In this current day and age it is often easy to overlook many customary traditions and etiquette taught to us based around our beliefs and culture; where some Muslim’s are traditional and have certain old-fashioned morals set in stone, there are also others which tend to go along with the current times. With so many opinions and theories based around what a good Muslim should and shouldn’t do, be it extreme or otherwise, many of us often tend to overlook the basic, simple obligations instructed upon us as true followers, such as the Five Pillars of Islam, which takes precedence over anything else.
The Five Pillars of Islam consist of the following fundamental principles:
The terms Shahadah means the profession of one’s faith and belief, declaring your acceptance that there is no God but Allah (SWT) and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His messenger. This declaration confirms and seals your acceptance of Islam and all that it entails. For those wishing to revert to Islam, this statement is to be declared before a minimum of two Muslim witnesses as a requirement. The shahadah also confirms your acceptance of the Holy Qur’an as your sole guidance.
The term salaah means prayer. It is an obligation upon every baligh(a) Muslim to perform daily prayers. Prayers are to be performed facing the Qibla (towards the Holy Ka’aba) in Mecca. The five daily prayers are Salaatul Fajr (dawn), Salaatul Zohar (midday), Salaatul Asr (afternoon), Salaataul Maghrib (sunset) and Salaatull Isha (night fall).
Along with the daily five obligatory prayers, there are also other supplications in Islam, such as the prayers performed during the Holy month of Ramadan (Taraweeh), those performed for the deceased (Salaatul Janaazah), those performed during Eid celebrations (Salaatul Eid) and so on.
The term zakat (zakat ul fitr) – or zakah means to give to charity, notably a portion of one’s profitable wealth to benefit those in need. Our given wealth in this world is temporary and not ours; the more we are given, the more we are being tested as to what we choose to do with that wealth. If Allah SWT wished, He could have granted wealth upon every living being, but there are many in the world that are less fortunate than us and suffer from extreme poverty – this is our test; do we share our wealth with the rest of Allah SWT’s creation or do we become greedy with what isn’t ours to begin with?
There are other forms of charity as well as this obligatory form, such as sadaqah (voluntary charity). There are also many ways to increase one’s reward from giving to charity and to help in sustaining that reward by way of sadaqah jaariyah (ongoing reward). Good examples of ongoing charity are to contribute towards the building of a water well or sponsoring an orphan, as the rewards for these acts are continuous.
Another form of giving that Muslim’s partake in is the giving of Qurbani. The act of Qurbani is to sacrifice an animal in the name of Allah SWT to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s loyalty and devotion to Allah SWT.
The term sawm means fasting; the month of fasting falls during the month of Ramadan in the Islamic lunar calendar. The notion of fasting is not to just abstain from food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset, but to also abstain from other sinful or evil acts such as backbiting, lying, bad intention, violence, gossip, lust, anger, greed, envy and other sinful acts. So the intention is not only for the stomach to fast but for all the senses to fast in order to obtain purity of the mind and soul whilst strengthening ones faith and attaining closeness to Allah SWT. Not only this, fasting also teaches us to be grateful for what we have in comparison to what many others don’t and is a reminder of our duty to help those around us in need. The Holy month of Ramadan is concluded with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, which celebrates the successful completion of the month of Ramadan and the privilege of being given the opportunity to do so. There are many traditions associated with the celebration of Eid.
The term Hajj means Holy pilgrimage (to Mecca). The occasion of Hajj occurs annually during the final month of the Islamic Calendar – Dhu-al-Hijjah, and is an obligatory requirement for Muslim’s who are financially (and physically) able to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
The period of Hajj is followed by the festival of Eid-ul-Adha, but this festival is predominantly to commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) and his devotion to Allah SWT. This is known as the bigger of the two Eid’s and is the festival in which the act of Qurbani is carried out.
The act of Qurbani involves the sacrificing of livestock animals and distributing the meat in three equal portions; between oneself, family/friends and those less fortunate than us. This act in itself demonstrates selflessness and humility whilst promoting global unity and equality.
Submitted by Sister Nadia
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