HOW DO MUSLIMS PRACTICE THEIR FAITH?
In Arabic Islam means ‘submission’, in other words, submission to the will of God. It also means ‘to enter into peace’, specifically, the peace one finds through submission to God’s will. Muslims accept five primary obligations in life, commonly called the Five Pillars of Islam. In practice, of course, Muslims can be seen observing all of these to varying degrees, for the responsibility of fulfilling the obligations lies on the shoulders of each individual.
1 The profession of faith (Shahadah)
This is a simple statement of the words, ‘There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God.’
2 Prayer (Salah)
Muslims pray five times a day – at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening – facing toward the Ka’bah, which is the House of God, in the Great Mosque at Makkah. They may pray wherever they are when prayer-time arrives, in any clean place, preferably in the company of other Muslims. On Fridays at noon, Muslims pray in congregational mosques, or masjids; this weekly prayer is called the Jumah.
3 Charity (Zakah)
A fixed proportion (2.5%) of a Muslim’s net wealth – not just his or her current income – is prescribed to be donated for the welfare of the community as a whole.
4 Fasting (Sawm)
Every day from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual contact and, even more than at other times, they must also avoid undesirable, or imperfect behaviours.
5 Pilgrimage (Hajj)
The journey to Makkah is obligatory once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to make it. The Hajj proper is made between the eighth and 13th days of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, and every pilgrim carries out specified rituals at particular times. At any other time of year, Muslims can perform similar prayers and rituals and thus complete the ‘Umrah, or ‘lesser pilgrimage’.