The five pillars of Islam refer to the five duties that every Muslim must perform. The first of these five pillars is the declaration of faith. The other four are religious acts that are performed either daily, once a year, or at least once in a lifetime. These acts are woven into the lives of Muslims and take precedence over all worldly matters.
The five pillars of Islam are
The most basic requirement of being a Muslim is to publicly state the words “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger”, in Arabic, with sincerity and without any reservations. This testament is the foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. To become a Muslim, a non-Muslim must repeat the Shahadah in the presence of witnesses.
The statement of Shahada in Arabic is
Ash-hadu al laa ilaaha illallah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad ur rasulullah
The statement of faith must be a genuine belief that includes the following articles of faith.
Every Muslim is required to pray five times a day. The five prayers are
These five prayers are said at dawn, mid day, late afternoon, sunset and nightfall. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The first act that the slave (of Allah) will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment will be the prayer. If it is good, then the rest of his acts will be good. And if it is evil, then the rest of his acts will be evil.”
Every Muslim is obligated to pay a portion of his or her wealth for the benefit of the poor and needy. Zakat means purification and growth. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a portion for those in need. This also increases social welfare and encourages economic growth.
A Muslim may also donate more as an act of Sadaqah (voluntary charity), in order to achieve additional reward from Allah.
Every year in the month of Ramadan Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk. In addition, Muslims are expected to refrain from anger, envy, greed, lust, gossip, violence, bad language and other inappropriate thoughts and actions. Fasting is meant to encourage Muslims to seek nearness to Allah, be patient, and learn the hardships faced by the less fortunate.
Hajj is a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Makkah (Mecca). Hajj occurs every year during the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Every Muslim who is physically and financially able is obligated to perform Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime.