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Islam, a name given by Allah to this religion (Quran 5:4), is an Arabic word which literally means obedience and peace. ISLAM is derived from the Arabic root “SALEMA”: peace, purity, submission and obedience. So ‘Islam’ would mean the path of those who are obedient to Allah and who establish peace with Him and His creatures. Its follower are called Muslims.

Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance which Allah revealed to all prophets before Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Allah says in the Qur’ân:

“Say, `We believe in ALLAH and that which has been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus and other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them and to HIM we submit.” (Qur’ân 3-85)

Six main Articles of faith in Islam

 

The Five Pillars of Islam (Declaration of the Islamic Faith)

In order to enter into the fold of Islam i.e. to be Muslim, one has to know, believe, accept totally and sincerely apply the five basic principles (Pillars) on which Islam is based: Ibn Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah – Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said: Islam is based on the following five pillars (principles).

  1. Bearing witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
  2. Observance of Prayer
  3. Paying Zakat
  4. Fasting during Ramadhan
  5. Pilgrimage to the house of Allah.

Why I believe in Islam

Some Books on Islam

By http://www.alislam.org/

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar (RA); Allah’s Apostle (SAW)said; Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

  1. Shahādah: To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.
  2. Salāh: To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
  3. Zakāt: To pay Zakāt (Obligatory Charity).
  4. Sawm / Roza: To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. (Sawm / Roza).
  5. Hajj: To perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca).

(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 17).

Let us learn briefly about these pillars.
1.       First Pillar: Shahādah

The Shahādah is the first pillar of Islam. Shahādah is the declaration of faith, i.e. There is no God but Allah and Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, is the Messenger of Allah.
It states “Ash-hadu an La ilaaha illallaah, Wa Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullaah”; “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger.” Reciting this statement is obligatory in daily prayer (Salāh) as well as on other occasions. It is also a key part in a person’s conversion to Islam.
The first part of the Shahādah (known as Tawheed), that there is no God but Allah, attests the Oneness of Allah. The second part, that Muhammad (SAW) is His messenger, states about the Nubuwwah / Prophethood of Muhammad (SAW).
 
2.       Second Pillar: Salāh / Namaz
Salāh is the name given to the formal Islamic prayer. Its supreme importance for Muslims is indicated by its status as one of the paradigmatic Five Pillars of Islam.
Offering Salāh is obligatory on all adult Muslims, with a few dispensations for those for whom it would be difficult.
To offer valid Salāh Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by performing ritual ablution (Wudu) according to prescribed procedures. Also the place of prayer should be clean.
Each of the five periods is preceded by the Adhaan (or Azaan as it is more commonly called). The muezzin (more correctly mu’adh-dhin) calls out the Azaan on each occasion.Salāh consists of five daily prayers according to the Sunnah; the names are according to the prayer times:
1.       Fajr (Offered just before morning dawn).
2.       Zuhr (Offered at noon time after the sun has surpassed its highest above you).
3.       Asr (Offered during evening).
4.       Maghrib (Offered just after sunset).
5.       Isha (Offered during the night).
Narrated Abu Huraira (R.A): I heard Allah’s Apostle (SAW) saying, “If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” The Prophet (SAW) added, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out (annuls) evil deeds.”
(Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Hadith # 506)
 
3.      Third Pillar: Zakāt
Allah says in the Quran, “Establish the prayer and pay the Zakāt”. (Surah Al-Baqara, Verse:43)
Zakāt or alms-giving is the practice of charity by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is obligatory for any practicing Muslim, who is Sahib-e-Nisab (i.e., who possesses 75 gms gold or 520 gms Silver or equivalent amount in cash or any other form of assests / liabilities) to pay Zakāt.
Zakāt consists of spending 2.5% of one’s wealth (1/40th Part of the wealth), every year, for the benefit of the poor or needy including slaves, debtors and travelers.
It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality.
There are five principles that should be followed when giving the Zakāt:
  1. The giver must declare to Allah his intention to give the Zakāt.
  2. The Zakāt must be paid on the day that it is due.
  3. After the Offering, the payer must not exaggerate on spending his money more than usual means.
  4. Payment must be in kind. This means if one is wealthy then he or she needs to pay 2.5% of their income.
  5. The Zakāt must be distributed in the community from which it was taken
Not paying the Zakāt (For those who are financially able to do so) brings disasters upon the Muslim Ummah. Neglecting to give Zakāt can result in damnation in the afterlife, while those who give Zakāt can expect reward from God in the afterlife. The giving of the Zakāt is considered a means of purifying one’s wealth and one’s soul.
The Qur’an talks about the Zakāt in more than 30 different verses, mainly in the Madinian Surahs. In the Qur’anic view, Zakāt is a way to redistribute the wealth, thus increasing the role of charity in the economy with a particular interest in the poor and the dispossessed. However, Zakāt is considered more than charity – one must give Zakāt for the sake of one’s own salvation.
 
4.       Fourth Pillar: Sawm / Roza
Sawm (Roza) is to fast in the month of Ramadan.

Allah says in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
(O those who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as were enjoined upon those before so that you be God-fearing. [Surah Al-Baqara, Verse:183]).
Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in  sexual intercourse (and are to be especially mindful of other sins) from dawn (Fajr) to sunset (Maghrib) while observing the fast.
Fasting is essentially an attempt to seek nearness to Allah and increase one’s piety. One of the remote aims of fasting is to sympathize with those less fortunate ones who do not always have food and drink readily available. Also one must try to avoid cursing and evil thoughts. Fasting is also viewed as a means of controlling one’s desires (of hunger, thirst, anger & other worldly desires) and focusing more on devoting oneself to God.Fasting is necessary for every Muslim that has reached puberty (unless he/she suffers from a medical condition which prevents him/her from doing so). Other individuals for whom it is considered acceptable not to fast are those who are ill or traveling.
Narrated Abu Huraira (RA): Allah’s apostle (SAW) said:
“Allah said, All the deeds of Adam(AS)’s sons are for them, except fasting which is for me, and I will give the reward for it.”…
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 3, Hadith 128)
5.      Fifth Pillar: Hajj
Pilgrims in the position of Sajda while in Salah at the Kaaba
 Hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah to the holy city Makkah in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world. Every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in their lifetime (who can afford to do so). The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to Allah.
The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.
The arkān (Obligations / rituals) of Hajj explained diagrammatically
When the pilgrim is around 10 km (6.2 mi) from Mecca, he/she must dress in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white sheets. Ihram is also the name given to the special spiritual state in which Muslims live while on the pilgrimage. Both men and women are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The main rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching / kissing the Black Stone, traveling / running seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, going to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil and symbolically stoning (throwing stones at) the Devil in Mina. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid-ul-Adha.
Beautiful night view of the Kaaba during Hajj
The Hajj is associated with the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Makkah is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Ibrahim (AS).
Pilgrims trying to touch the door and the walls of Kaaba (Baitullah) during Hajj
Pilgrims performing Tawāf during Hajj.