What are the Five Pillars of Islam and why are they the basis for the Muslim religion?
The Five Pillars are the frameworks of a Muslim’s life. Revealed to the prophet Muhammad by Allah, the Five Pillars are the basis of Islamic religion. “On another occasion, when the prophet (Muhammad) was asked to give a definition of Islam, he named those five pillars.”(www.unn.ac.uk…) The Five Pillars are: bearing witness to Allah, establishing prayers, giving alms, fasting during Ramadan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Five Pillars are the major duties in the life of a Muslim.
Shahadah is the first of the Five Pillars in Islam. More specifically, Shahadah is a declaration of faith. Included in this manifesto, a Muslim proclaims that Allah is the only God and Muhammad is His messenger. “He recognizes that God alone is the creator, that He alone is the Provider and Sustainer, that He is the true Reality, the source of all things – of all benefit and harm.”(http://salam.muslimsonline.com…) Muslims acknowledge that Allah has all authority and that Muhammad is the last prophet in a long line of prophets sent by Allah. A declaration of faith is the first pillar of Islam.
Another pillar is the establishment of frequent prayer. Prayer in Islam is otherwise referred to as Salah. Salah is performed five times everyday. “No other form of worship can be compared to prayer(Salah), for it is the basis of religion, without which there is no religion.” ( http://salam.muslimsonline.com…) Salah is a direct link between Allah and His worshipper. Rather that a priest, a learned person in the Qur’an leads group prayers. Salah, or obligatory prayers, is a pillar of Islam.
The practice of performing charitable acts is another pillar of Islam. Zakat, a tax, is a required expenditure for Muslims each year. 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.”(http://home.mweb.co.za/ka/…) Besides the Zakat, a Muslim may give additional alms if they choose to do so. Charity is an important principle in Islamic religion.
Observation of the fast of the holy month of Ramadan is another pillar of Islam. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and marital intercourse during daylight hours. “This teaches the believers patience and self- control, as well as reminding them of their responsibility for the millions of human beings in the world who lack provisions or are victims of their unjust distribution.” (http://salam.muslimsonline.com…) Manners and righteous deeds are also stressed during the fast of Ramadan.
The last pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca. According to Muslim tradition, “Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.” (http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu./…) Pilgrims who participate in Hajj wear very simple garments so that all people stand equal before God. Muslims pray for Allah’s forgiveness while they fulfill the duty that is their pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Five Pillars are the basis of Islamic religion because they structure the spiritual life of a Muslim person. “Islam has five primary obligations or pillars of faith that each Muslim must fulfill in his or her lifetime.” (www.unn.ac.uk…) The Five Pillars help Muslims in their lives because Islam is essentially personal or between God and the believer. The Five Pillars are an integral part of a Muslim person’s spiritual life.