The Five Pillars of Islam

I n Islam, the five pillars of Islam is the basic framework of a Muslim person. They are the shahadah, prayer, zakat, fasting during Ramadan and hajj once in a lifetime if a person is able. It is essential for Muslims to recognise and acknowledge their duties and obligations towards faith.

  1. Shahadah

The term shahadah means a declaration of one’s faith. It is the utmost important pillar of Islam. It is a testament to one’s belief and a declaration that you are a Muslim that there is no God but Allah SWT and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is Allah’s Messenger. In Arabic it is known as La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah.

The shahadah is also the first act of submission carried out by a person who wishes to convert to Islam. The declaration should be recited sincerely three times with pure intention.

  1. Salah

Salah means prayer. It is an act of worship to Allah SWT. It instills a reminder in a Muslim that there is no one greater than Allah SWT.  A Muslim must perform five obligatory prayers daily. The five prayers are Fajr, Zuhr, Asar, Maghrib and Isha. They are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and at night respectively. The times for each prayer vary according to the lunar calendar.  During Salah, a person’s mind should be free from worldly thoughts.

Salah can be performed as a congregation in a mosque which will reap a Muslim higher reward or can be prayed at home at one’s own convenience. Each prayer only takes approximately 5 minutes.

Before a Muslim can perform Salah, they must make wudhu (ablution) which requires them to wash and purify themselves according to the Sunnah.

The adhaan (call to prayer) announces the time for the prayers and is recited at Mosques and can also be received at home at the exact time before performing the Salah. Local radio Muslim stations also play a pre-recorded adhaan when it’s time for the prayer.

  1. Zakat

The term zakat means charity. Allah SWT has created varying levels of wealth for each individual to test humanity and generosity among believers. Therefore, it is obligatory for a sane Muslim adult is to contribute 2.5% of his or her profitable wealth to those less fortunate every year. The wealth includes gold, silver and cash. There is a nisab value for giving Zakat though. Nisab means the minimum amount of wealth a Muslim owns before he or she are deemed eligible to pay Zakat. Gold and silver are two values which are used to calculate the nisab threshold. The nisab for gold is 87.48grams or 612.36 grams of silver.

It is also good to give to those in need whenever we are able.

All Muslims should understand that whatever materials we acquire in this world is truly ours as nothing will be buried with us nor will it be used in the Hereafter. It is only our good deeds and those who helped with our world given wealth which will help us reach Jannah (Heaven) in the Hereafter.

  1. Fasting during Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Every year, all Muslims are obliged to fast during the month of Ramadan which starts at dawn and ends at sunset while abstaining from food, drinks and sexual activities. Fasting has proven highly beneficial to one’s health but the main purpose of fasting is to instil discipline and purifying one’s mind, body and soul. The morning meal is called suhoor and is to be consumed before sunrise and the breaking of fast known as iftar is to be consumed at sunset. The fast is traditionally opened and closed with dates which have various health benefits. The month of Ramadan holds unlimited rewards for those who truly seek repentance and attain closeness to Allah SWT. A person who is ill, pregnant women and young children who have not yet reach maturity, and those who are travelling during the day of the fast can be excused from fasting. Some of these exclusions require a forfeit in a way of donation known as fidya if the person cannot make up the fast later. Ramadan is concluded with the festival of Eid-ul-fitr, which is a day Muslims spend their time with their family members.

  1. Hajj

Every Muslim is obligated to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah once in their lifetime if he or she is financially able. It takes place during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar known as Dhul-Hijjah. Hajj is carried out in ihram, which is plain white clothing for men and its significance is to promote unity in Islam and it reminds us that we all stand equal in the eyes of Allah regardless of age, status or race. The rites of hajj includes circling the Kaabah seven times and going seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah and Muslims stand in Arafat and repent and ask forgiveness for their sins. Once hajj is completed, it is followed by the festival of Eid-ul-Adha, which is called the festival of Sacrifice (Qurban).

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