Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. It also has received a lot of criticism from Christians and others who perceive it as a bed for terrorism. Many people don’t realize however that this religion is much like Christianity. Christianity was built upon the words of many prophets with Jesus Christ being the most prolific. Islam was built on the words from Muhammad who the Muslims view as their most prolific prophet. Muhammad spoke the words of the Qur’an, or Islam’s holy book.
It is because of him that Islam has become what it is and the Muslim people praise him for it. Through his teachings came the principles in which the Muslim people follow and has been what I believe its reasons for growing so fast. Christians believe that the 10 commandments are their guide for living a good moral life. The Muslim people however follow the Five Pillars of Islam. These pillars are Shahadah, Salat, Saum, Zakat, and Hajj.
These pillars are the path of every Muslim in order to live a good life in complete surrender to God.
The first of the pillars is Shahadah, or their confession of faith. The Shahadah is the creed that every Muslim states and is the most important of the pillars. The creed is “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is prophet. ” (Smith 160) This phrase emphasis’s Islam’s monotheistic belief in that there is only one God and that is the only God that should be worshipped. The second part solidifies the Muslim’s view that it is through Muhammad that God or Allah as God is said in Arabic, conveyed the last and final revelation. (carm. rg, “Five Pillars”)
Since Allah made Muhammad speak these words he is portrayed as the Greatest Prophet. This pillar is most important because it allows people to enter Islam through this creed. This creed allows people to become Muslim as long as they believe those words. This is also important because it takes away the differences in people and unites them. A regular man like Muhammad was chosen to speak the words of Allah, which means there is no one better person and these words allow them to see that. The second pillar of Islam is Salat or prayer.
Prayer is extremely important in Islam because it is a direct link to God. The Salat is performed five times a day and is always in the direction of the Ka’ba shrine in Mecca. The first of the prayers is the Fajr or Morning Prayer. This prayer can be performed at anytime between the breaking of the dawn and sunrise. The second prayer is the Zuhr and is performed after the sun declines from its zenith until it is about midway from setting. Asr is the third prayer and begins soon after the time for zuhr prayer ends and extends to just before sunset.
Maghrib is the fourth prayer and begins just after sunset and extends to a period of an hour and a half. The fifth and final prayer is Isha. Isha begins an hour and a half after sunset and extends to dawn. (“Prayers”) Each of these prayers contains verses out of the Qur’an and is said in Arabic. Muslims are encouraged to worship together but cannot always do so, so they may pray wherever they are. The prayer should be performed on a sajjada or prayer mat. The focal prayer of the week is the midday prayer at the mosque on Friday.
Islamic prayer begins in a standing position and moves through several simple postures until the person is kneeling. There are specific recitations that are said through each position. The salat is a Muslims way of making sure God is always at the center of their life and by performing it so frequently they are showing their surrender to Him. The third pillar of Islam is Zakat or alms giving. Zakat is a Muslim person’s way of showing that all things belong to God. There are two kinds of charities in Islam “the obligatory and the voluntary. ” (Alislam. rg “Zakat”) The obligatory charity is called zakat and the voluntary charity is called sadaqah.
The zakat is the amount of money that every adult, mentally stable, free, and financially able Muslim, male and female, has to pay to support specific categories of people. “The category of people is defined in surah at-Taubah (9) verse 60. The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise. (Islamicity. com “Zakat”)
The zakat is only obligatory when a certain amount of money, called the nisab is reached or exceeded. It is up to each person to determine how much they give but it is typically 2. 5 percent of their total capital and is paid at the end of one lunar year, or approximately 355 days. Should a person decide to contribute more than the 2. 5 percent then they are performing sadaqah and are done at their own discretion and typically in secret. The fourth pillar of Islam is siyam or fasting. The Holy Qur’an mentions fasting in 2:183 “O ye who believe!
Fasting is prescribed to you, as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self restraint. ” (“Siyam (fasting)”) This fasting takes place during the month of Ramadan and requires all Muslims to fast during daylight hours, drinks included, and abstain from bodily pleasures like sex or other forms of sensual abandon. “Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for everyday they missed. (Islamicity. com “Five Pillars”)
The purpose of the fasting is to bring focus on humility, spiritual oneness with God, and a social oneness with the Islamic community. Fasting shows a Muslims willingness to submit to God and show they love and respect Him. The hunger and suffering they feel is worth it because they know Allah is watching. This suffering also unites the Islamic community by showing they are all the same. This allows Muslims to understand how the hungry and less fortunates feel. They also are encouraged to come together to break the fast which helps unite their community.
The fifth pillar of Islam is the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Every Muslim is expected to at least once make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year, which is lunar so it may fall in winter or summer. The pilgrims are stripped of all clothing and made to wear simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God. (Islamicity. com “Five Pillars”) This allows the people to unite with each other and allow them to get to know others from all over the world. There are three pillars of Hajj.
The first is to enter into a state of “ihram” and have the intention to perform the pilgrimage. The second is to stay at the field of “Arafat” on the ninth day of Dul-Hajj. If this is not done then the person will not have completed the pilgrimage and will have to repeat it again the next year. The third pillar is additional circling of the Ka’ba that is done after the stay at the field of Arafat and performed from the tenth of the month. (“Hajj”) The rites of the Hajj are Abrahamic in origin and include circling the Ka’ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa.
Once this is complete the pilgrims stand together on the plain of Arafa and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness. The close of the Hajj is marked by the festival, Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. The Hajj is extremely important in a Muslims life because this is where they get to see members of their community from all over the world. Social status and class are stripped away so all members of society come together to help each other during this journey.
It is a remarkable experience for members of the Muslim community. The Five Pillars of Islam play a significant role in each Muslim’s life from the moment they enter Islam until their death. These pillars are their guidelines for living and without them the community would not come together as it does. It is remarkable how much these pillars dominate a Muslims life and that they incorporate them into everything they do. It would not be uncommon to see Muslims stop what they are doing and perform the salat when the call to prayer sounds.
This just shows the discipline and love that the Muslim people have for God and that they are willing to drop everything for Him and His love. If each member of the Christian community would live their lives more in line with the 10 Commandments maybe we would be able to accept the Muslim community more for what they believe in than what we have them stereotyped as. I love that this religion incorporates these pillars into all they do and it has given me the desire to learn more about my own Christian faith and what I can do to incorporate it more in my daily life.