The five pillars of Islam are fundamental principles of the religion that every Muslim has an obligation to live. Failing to do so causes great oppression of the G’d given potential for the individual and for the whole society. It is these pillars of Islam that gives the Muslim and his society its structure to operate. In order to be considered one who submits his will to G’d, the Muslim embraces these 5 pillars of Islam without hesitation, recognizing that it is G’d and those who have qualified as His messengers to mankind, as having the best plan for the life and direction for the whole of mankind.
The 5 pillars of Islam are:
1. The Declaration of Faith, to “Testify that there is no deity except G’d, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of G’d”.
2. To establish the obligatory prayers.
3. To Pay charity as a right of the poor.
4. To Fast especially the month of Ramadan.
5. To Make the pilgrimage to the sacred House in Mecca if you have the means to do so.
1. THE DECLARATION OF FAITH (SHAHADA)
This declaration of faith requires that you give the concept of G’d some serious thought. It is a requirement on everyone intending to embrace Islam to consciously and deliberately think and contemplate for themselves before they make the public declaration and “Testify that there is no deity except G’d, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of G’d.” Once this uncomplicated, essential, and mighty declaration, is openly made, a person is considered a Muslim.
The concepts within the declaration of faith are illumined by examining the three parts that comprised this testimony. Part one, “No deity…” is the disavowal of idolatrous, paganism. It refutes the existence of any deity except G’d, or any being that has a portion of any of the omnipotent characteristics of G’d. Part two, “…except God” is an assertion that only G’d is worthy of worship.
“Muhammad is Messenger of G’d” is the third part within this declaration of faith. It acknowledges that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is not a god, but a human raised up as the Messenger of G’d sent to mankind.
By believing and saying the testimony of faith, a person rejects all false objects of worship and asserts that G-d is the only One to be worshipped. G-d is without equal or partner. G-d promises that once a person affirms and sincerely testifies “that there is no deity except G-d, and that Muhammad is His Messenger” all of their previous sins are forgiven and turned into good deeds. Their previous good deeds may also be rewarded by G-d.
2. PRAYING FIVE TIMES A DAY (SALAT)
Every Muslim is expected to perform at least the five obligatory prayers each day. Every Muslim prays in a direction facing the Ka’abah which is the first house built for the worship of One G’d and is located in Mecca, in present day Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe that the Ka’abah was built by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael, but that the foundation for this house was set by Adam. Muslims turn to pray to G’d in the direction of the Ka’abah because G’d is the Lord of that house.
The obligatory prayers take place from the break of dawn into the late night. Muslims believe that the prayer as a ritual was taught to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jabreel (Gabriel). The prayer ritual for Muslims is seen as a re-enactment of what causes the individual and society itself, to fall and once again rise.
Muslims may perform the prayer more often, voluntarily, if they are inclined, but are required to do so in accordance with the examples set by Prophet Muhammad.
3. GIVING CHARITY, ALMS (ZAKAT)
It is a religious duty for every Muslim to give a portion of his or her wealth to the needy. This action is called Zakat in Arabic. It also carries the meaning ‘purification’. This pillar of Islam establishes that Muslims are to give Charity to those who devote themselves to the propagation of the faith and to widows, to orphans, to the poor and the needy and those who suffer great misfortune. Charity is to be given to those who ask, or who beg, but is also given to those who do not ask or do not beg out of their own shyness or self-respect, Charity is to be given to them also.
Zakat is an institution for Muslims. It is the blueprint for an economic system.
4. FASTING DURING RAMADAN (SAWM)
Muslims must fast during the ninth month called Ramadan on the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan is significant because Prophet Muhammad received the first Qur’anic revelation from G’d during this month. Because of the length of the lunar calendar when compared to the solar calendar, the month of Ramadan eventually rotates through all seasons of the year. Each day fasting begins at dawn and ends at sunset, your local time. During daylight hours, a fasting person must abstain from food, drink, and marital sexual intercourse. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is not just denying yourself food and water, drink, and lawful sexual gratification, but it is also making yourself more aware that there are people who are hurting like you are hurting, hungering like you are hungering and thirsting like you are thirsting etc, but they are not able to help themselves in those conditions In the Qur’an, G’d says that fasting is for Him. But performing the fast also benefit Muslims by teaching them self-restraint and patience.
5. COMPLETING THE PILGRIMAGE TO THE KA’ABAH (HAJJ)
When the angel Jabreel (Gabriel) asked Prophet Muhammad to tell him about Islam, the Prophet’s answer included that Islam is to make the pilgrimage to the House if you have means to do so. It is a house symbolizing the unity of all mankind as one family of man, representing our common origin. A visit to the sacred precincts is a requirement to be completed at lest once in the Muslim’s lifetime. Muslims from all over the world gather together to complete the pilgrimage with its rituals serving to bring man’s consciousness to the need for unity of all communities on this earth. G-d calls us all together in one fraternal order. As one human order serving Him.
Performing the ritual is a purifying struggle. Every one who is making the Hajj is going through the same difficulty together. Succeeding together despite the difficulty. The victory of the struggle is the freeing of the best from within of the human creation. Having the best of what’s possible for the human being to go forward is a human victory allowing mankind to build the beautiful world for all people and for all humanity.
The pilgrimage requires Muslims to deconstruct all socio-economic and racial barriers that may exist in themselves or their respective societies.
This completes the five pillars of Islam. As a final note, the 5 pillars are recognized and listed in an ordered progression.