Understanding The Five Pillars of Islam

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My parents are Christians. My grandmother who stays with us practices Taoism and Confusionism. I have been to churches and buddhist temples before. Though I live in a Muslim country, I understand very little about Islam. So inside me, there’s this curiosity to understand a little more about Islam. I believe that a lot of my non-Muslim friends are also in the same boat as me. We don’t really know much about Islam.

I once heard the President of a AccountAbility, a non-profit organization established in 1995 that promotes accountability innovations that advance responsible business practices the broader accountability of civil society and public organizations, saying that democracy exists in the Five Pillars of Islam. He said that the five pillars of Islam include freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, human dignity, and gender equality. I can’t believe that hearing him speak has made me want to understand the five pillars better. I did some research and found out what the five core aspects of Islam means.

  1. The Testimony of Faith (Shahadah)
  2. This Pillar is believing in and saying the words. “There is no God except Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”.

  3. Ritual Prayer (Salat)
  4. This Pillar is praying five times a day. There are set prayers which Muslims should say, and all Muslims should face Mecca in Arabia when praying, and should pray on a prayer mat. People should wash before they pray. There are fixed movements, which include kneeling with the forehead placed on the ground in front. This expresses the servant status of the human being in relation to Allah.

  5. Obligatory / Religious Almsgiving (Zakat)
  6. Each year, Muslims are supposed to give a fixed proportion of their savings for endeavours such as helping the poor. In this way, they believe that their wealth is made pure.

  7. Fasting (Sawm)
  8. Refraining from food and drink during the month of Ramadan during daylight hours.

  9. The Pilgrimage to Mecca
  10. This is making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life, if it can be afforded.

I guess that freedom of conscience comes in where anyone is allowed to think what they want to think. And that none of the five pillars condemns nor punishes any human for having thoughts of their own.

I think that freedom of expression comes in at Shahadah. That one can choose to say or not to say what he believes in. Believing and saying ‘There is no God except Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ shows that it is a human choice, not a must say or should say. It’s more like saying it because you believe it.

I think human dignity and gender equality also comes in at all five pillars. There is no specifics to say that only men can do this and women cannot do this. It’s more like regardless of gender, age, or skin colour, if you want to do it, then just do it. Helping the poor, being discipline and expressing right expressions brings about a sense of service and purpose, right?

What do you think?

Five Pillars of Islam
Five core aspects of Islam

Translating Democracy
Democracy in the Muslim world

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