Major Religions & Spiritual Beliefs, Islam
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM,
An example of Allah written in simple calligraphic Arabic
The Five Pillars of Islam is the term given to the five most fundamental aspects of Islam. These five pillars are different in the Shia and Sunni sects.
For the Sunni sect, the Five Pillars are the five most important obligations of a Muslim under Sharia law, and which devout Muslims will perform faithfully, believing them to be essential to pleasing Allah.
The Five Pillars of the Sunni sect are:
The Five Pillars of the Shia sect are:
The Pilgrimage to Kaaba, Masjid al Haram, Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam
Before prayer is the ritual of ablution, a ceremonial cleansing with water (or alternatively, with sand) which is usually performed. The parts cleansed include arms, head, and the feet up to the ankles. If the cleansing was done using water, the Muslim is considered to have wudhu, which means that he or she has cleansed him or herself from the physical manifestations of sin in a lasting fashion that extends between prayers. In other words, unless the Muslim does something to remove this cleanliness, the cleansing would not need to be repeated before the next prayer. When sand is used, the cleansing is only temporary and regardless of whether or not the Muslim commits any physical acts of uncleanliness he or she will need to undergo the ceremonial cleansing immediately before the next prayer.
The salah must be performed in the Arabic language (even if the person neither speaks nor understands Arabic; the prayers are to be recited by heart), and include praises to Allah, the shahada, a plea for forgiveness and various blessings, Chapter one (al Fatihah) and one or more other parts of the Koran (by heart) and an optional prayer of one's own. The entire session includes standing upright, bowing down, kneeling and prostrating oneself. The session ends with looking right and left to say "Peace be unto you, and on you be peace" in Arabic to the believers sitting with you. There is also the angels that Muslims believe sit on both shoulders (the angel on the right is said to record the person's good deeds and the one on the left is said to record the person's bad deeds).
Zakah, the paying of alms
A major principle of Islam is the belief that all things belong to God and that wealth is only held by human beings in trust. The word zakah means both purification and growth. Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakah individually, and for most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one's capital in excess of one's basic needs. A Muslim may also donate an additional amount as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), in order to achieve additional divine reward. Zakah is calculated on the basis of 2.5% of an amount in excess of what you have in hand, after the needs of the family has been met.
Sawm or siyam, fasting
Observance of the Siyam involves abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual intercourse, and other forms of worldly pleasure. This fasting is ordained in the Quran, and is observed by devout Muslims throughout the daylight hours of the 29 or 30 days of the lunar month of Ramadan. There are some exceptions, for example for children, pregnant women, sick Muslims, laborers, and travelers.
As well as fasting, Muslims spend more time praying during this period. Siyam is intended to teach patience and self-control, and is seen as a debt owed by the believer to Allah.
Hajj, the pilgrimage
The final pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca performed during the month of Zul Hijjah. Performance of the Hajj at least once in one's lifetime is obligatory to all who are physically and financially able to undertake it, and about two million people go to Mecca each year. Pilgrims wear a distinctive attire of simple garments to strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God. Performance of the Hajj involves a series of rituals, including encircling the most holy shrine of Islam, the Ka'aba, a giant square house covered with a black cloth that lies in the center of a large square court. It also includes throwing stones at a hill outside the court, which symbolizes driving away evil spirits.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous and potentially hazardous undertaking. However, with the advent of modern transport and adequate infrastructure, Saudi Arabia is now able to accommodate the millions of annual visitors. A shorter, simpler version of the pilgrimage can be made as well, but this does not 'count' as one of the five pillars.
The Five Pillars of Islam in the Shia sect
Arguably the concept of "Five Pillars of Islam" (Arkan-al-Islam) does not exist in the Shia faith. The Usool-ul-Deen, which means The Principles of The Religion are merely five articles of faith which are believed to be fundamental to the Islamic faith. These principles are listed at the end. The concept of "Furoo-ul-Deen", which means the branches of religion which contain ten obligations that are considered fundamental to the Islamic faith can probably be considered to correlate more closely to the Sunni concept of "Five pillars".
Four of the five Sunni pillars are represented in the furoo-ul-deen except the shahada (Testimony of Faith). The usool-ul-deen can be viewed as an exegesis on the shahada; Tawheed (Oneness of God) representing "There is no God but Allah", Nubuwwah (Prophethood) representing "Muhammad is the messenger of God" and Imamah (Leadership on mankind) representing "Ali is the heir of God" which many Shia add to the recital of the shahada. While Adl (The Just nature of God) defines an essential aspect of the God which has been affirmed in the first part of the shahada, the belief in Qiyamaah (Resurrection) affirms the need to proclaim the shahada.
The Furoo-ul-Deen follow:
Copyright Important.ca © All rights reserved.