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For a fifth of the world’s population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace سلام , mercy رحمة and forgiveness مغفرة . The majority of Muslims have nothing to do with the extremely grave events and accusations that are associated with their faith. Islam’s beliefs stem from the Qur’an and the teachings of Muhammad. Muslims believe in the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique, independent and indivisible God who is independent of the entire creation. Muslims believe in accountability, that each individual will be held accountable for their actions. Muslims also believe in the Day of Resurrection, that we will all rise one day again. Therefore, submitting to God’s will is crucial for them.
* The Five Pillars of Islam are the framework of the Muslim life:
1- Shahada الشَهادة (Witness of Faith)
“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.”
“لا إله إلا الله , محمدٌ رسول الله “
/La Ilaha Illa Allah, Muhammadun rasoulu Allah/
This declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which all faithful pronounce. The first part negates the existence of any form of God (wealth, power or the like) except for Allah; the One. Then the second part states that Muhammad – a man like us – is the messenger رسول who has come with a message of guidance to us.
2- Salah الصلاة (Prayer)
Salat or Salah is the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day. Salah is a direct link between the worshipper and God. There are no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Qur’an and is generally chosen by the congregation. These prayers contain verses from the Qur’an and are said in Arabic; the language of Revelation. The five prayers are: the Dawn Prayer صلاة الفجر , the Noon Prayer صلاة الظُهر , the Afternoon Prayer صلاة العصر , the Sunset Prayer صلاة المغرب and the Night Prayer صلاة العِشاء . Thus, the five prayers determine the rhythm of the day.
3- Zakah الزكاة (Almsgiving)
Zakah is the financial obligation upon Muslims. The word zakah means both “Purification” and “growth”. Our possessions مُمتلكات are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need and for the society in general. This cutting back balances and encourages new growth. Each Muslim calculates his or her Zakah individually and according to his wealth at the end of the year. It is the duty of the Islamic community not only to collect Zakah but to distribute it fairly as well.
4- Sawm الصوم (Fasting)
Every year in the month of Ramadan رمضان , all Muslims fast from dawn until sunset; abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations with their spouses. Those who are sick, elderly or travelling and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break their fast and make up an equal number of days later during the year if they are healthy and able. Children begin to fast (and to observe prayers) from puberty, though many start earlier.
5- Hajj الحج (pilgrimage)
The pilgrimage to Makkah مكة (the Hajj) is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to do so. However, over two million people go to Makkah every year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet. Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before Allah الله (God).