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5 Pillars of Islam 3

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Text Preview Belief and witness
The first pillar of Islam (the Shahadah) is believing and professing the unity of God and the messengership of Muhammad: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” The Qur’an requires the faithful to tell others of Islam, so that they will have the information they need to make an intelligent choice. However, it rules out the use of coercion in spreading the message: Let there be [or: There is] no compulsion

In religion: Truth stands out
Clear from Error: whoever
Rejects Evil and believes
In God hath grasped
The most trustworthy
Hand-hold, that never breaks.29
The Qur’an insists on respect for all prophets and all revealed scriptures. Daily prayers
The second pillar is the performance of a continual round of prayers. Five times a day, the faithful are to perform ritual ablutions with water (or sand or dirt if necessary), face Mecca, and recite a series of prayers and passages from the Qur’an, bowing and kneeling. Around the world, this joint facing of Mecca for prayer unites all Muslims into a single world family. When the prayers are recited by a congregation, all stand and bow shoulder to shoulder,

with no social distinctions. In a mosque,
women and men usually pray separately, with the
women in rows behind the men, to avoid sexually
distracting the men. There may be an imam, or
prayer-leader, but no priest stands between the
worshipper and Allah. On Friday noon, there is
usually a special prayer service in the mosque, but
Muslims observe no Sabbath day. Remembrance
of God is an everyday obligation; invoking the
Name of Allah continually polishes the rust from
the heart.
Repeating the prayers is thought to strengthen
one’s belief in God’s existence and goodness and
to carry this belief into the depths of the heart and
every aspect of external life. Praying thus is also
expected to purify the heart, develop the mind
and the conscience, comfort the soul, encourage
the good and suppress the evil in the person, and
awaken the innate sense of higher morality and
higher aspirations. The words of praise and the
bowing express continual gratefulness and submission
to the One. At the end, one turns to the
two guardian angels on one’s shoulders to say the
traditional Muslim greeting—“Assalamu Alaykum”
(“Peace be on you”)—and another phrase adding
the blessing, “and mercy of God.”
While mouthing the words and performing the
outer actions, one should be concentrating on the
inner prayer of the heart. The Prophet reportedly said, “Prayer without the Presence of the Lord in the heart is not prayer at all.”30 Zakat
The third pillar is zakat, or spiritual tithing and almsgiving. At the end of the year, all Muslims must donate at least two and a half percent of their accumulated wealth to needy Muslims. This provision is designed to help decrease inequalities in wealth and to prevent personal greed. Its literal meaning is “purity,” for it purifies the distribution of money, helping to keep it in healthy circulation. Saudi Arabia devotes fifteen percent of its kingdom’s GDP to development and relief projects throughout the world. The Islamic Relief Organization that it funds makes a point of helping people of all religions, without discrimination, where there is great need following disasters. Many stories from the life of the Prophet Muhammad teach that one should help others whether or not they are Muslims. For example, the Prophet’s neighbor was Jewish. The Prophet reportedly gave him a gift every day, even though the neighbor daily left garbage at his door. Once the neighbor was sick, and the Prophet visited him. The neighbor asked, “Who are you to help me?” The Prophet replied, “You are my brother. I must help you.” In addition to zakat, the Shi’a are obligated to give one-fifth of their disposable income to the Imam. Because the Imam is now hidden, half of this now goes to his deputy to be used however he thinks appropriate; the other half goes to... Show More

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