The five pillars of Islam are the five primary obligations that Muslims must uphold or adhere to during their lifetime.
1. Shahadah – The first pillar of Islam is shahadah, the profession of faith. The statement, La ilaha illa Allah wa-Muhammad rasul Allah or There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God’ expresses full commitment to Islam and is part of the call to prayer or adhan, a 5-times daily prayer ritual.
2. Salah – The second pillar, salah, means prayer. Prayer is performed five times daily, facing Mecca/Makkah. The prayer is performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening, and is often carried out in a group setting (e.g. at a mosque), but can be done privately as well. In many Muslim-majority countries, mosques publicly broadcast the call to worship, the adhan, to allow and encourage collective prayer.
3. Zakat – The third pillar, zakat, means almsgiving or charity. This pillar requires all adult muslims with sufficient means to give 2.5% of their funds to those in need within the community. Zakat is an obligatory commitment to social responsibility and a compulsory way to purify earnings and sanctify their relationship to God.
4. Sawm – The fourth pillar, sawm, is the month-long fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset as an exercise of self-control, an acknowledgement and greater understanding of the sufferings of the poor and most importantly, to grow a deeper relationship with God. At the end of the great fast, Muslims celebrate with a feast called Eid al-Fitr. This marks the first day of the month Shawwal, however the feast can last more than one day.
5. Hajj – The fifth pillar of Islam, hajj, is the pilgrimage to Makkah or Mecca. As a profession of faith and commitment to Islam, muslims from across the world, must make the pilgrimage to Mecca once throughout the life. Granted they are physically and financially able, muslims make the journey to Mecca, following the pilgrimage rites of the Prophet Muhammad during his final pilgrimage.
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. (2015). The Five Pillars Of Islam. About Saudi Arabia. [Online]. Accessed 2015.03.10
Available at: https://www.saudiembassy.net/about/country-information/Islam/five_pillars_of_Islam.aspx
IISNA. (2015). The Five Pillars Of Islam. Online]. Accessed 2015.03.10. Available at: http://www.iisna.com/articles/pamphlets/the-five-pillars-of-islam/