5. Pilgrimage or hajj. The First Pillar. Muslim Profession of Faith. The Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith and the first of the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam. The word
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2 The First Pillar of Islam: The Muslim Profession of Faith All pr acticing Muslims accept belief in the ‚Six Articles of Faith™ and are obliged to follow the ‚Five Pillars.™ They are: 1. Muslim profession of faith or shahada . 2. Ritual Prayer or salah . 3. Obligatory Charity or zakah . 4. Fasting or sawm . 5. Pilgrimage or hajj . The First Pillar Muslim Profession of Faith The Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith and the first of the ‚Five Pillars™ of Islam. The word shahada in Arabic means ‚testimony.™ The shahada is to testify to two things:

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3 (a) Nothing deserves worship except God (Allah). (b) Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah). A Muslim is simply one who bears witness and testifies that finothing deserves worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.fl One becomes a Muslim by making this simple declaration. It must be recited by every Muslim at least once in a lifetime with a full understanding of its meaning and with an assent of the heart. Muslims say this when they wake up in the morning, and before they go to sleep at night. It is repeated five times in the call to prayer in every mosque. A person who utters the shahada as their last words in this life has been promised Paradise. Many people ignorant of Islam have misconceived notions about the Allah , used by Muslims to denote God. Allah is the proper name for God in Arabic, just as “Elah” , or often “Elohim” , is the proper name for God in Aramaic mentioned in the Old Testament. Allah is also His personal name in Islam, as “YHWH” is His personal name in Judaism. However, rather than the specific Hebrew denotation of ” YHWH ” as ” He Who Is “, in Arabic Allah denotes the aspect of being fiThe One True Deity worthy of all worshipfl . Arabic speaking Jews and Christians also refer to the Supreme Being as Allah . (a) Nothing deserves wors hip except God (Allah). The first part of this testimony states that God has the exclusive right to be worshipped inwardly and outwardly, by one™s heart and limbs. In Islamic doctrine, not only can no one be worshipped apart from Him, absolutely no one el se can be worshipped along with Him. He has no partners or associates in worship. Worship, in its comprehensive sense and all its aspects, is for Him alone. God™s right to be worshipped is the essential meaning of Islam™s testimony of faith: . A person becomes Muslim by testifying to the divine right to worship. It is the crux of

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4 Islamic belief in God, even all of Islam. It is considered the central message of all prophets and messengers sent by God – the message of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon them. For instance, Moses declared: fiHear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord.fl (Deuteronomy 6:4) Jesus repeated the same message 1500 years later whe n he said: fiThe first of all the commandments is, fiHear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.fl (Mark 12:29) –and reminded Satan: fiAway from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.fl (Matthew 4:10) Finally, the call o f Muhammad, some 600 years after Jesus, reverberated across the hills of Mecca, there is no god but He.™ (Quran 2:163). They all declared clearly: fiWorship God! You have no other god but Him.fl (Quran 7:59, 7:73; 11:50, 11:84; 23 :32) But by a mere verbal profession alone, one does not become a complete Muslim. To become a complete Muslim one has to fully carry out in practice the instruction given by Prophet Muhammad as ordained by God. This brings us to the second part of the testimony. (b) Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah). Muhammad was born in Mecca in Arabia in the year 570 CE. His ancestry goes back to Ishmael, a son of Prophet Abraham. The second part of the confession of faith asserts that he is not only a prophe t but also a messenger of God, a higher role also played by Moses and Jesus before him. Like all prophets before

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5 him, he was a human being, but chosen by God to convey His message to all humanity rather than one tribe or nation from among the many that ex ist. For Muslims, Muhammad brought the last and final revelation. In accepting Muhammad as the filast of the prophets,fl they believe that his prophecy confirms and completes all of the revealed messages, beginning with that of Adam. In addition, Muhammad serves as the preeminent role model through his life example. The believer™s effort to follow Muhammad™s example reflects the emphasis of Islam on practice and action.

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6 The Second Pillar of Islam: The Prayer Salah is the daily ritual pra yer enjoined upon all Muslims as one of the five Pillars of Islam. It is performed five times a day by all Muslims. Salah is a precise worship, different from praying on the inspiration of the moment. Muslims pray or, perhaps more correctly, worship fiv e times throughout the day: Between first light and sunrise. After the sun has passed the middle of the sky. Between mid -afternoon and sunset. Between sunset and the last light of the day. Between darkness and midnight. Abdullahi Haji -Moh amed kneels during evening prayers while waiting for fares at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, May 4, 2005. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Gus Chan) Each prayer may take at least 5 minutes, but it may be lengthened as a person wishes. Muslims can pra y in any clean environment, alone or together, in a mosque or at home, at work or on the road, indoors or out. Under special circumstances, such as illness, journey, or war, certain allowances in the prayers are given to make their offering easy. Having s pecific times each day to be close to God helps Muslims remain aware of the importance of their faith, and the role it plays in every part of life. Muslims start their day by

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8 Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest), Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest), Allahu Akbar (God is th e greatest), Ash -hadu an -laa ilaaha ill -Allah (I witness that none deserves worship except God). Ash -hadu an -laa ilaaha ill -Allah (I witness that none deserves worship except God). Ash -hadu anna Muhammad -ar-Rasool -ullah (I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God). Ash -hadu anna Muhammad -ar-Rasool -ullah (I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God). -Salah (Come to prayer!) -Salah (Come to prayer!) -Falah (Come to prosperity!) -Falah (Come to pro sperity!) Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest), Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest), La ilaaha ill -Allah (None deserves worship except God).

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9 Men are joined by some of the students from the Noor -ul-Iman School for afternoon prayer at the Islamic Society of New Jersey, a mosque in suburban South Brunswick, N.J., Tuesday, May 13, 2003. Many Muslims communities across the United State s are spreading out from the cities to the suburbs. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer) Friday is the weekly day of communal worship in Islam. The weekly convened Friday Prayer is the most important service. The Friday Prayer is marked by the following features: It falls in the same time as the noon prayer which it replaces. It must be performed in a congregation led by a prayer leader, an ‚Imam.™ It can not be offered individually. Muslims in the West try to arrange their schedules to allow th em time to attend the prayer. Rather than a day of rest like the Sabbath, Friday is a day of devotion and extra worship. A Muslim is allowed normal work on Friday as on any other day of the week. They may

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10 proceed with their usual activities, bu t they must break for the Friday prayer. After the worship is over, they can resume their mundane activities. Typically, the Friday Prayer is performed in a mosque, if available. Sometimes, due to unavailability of a mosque, it may be offered at a rented facility, park, etc. When the time for prayer comes, the Adhan is pronounced The Imam then stands facing the audience and delivers his sermon (known as khutba in Arabic), an essential part of the service of which its attendance is requi red. While the Imam is talking, everyone present listens to the sermon quietly till the end. Most Imams in the West will deliver the sermon in English, but some deliver it in Arabic. Those who deliver it in Arabic usually deliver a short speech in the l ocal language before the service. There are two sermons delivered, one distinguished from the other by a brief sitting of the Imam. The sermon is commenced with words of praise of God and prayers of blessing for Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. After the sermon, the prayer is offered under the leadership of the Imam who recites the Fatiha and the other Quranic passage in an audible voice. When this is done, the prayer is completed. Special, large congregational prayers, which include a se rmon, are also offered at late morning on the two days of festivity. One of them is immediately following the month of fasting, Ramadan, and the other after the pilgrimage, or hajj. Although not religiously mandated, individual devotional prayers, especia lly during the night, are emphasized and are a comm on practice among pious Muslims

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11 The Third Pillar of Islam: Compulsory Charity Charity is not just recommended by Islam, it is required of every financially stable Muslim. Giving charity to those who deserve it is part of Muslim character and one of the Five Pillars of Islamic practice. Zakat is viewed as ficompulsory charityfl; it is an obligation for those who have received their wealth from God to respond to those members of the community in need. Dev oid of sentiments of universal love, some people know only to hoard wealth and to add to it by lending it out on interest. Islam™s teachings are the very antithesis of this attitude. Islam encourages the sharing of wealth with others and helps people to stand on their own and become productive members of the society. In Arabic it is known as zakat which literally means fipurificationfl, because zakat is considered to purify one™s heart of greed. Love of wealth is natural and it takes firm belief in God for

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