The five pillars of Islam are five obligatory duties that a Muslim must perform. The pillars are acts of worship and show submission to Allah. The five pillars are Shahadah, Salah, Zakah, Sawm and Hajj. Shahadah is the declaration of faith and is the fundamental belief of Islam. ‘There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah’. This belief shows awareness of God as one. Salah is a ritual prayer. Muslims practice two types of prayer and they are Dua’a and Salah. Dua’a in the prayer of petition (asking) and invocation (pleading). This prayer can be said anywhere and at anytime. Salah is the prayer performed five times a day – dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night. This prayer can be performed anywhere that is clean, but it must be facing the direction of Mecca. Before Salah, Muslims must ritually wash and stand on the clean ground or a prayer mat. Salah must be performed for the right intention or in Arabic niyyah.
Salah is performed in a set pattern and there are movements that are performed called rakahs. Salah is obligatory for men, women and children from the age of 12. Zakah is almsgiving or giving money to the poor and needy. Muslims do not like it to be called charity as the money that it belongs to is Allah. It is a gift made to God. Zakah is a proportion of a person’s disposable income and is paid every year and has a special significance. It is a way of showing kindness to the poor, a means of helping spread the faith and assisting those in debt or who are poor and needy. No one should refuse to Zakah or feel ashamed in receiving it because, as mentioned before, it is a gift from God.
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Sawm is fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan. Muslims must not eat or drink during the hours of daylight. Sawm is a religious duty and a joyful act that helps develop self-discipline and is a way of identifying the needs of those that are poor. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims are expected to go on hajj at least once in their lifetime, providing that they are in good health and can afford it. The pilgrimage is very symbolic and is full of rituals. Some of the pillars are observed every day by a Muslim and some are observed annually.
Explain how keeping one of the five pillars might affect the life and beliefs of a Muslim. (7 marks) Salah is one of the five pillars of Islam and is performed five times a day. It is an obligatory duty that all Muslims must perform. It affects every aspect of their life in four ways. It affects them individually because they are becoming closer to Allah and are being led on the right path. It also affects them morally because they are resisting temptation by praying five times a day. It affects Muslims spiritually because again they are at one with God whilst they are praying. Also, it affects them socially as there are many Muslims around the world and they become united with the fact that they are performing Salah no matter where they are and the many millions of Muslims around the world are known as the ummah and Salah united them all worldwide. Prayer keeps the religion strong and the tradition alive.
‘All the five pillars are of equal importance to a Muslim.’ Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. (5 marks) Some Muslims would agree with this statement because all of the five pillars of Islam are obligatory duties, acts of worship and show submission to Allah and that is why they are all equally important. Muslims perform each one either annually, for example, hajj, and daily, for example, Salah. Some Muslims would disagree with the statement and say that the Shahadah is the most important pillar of Islam because it is the fundamental belief and without a Muslim believing in the Shahadah then they don’t believe in the rest of the pillars. Also, Salah maybe is viewed as the most important pillar of Islam as it is performed five times a day, every day. However, I think that all five pillars have equal importance because as I have written above, they are all acts of worship and they uphold the faith. They are all obligatory duties and each and every single one of them shows the submission to Allah.