October 24, 2017

Islam: A Study Of The Muslim Religion
The Five Pillars of Islam

By Mark Mayberry

Introduction

The Five Pillars of Islam serve as the foundation of Muslim life. What do they involve? (1) belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad; (2) establishment of obligatory daily prayers; (3) setting aside a proportion of one’s wealth to assist the needy; (4) self-purification and self-restraint through fasting; and, finally, (5) pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are physically and financially able to do so.

Creedal Recitation/Shahadah

Muslims must engage in a creedal recitation of the Shahadah: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.” They not only oppose polytheism, but also the concept of the Trinity, denying the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Muhammad is not the only messenger of Allah, but he is considered the greatest and final prophet. In contrast, note the rich Biblical doctrine of the Godhead, and the primacy that is placed upon the person of Jesus Christ (Gen. 1:26; John 1:1-3, 14; Heb. 1:1-4).

Prayers/Salat

Muslims are required to pray five times a day: at dawn, noon, afternoon, evening and night. Such prayers are compulsory for everyone over the age of ten. They are also required to attend Friday prayer services at the mosque. Before reciting prayers, uttered in Arabic, worshippers must engage in washing rituals. Such prayers involve specific words, and a series of postures (standing, kneeling, hands and face on the ground, etc.), performed while the believer faces Mecca. In contrast, the New Testament emphasizes the simple, practical and personal nature of prayer (Matt. 6:5-13; 1 Cor. 14:13-19; 1 Tim. 2:8; 1 Thess. 5:16-18).



Alms Giving/Zakat

Muslims are expected to engage in alms giving/zakat, sharing at least 2 ½ percent of their income with others. Such gifts benefit widows, orphans and the sick. In some countries these offerings are mandatory, sometimes given to the mosque, sometimes to the government, but should not be confused with an income tax. In contrast, the New Testament emphasizes unspecified generosity associated with Christian benevolence, and the willing spirit associated with such giving (Matt. 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-6; 9:6-7).

Fasting/Sawm

Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, when Muhammad allegedly received his first revelations from Allah. However, this restriction only applies to daylight hours; food and drink are permitted between sunset and sunrise. In contrast, the New Testament emphasizes the personal, circumstantial and non-ritualistic nature of fasting (Matt. 6:16-18; 9:14-15; Acts 13:1-3; 14:23).

Pilgrimage/Hajj

Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once during their lifetime, if they can afford it. This visit to Mecca lasts seven days, and involves participation in various rituals. Mecca was the birthplace of Muhammad, and the city to which he returned after his exile in Medina. Only Muslims are allowed in this holy city. Abraham allegedly built the temple in Mecca (the Ka’ba) after God/Allah provided the ram as a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. In contrast, the New Testament deemphasizes worship location in favor of manifesting proper attitude and obedient actions (Mal. 1:11; John 4:15-24; 1 Cor. 1:1-2; 1 Tim. 2:8).

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