THE “FIVE PILLARS” OF ISLAM

In Islam, faith and good works go hand-in-hand. A mere verbal declaration of faith is not enough, for belief in Allah makes obedience to Him a duty.

Testimony of Faith (Shahaadah)
Fundamental to a Muslim’s spiritual life is the declaration of faith (shahaadah). “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Prayer (Salat)
Muslims pray at least five times a day at set times. Muslim prayers all follow the same general format, including set phrases and movements. A Muslim can perform their daily prayers anywhere safe and clean, but it is especially good to pray in congregation as it encourages people to know and care about their neighbours and society.

Fasting (Sawm)
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast. During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. As a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice, Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking. Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits — essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for “fasting” (sawm) literally means “to refrain” – and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.

Almsgiving (Zakat)
Giving to charity is one of the five “pillars” of Islam. Muslims who have wealth remaining over the year, after paying for their own basic needs, must pay a certain percentage to help others. This almsgiving is called Zakat, from an Arabic word which means both “to purify” and “to grow.” Muslim believe that giving to others purifies their own wealth, increases its value, and causes one to recognize that everything we have is a trust from God. Paying Zakat is required of every adult Muslim man or woman who possesses wealth of a certain minimum amount.

Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Each year, over 2.5 million Muslims descend in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the annual Muslim pilgrimage, or Hajj. The largest gathering of humanity in any one time or place is the culminating spiritual experience for a Muslim. The Hajj has been performed by Muslims every year for the past 14 centuries. In earlier times, the Hajj was literally the journey of a lifetime, a dream for which a person spent an entire lifetime saving up the funds. The trip itself was an arduous and difficult one, often taking months or even years on horseback or on foot, through mountain terrain and desert. In recent years the vast majority arrive by air with a small percentage arriving by land or sea. Today, pilgrims come from all corners of the earth and this shared meeting point for people of all nationalities reaffirms how people are equal in the sight of God regardless of material possessions, and the only difference between them is their God-consciousness