Mystic Mantra: The pillars of Islam

Muslims pray five times a day at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening facing toward the Kaaba, the House of God.

Islam is a religion to 1.2 billion Muslims across the world. The word comes from the term “aslama” in Arabic, which means “to surrender” or “resign oneself”. Muslims are united across boundaries of geography and culture through their observance of five practices known as the Five Pillars, or the Pillars of Islam. They are strong expressions of the Islamic ideals of equality and unity and serve as anchoring points of the community’s life and by which every practicing Muslim must abide.

The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to faith. These include pledging one’s faith (witnessing, the shahadah), ritual prayer (salat), charity to the poor (zakat), fasting during the month of Ramzan (sawm), and pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca (haj).

The profession of faith (shahadab qalma tuyaba). A simple statement in Arabic. consists of two declarations. The first, “There is no god but God,” affirms belief in a single divine reality (tawhid).

The second, “Mohammad is the messenger of God,” affirms acknowledgment of the Message revealed to Mohammad. Making this statement in the presence of at least two Muslims makes you a Muslim as well.

Prayer (salah). Muslims pray five times a day — at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening — facing toward the Kaaba, the House of God. Before praying, one is expected to perform a ritual ablution, cleansing both mind and body.

Fasting (sawm). Every day from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramzan, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual contact. They must also avoid cursing, lying, cheating and otherwise abusing or harming others and any other lewd behaviour.

Travellers, the elderly, pregnant women, and the sick are exempted, but are expected to make up the days of fasting at some other time or feed the poor for all the days that one missed Charity (zakah “purification,” indicating that such a payment makes the rest of one’s wealth religiously and legally pure).) One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakah nvolves setting aside a portion of one’s personal wealth for the poor. This purifies one’s wealth. Islam discourages begging, and zakah allows poor people to find help without feeling disgraced. All Muslims who are able are expected to donate roughly 2.5 per cent of their net gain annually. The beneficiaries of zakah are mentioned in the Quran: “(Zakah) charity is only for the poor, and the needy, and those employed to administer it, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth), and (to free) the captives, and those in debt, and in the way of Allah and for the wayfarer”.

Pilgrimage (haj). The journey to Mecca is obligatory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to make it. Pilgrimage need be made only once in a lifetime, but it can be made several times if a Muslim wishes The haj is seen as a chance to wipe clean past sins and start fresh. At any other time of year, Muslims can perform similar prayers and rituals and thus complete the “Umrah”, or “lesser pilgrimage”.

Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus. God’s eternal message was reaffirmed and finalised by the Prophet.

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