The five pillars of Islam
Islam is divided into "iman", the belief of a Muslim, and "din", the practice of his religion. Just as there are six articles of faith, so there are five compulsory works, generally known as the "Five Pillars of Islam". Muhammed is alleged to have defined these pillars according to the following tradition:
- To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammed is Allah's apostle.
- To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
- To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
- To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca).
- To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, p. 17).
It is somewhat surprising to find the first pillar among the works of Islam as it is really a testimony of faith, but the recital of this creed has become one of the deliberate acts of piety in Islam, indeed its foremost duty, and anyone wishing to become a Muslim need only recite the creed, known as the Kalimah (the "Word"), or the Shahadah (the "Testimony" of Faith), with an express intention to personally profess what he is reciting (this intention is known as the Muslim's niyyah) to be admitted to the faith.