Pillars of Islam: Giving Zakat

I have written in previous posts about the first three pillars of Islam: shahadah (the proclamation of faith), salah (prayer), and saum Ramadan (fasting the month of Ramadan). In this post, I will focus on giving zakat, or almsgiving. The word zakat comes from the Arabic root “to purify.” Muslims purify their wealth by giving around 2.5% of standing wealth, wealth that they have not needed to use during the year, to those in need. Zakat is different from voluntary charity called sadaqah because it is required of all able Muslims. Continue reading

Pillars of Islam: Prayer

Muslims Praying in Jerusalem

The second pillar of Islam after the shahadah, or the proclamation of faith, is salah, prayer. This ritual is probably the most well known to non-Muslims. Stories on Islam and Muslims many times include a picture of Muslims praying. Salah is so conspicuous because it includes many physical motions, the culmination of which is complete prostration with the face touching the ground.

Muslims are required to pray 5 times daily. The prayers are spread out throughout the day at dawn, around noon, afternoon, sunset, and in the evening. The daily prayers are suppose to establish the believer’s direct relationship with God. When a Muslim prays, even if the prayer is done in congregation, they are standing in front of God as an individual without any intercession. Continue reading