The Significance of the Five Pillars of Islam

by Hallie Engel
Modest dress is not a pillar of Islam, but is still important to Muslims.

Modest dress is not a pillar of Islam, but is still important to Muslims.

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The Islamic faith, which includes more than one billion adherents around the world, centers around five pillars which guide the lives and practices of its followers. These pillars serve varying purposes, helping Muslims connect with one another and with Allah on a daily basis while keeping religion the central focus of their lives.

Showing Commitment and Acceptance

Reciting the Shahadah, the profession of Islamic faith, is the basic method of conversion to Islam and is also one of the religion's five pillars. Reciting this oath, which states, "There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God," allows Muslims to show acceptance and commitment to Islam, according to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. In fact, the Saudi Arabian flag is decorated with the Shahadah written in Arabic script.

Connecting with God and Fellow Muslims

The pillar of Salah, which requires Muslims to perform five daily prayers at specific times, serves more than one purpose. First, it connects Muslims across the globe with one another as they all face Mecca to perform the same prayers at the same times complete with specific words and movements. Praying five times a day is also important because it is a commandment of Allah, and Muslims believe that worshipping him earns them rewards, according to the BBC.

Alleviating Poverty

Zakat is a charitable tax, used to help the poor and is believed to "purify, increase and bless the remainder of one's wealth," according to Islamic Relief Worldwide. To calculate Zakat, which consists of 2.5 percent of one's net worth, various things are taken into consideration, including savings and the value of property. Paying Zakat is another part of obeying Allah's commandments and earning his favor while helping those who are in need to better the world.

Strengthening the Spirit, Understanding Poverty, Promoting Unity

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims practice the pillar of Sawn, fasting from sunrise to sundown and abstaining from food, drink, smoking and even sex. This practice allows Muslims to "diminish dependence on material goods, purify their hearts and establish solidarity with the poor to encourage charitable works," according to "TIME Magazine." After a day of fasting, Muslims share a meal with family and friends, partaking in community and togetherness.

Unification and Respecting Tradition

The final pillar of Islam, Hajj is a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, where Muslims visit the Kaaba, the religion's most holy site, and perform special rites. All Muslims who are financially and physically able to make the journey must do so and it promotes oneness with fellow Muslims, acting as a "common bond among the diverse believers," according to "The Guardian." Performing the Hajj is also an important part of obeying rules laid down by Muhammad.

About the Author

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.

Photo Credits

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