Allah has mandated five acts upon which the whole religion of Islam is built. Due to their importance, the Prophet stated in another

hadith :

“Islam has been built upon five…”

…and then proceeded to mention the same acts of worship described in the

hadith of Gabriel above.

These acts of worship are called the Pillars of Islam, and they are as follows:

1. Testimony of faith ( Shahadah)

One must profess this testimony of faith, summarized in the two testimonies:

(a) There is no deity rightfully worshipped but Allah

(b) Muhammad is His Messenger.

Through the belief and attestation of the Testimony of Faith (Shahadah ) one enters the fold of Islam. It is the central belief that a believer maintains throughout his life, and is the basis for all his beliefs and worship.

2. Formal Prayers ( Salah )

One must offer the five daily prayers at their specific times. Through the prayer, a Muslim maintains his relationship with Allah, comes to remember Him often, and avoids falling into sin.

3. Compulsory Charity ( Zakah )

Those who have stored a certain amount of wealth must allot a specific portion of it annually to designated deserving recipients.

4. Fasting ( Sawm )

Muslims must fast for a period of one lunar month, which is the month of Ramadan, by refraining from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk. The goal of fasting, as mentioned in the Quran, is to increase one’s piety and God-consciousness.

5. Pilgrimage ( Hajj )

Pilgrimage to the House of God, the Kabah , in Mecca is obligatory for every able Muslim once in a lifetime. The Hajj is a physical and visual proof of the brotherhood of humanity, and their equality in servitude in front of Allah.

Arabic Terms

· Hadith - (plural –

ahadith ) is a piece of information or a story. In Islam it is a narrative record of the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad and his companions.

· Kabah - The cube-shaped structure located in the city of Mecca. It serves as a focal point towards which all Muslims face when praying.

· Salah - the Arabic word to denote a direct connection between the believer and Allah. More specifically, in Islam it refers to the formal five daily prayers and is the most important form of worship.

· Ramadan - The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month in which the obligatory fasting has been prescribed.

· Sawm – Fasting.

· Hajj – A pilgrimage to Mecca where the pilgrim performs a set of rituals. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able.

· Zakah - obligatory charity.

· Imaan - faith, belief or conviction.

The Meaning of Islam-

The Arabic word ‘Islam ’ means to submit, a total surrender, a total resignation to God. Therefore, a ‘Muslim’ is ‘one who submits to God.’ Islam means to submit to Allah alone, to worship and serve Allah alone, and to believe and follow the prophet sent to them. To many non-Muslims, ‘Islam’ is a religion that began in the seventh century in the Middle East, but to Muslims, Islam has always been the only religion of Allah since the time of Adam, the first man. Thus, Islam was the religion of all prophets who came after him. In the time of Moses, Islam was to worship Allah alone and believe and follow the teachings Moses had brought, and Islam in the time of Jesus was to worship Allah alone and believe and follow the teachings Jesus had brought, as they were both prophets sent by God to teach his religion. After the coming of Prophet Muhammad, Islam is to worship Allah alone and believe and follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. Although the teachings of all the prophets about God, the Afterlife, and all other realities of belief were the same, there were slight differences in the methods of practice, worship and service, for each prophet was sent to a specific nation and specific period of time. Even though previous religions come under the general heading of Islam, the religion of Muhammad has specifically been given the name ‘Islam’ by God, as it is the final religion prescribed for humanity until the Day of Judgment.