The Five Pillars of Worship in Islam

Part of the Islam For Dummies Cheat Sheet

In the Islamic faith, Muslims are expected to fulfill five fundamental acts of worship. The Five Pillars of Worship (arkan al-`ibada) are the basic acts involved in being a believing and practicing Muslim, but each Pillar is also a gateway to deeper understanding and greater spirituality as one grows in the Islamic faith.

  • Shahada: A person becomes a Muslim by making the basic statement of testimony or witness. “I testify that there is no God but God, and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Variations of the shahada are used in many different situations.

  • Salat: Salat is a formal, ritualized prayer performed at five specified times each day facing Mecca. Salat consists of a sequence of recitations and bodily positions, including prostration with one’s forehead touching the ground.

  • Zakat: Zakat is an obligatory charitable contribution, theoretically due annually from every Muslim at the rate of 2.5 percent of liquid assets and income-producing property. Zakat supports charitable works and the promotion of Islam.

  • Saum: Fast from dawn to dusk each day during the ninth month (Ramadan), Muslims are not supposed to eat, drink, or engage in sexual intercourse. This is a time of spiritual renewal.

  • Hajj: At least once in his or her life, if physically and financially able, each Muslim makes the pilgrimage to Mecca during the twelfth Muslim month. During the five main days of the hajj, those on the pilgrimage duplicate the ritual first performed by Abraham, including circling the sacred shrine (Ka`ba), standing on the plain of `Arafat, and offering a sacrifice.

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