Patheos answers the question:

Where Are the Pillars of Islam?

The interior of a mosque
The five pillars of Islam refer to the five religious rituals and belief that are considered to be the foundation of the Islamic religion. The pillars are so-called because they symbolically hold up the faith, as it were, in the same way that physical pillars might hold up the floor to a building. 

The five pillars of Islam encompass: The declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage. Each of these pillars not only expresses a series of values, but carries specific meaning and particular details of fulfillment for Muslims. This specific list is not directly enumerated in the Quran, though some of the pillars are discussed in detail, such as the hajj. The five pillars have became a conceptual enumeration of the core practices of the religion early on in the formation of the faith. Muslims of all different varieties will still rely on these pillars to guide their practice. 

What are the pillars?

The Declaration of Faith (shahada) is the core of Islam’s theological foundation, and refers to the statement “there is no god but God, and Muhammed is his messenger.” This phrase, in its original Arabic, is a ubiquitous inscription commonly found decorating Islamic architecture, inscribed on ritual objects, written into religious books, and elsewhere in Muslim spaces. This is believed to summarize in one line the essentials of the Muslim faith. An individual who converts to Islam does so by reciting the shahada three times with conviction and faith. 

Prayer (salat) includes the call to pray five times a day, using a particular liturgy and at pre-fixed times, facing the direction of the city of Mecca. These five times occur throughout the day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and in the evening. The prayers vary in length, and some are very brief. Many Muslims use a prayer mat for their prayers, and there are specific rituals of bowing, kneeling, and prostrating that accompany the prayers. In Islam, the five daily prayers can be said almost anywhere, and do not require community. Both men and women are obligated in daily prayer, and are expected to wash their face, hands, arm, and feet in ritual preparation before they pray. 

Charity (zakat) is the expectation that every Muslim will donate a particular portion of their income to the community and those in need. There have been different interpretations over the years regarding the exact amount and percentages, but the expectation of charity is supposed to be commensurate with the financial resources of the individual and is considered central to the devout practice of Islam. 

Fasting (sawm) refers to the fasting done during the Islamic month of Ramadan, where Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. This is considered an especially holy and sacred time during the year, and one which calls on Muslims to reflect on their own spiritual lives and their sense of gratitude for everything that God has given them. Children are not expected to fast, nor anyone considered too ill or weak. Ramadan is also a time to be charitable to others, and connect to one’s community. The meals before and after the daily fasts are typically festive and communal. Participating in the annual monthly fast of Ramadan is one of the central rituals organizing the annual religious calendar. 

Pilgrimage (hajj) is the enjoinment to make the journey to visit Mecca, which is considered the holiest city for Muslims, at least once in a lifetime. The city of Mecca is where the ka’ba, the black cube building believed to be the house for God built by Abraham, is located. The ka’ba is the focus of pilgrimage activities, and it is customary to circle the structure seven times, among other rituals. Pilgrims in Mecca wear a simple white garment known as Ihram, though Ihram also refers more broadly to the purified state of a prepared pilgrim. The total ritual prepation of a pilgrim includes bathing, ritual washing of the face, hands, feet, and arms, trimming one’s nails, and formally declaring the intention to perform the hajj. 

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3/23/2021 6:32:39 PM