In order to embrace religion or spirituality, every religion in the world will need to have their own framework or basic belief. Same goes to Islam. For Islamic religion, it comprises of 5 important pillars which are:
- Testimony of faith
- Fasting during the month of Ramadhan
1) The Testimony of Faith:
First and foremost, all Muslims must testify “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God” or in Arab, it will be “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah.”
God is only one which is Allah. There is no other God that should be bowed upon and Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
Someone will not be considered Muslim if they don’t believe in this testimony.
Muslims are obliged to pray five (5) times a day which normally takes between 5 to 10 minutes of the time.
Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God. There are no intermediaries between God and the worshipper.
In prayer, a person feels inner happiness, peace, and comfort, and that God is pleased with him or her. The Prophet Muhammad said: “Bilal, call (the people) to prayer, let us be comforted by it.” Bilal was one of Prophet Muhammad’s companions who was charged to call the people to prayers.
Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. A Muslim can pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories, universities and malls as long as the place of prayer is clean. However, for men, it is advisable for them to pray in mosque as that is the most desired by God.
Normally a person who prays will use a small rug which is known as sejadah when praying. This is to ensure cleanliness when prostrating on the ground as the head will touch the ground.
3) Giving Zakat (Support of the Needy):
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. Islam turns to the practical issue of what should be done about disparity.
Zakat (almsgiving or charity) requires that 2.5 percent of income and holdings (all capital) be given. Poorer people owe nothing, but those in the middle and upper income brackets should annually distribute among the poor one-fortieth of the value of all they possess. The poor are designated as: those in immediate need; slaves in the process of buying their freedom; debtors unable to meet their obligations; strangers and wayfarers; and those who collect and distribute the alms.
4) Fasting the Month of Ramadan:
Every year, in the month of Ramadhan, (one of the Muslim calendar month), Muslims globally are obliged to fast for 30 days from dawn to sunset.
For a normal or majority of the Muslims, fasting is meant to refrain oneself from eating, drinking, smoking and even having sexual intercourse.
For a more pious Muslims, fasting will also include lowering the gaze, avoid from conversation that is wasteful, watching the body from doing harm such as killing animals (ants) for fun etc.
The main purpose of fasting is to teach human on self-discipline, dependence on God, and compassion for those who go hungry. For those who can afford it, there is an alternative to fasting — feeding a poor person.
5) The Pilgrimage to Makkah:
The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe.
Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Male pilgrims wear special simple clothes which strip away distinctions of class and culture so that all stand equal before God.
The Hajj pilgrimage normally occurs from the 8th onwards of Dhul al-Hijjah which is the final month in the Islamic calendar. Every Muslim who is able to make the journey i.e. has the financial capability and is not in debt should undertake the holy pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
There are numerous rituals undertaken during the Hajj such as:
- Men shaving their heads symbolising a new beginning,
- Sacrificial slaughter of an animal to remember the command Prophet Ibrahim (AS) received from God to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS) but a lamb was sacrificed in his place through the mercy of God.
- Other rituals included running several times between the mountains al- Marwah and al- Safa to remember Hajar the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who ran between the mountains searching for water and was granted the blessing of the Zam Zam well
- Pilgrims also stone three pillars which represent Satan in the area of Mina.
- After the various practices related to the Hajj are complete and the sacrificial slaughter undertaken and meat distributed Eid ul Adha is celebrated to mark the end of the Hajj.
It is advisable for young Muslims to perform Hajj as the activities involved during Hajj is quite hectic and needs a lot of strong willpower. Old and sick people are not advised to go as God does not want to create unnecessary burden on someone just for the sake of completing the Hajj rituals.
Many pilgrims who have completed their hajj will be called with title such as Hajji for men and Hajjah for women. However, it is up to individuals to either carry this title after coming back home as there are those who prefer not to have this title.