What is Islam?
Islam is a monotheistic faith which calls everyone to worship One God alone and to ensure that they recognise Him as their Maker and Creator – we exist because He created us and everything around us.
Islam is centred on five pillars which every Muslim adheres to and the reason for these pillars is very simple – to make sure that Muslims continue to remember and thank God throughout their lives for everything He has given to us.
What are the five pillars?
- Shahadah (testimony):
To recognise, believe and bear witness that nobody has the right to be worshipped except God alone and to accept the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the final prophet of God.
This is the most important aspect of faith and reason why God has created us. God states:
“I did not create the heavens, the earth and all that is between them without purpose! That is what the disbelievers think.” (Quran 38:27)
“And I did not Create the jinn and humans except that they should worship Me (alone)” (Quran 51:56)
- Salaat (prayer):
To perform the five daily prayers. After the ablution, each prayer takes approximately five minutes and is performed at different intervals of the day.
The reason why Muslims perform the five prayers is so that we:
- Remember God during some parts of the day and do not forget him.
- Show appreciation for everything He has given to us, such as our hearing, sight, clothes, food, family etc.
“So remember Me, I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (Quran 2:152)
- Zakaat (charity):
To donate 2.5% from one’s savings to charity once a year. God states in the Quran to the Muslims:
“And establish salaat (prayer) and give charity (zakah) and bow with those who bow.” (Quran 2:43)
This helps to purify the shortcomings within ourselves and our wealth, and reminds us to remember and help those who are less fortunate.
As with other words used by God in the Quran, the word Zakaat has many layers of meaning.
It can be translated to mean obligatory charity, alms, or tithe; however it combines these meanings with a deeper richer meaning of ‘purity’. Why?
- For the one who gives; it purifies their heart from selfishness and greed for wealth and develops within them sympathy for the poor and needy.
- For the one who receives; it purifies their heart from the envy and hatred of the rich and prosperous and fosters a sense of good will between Muslims.
- Hence, Zakat has a deep spiritual significance as well as an economic objective in helping the poor and needy.
- Sawm (fast):
To fast consecutively during the month of Ramadhan. God states in the Quran that:
“O you who have believed, we have decreed fasting upon as it was decreed upon those before you, so that you may become of the righteous (God-conscious).” (Quran 2:183)
When one makes a conscious decision to fast:
- Then at times of hunger, one is reminded of why he/she is fasting – because our Creator has ordained it for us.
- Hence, a Muslim in the state of fasting remembers God throughout the day and appreciates the favours and blessings which God has given to us such as our variety of food and drink, and our ability to digest and absorb this.
- Hajj (pilgrimage):
To visit Mecca and perform the pilgrimage at least once during one’s lifetime. This is a command from God in the Quran and all Muslims are expected to fulfil this as long they are able to afford it.
“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah for those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence).” (Quran 3:97)
These are the five pillars of Islam.