Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islam has reached far and wide, with there being over 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe; making Islam the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world. Muslims strive to follow what the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah (recorded prophetic teachings) have taught them in order to remain guided. The ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ are the foundations upon which our actions are based upon; and the ‘Six Articles of Faith’ are the foundations of our belief system, which every Muslim should believe in.
The Five Pillars
The testimony of faith (Shahadah): The belief that there is no Deity worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His final Messenger and Prophet. This means that none other than Allah has the right to be worshipped and that Allah has no partners or children. To become a Muslim, one must repeat the Shahadah in Arabic once without the presence of witnesses being necessary. However, if one does not know the Arabic language, provided they have conviction in the above, they are still Muslim.
The five daily prayers (Salah): It is a Muslim’s duty to perform the five daily prayers on time. Salah is a direct link between the worshipper and Allah. Salat Al-Fajr, performed at dawn; Salat Al-Dhuhr, performed at mid-day; Salat Al-Asr, performed at late afternoon; Salat Al-Maghrib, performed at sunset; and Salat Al-Isha, performed at nightfall.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The first act that the slave (of Allah) will be accountable for on the Day of Judgement will be the Prayer. If it is good, then the rest of his acts will be good. And if it is evil, then the rest of his acts will be evil”. [At-Tabarani]
Alms (Zakat): For those Muslims who meet the criteria, it is their duty to pay 2.5% tax from their wealth on a yearly basis in the way of Allah. Zakat means ‘to purify’ our wealth and possessions, which are purified by giving this portion to charity.
Fasting in the month of Ramadhan (Sawm): Every year, Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadhan to practice self-restraint and attain Taqwa (strengthening our relationship with Allah and protecting ourselves from His anger). From the moment the sun rises until the sun sets, Believers abstain from food, drink, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations. By cutting down on worldly pleasures, the fasting person gains true sympathy for those who are less fortunate, as well as experiencing spiritual growth. Fasting draws Muslims nearer to Allah through patience and discipline.
Pilgrimage (Hajj): This annual pilgrimage to ‘The Holy City of Makkah’ (Makkah Al-Mukarramah) occurs in the final month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul-Hijjah. It is a prophetic tradition that connects Believers to the odyssey of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), who is acknowledged in all Abrahamic religions. To this day Muslims of every ethnic group, colour, social status, and culture gather together in Makkah, wear the same clothes and perform the same actions, standing before the Ka’bah praising Allah, The Most High. The rituals and rites are designed to glorify Allah with the core of our being; the pilgrim exerts his or herself mentally, physically, and spiritually in the hopes of having their sins forgiven. The Hajj also promotes unity by showing that everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah. It reminds Muslims of the actual purpose of life here on earth, by removing the worldly desires and stations; social status, wealth, and pride are put to one side in order to focus more on the afterlife. Hajj is an obligation upon all Muslims, who are physically and financially able to perform at least once in their lifetime.
The Six Articles of Faith
Belief in Allah: First and foremost, one must believe in Tawheed; the oneness of Allah, that there is no God but Allah and there is no one equal to Him. To believe in Him and with all the conditions associated with this belief there are 7 conditions;
Allah has created and sustained the universe and all that is within it. He is Exalted above everything that he creates and his greatness is inconceivable: “Say ‘He is Allah (who is) One. Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born. Nor is there to Him any equivalent’ ”. – [Qur’an, Surah Al-Ikhlas: The Sincerity, 112:1-4]
Belief in the Angels: They are the creation of Allah, created from Nur (light) unseen by humankind. They are given specific duties and commands by Allah and they have no ability to disobey His command.
Belief in the Divine books: The original scriptures were given to previous messengers, for example the Psalms (Zabur) was revealed to Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him), the Torah (Taurat) was given to Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and the Gospel (Injil) was revealed to Prophet Isa (peace be upon him).The Holy Qur’an was revealed to the final Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), over 1400 years ago, it is a book of guidance for all mankind, to be recited and understood. The uniqueness of the Holy Qur’an is astonishing for its words have remained in its original form since it had been revealed. Believing in the original scriptures is a main pillar of belief for Muslims and we believe that the Qur’an was sent to humanity as the final holy book, abrogating all previous books.
Belief in the Prophets (peace be upon them): The Qur’an mentions 25 Prophets (peace be upon them), including Adam (peace be upon him), Nuh (peace be upon him), Ibrahim (peace be upon him), Musa (peace be upon him), Isa (peace be upon him), and the final Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), though there were many more. They all came to their people with the same key message; to believe in Tawheed without associating any partners with Allah and to refrain from sinning. It is a pillar of faith to believe in all the Prophets (peace be upon them) and that they were mere humans with no divine attributes.
Belief in the Day of Resurrection: This world will surely come to an end and at a time known only to Allah, the dead will be raised; all men and women, from Adam to the final person who lived, will be judged for what they used to do on earth and Allah, The Most High, will deal with them justly. That day is known as in Arabic Yawm Al-Qiyamah.
Belief in Allah’s Predestination (Al-Qadr): His ultimate knowledge and supremacy is unimaginable! The Believer must have strong faith in Allah and realise that their knowledge is limited, in contrast to Allah’s infinite knowledge. In His hands is the control of everything, and we submit and accept His will.
A Mercy Sent to Mankind
Islam was revealed to humanity by the final Messenger and Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), in a long line of messengers sent by Allah, The Most High. He was a living example of Allah’s guidance for the benefit of humanity.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in Makkah, 570 CE. He was orphaned at a young age as his father died before his birth, followed by his mother’s death six years later. As a young child, he was sent to the wilderness to learn the traditional etiquettes and language of Arabia. During his upbringing, he was taught by his uncle Abu Talib Ibn Abd Al-Muttalib how to be a shepherd, which was significant as all the Prophets of Allah (peace be upon them) were shepherds. Later on, he became involved with trade and was well known for his truthfulness and honesty. He detested the customs of the polytheistic Arabs, such as; idolatry, alcoholism, and ill treatment of women and the weak. For that reason, he would often escape to a cave outside of the city called Hira on the Jabar Al-Nour Mountain to reflect upon his purpose in life.
When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was 40 years of age, the angel Jibril (may Allah exalt his mention) came with a revelation, marking the beginning of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) prophet-hood. Over a period of 23 years, revelations were sent down by Allah, The Most High, which eventually formed the Holy Qur’an. Throughout this period, Muhammad (peace be upon him) called people away from worshipping idols and instructed them to worship God alone. People were invited to a life of piety and righteousness and were warned of a day when everyone will be held accountable for their deeds. He bought about good news of Paradise (Jannah) for those who believe and lived righteously, whereas those who earned the anger of Allah will be punished in Hell (Jahannam). Like the Prophets (peace be upon them) before him, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was mocked and his message was rejected by many. Those who followed the religion of Islam were tortured and faced terrible hardships. By the favour of Allah, he was eventually able to spread the message of Islam beyond Makkah and Madinah, and bring people towards the right path.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was, without a doubt, one of the most important and influential people in history and his impact on many Muslims are felt very strongly to this day. Allah, The Most High, tells us in Surah Al-Qalam that our Prophet (pbuh) is “ , who has taught mankind a complete and perfect way of living life.
What is Dawah?
Giving dawah (inviting people to Islam) is to inform, educate and invite others to the oneness of Allah and His Deen (religion). It is considered as one of the greatest acts in Islam and the Prophets (peace be upon them) were sent to their people to call them towards this. Dawah is a continuous process and the Ummah (community) must continue to be responsible for their deeds:
“And let there be (arising) from you a nation inviting to (all that is) good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful”.-[Qur’an, Surah Al-Imran: Family of Imran, 3:104]
Dawah can be given effectively and in many forms, from acting upon Islamic teachings and being role models, to face-to-face dialogue and spreading dawah on a mass scale through all forms of media.
The Different Ways to Giving to Charity
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) consistently stressed the importance of giving charity and emphasised the benefits of giving up your wealth for the sake of Allah:
“Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity”.- [Al-Tirmidhi]
It is vital that people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, realise that their wealth can strengthen communities and benefit humanitarian causes as well as religious ones.
There are several categories of charity in Islam: Zakat, Sadaqah, Lillah, Fitrana, Fidyah, Kaffara, Udhiya, and lastly Aqiqah. Only Zakat and Sadaqah (also Lillah) are accepted at The Dawah Project.
Zakat – literally means to purify: “He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself”. – [Qur’an, Surah Al-A’la: The Most High, 87:14] It is the third pillar of Islam and is a compulsory act for all Muslims who possess a certain minimum amount of extra wealth called Nisab. This is a contribution paid once a year, 2.5% of one’s wealth. The main objective behind Zakat is to obey Allah, The Most High. From among the wisdoms and consequences behind giving Zakat is that you learn not to place too much importance on materialistic things, such as wealth and possessions, rather we should remember Allah and help those in need. Crucially, Zakat is a means by which any deficiencies acquired when earning your wealth are removed. In essence, we all need to purify our hearts from greed. Indeed, the love of wealth is natural, but the firm belief in Allah should humble Believers. Zakat also reminds us that everything we possess, including our wealth, belongs to Allah. Indeed, Allah does not need our wealth, for He is above and free from all dependencies.
Sadaqah – is to voluntarily give to charity out of the goodness of your heart. This act goes to show the strength of a Believer and further increases their faith. But Sadaqah does not only have to be money. It can be a simple act, such as removing an obstacle from a pathway, or smiling at a stranger to brighten up their day, which makes someone else’s life that little bit easier. Sadaqah can be given at any time of the year, but certain times are more significant than others. For instance, it is highly recommended that you donate in the month of Ramadhan, since all good deeds count for more blessings and rewards, In shaa Allah (if Allah wills).
Other forms of charity include;
Lillah – Literally means ‘for Allah’ and includes any form of charity given in the cause of Allah on a purely voluntary basis which is very similar to Sadaqah, as giving to charity should primarily be for the sake of Allah, The Most High.
Fitrana – This is a compulsory form of charity given at the end of Ramadhan to feed the needy on the day of Eid.
Fidyah – Giving compensation for each day missed during Ramadhan due to ill health or old age and this is then used to feed the needy.
Kaffara – A penalty for deliberately breaking fast during Ramadhan without a valid reason and is used to feed a needy person for 30 days.
Udhiyah – This is also known as Qurbani or the sacrifice of an animal and is given during Hajj to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) submission to Allah, The Most High. Usually, a camel, cattle, sheep or goat is slaughtered with conditions and a portion of it is shared with the needy.
Aqiqah – This is the sacrifice of an animal to give thanks to Allah for the birth of a child and similarly to Udhiyah there are certain conditions to be met when slaughtering the animal and a portion of it is shared with the needy.
In Islam, even smiling at someone is a form of giving to charity.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity”. [Al-Tirmidhi]
Therefore, being charitable is more than about giving money, being kind to others and volunteering are also charitable acts.