five pillars of Islam | The
articles of faith | Mohammed
five pillars of Islam
Testimony of faith. Testifying that there is only one God
and that Mohammed is the messenger of God.
gather at the Grand Mosque of Mecca. The Ka'bah is the
stone structure at the center of the Grand Mosque.
Prayer. Saying five obligatory prayers facing Mecca at
times determined by the sun.
Giving of alms. In Islam, alms are based on financial
surplus, not income. It is much preferred to give alms to someone
who is in need, rather than to a mosque or religious organization.
Fasting. Occurs during the month of Ramadan, the ninth
month of the lunar calendar. Muslims who are physically able cannot
ingest any food or water from dawn to sunset.
Making the hajj. A pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims, if
financially and physically able, must make the pilgrimage once in
articles of faith
The beginnings of Islam can be traced to Adam, viewed by Muslims
as their first prophet. The faith was revealed in A.D. 610 to the
last prophet, Mohammed, who preached throughout what is now known as
Saudi Arabia and the holy city of Mecca. These are the articles of
faith that form the foundation of the Islamic religion:
Belief in Allah or the one God. When Muslims use the term
Allah, they are talking about God. In Arabic the word Islam means
submission to God.
Belief in the prophets and the messengers of Allah.
Muslims believe their religion is an evolving one. Man has been
guided by a series of prophets, the last of whom was Mohammed, the
Belief in the books of revelation sent by Allah.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam share sacred texts, including the
Jewish Torah and the Psalms, although Muslims view the texts
differently than other religions.
Belief in the angels of Allah. The angel Gabriel gave
Mohammed the Koran.
Belief in a final day of judgment. Islam believes in
heaven and hell, but no Limbo or Purgatory. In Islam, there are
degrees of heaven and hell. For instance, one personís reward in
heaven could differ from anotherís.
Belief in Allahís foreknowledge. This refers to the
all-knowing nature of Allah, or God. It is similar to how Christians
might say "Iíll do that tomorrow, God willing," a
statement acknowledging God has the power to affect the lives of
The name means "the highly praised." Mohammed was born
about A.D. 570 and orphaned at an early age. He is regarded as a
descendant of Ishmael, linking Islam with Judaism and Christianity
as one of the three great monotheistic faiths stemming from Abraham,
Mohammed became a trader known for his honesty and integrity. He
was a believer in one God and would often retire to a cave to
meditate. At about age 40, according to Islamic belief, the angel
Gabriel visited Mohammed while he was meditating, told him that God,
or Allah, had chosen him as a messenger and revealed to him the
first few words of the Koran.
Over the next several years, Muslims believe, the entire holy
book was revealed to Mohammed and formed the scriptural basis of the
faith, along with a collection of more than 100,000 accounts of the
prophetís words and actions, known as hadith.
In a climate of widespread inequity and idolatry, Islam was a
revolutionary message of equality, justice and peace. It also
featured several militant scriptures ó particularly after Mohammed
moved to Medina to escape a death plot hatched against him by the
Meccan elites in 622. For the last 10 years of his life, he and his
band of Muslims battled relentlessly to establish their faith
against the Meccan establishment and other Arab tribes.
Allah: Arabic for God. Combines the Arabic words
"al," which means "the," and "alih,"
which means god with a small g, suggesting the possibility of many
gods. The term Allah is a contraction of the two and is one way
Muslims emphasize their belief in one God.
The Hadith: A collection of teachings that elaborate and
explain the Koran. Hadiths are written from Mohammedís words.
Hijab: The veiled covering many women use to cover their
hair. In some cultures, Muslim women cover their entire faces.
Imam: The chief officer in the mosque, whose duty is to
lead the people in prayer. Islam does not have an organized
priesthood; any virtuous and able Muslim can lead prayers in most
mosques. However, it is usually the Imam who handles the services of
Jihad: Often mistranslated to mean "holy war."
In Arabic, it means "effort" and usually means an effort
for God. Preaching is a form of jihad. Engaging in war for the sake
of God would be an extreme form of jihad, mainstream Muslims
believe, and could be undertaken only with the understanding that
soldiers would die, not innocent women and children.
Koran: The word of God as told to Mohammed through the
angel Gabriel. Studying the Koran is an essential part of Islamic
life. The work is memorized, at least in part, by virtually all
Muslims; many learn the entire book by heart.
Mecca: The birthplace of Mohammed, Mecca, in Saudi Arabia,
is one of the two holy cities of Islam. Muslims pray five times
daily in the direction of Mecca. All devout Muslims attempt a
pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca at least once in their lifetime.
Medina: A city in western Saudi Arabia, it is the place
from which Mohammed conquered all of Arabia after his flight from
Mecca. Along with Mecca, it is considered one of the holiest cities
Mosque: A building used for public worship by Muslims.
Muezzin: A crier who announces prayer time from the
minaret, or tower of a mosque.