Five Basic Duties of Islam
Islam has five duties, often called "The Five Pillars of Islam", performed regularly, correctly and sincerely they transform a Muslim's life, bringing it into line with the wishes of the Creator. Faithful practice of these duties should inspire a Muslim to work towards the establishment of justice, equality and righteousness (Ma ruf) in society, and the eradication of injustice, falsehood and evil (Munkar).
1. Shahada, is the conscious and voluntary declaration of faith
"La ilaha illallahu Muhammadur rasulullah"
"There is no god except Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is The Messenger of Allah"
This declaration contains the two basic concepts of Tawhid and Risalah. It is the basis of all actions in Islam; the other four basic duties follow this affirmation.
2. Salah (compulsory prayer) is offered five times a day, either in congregation or individually. It is a practical demonstration of faith, and keeps a believer in constant touch with his Creator. The benefits of Salah are far-reaching, long-lasting and immeasurable. Salah prepares Muslims to work towards the establishment of true order in society, and the removal of falsehood, evil and indecency. It develops self-discipline, steadfastness and obedience to the Truth, leading to patience, honesty and truthfulness in the affairs of life.
The five daily prayers are:
Fajr - between dawn and sunrise
Zuhr - between midday and mid-afternoon
Asr - between mid-afternoon and sunset
Maghrib - just after sunset
Isha - between night fall and dawn
Five times a day, Salah provides a wonderful opportunity for a Muslim to improve life. It is a system of spiritual, moral and physical training which makes him truly obedient to his creator.
3. Sawm is the annual obligatory fast during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. From dawn to sunset every day a Muslim refrains from eating, drinking, smoking and from sexual activity with his marital partner, seeking only the pleasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Sawm develops a believer's moral and spiritual standards, and keeps him away from selfishness, greed, extravagance and other vices. Sawm is an annual training programme, which increases a Muslim's determination to fulfil his obligations to the Creator and Sustainer.
4. Zakah (welfare contribution) is a compulsory payment from a Muslim's annual savings. It literally means purification, and is an annual payment of 2.5% of the value of cash, jewellery and precious metals a separate rate applies to animals, crops and mineral wealth. Zakah is neither a charity nor a tax. Charity is optional, whilst taxes can be used for any of societies needs. Zakah, however, can only be spent on helping the poor and needy, the disabled, the oppressed, debtors and other welfare purposes, as defined in the Quran and Sunnah.
Zakah is an act of worship. It is one of the fundamental principles of an Islamic economy, which ensures an equitable society where everybody has a right to contribute and share. Zakah should be paid with the conscious belief that our wealth and our property belong to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), and we merely act as trustees.
5. Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of Allah) is an annual event, obligatory at least once in a lifetime for Muslims who have the means to perform it. It is a journey to the House of Allah (Al-Kabah) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in the month of Dhul al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. Hajj symbolises the unity of mankind; Muslims from every race and nationality assemble in equality and humility to worship their Lord. The pilgrim, in the ritual clothing of Ihram, has the unique feeling of being in the presence of his Creator, to whom he belongs, and to whom he must return after death.