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Surviving Riyadh

The Five Pillars Of Islam

The Five Pillars Of Islam

Pillar #1: Faith - There is no god worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His messenger. This declaration of faith is called Shahada, a simple formula which all the faithful pronounce. These words are repeated five times a day.

Pillar #2: Prayer - Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. Five times a day - at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall. The Muslims will stop what they are doing, turn in the direction of Makkah and recite the prescribed prayer. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam and no priests, so the prayers are led by the learned person who knows the Quran, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation. Personal supplication can be offered in one’s own language.

Pillar#3: Purification and Growth - 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 ‘sakat’ means both purification and growth. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need.

Pillar #4: Fasting or Syam - Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations. 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 every day missed. Although the fast is beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification.

Pillar#5: Pilgrimage – Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Makkah. Every Muslim, if he is physically and financially able, is obliged to journey at least once in his lifetime to Makkah. The annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God. Makkah and Medina, as the Muslim holy cities, are not accessible to non-Muslims. Mosques are restricted to non-Muslims.

Keywords: faith, prayer, purification, fasting, pilgrimage, Islam



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