There are Five Pillars of Islam. These Five Pillars are necessary for Muslims must do to be a Muslim. The first of the Three Degrees of faith is Islam or submission. In order to submit one should follow the Five Pillars of Islam. The difference between the five pillars and the six beliefs are that the five pillars are all acts whereas the six articles of belief are just that, beliefs. The acts are the actions that makes one a Muslim. These five pillars are:
1. Shahada (The Declaration of Faith): The Shahada or the declaration of faith begins with the individual making a Declaration of Faith. This Declaration translates to, “I declare that there is no God but Allah swt and I declare that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah swt”. By making this declaration one brings himself into the fold of Islam. The First part of the Shahada, the declaration that there is no God but Allah swt negates that Allah swt has any partners in worship. That Allah swt is single in worship alone and has no children or daughters. It is a declaration of pure Monotheism known as Tawhid in Arabic. By doing this we negate what Allah swt has negated for himself and we confirm what Allah swt has confirmed for himself.
The second part of the Shahada is the declaration that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH is a messenger of Allah swt. By doing this you confirm the message of Islam, of pure Monotheism that was taught by all of the previous Prophets and Messengers as well as the message of Muhammad. That Islam is the religion given to humanity and delivered by the Messengers and Prophets that tells us to worship our creator as we are created to worship Allah swt alone with no partners.
2. Salah (Five daily prayer): Muslims perform five daily prayers during set times of the day. These five daily prayers are all named after their set time of the day. The names for these prayers are: Fajr (dawn), Dhur (Noon), ‘Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (evening), and ‘Isha (night). During the prayers Muslims prayer toward the Ka’ba in Mecca. This is the cube considered to be the House of Allah swt. Praying in this direction is called the Qibla. The Muslims used to pray towards Jerusalem but changed their direction to Mecca.
Before the prayer, Muslims make Wudu (ablution) to wash up and be clean before the prayer. The prayer can be made in any clean place, but it is preferred to pray in congregation in a mosque because it is believed that there are more blessings when praying with others. Plus, it brings a sense of community.
The Wudu is a ritual purification which we do before every prayer. There is a Hadith that states that the Prophet Muhammad PBUh said that, “If one was to wash five times a day in a river, would they every become dirty?”. This is a reminder that by washing up before praying is a way to cleanse us outwardly, but we purify ourselves inwardly through the prayers. These five daily prayers are a reminder for us that there is a higher power than ourselves and that we should recognize this higher power, which is Allah swt, through our prayers.
3. Zakat (Charity): Zakat (Charity) is paid after the Holy month of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting. After the month of Ramadan, Muslims that have wealth will give 2.5% of their accumulated wealth that they have had for a year to charity. It is believed that this will help to purify the believer as well as to spiritually grow. It also helps to prevent inequality in society. Any Muslim that is economically able to do so should work to ease economic hardship on their fellow Muslims.
There is also Sadaqat which is also charity and it is voluntary. Where the Zakat is obligatory on every Muslim that is able to do so, Sadaqat is voluntary. Sadaqat is given throughout the year whereas Zakat is given once a year.
If Someone is poor they can give Sadaqat by other means. This can be by giving a good word, helping them with some work, and even giving a smile. In a Sahih Hadith Narrated by Abu Hurayrah RA and in both Al-Bukhari and Muslim, it is reported that the Messenger of Islam said, “Every act of goodness is a charity”. In another Hadith that is also narrated by Abu Harayrah and is rated Sahih and is in both Al-Buhkari and Muslim states that:
“There is a (compulsory) charity to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allah) every day the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as a charity. To help a man concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage on to it is also regarded as a charity, and (saying) a good word is also a charity. Every step taken on one's way to offer the obligatory prayer (in the mosque) is also a charity. To remove a harmful thing from the way is also a charity”.
In another Hadith that is narrated in Fiqh-Us-Sunnah, Volume 3, 98 and rated as Sahih it states that the Prophet Muhammad said, “The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises." He was then asked: "From what do we give charity every day?" The Prophet answered: "The doors of goodness are many...enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one's legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one's arms--all of these are charity prescribed for you." He also said: "Your smile for your brother is charity."
There are many other Hadiths that state that being good to your fellow man, to help them in their times of need, are all acts of charity. As can be seen by these Hadiths that Islam is a religion that encourages helping others and to ease their burdens.
4. Sawm (Fasting): During the holy month of Ramadan, it is incumbent on every Muslim that is of age and is in physical health to fast from Dawn to Dusk. From the time that the sun begins to come up in the horizon until the time that the sun begins to set, there is no eating of any food or drinking any liquids. Muslims also refrain from having sex with their spouses. This lasts for 28-30 days since Ramadan is based on a Lunar cycle. This is a time of spiritual reflection, to think about Allah swt. We use our time to read Qur’an and to learn the Deen (religion of Islam more.
Muslim will also refrain from bad language and any kind of bad talk. In actually we should not have bad talk anyways, but this is a time where we are evermore mindful of avoiding bad talk. We also try to avoid seeing anything bad so we should avoid television during the fasting hours.
Muslims believe that the Shaytaan (Devils) uses our eyes, mouth, and privates in order to manipulate us into committing sins. Through are eyes, our speech, and our privates, our desires can be manipulated to make us commit sins. By being able to control our desires by fasting, controlling the means to our desires for a month, then Muslims believe that they can control themselves for an entire year. The Sahaba (companions) of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH six months after Ramadan ended would ask Allah swt to allow them to live six more months to see the next Ramadan do to the blessings of this month.
It is common for American Muslims to do Iftar (Break Fast) at the mosque together. They will break the fast by eating a few dates, drink some water, pray the Maghrib prayer, then eat dinner together. The meals can be quite large. To break the fast with dates is a Sunnah (Practice) of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
The Muslims will then do the Isha (Night) prayer together. After this obligatory prayer is done then there is a prayer that starts around thirty minutes later. These Tarawih (Night) prayers are performed every night during the month of Ramadan in which the entire Qur’an will be recited. Each night 1/30th of the Qur’an is recited, these parts in Arabic are called a Juz’. These prayers are not Fard (obligational) but Muslims should do them anyhow.
5. Hajj (Pilgrimage): The Hajj is a pilgrimage done during the Muslim holy month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the Ka’ba in the city of Mecca. The Ka’ba is situated in the center of the Masjid al-Haram Mosque. This Black Cube is considered to be the spiritual center of the Earth and that the Throne of Allah swt extends above it metaphorically.
Around three-million Muslims perform Hajj every year. During the Hajj they follow many rites and passages and believe that upon completion that their place in Jannah (heaven) is guaranteed for them. They earn the title of Hajji which is a title of honor in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, people in the West use it as a slander but do not realize it is such a noble and dignified honor upon us. I guess we should not get angry when called that.
The Ka’ba was built my Ibrahim and Ishmael near the well of Zam’Zam. The pilgrimage is partly based on Hajjar’s actions when looking for water for the baby Ishmael. The Hajj had been practiced by people of multiple faiths for millennia before the Prophet prevented all other religions but Muslims to do the Hajj. This happened to non-Muslims breaking treaties with the early Muslims, so it was decided to allow for only Muslims to be allowed to be in the cities of Mecca and Medina.
The Hajj is a representation of humanity when all will be around Allah swt on the Day of Judgment. It is interesting in the fact that in the Five Pillars of Islam, it begins with one person, the self, taking Shahada and entering into the fold of Islam. Then it ends with all of humanity, around Allah swt on the Day of Judgment. Since the Hajj is a representation of all of humanity, Islam is the only religion where it begins with one person and ends with all people.