"Those who have faith in the
Unseen and establish the Prayer and spend out of what We have bestowed upon
them; and those who believe in that which is sent down to you [O Muahmmad] and
that which was sent down before you [the Books and the prophets] and have certain
faith in the Hereafter. These are on true guidance from the Lord, and these
are the successful."
<Quran al-Baqara 2:2-5>
The Five Pillars of Islam
Written by Tim Winter (Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Cambridge)
Edited by Jamie Jamal Al-Nasir
The religion is based on simple foundations says Tim Winter
Islam, the Prophet (pbuh) said, is built on five pillars. They do not define the religion, because its essence is traditionally taken to be its spiritual life, rather than its formal practices. They are, however, regarded as its foundations and, more than anything else in Islam, they give Muslim societies their unmistakeable rhythm and texture.
God's outpouring to man in the form of His gifts and the bility to use them, now counterpoints man's corresponding praise of his Maker. But this praise is not easy. However strong the motivation behind it maybe, it is hard for us to express ourselves in a manner worthy of addressing God. Just as when an ordinary man addresses an aristocrat, he expresses his respect most fully by using certain protocol, so when we turn to God, we must find some was of presenting what we feel in a way befitting the presence of the Lord of creation, who has given us all we possess. This protocol we call "worship." While we may find many ways of worship which afford us some satisfaction, the finest and most devotional forms cannot be dreamed up by man, and are best granted directly by God. Worship is complex and subtle activity, relying heavily on symblism; a complete science, in fact, involving not only a profound understanding of the human mind, but also a direct knowledge of the kingdom of God.....Although in the Islamic vision all human activity can be (and ideally should be) a form of worship, four specific forms of devotion are laid down and particularly emphasised. Chief among these is the regular Prayer, folowed by the month of Fasting, the similarly purifying experiences of systematic Almsgiving, and the great Pilgrimage to the sacred precints at Mecca.