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According to Zahid (2011), the pillars of Islam are basically the five frameworks that guide the life of every Muslim. He notes that the five pillars form the basic foundation for the Islamic Religion. They include prayer, faith, concern for the needy, self purification or prayer and the Pilgrimage to Makah. Zahid (2011) defines faith as the belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophet-hood of Muhammad. He describes prayer as the confession of sin and further noted that fasting is self denial of food and other pleasures normally done during the month of Ramadan.
Slick (2011) also notes that Zakat is a practice by Muslims which demands that every Muslim gives charity to assist the poor. Finally, pilgrimage to Mecca is basically a financial form of worship where Muslims are expected to sacrifice the finances and use it in the making of the pilgrimage. Zahid (2011) further noted that this is done every first half of the last month of every lunar year. The paper will look at these pillars in details with emphasis laid on prayer and how it affects the Arab culture.
The Testimony of Faith
Trinalynne (2011) noted that the Muslims understand faith as the belief in the Oneness of God and prophet Muhammad as the messenger of God. Zahid (2011) observes that Muslims strongly believe that no one else a part from God deserves to be worshiped. The faith derives its meaning from its Islamic synonym, Shahadah, which represents a formula common to every Muslim. Its first part means “there is no god except God” where god means things like wealth and power that one may want to use to replace God.
Additionally, Zahid (2011) noted that Muslims also believe on God as the source of all creation. He further explains that to the Muslims, faith drives its significance from the fact that it is only through serving and obeying God that one can fulfill his/her purpose in life. The Muslims generally believe that for anyone to have enough faith, he/she must embrace and adhere to the teachings of Muhammad. He is recognized as the last prophet and the messenger who has come in the form of a man (Zahid, 2011).
Main (2011) noted that Sakat is also generally known as the financial obligation by the Muslims. According to Zahid (2011), this is the pillar that helps unite all Muslims irrespective of their social classes while seeking to assist the poor. Its basic principle is that all things belongs to God and those who possess them just do so in trust.
According to Trinalynne (2011), the word zakah in itself implies two meanings, purification and growth. He notes that the belief among the Muslims that their wealth can only be sanctified by them giving a portion of their wealth to be used in assisting the needy and the entire society. The pillar has been effective in encouraging both the spiritual and the economic growth among the Muslims, the poor and the rich alike (Zahid, 2011).
Main (2011) observes that the calculation of Zakah is done by the individual Muslims. It is normally 2.5 percent of all the capital obtained by an individual each year. However, the calculation excludes items like once primary residence, private car and other professional tools. Apart from the Zakah, an individual can also give any amount as sadaqa-h which is always paid in secret because of it is done as a voluntary charity. All the Muslims hold dearly to the words of the prophet that ever Muslim must embrace charity (Zahid, 2011).
The Pilgrimage to Mecca
Slick (2011) observes that this pillar is also commonly known as Hajj. Unlike other pillars which are an obligation to every Muslim, Hajj is only practiced by those who have both the necessary physical and the financial ability. Zahid (2011) noted that individuals attend Mekkah from all over the world. Its global in nature enables the Muslims from different parts of the world to meet one another. TrinaLynne (2011) observes that the Pilgrimage is always scheduled to begin at the twelfth month annually. Those who attend/the pilgrims are always encouraged to put on simple clothes which enables them to avoid the possibility of distinction of class and culture. This encourages the virtue of equality among all the people.
Zahid (2011) observes that the pilgrims carry out certain rights while at Mekkah. These includes: surrounding Ka’bah seven times. They also repeat the practice of Hagar by going between the two hills, Safa and Marwa seven rounds after which they join together in prayers to seek God’s forgiveness. At the end of hajj, there is always a festival called the ‘Id alAdha, whose celebration is marked by prayers and the exchange of gifts. It is normally carried out in all communities of Muslims worldwide (Zahid, 2011).
Zahid (2011) noted that fasting is also generally known as Sawm in the Islamic Religion. It is done annually during the month of Ramadan. It involves the abstinence of food, drinks and sexual relations between spouses from down to sundown. However, there are various categories of individuals who are exempted from either continuing or participating in the fast. These include those who are either sick or very old. Other special groups are women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing. Though they are allowed to break the fast, they are expected to diligently make up later for the number of days that they shall have failed to fast (Zahid, 2011).
Main (2011) observes that the Muslim children are not exempted either, they are taught to begin participating in the fast from puberty stage. Apart from the belief that it is beneficial to health, fasting serves other two major purposes. It is believed to offer purification and self-restraint to the Muslims. Zahid (2011) notes the belief among the Muslims that fasting temporarily redirects one to focus purely on God and the need to fulfill their purpose in life. In Quran 2:183, the Muslims are encouraged to fast. It states that fasting is a prescription which is to enable them to learn to restrain themselves (Zahid, 2011).
Prayer is also known as Salah or Salat among the Muslim faithful. According to Zahid (2011), salah means the prayer that is always done as an obligatory by all the Muslims five times each day. The Muslims believe that prayers link them directly to God. Zahid observes that those who are leading prayers are never those in authority but rather any learned parson who is well conversant with the Qur’an. Normally, such people are selected by the congregation. The prayers are made at different times of the day including: at dawn, at the mid-day, late in the afternoon, at sunset and at night fall (Zahid, 2011).
Main (2011) observes that the practice of prayer has led to a predetermined pattern of movement for the Muslims. During each of these five moments of prayer, the faithful mentions verses from the Quran in Arabic language. However, the faithful are also allowed to have their own time of offering personal supplications which can be done in any given language. In their prayers, Muslims address God as the greatest of all and declares that there is no one except God and Muhammad as His Messenger. Finally, through prayers the Muslims believe they can succeed in life (Zahid, 2011).
Influence of Prayer in the Arab Culture
The Muslims everywhere understand that the most important duty of mankind is to seek to understand their purpose in life while submitting to Allah in prayers. Main (2011) noted that prayer plays a vital role in the Arab culture and has a direct influence on business customs, governmental life and the day-to-day life. Prayer in itself is a form of surrender to God. Among the Arabs, many people have had to abstain from such behaviors as consumption of alcohol and pork. Second, Prayers is written in an Arabic language. This in itself has had a great impact in the Muslim culture as children are taught the language at their tender age leading to the use of several of languages. Those who want to seek more understanding of the Quran also studies the language further (Main, 2011).
Apart from food, prayers also make the people of all ranks and social classes to commit their lives to the Sheria laws. This has greatly influenced the laws and regulations of most Arab countries. In these countries, the Sheria Law guides several customs including marriage, crime punishment and the dressing code especially for women. Muslims in all Arab countries also pray five times a day with all other obligations and responsibilities scheduled around the prayers. This means that several activities stop at certain times of the day as people go to attend prayers.
In conclusion, it is the five pillars that give the Islamic religion a meaning and makes it to be distinct from the others religions.