The Five Pillars of Islam
Excerpt from “Saudi Arabia: All You Need to Know” by Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Rashid and Dr. Esber Ibrahim Shaeen; pages 106-108
The five pillars of Islam must be fulfilled by each Moslem during a lifetime. These are:
Shahadah or witness and profession of faith, that there is only one God and the Prophet Mohammed is His Messenger. Basic in the Moslem faith is the call to worship one God, namely: “there is no God but God and Mohammed is the Messenger of God.” The Arabic equivalent is Shahadat an La Ileha Ila Lloh! Mohammed Rasoul Lloh.
Salah or performance of prayer. In their prayers, Moslems, individually or in groups face Mecca five times a day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and early evening. The prayer is conducted in the Arabic language and led by a person chosen by the group. While it is recommended to perform prayer in a mosque it can take place elsewhere.
Zakat or the payment each year of two and a half percent of one’s net worth. This money goes to help the needy and the poor.
Siam Ramadan or fasting by every Moslem during the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting takes place from dawn or first light until sunset. During this period, one must not eat, drink, smoke, or carry on sexual activity. People who are sick, elderly, pregnant women and those who are traveling may be excused and should make up the days missed at a later date in the year. Those physically incapable must feed sixty needy persons for everyday of fast missed. Fasting is regarded as a healthy exercise making people more sensitive to the sufferings of the needy. Moslems break the fast with a light meal called iftar or break-fast. Communities and streets become alive at night. Everyone is usually in a festive mood. The nights of Ramadan are marked with religious activities, including long periods of prayers (Tarawih) performed after the last prayer of the day (Salat Al-Isha). One of the major holidays is Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Celebrations go on for four days. It is a happy time, especially for children who traditionally receive clothing, toys and other gifts.
Hajj or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca must be undertaken by every capable Moslem at least once in his/her lifetime. The person must be physically and financially in shape to perform this task. The Hajj is a very moving, spiritual experience. It is the ultimate highlight in a person’s religious life. Over two million pilgrims come from Saudi Arabia and the four corners of the globe. This massive religious gathering is carried out in an orderly and humble manner. Each person is draped with a simple white cloth called ihram. All are equal under God as class distinctions and varied cultures all dissipate during this holy occasion.
The Pilgrimage is characterized by the orderly movement of several masses of people. The logistics and management of these movements are mind-boggling indeed! The Saudi Government, under the leadership of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd, met this challenge by the most sophisticated network of walkways, bridges and tunnels, complete with a multitude of services. These include hygienic bathrooms, cold water distribution, health care, guides, food distribution, and a secure environment. Major gigantic gatherings in the world such as the Olympics, major rallies and major conferences are all dwarfed when compared with this religious procession.
The Hajj rituals are the same as the one (and only one) performed by the Prophet centuries ago. The conclusion of the Hajj is marked as the second major holiday for all Moslems: Eid Al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice. Sheep and goats are slaughtered as a sacrifice and their meat is donated to the needy across the world. Gifts, pleasantries and a jovial mood prevail during the Eid of good wishes and goodwill.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Saudi Arabia: All You Need to Know
Dr. Nasser Ibrahim Rashid and Dr. Esber Ibrahim Shaeen
This comprehensive, richly illustrated work is the third volume completing a trilogy on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Written by the same co-authors of King Fahd and Saudi Arabia’s Great Evolution and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf War. It provides an objective, factual treatise on the phenomenal progress of a proud, productive and prosperous nation.
Saudi Arabia’s meteoric ascent did not come easily or by accident. The House of Al-Saud, in their wisdom and foresight, shrewdly shaped their oil production policies and invested their oil revenue in the revitalization of every aspect and sector of their great nation.