The Beliefs of Islam: The 5 Pillars of Islam
Many people practice religion because it creates a sense of community and belonging among those who share the same faith. Religions have certain practices that create a strong sense of community throughout the world. The Five Pillars of Islam are rules that every Muslim practices creating a strong feeling of membership of the worldwide Muslim community.
The first pillar of Islam is called Shahadah or The Declaration of Faith. The shahada is the most basic expression of Islamic beliefs. It simply states that “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” When a Muslim recites this they accept it as true and will follow all of the commitments of Islam. To become a Muslim, a person must recite this three times with complete sincerity in front of witnesses.
The second pillar of Islam is Salat or Prayer. Muslims are expected to pray five times a day while facing Mecca. In Islamic countries there is a public call to prayer which sets the day. This ritual is over 1400 years old and practiced by millions of Muslims across the world.
Zakat-charity or almsgiving is the third pillar of Islam. Muslims believe that they are meant to share their wealth with those less fortunate in their community of believers. Each year Muslims are expected to give 2.5% of their wages to charity. This giving is a form of worship and self-purification. This practice frees them from clinging to possessions and greed.
Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is called Sawm and it is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ramadan occurs in the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. Ramadan lasts for 30 days. For the first 29 days Muslims are expected to fast giving up food or drink from dawn till dusk. They view Sawm as obedience to God and learn self-discipline to become spiritually stronger.
The last of the five pillars of Islam is Hajj in which all Muslims, who are able, are required to make the pilgrimage, to Mecca and surrounding holy sites at least once in their lives. This ritual promotes the bonds of Islam and occurs once a year where every Muslim gathers together in Mecca to praise Allah before the Kaaba, a shrine in the great Mosque in Mecca. The Hajj occurs in the 12 month of the Islamic calendar.