The five pillars of Islam are five basic acts considered mandatory by Muslims. These five pillars are found in the hadith. Today we will look at the first two pillars. A list of the pillars are found in Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 8:
Allah’s Messenger said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
- To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.
- To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
- To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .
- To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
- To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.
The first pillar is a confession of faith called the shahada. The confession, “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah” is to be declared in Arabic, and must be said with conviction and an understanding of its meaning. The first part, “there is no god but Allah” is declaring that only Allah can be worshipped and that Allah has no partner or son. The second part declares the Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. It should be noted that you do not become a Muslim by simply pronouncing the words. The oral declaration is a reflection of belief that is held in one’s heart.
The complete shahada does not appear in the Qur’an. It is actually found in Sura 9:31, and in Sura 33:40. As soon as a baby is born into a Muslim family, these words are whispered into his ears, and if possible a Muslims is encouraged to repeat the words as he is dying.
The second pillar is salat. Salat consists of five daily ritualistic prayers. Personal prayer or supplication by Muslims is called dua. The salat prayers are named according to the prayer times: Fajr (dawn), Dhuhr (noon), ‘Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (evening) and Isha (night). The prayers are recited while facing the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.
Salat has a set of positions while reciting certain verses, phrases or prayers. The worshiper begins by standing, but as he repeats the prayers he bows, prostates and concludes while sitting on the ground.
Before prayer, Muslims must perform wudu or abulution to make sure they are clean from any physical impurities. These steps include washing your hands, inhaling water into the nose, washing the face, lower arms, head, ears, and feet.
As Christians, we know that God is our Father who desires to fellowship with His children just as they are. Because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross we can each approach God without rituals. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Much of the worship of Allah by Muslims is ritualistic. Pray they will have a revelation of the love of our Heavenly Father who desires a personal relationship rather than rituals.