Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Pillars of Islam (Sunni)

The Pillars of Islam (Sunni)

There are five pillars of Islam. These are the five duties required of every Muslim.

1. Shahada (professing of faith)
2. Salah (prayer)
3. Zakah (giving to charity)
4. Saum (fasting in Ramadan)
5. Hajj (pilmigrage to Mecca)

Shahada is simply a statement professing your belief in one God (Allah) and accepting that Muhammad is God’s messenger and there is no other God but Allah. The statement in Arabic is: أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله - “ašhadu anna laa ilāha illa (A)llāh, wa ašhadu anna Muhammada(n) rasūlo (A)llāh.” The English translation is “I profess that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.

Salat is the second pillar of Islam. It is the requirement to pray five times a day at fixed times during the day. These times are dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nighttime. Each Salat must be performed facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca. With Salah, there is a focus and intent of the mind to Allah, expression of gratitude and worship. The Quran tells that prayer restrains one from committing shameful or evil deeds. There is also a requirement of cleanliness when performing Salah.

Zakah means giving to charity and it the amount given is based on wealth. It is an obligation to those who are financially able to do so and it a personal reasonability of Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate the equality of health as was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). A Muslim may also donate more as a voluntary act of charity called sadaqah. There are two types of Zakah: kajj and zakat. Kajj is a fixed amount based on the cost of food that is paid during the month of Ramadan by the head of the family and his dependants. Zikat is paid on the wealth is usually 2.5 percent of savings and valuables. There are four important factors when giving zakat: (1) the giver must declare to Allah his or her intention to give zakat; (2) the zakat must be paid on the day that it is due; (3) payment must be in kind. If one is wealthy, he must pay 2.5% of his income. If one does not have much money, then he must pay in a different way, i.e., if he has a lot of cattle, he can pay in cattle instead; and (4) the zakat must be distributed in the community in which it was taken.

Sawm (ritual fasting) during the month of Ramadan is obligatory. Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn till dusk during this month, and they should be mindful of their sins. The purpose of the fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek closeness to Allah and to express their gratitude and dependence on Allah. Muslims are to atone for their past sins and remind themselves of the needy. Muslims are also excepted to put more effort in following the teachings of Islam.

Hajj is a pilgrimage is an ancient practice that occurs during the month of Dhu al-Hajj to the holy city of Mecca. Every Muslim is required to take Hajj at least once in their lives. If a pilgrimage is made at any other time than Hajj season, it is called Umrah which is not mandatory but encouraged. The belief is that the Hajj is an expression of devotion to Allah and not a definition of social standing. The believer should be self-aware and examine his or her intentions before taking Hajj.

Source: Wikipedia, Five Pillars of Islam

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The Quran Says:

"And thus preach joy to My servants.Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it. Those are the ones whom Allah has guided and they are the wise people." (39:17-18)