These are the foundation of Muslim life and Muslims are required to observe them with sincere devotion.
A building will collapse without structural pillars, likewise faith will break down without these pillars, a believer’s relationship with The almighty lacks direction without sincere observance of the following mandatory pillars.
The Five Pillars of Islam
1. Faith in the Oneness of The Almighty God: Allah, that only He should be prayed to and worshipped, and the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad, صلى الله عليه وسلم (God send peace and blessings upon him)
2. Establishment of the 5 daily prayers;
3.Charity given to the needy(if one is able);
4.Fasting (if one is able) in the month of Ramadaan.
5. The Greater pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca (once in a lifetime for those who are able).
“There is none worthy of worship except The One True God (Allah) and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” This declaration of faith is called the Shahadah, a simple testimony that all the faithful pronounce. The significance of this declaration is the belief that the only purpose of life is to worship God alone, it doesn't mean that one worships all the time as this goes against the teachings of the prophet . This is carried out through following the teachings and practices of the Last Prophet, Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).
Salah is the name for the obligatory prayers that are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and The Almighty, islam doesn't have monasticism or priesthood rather those most learned in the faith are those who should lead the congregation.
Prayers are said at dawn, mid-day, afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus help to determine the rhythm of the entire day. These five prescribed prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are recited in Arabic, the language of the Revelation. Personal supplications, however, can be offered in one’s own language and at any time.
Although it is preferable for men to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities.
Obligatory Charity (Zakah)
The word zakah means both “purification” and “growth.” Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need and for the society in general.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own obligatory charity individually. This involves the annual payment of 2.5% of one’s capital if one has savings that exceed a certain threshold, excluding such items as primary residence, car and professional tools.
An individual may also give as much as he or she pleases as voluntary charity, and does so preferably in secret. Such charity is not limited to financial giving.
The Prophet said, “Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is an act of charity.” The Prophet also said: “Charity is a necessity for every Muslim.” He was asked: “What if a person has nothing?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.” The Companions of the Prophet asked: “What if he is not able to work?” The Prophet said: “He should help the poor and needy.” The Companions further asked: “What if he cannot do even that?” The Prophet said: “He should urge others to do good.” The Companions said: “What if he lacks that also?” The Prophet said: “He should check himself from doing evil. That is also an act of charity.”
Fasting (Sawm) Every year in the month of Ramadaan, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown–abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations with their spouses.
Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year if they are healthy and able. Children begin to fast (and to observe prayers) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although fasting is beneficial to health, it is mainly a method of self-purification and self-restraint. By cutting oneself from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person focuses on his or her purpose in life by constantly being aware of the presence of God. God states in the Quran: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self-restraint.” (Quran 2:183)
The pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to do so. Nevertheless, over two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another.
Pilgrims wear simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before The Almighty.
The rites of Hajj, which were carried out by Abraham, include visiting and worshipping around the sacred house, and going between the hills of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar (Hajira, Abraham’s wife) during her search for water. The pilgrims later stand together on the wide plains of Arafat (a large expanse of desert outside Mecca) and petition The Almighty Allah for forgiveness, in what pilgrims describe as being like a preview of the Day of Judgment.
The close of Hajj is marked by a festival, the greater Eid (Eid Al-adha) which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This and the Eid after Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr), a festive day celebrating the end of Ramadan, are the two holidays of the Islamic calendar.