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the Five Pillars of Islam

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the Five Pillars of Islam

Post  Admin on Fri Jan 02, 2009 6:43 pm

There are five duties that one must live by if one is a Muslim, these are often called the Five Pillars of Islam.



Shahada This is the main religious belief of all Muslim people and it is a declaration of their faith. The English words are;


There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Or as some muslims prefer... "There is no god but the One God" meaning there is only one God for all mankind.
Anyone who says these words and means it can become a Muslim.



Salah This is prayer. Muslims pray five times a day and follow a special ritual to do so. Firstly they wash (wudu). This is a special process...

Wash hands up to the wrist three times

Wash mouth three times

Wash nostrils, breathing in and out through the nose three times
Wash one's face three times

Wash arms up to elbows three times

Wipe head with wet hands, forehead to back, back to forehead

The inside of the ears are cleaned with the wet forefinger then the back of the ears with the thumb

Wash feet up to the ankles three times

Raise one's face to the sky, pointing up with the index finger.
The water must be pure, if there is no clean water symbolically, the face and arms are just wiped with the hands. The prayers are all said at the same times each day:

Fajr- Morning, between dawn and sunrise

Zuhr - Mid-day or early afternoon

Asr - Late afternoon

Maghrib - Evening, around sunset

Isah - Night, before going to bed


ZAKAT
This is about looking after other people. Each Muslim gives up a share of his wealth each year to provide for those less fortunate. The word zakat means to purify or cleanse. As the person gives up a share of his or her wealth they become cleansed from selfishness and greed. This money might be to provide education, keep up or build mosques or help the needy.




HAJJ
All Muslims have a duty to try to make a pilgrimage to the Ka'aba in Makkah at least once during their lifetime. Very often whole families will save to send one person at a time. The men who make the pilgrimage wear an ihram which is made up of two sheets. They must not be sewn. Also they wear special open shoes. This clothing is a symbol of peace and obedience to God. The pilgrimage follows a set pattern.





There is a day of preparation. The person bathes, dresses in the ihram and tells everyone that he intends to perform Hajj. He walks round the Ka'aba seven times and usually kisses the black stone. The Ka'aba is a cube covered in a black cloth (kiswa) and it has a special black stone in the corner where Abraham stood.







Day 1, the pilgrims move to Mina about three miles away to get here for the prayers at noon. They stay there over night.

Day 2 sees the journey from Mina to Arafat by noon. A sermon is preached and pilgrims stay there until sunset. The day is spent standing in the open on the large plain praying to God. It symbolises the Day of Judgement when Muslims have to answer for their deeds. This is the most important part of a pilgrimage. After sunset they travel to Muzdalifa for the evening and night prayers.






Day three is the Day of Sacrifice. Pilgrims collect a bag of tiny pebbles which they carry back to Mina.




They throw seven stone on Jamara 'Agba in memory of the time that Abraham dismissed Satan in this way. When that is complete a sacrifice of a goat or a sheep is made, again that is in memory of when Abraham was going to sacrifice his son as God had ordered. Once that is complete the pilgrim cuts off a lock of his hair.





They walk once again round the Ka'aba on the way back to Makkah and then dress in their normal clothes.


Days four, five and six are for relaxation.


The effect of the pilgrimage is to bring together the community and strengthen it.





SAUM
This is all about Ramadan. The ninth month of the Islam calendar. It is special because it is when Muhammad (Pbuh) began receiving the messages from God. For thirty days Muslims fast, they do not eat or drink during daylight hours. It start when the new moon is seen at the start of the month and ends when the new moon is seen again at the end of the month. The fast is to remind them how difficult it is to be poor, hungry and thirsty in a hot place. It reminds them to thank God for his gift of the Qur'an. It also serves to make them think about the essentials and luxuries of life and so not be greedy.

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