||What are the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam?
||They are the framework of the Muslim life: faith, prayer, zakat (Alms giving), fasting, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.
There is no God worthy of worship expect one God and Muhammad
(peace be upon him) is His messenger. This declaration of faith
is called the Shahada, a simple formula that all the faithful
In Arabic, the first part is la ilaha Illa’Llah-‘there
is no God except God’; ilaha (God) can refer to anything
which we may be tempted to put in place of God - wealth, power,
and the like. Then comes illa’Llah: ‘except God’,
the source of all creation. The second part of the Shahada
is Muhammadur rasulullah: ‘Muhammad is the messenger
of God.’ a message of guidance has come through a man
The moment one recites the Shahada; he accepts that the only
law he recognises is the law of God, only God is his Sovereign,
only God is his Ruler, only God he will obey, and only the
things given in His Book & by His messengers are true & right.
It means that as soon as he becomes a Muslim, he must renounce
his authority in favour of God’s authority.
Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers that are performed
five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper
and God. As revealed by Allah the purpose of creation of mankind
is to worship and serve Him; salat plays the most crucial role
towards meeting this goal.
It prepares a man, physically and mentally towards fulfillment
of this purpose. Salat five times a day is a constant reminder
to a Muslim during all the phases of the daily routine that
he is Allah’s servant. It prevents people from becoming
overtly focussed on worldly needs to remind them that Allah
alone is the Provider, Sustainer & the Fulfiller of all
It not only inculcates sense of duty but also instills discipline
of following the leader. It is the best possible form of demonstrating
one’s humility in front of his Lord. The congregational
prayer held in the mosque in itself, is a team building process.
It assures a Muslim individual that he is not left alone to
face the tumult of the life.
It provides all the Muslims a readymade forum to assemble and
interact with each other at mohalla level (five times a day),
at sector level (once in a week during Friday prayer), at city
level (twice a year during Eid prayers), and at international
level (once in a life time during Hajj pilgrimage).
All the social, ethnic and linguistic prejudices are set aside
when all the faithful stand in neatly formed rows, shoulder
to shoulder in the show of solidarity. There can be no better
exhibition of universal brotherhood than a sight of congregational
prayer. It also signifies that all are one people belonging
to one nation irrespective of caste, creed color or nationality.
It prepares an astute army of Lord to fight the evil forces
of the world.
Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque,
a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices,
factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are
struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.
Alms - Giving (Zakat)
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things
belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings
in trust. The word ‘zakat’ means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth’
Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion’ for
those in need, and CLEAR ADMITTANCE BY A Muslim that his Lord
has been kind and generous enough to give him wealth in excess
of his requirement. Like the pruning of plants, this cutting
back, balances and encourages new growth. Though it is an annual
affair, it is commanded as often as prayer thus signifying
it’s significance in the scheme of the things as laid
down by Lord. Says Allah Almighty in His Holy Book:
" mercy embraces everything and I shall ordain it for those
who are God conscious and give the Alms and who believe in
our messages" [7:156]
It is one of the most important ingredients of Islamic Economic
Order through which Islam envisages to herald prosperity & dignified
living standard to all. De facto Zakat is a very simple but
effective means to circulate the wealth in the society.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For
most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and
a half percent of one’s capital or more as the case may
be. But it is preferable to have a central pool whereby Zakat
will be collected and effectively disbursed to the deserving
and needy in a manner most appropriate.
The importance of Alms giving and charity can be understood
from what the Prophet said: “Charity is a necessity for
every Muslim.” He was asked: “What if a person
has nothing?” The Prophet replied: “He should work
with his own hands for his benefit and then give something
out of such earning in charity.” The companions asked: “What
if he is not able to work?” The Prophet said: “He
should help poor and needy.” The Companions further asked, “What
if he cannot do even that?” The Prophet said, “He
should urge others to do good”. The Companions said, “What
if he lacks that also?” The Prophet said “He should
check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.”
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from early
dawn until sunset, abstaining from otherwise lawful food, drink
and sex. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and
women who are pregnant or nursing are exempted from the fast
and are required to make up an equal number of days later in
the year. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer)
from puberty, although many start earlier.
Fasting like Salat as an act of worship, has been part of Sharia’ given
by all the prophets; as mentioned in Holy Qur’an:
"O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was
for those before you, that you may (learn self - restraint
and) become pious." [2:183]
Human being is a unique combination of body and soul. Therefore
it is essential to strike a balance between one’s physical
and spiritual needs. But more often than not, this balance
is lost sight of. Lust, greed and passion overtakes all other
human faculties, leaving behind a poor spiritual being vulnerable
to worldly evils.
Here comes Fasting to the rescue of the faithful. The month
long, focussed exercise in self-control wherein the body is
made to starve and the spiritual being is being strengthened
through Qur’an Recital of the Qur’an, not only
restores this desirable balance but also helps an individual
imbibe the attitude of obedience.
Fasting is not all about denying oneself the lawful food or
drinks or sex alone; it is to eschew all unlawful acts, which
displease his Lord. If this aspect is not taken care of, while
fasting, a Muslim does not achieve anything out of his fasting
except hunger as mentioned by Prophet (PBUH)
"Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and deed, Allah
does not require him to give up eating and drinking."
On another occasion he said:
"any are the people who fast but who gain nothing from their
fast except hunger and thirst."
The secret nature of fasting ensures that one has a very strong
faith in the ‘unseen’ Lord and the ‘Hereafter’ where
he will be rewarded for his self-restraint in the way of Allah;
or else who can stop him from drinking and eating when no one
Fasting possibly is the only means to expose the rich & famous
to hunger pangs; so that they may sympathise with the poor
of the society.
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah- the Hajj - is an obligation
only for those who are physically and financially able to perform
it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each
year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity
for those of different nations to meet one another.
Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual
Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which
is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall some times
in summer some times in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes:
simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture,
so that all stand equal before God.
The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abraham origin, include
circling the Ka’ba seven times, and shuttling seven times
between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during
her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the
wide plain of Arafat and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness,
in what is often thought of as a preview of the Day of Judgement.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking.
Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with
water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha,
which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts
in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al -Fitr,
a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main
festivals of Muslim calendar.