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  • Rıdvan Demir

THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM


There are five pillars in Islam.


1. Shahadah: (Declaration or witness of faith) there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

2. Salah: Five daily worship prayers.

3. Zakah: Obligatory sharing of wealth and charity.

4. Sawm: Fasting during Ramadan (9th month of Islamic calendar) from down to sunset (30 days).

5. Hajj: Pilgrimage to Ka’bah in Makkah (Mecca) once in one’s lifetime for those who can afford it both financially and physically.



1. Shahadah is the Muslim’s “ testimony” or “confession” of faith”: “La ilaaha illa Allah, Muhammad Rasuul Allah” (there is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” To become a Muslim, it is sufficient to utter the confession of faith once in one’s life, freely and as a believer. All the other elements of belief and prescribed duties become immediately incumbent upon the one who has made the shahada.



2. Salat is public worship-prayer, not a prayer of petition, intersection, or invocation (this sort of personal, private prayer is known as du’a), but a highly regulated, formal observance. The worship-prayer is offered five times daily: early morning (before sundown), noon, mid-afternoon (or just before sunset), after sunset, at night. The Friday congregational worship-service, featuring a sermon, is obligatory. The salats of funerals and the two eclipses (sun and moon namely orijinal name of them are Husuf and Khusuf) are also recommended. There also two festival worship-pray that is Feasts of Ramadan and sacrifice, are obligatory.


The Salat Ritual: Prerequisites include: proper purification (being in state of ritual purity and performing ablutions at the entrance to the mosque); proper covering (for men, from navel to knees; for women, entire body except for hands, feet, face); proper intention (niyya), a focusing of the mind on the act about to be performed, an important dimension of all Islamic ritual life; facing in the direction of Makkah (qibla), a dramatic symbol of Islam’s worldwide unity. Each salat includes the recitation of the takbir (Allahu akbar)- Allah is most great), the opening Sura (chapter)of the Quran, another Sura, another takbir then bowings and prostrations (rukuu and sacda), the recitation of the Shahada, and a final invocation of “peace” on all existence blessing. The entire ritual takes only several minutes.



3. Zakah (wealth-sharing) is an expression of the horizontal relationship of Muslims with one another. It is a legal, obligatory act, not to be confused with charity. Muslims are commanded to give charity often and freely; but the zakah is more like a tax payable once a year and computed as a percentage of one’s various forms of wealthy (or cash set 2.5 % or 1 / 40 of the amount over the minimum for each type of wealth as described in detail in Islamic law system. In general, Muslims are expected to give a minimum of one-fortieth part of all holdings to the poor). Traditionally, zakah was collected and distributed by the state; nowadays it is a matter for the individual conscience, although some Muslim governments still are responsible for collection.



4. Sawm is the sacred fast, which takes place during the holy month of Ramadan-literally, “the summer’s heat”- the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year. From down until sunset, devout Muslims practice total abstinence from all food, drink, smoking, and sexual relations. No chewing of any substance is permitted. No medicine may be taken through any orifice (inoculations through muscle or vein are permissible). Intentional breaking of the fast is considered a serious offence, which can require up to sixty days additional fasting or the giving of charity equivalent to a meal for sixty persons. Travelers may make up the fast later; older persons, minor children, the sick and the insane are exempt; fasting is prohibited for pregnant or menstruating women or those who have just given birth. Days missed must be made up later that is one day for one day. Ramadan is a joyful time for Muslims; the purpose of the fast in not atonement, but increased awareness of the will of Allah. In the evenings, feasting and celebration are common. Evening mosque vigils are also a frequent maintains the Quran was first revealed. Commonly Muslims recite the whole Quran during night prayers called “tarawih” that is totally 20 rak’ah.



5. The Hajj is the Muslims annual sacred pilgrimage to the holy Ka’bah in the city of Makkah. It takes place over days 8 through 12 of the 12th holy month Dhu al-hijja (the one with the hajj). The hajj is required once in each Muslim’s lifetime, if he or she is physically and financially capable (money may not be borrowed for the purpose, all debts must be paid before the pilgrimage is undertaken). Preparations for the hajj constitute a solemn leave taking of one’s former life, a symbol of the willingness to accept even death in total submission to Allah’s will, whatever it will be.



The Hajj Ritual: Before entering the sacred precincts of Makkah (Mecca), male pilgrims don two-piece, seamless, white ritual garb (ihram). Women may wear the colorful garb of their homeland or a one-piece white garment; no veil is worn during pilgrimage. Women’s heads are covered, men’s uncovered. During the sacred days, no intercourse, nail clipping, hunting, perfume or jewelry, hair cutting, uprooting of living things, arguing, talking about sex etc. are permitted. Approaching Ka’bah and throughout the hajj, pilgrims constantly recite the talbiya: (I am here, o my God, I am here!) (Labbayk Allahumma labbayk!) the actual rites are complicated enough to require guides, the most important ceremonies include: the tawaf a counterclockwise circumambulation of the Ka’bah (the ancient cubical stone structure in the center of the great mosque in Makkah), in imitation of Abraham and Ishmael and of Muhammad (peace be upon all of them). When possible, pilgrims kiss the black meteoric stone set in the corner of the Ka’bah. The Sa’y: a walking and jogging circuit (seven times) back and forth between the two hills of Safa and Marwa in commemoration of the experience of Hajar or (Hagar), wandering with little Ishmael in the wilderness. This completes first part of the hajj. A ritual haircut (the clipping of a symbolic amount of hair from the head) is required at this point. The pilgrims then travel to town of Mina, a few miles away. Nearby, on the vast plain of Arafat, an enormous tent city is erected for the crowd (which numbers in most years about a million a half people). On the ninth of the month, the pilgrims stand from noon until sundown in meditation and praise (wuquf) of Allah. This is the heart of the hajj. At sunset, preparations are made for the trip to Muzdalifa, an open plain on the way back to Makkah; pilgrims spend the night there before returning to Mina. At Muzdalifa, the two late salats are combined. Pilgrims collect forth-nine pebbles, which will later be thrown at two stone pillars-symbols of the devil- at Mina, during the following three days. On the tenth of the month, there is the ritual commemoration of Abraham’s sacrifice of the ram in the place of Ishmael. The Feast of sacrifice, the most important of the Muslim canonical year, continues for three days and includes the slaughtering of animals, with the distribution of meat and hides to the poor. The ritual haircut is repeated, ending the state of ihram (ritual purity). After a final stoning of the devil, the pilgrims perform a final (tawaf ) circumambulation of the Ka’bah), and the hajj is completed.


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