her lifetime. They are as follows:

Faith (Shahada)
There is no god worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.
This declaration of faith is called the “Shahada”, a simple formula which all the faithful pronounce.
In Arabic, the first part is LA ILAHA ILLALLAH: ‘there is no god except Allah’; ILAHA (god) can refer to anything which any one may be tempted to put in place of Allah – wealth, power, and the like. Then comes ILLALLAH: ‘except Allah’, the source of all creations.
The second part of the Shahada is MUHAMMADUR RASUL ULLAH: ‘Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.’ A message of guidance has come from Allah through a man like us (And this man (Peace be upon him) is the leader of all the prophets, men, jins and all the creations of Allah).

Prayer (Salah)
Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and Allah. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Quran, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication (Dua) can be offered in one’s own language. Because salah is transliterated from Arabic word, so it has multiple English spellings such as salat, salah or shalah. Some peoples also called salah as namaz. Prayers are offered at Dawn called as Fajr, Noon called as Zohr, Mid-afternoon called as Asr, After Sunset called as Maghrib and Nightfall called as Isha, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Other than these five must prayers; there are other prayers as well those are not must but has good benefits, these are Tahajjud, Ishraq, Chasht, Ababein and Nafil prayers (Can be offered any time other than prohibited and for any reason). Although it is preferable to offer prayer together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities (Any place that is clean). Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life. Call to prayer is called Azan.

Charity (Zakat)
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to Allah, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word Zakat means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth. Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent (2.5%) of one’s capital. A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as Sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although the word “Sadaqa”can be translated as ‘voluntary charity’ it has a wider meaning. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said ‘even meeting your brother with a smile is charity.’ The practice of Zakat gives needy a support to fulfill their needs and in longer way, increase their life standards.

Fast (Saum)
Every year in the month of Ramadan all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly, on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to leave the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must pay the amount/grains equivalent to Sadaqa-e-Fitr to a needy person for each day missed. Children begin to fast (And to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory for every Healthy & Adult Muslim. Fasts can also be performed in other months and are called as Nafil Fasts. Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one’s spiritual life.

Pilgrimage (Hajj)
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah – the Hajj – is an obligation once in whole life, only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year ‘Zilhaj’ (Which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before Allah. The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Kaba seven times, and going to and fro seven times between the mountains of Safwa and Marwa as did Bibi Hajar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafat and join in prayers for Allah’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment. In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities. The end of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts and performance of sacrificing animals in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the Muslim calendar.

The five pillars of Islam define the basic identity of Muslims – their faith, believes and practices – and bind together a worldwide community of believers into a fellowship of shared values and concerns.