MainPillars, Practices and Rituals of Islam
There is a widespread misunderstanding harbored by a large group ofpeople about Muslims and Islam. Many believe that Islam is just aboutadhering to a given set of rituals. It is not uncommon to come acrossexplicit expressions of Islam such as pilgrimage and fasting. We arealso familiar with the assorted limitations that Islam imposes onMuslims such as the prohibition of pork and alcohol, and need forwomen to dress discreetly. In many social setting, it is hard to hearabout other aspects that are important to those that profess theIslam faith. One is left to wonder whether Islam is exclusivelyfocused on restriction and rituals. Nonetheless, the truth is thatIslam is intended to be a complete way of life for all people whoprofess it. It encompasses a complete and logical set of moral codes,beliefs, restrictions and rituals that cover every facet of theMuslim life. This paper will seek to discuss the main pillars ofIslam and exemplify the main practices and rituals that serve animportant role in the life of a Muslim.
Islammost Important Practices
Fastingentails refraining from all kinds of sexual intercourse, food anddrinks from dawn to sunset. There are three types of fasting that arerecognized by the Holy Qur`an ascetic fasting, ritual fasting andfasting as a compensation for repentance ((Hayden 2). Every Muslim isrequired to perform a fast ritual during the month of Ramadan eachyear. Ramadan is pegged on the lunar cycle, contrasted to the solarcycle that most individuals in the world use. This means that themonth of Ramadan keeps on changing every year depending on the lunarcycle. Normally, it last for 29 -30 days (Hayden 3). Fasting isbelieved to be a way of cleansing the soul of all the earthly desiresand dedicate oneself totally to the obedience of Allah. Fasting alsoprovides the wealthy Muslims with an opportunity to help their poorbrothers and sisters, and to experiencelife devoid of worldlypleasure of foods and drinks.
TheQur`an states that“ The truly virtuous feed the poor, the orphan andthe captive for the love of Allah, assuring them We need you to winAllah`s pleasure only. We desire no reward nor thanks from you,“(76:6-10) (Chaudhry 7). Every Muslim is, therefore, obliged tohelp those that are of limited means within the society. Whilefasting at Ramadan, Muslims are expected to put more effort inadhering to the rules and teaching of Holy Qur`ran such as refrainingfrom greed, profane language, violence, envy, gossip, lust, anger andstrive to get along with Muslim brothers and sisters. During Ramadanall irreligious sounds and sights and obscene materials should beavoided ((Hayden 3). There are some groups of people who areforbidden to fast during Ramadan, people whom it would pose a threatto their life or cause tremendous problems these include children,individuals with chronic illness such as cancer and diabetes,pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and the elderly.
Justbefore the commencement of the prayer service the Imam, who is theone who leads such a service, stands up on the pulpit and delivers asermon. Such a sermon deals with economic, moral, social andspiritual welfare of the Muslim community (Chaudhry 9). The sermoncan also incorporate major current events that are facing thecommunity. The entire prayer must be conducted in utmost humblenessand submission. During the prayer and sermon no conversation ispermitted. Once the prayer commences a series of actions and sayingsare conducted. The saying entails glorifying Allah and according himpraises and thanks for His utmost blessing on humankind and upon theMuslim community. Reciting parts of the Qur`an also forms part ofthese sayings (Hayden 2). At this juncture Muslims have a chance ofasking Allah for things they need such as passing exam, getting jobopportunity, asking for forgiveness and having children. Every Muslimis encouraged to pray at least five times each day. Prayers areconducted at specific times of the day that is, at dawn, noon,mid-afternoon and during the night (Chaudhry 9).
Pilgrimagealso called Hajj, is a journey to Makkah that every physicallyhealthy Muslim is expected to make, at least once in one`s lifetime.Makkah is situated in Modern day Saudi Arabia, and a set of rites areperformed at this holy place (Chaudhry 6). While at the Makkah Muslimare expected to worship and ask for forgiveness and request Allah foranything, they wish. One of the most important rituals performed atthe Makkah entails walking around Kaaba, which is the blackcube-shaped building at the centre of Makkah ((Chaudhry 7).
Meccais the place where Muslims of all nationalities and color congregate.In reality, Muslim gathering at Mecca is the largest religiouscongregation in the world. Visit to Mecca happens at the between8-12 day of the twelve month of the Muslim calendar ((Hayden 2)..While visiting Mecca, all Muslims are supposed to wear a simple whitegarment referred to as ihram. This attire strips away all differencesof culture, wealth, class and status. At this holy place, everyone isequal before the eyes of Allah.
Purificationis another important ritual among the Muslim community. Beforeprayers Muslim perform a form of purification called ablution whichentails washing of feet, face and arms with water ((Chaudhry 7). Asaforementioned, all individual who profess Islam are required to prayfive time every day, and as such this form of purification ensuresthat Muslim maintain high standards of hygiene. This is in accordancewith the lessons of the Holy Quar`a which state that, “ A day whenthere will be no benefit in wealth or children, but only in he whocomes to Allah with a pure heart.“ 26:88-89 (Chaudhry 7). During theprocess of slaughtering an animal, Muslims are expected to mentionthe name of Allah because they believe that Allah created all animalsin the universe and accorded permission to kill them for meat.Muslims are also encouraged to conduct animal sacrifice on specialevent and occasions as indicated in the Muslim calendar. During suchoccasion part of the meat should be given to the poor in the society(Hayden 3).
Fromthe foregoing I have discovered, here are five fundamental pillars ofIslam, elements that are considered obligatory by all Muslims. TheHoly Quar`a presents these pillars for worship and as a mark ofassurance to the faith. The five pillars are: Shahada (creed),fasting during Ramadan, also called Sawn, pilgrimage to Mecca(hajj),daily prayers (salat) and alms giving (zakat) (Chaudhry, 1). Theshahada id a profession of the muslim faith and believe in one Allahand His prophet Muhammad. These pillars are vital since they serve asthe cornerstone that support Islam and the relationship between Allahand Muslims and fellow Muslims (Al- Azzam 159).
Al-Azzam, H. Bakri. CertainTerms Relating to Islamic Observances Their Meaning with Referenceto Three Translations of the Qur`an and a Translation of Hadith.Universal Publishers. 2008. Print.
Chaudhry,A, Rashid. MuslimFestivals and Ceremonies.Islam International Publications LTD. 1988. Retrieved from:https://www.alislam.org/library/books/MuslimFestivalsCeremonies.pdf
Hayden,Scott.TheFive Pillars of Islam and Their Meanings.2010. Retrieved from:http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/HIST351-2.2-Five-Pillars-of-Islam.pdf