Five Pillars of Islam Essay

Chuck Long 4/2/00

World History Mr. Young

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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.

Five Pillars of Islam Essay

Five Pillars of Islam

The central belief in Islam is the conviction in the sovereignty of one God who is omnipotent. God’s fundamental functions are creation, guidance, judgment, and sustenance. Islam believes that the main purpose of men is to serve and worship Allah and to lead a moral life. Due to people’s failure of morals, Allah sent his prophet to urge men to correct their moral and spiritual behaviors. Muslims believe that the Koran is the only true revelation of God and that Muhammad is Allah’s final prophet. Further, Muslims believe that that there is a final judgment for all men according to their deeds. Islamic teachings are presented in five different doctrines which explain Islamic belief.  The first doctrine teaches on the absolute unity of God. It teaches about the faith in one God who is not comparable to anything and who has no partner. The second concerns the belief in the angels.

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To this end, Muslims believe that angels are created by God for the purpose of acting as messengers of God but that angels are less superior to men. Islam also teaches on the belief of prophets whereby it is held that the last on the long line of prophets is Muhammad (Fisher, 1997). Muslims belief that the prophets are subdivided into two, that is, rasul (messenger) – who communicates Gods message – and nabis (prophets) – whom God speaks to.  Islam also advocates for the belief in the scriptures. Muslims recite the Quran which is regarded as the literal word of God, thus showing their belief in all the messages sent by Allah. The last doctrine is about the final judgment which emphasizes the reward offered for one’s faithfulness and punishment of unfaithfulness. The faith thus advocates for ultimate responsibility and accountability for each believer.

The Islamic beliefs are depicted in the Five Pillars of Islam which include the declaration of monotheism. This pillar is evident in the Muslim’s idea of one sovereign God. This principle is is affirmed by all Muslims when they state that, “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.”

The second pillar concerns prayers. Muslims usually pray together in the mosque, an act which depicts equality of all men before Allah. This viewpoint demonstrates Muslims’ belief in the scriptures which teach that all Muslims are equal. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast. This is another pillar in Islam that depicts Muslims’ commitment to Allah. The observance also reflects the sovereignty of Allah as the only God to be served.

The fourth pillar is the Zakat (charity) which depicts the absolute unity of God when Muslims give alms to the poor, an act which symbolizes getting rid of greed and selfishness. The last pillar is the observance of Hajj – a kind of religious pilgrimage that one has to perform once in their life. Through Hajj, pilgrims commemorate their devotion to Allah. The observance also depicts the belief in Allah as the only proper God as well as the belief in the scriptures that call for equality of all Muslims.

The easiest pillar to fulfill is the declaration of monotheism since one needs only to acknowledge the sovereignty of God without devoting himself or herself much. The most challenging pillar to fulfill is the Hajj since one has to incur great expenses to attend one ceremony. Further, the Hajj is not compulsory and hence many will term themselves as not being financially stable even if they are for it is designed for those who are able to foot the expenses.

References

Fisher, M. P. (1997). Living religions: An encyclopedia of the world’s faiths. London, UK:  I.B. Tauris.

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