The purpose and practice of the Five Pillars of Islam

Muslims follow the Five Pillars to show their submission to the will of Allah. The Five Pillars are visible signs of the Muslim way of life and of Muslims' unity with other members of Islam worldwide.

1. Shahadah - the declaration of faith

“There is no God butAllah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Muslims may say this five times a day as part of their daily prayers.

2. Salah - prayer

It is compulsory that Muslims pray five times a day. The prayers include verses from the Qur’an in which praise is given to Allah, or guidance is requested.

3. Sawm - fasting

This fasting takes place during the month of Ramadan during the hours of daylight. It is the time when Muhammad received the revelation of the Qur’an and it is a period for prayer and good deeds.

4. Zakat - the practice of giving

Each year, Muslims are expected to donate 2.5 per cent of their disposable income. Wealth is regarded as a gift from Allah which should be shared among humankind. It frees people from their greed, and also helps others.

5. Hajj - pilgrimage

This refers to the pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) which all Muslims must complete at least once in their lifetime if their situation allows (if they can afford it, if they are healthy etc). This includes a visit to the Ka’bah, the place where Muslims believe that Abraham showed willingness to offer his son Ishmael as a sacrifice.

Looking down at the Ka'bah in Makkah during Hajj