(5 PILLARS OF ISLAM AND THE 3 MAIN PREACHING OF ISLAM)
Five main religious duties are incumbent upon believers. These are the “pillars of Islam.” They include
the profession of faith, the ritual prayer, the alms tax, fasting in Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Jihad was never made a pillar.
1) The Profession of Faith:
A Muslim is one who simply proclaims (shahada): “There is no god but the God (Allah) and
Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
The shahada affirms Islam’s absolute monotheism, and unshakable faith in unity (tawheed)
of God. It is also a reminder that polytheism and the association of anything else with God is
forbidden and is an unforgiveable sin.
The second part of the confession of faith is the affirmation that Muhammad is the
messenger of God, the last and final prophet, who serves as a model for Muslim community.
Muhammad reached, in theology, the status of the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil, and was considered
the meaning and end of creation.
2) Prayer (Salat)
Muslims are called to worship God by the muezzin (caller to prayer) five times a day from the
top of a mosque’s minaret. Muslims can perform their prayer wherever they want, in a mosque,
at home, at work, or on the road, facing Mecca (The holy city and the centre of Islam).
The times for the prayer were set by Muhammad and the times are daybreak, noon, mid-
afternoon, sunset, and evening.
There is a congregational (huma) prayer on Friday that should be preferably recited at the
official central mosque designated for Friday prayer. The leader (imam) stands in front facing
the direction (qibla) of Mecca. A sermon (khutba) follows is preached from a pulpit. Only men
are required to attend the Friday congregational prayer, but if women want to attend they can,
but because of modesty reasons, women stand at the back often separated by a curtain.
During the prayer, Muslims recall the revelation of the Quran and reinforce their belonging
to a single worldwide community.
The prayer is preceded by ablutions (wudu) that cleanse the body and spirit
Depending on the time of the day, the prayer consists of two to four prostrations (rakas).
The prayer consists of bows, prostrations, and a fixed recitation of the opening verses of the
Quran (the Fatihah) and the prayer ends with the recitation of shahada and the peace
Every prayer begins with the niyya, the formulation of the intention, for instance, to perform the
evening prayer with its three cycles or rak'a. During one rak'a the praying person stands upright, uttering
the words Allahu akbar, “God is greather *than anything else+” and the Fatiha. One bends from the hips,
straightens one's posture, prostrates, sits, and then performs another prostration. Each prayer consists
of a prescribed number of rak'a (daybreak prayer, two; noon, four; afternoon, four; sunset, three; and
night prayer, four).
The salat can be extended by reciting long parts of the Koran in the first two rak'a; many people also add
a lengthy meditation while using the rosary, tasbih, repeating religious formulas. The call to prayer,
adhan, consists of the profession of faith and some additional short phrases and is sung in long
cadences. Once the adhan is over, the believer undertakes the ablution. He or she can perform the prayer alone in any clean place or else in the mosque with the community; in both cases absolute ritual
purity is the first condition.
To perform the salat, a clean spot suffices, a small prayer rug guarantees the cleanliness of the place.
After a minor pollution the minor ablution, wudu, is required: feet to the ankles have to be washed in
running water that has not been touched by anyone. Each movement must be accompanied by a
specific prayer formula. After major pollution's such as sex, menstruation, and childbirth, a full bath,
ghusl, is required in which no place in the whole body, including the hair, can remain dry. Only then may
the prayer be performed and the Koran touched and recited. In case water cannot be found, one may
perform the ablution with sand (tayammum).
Friday prayer is a duty of the community; it contains a short sermon, khutba, which consists of two
parts. It gives some advice usually based on the Koran or the hadith, and a prayer for the ruler of the
government. Daily prayers are explained in the Koran as acts of humility and adoration. At the end of
the prayer the Muslim can mention his/her personal requests.
The belief in the purifying power of ritual prayer is intense; the Prophet compared it to a stream of
water that washes off sins five times a day. The performance of the prayer at the prescribed time
constitutes ideally a means of educating Muslims to punctuality, cleanliness, and, since there is no
raking the mosque, equal participation in the life of the community.
The place of prayer is called a masjid “the great mosque,” where the Friday prayer is held and which was
found in each quarter, is called jami', “the gathering.” The architecture of the mosque can be considered
the most representative artistic expression of Islamic culture. The most perfect architectural form of the
mosque seems to be represented by the Ottoman type with its enormous central dome. A special area
for women, either in the background or on a gallery, is usually included in the mosque. Furnishing of the
mosque is extremely simple. In the courtyard one finds a well or fountain for the ablutions. The
direction to Mecca is indicated by a small niche, mihrab, in the wall. The mihrab consists of any clean
material: wood tile work. It is surrounded by artistically written verses from the Koran. Besides the
prayer niche stands the minbar, a pulpit which was introduced in the days of the Prophet. It consisted
originally of three steps, but later a greater number of steps are found. The minbar can be made of any
material. A stand for the Koran is positioned close to the mihrab; glass lamps, illuminate the mosque. A
clock shows the time of prayer.
The artistic possibilities of the Arabic script are inexhaustible, beginning with large lines that impress the
reader by their seeming simplicity. Wall painting is attested from Umayyad times, and figurative
elements on ceramics and metalwork from an important