The five pillars of Islam are duties each Muslim performs to demonstrate his or her faith to GOD.
- Testimony of Faith (Shahadah)- One must state, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.”
- Prayer (Shalat)- Prayer must be done five times a day (upon rising, at noon, in mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before going to sleep) towards the direction of Mecca.
- Almsgiving (Zakat)- Muslims are legally required to give one-fortieth of their income to the needy. Since those whom alms are given are helping the giver achieve salvation, there is no sense of shame in receiving charity.
- Fasting (Sawm- During the holy month of Ramadan, faithful Muslims fast from sunup to sundown each day. This develops self-control, devotion to God, and identity with the needy.
- Pilgrimage (Hajj)- Each Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do it and are physically capable of the trip. It is an essential part of gaining salvation, so the old or infirm may send someone in their place. It involves a set of rituals and ceremonies.
More description about the five pillars of Islam
The Five Pillars of Islam are akin to the 10 Commandments of Christianity and Judaism. The Five Pillars are considered by Muslims to be the divine will of Allah and they are common to both Sunni and Shi’te Islamic sects. A devout Muslim must do his or her best to uphold the ideologies set forth in the Five Pillars.
- The first of the Five Pillars is Shahadah. Shahadah is one’s belief the Muslim idea that “there is no god, but God” and sharing that message with people of other belief. Shahadah is also a belief that Muhammad was the original prophet, a messenger of God, and sharing that belief with others.
- The second of the Five Pillars is the ritual of daily prayer. Devout Muslims pray five times a day, no matter where they are. During daily prayers, Muslims perform ablutions with water or sand, face the holy city of Mecca, and recite passages from the sacred Islamic text, the Qur’an. The act of facing Mecca unites Muslims from all around the world each time a prayer is offered.
- The third of the Five Pillars is zakat. Zakat is a tithing paid by all Muslims in the end of the Islamic lunar year. The wealth is dispersed back in to the Muslim community and is designed to equalize the Muslim society’s wealth and stave off greed and imbalance of power. Zakat carries on Muhammad’s teachings that one should help others regardless of differences.
- The fourth of the Five Pillars is fasting. Requisite fasting for all Muslims is during the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month which is in remembrance of Muhammad’s first revelation of what would become the Qur’an. Muslims believe that fasting allows the body to cleanse itself and the mind to become uncluttered. Like the act of praying, Ramadan and fasting unite Muslims all over the globe.
- The last of the Five Pillars is Hajj. Hajj is a pilgrimage made once or many times in a Muslim’s life. All Muslims who are able are expected to journey to Mecca at least once as part of the Hajj. During this journey, Muslims will make symbolic sacrifices and eventually reach the ancient Ka’bah. The Ka’bah is the site of the original Islamic temple and considered the holiest location in Islam.
The easiest of the Five Pillars to uphold would be fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims fast between sun up and sun down. Some Muslims will rise for early communal breakfasts with family and fast together as a family. I think group participation and the knowledge that other Muslims all over the world are also carrying on the same traditions in faith is a powerful emotional experience.
On the other hand, I think the Hajj would be the most difficult journey in a Muslim’s life. For geographic and political reasons the Hajj requires extreme determination and will to participate in. I think this too would be a revelation in any Muslim’s life and a life changing experience.