The Five Doctrinal Tenets of Islam
Islam is, debatably, the fastest growing religion in the world today. At a level of 1.2 billion, they represent approximately 22% of the world's population. Moslems make up the second largest religion in the world, surpassed only to Christianity at 33%. This is according to the 1999 World Almanac and Book of Facts (724). What is Islam? Who is a Moslem? What do they believe? How does one become a Moslem?
In 1964, Philip K. Hitti addressed the rapid emergence of Islam throughout the world in his writing History of the Arabs. In his book, he stated that "every eighth person in our world today is a follower of Muhammad." He continues to say "The Moslem call to prayer rings out through most of the twenty-four hours of the day, encircling the large portion of the globe in its warm belt" (Hitti 3). Today, some thirty-six years later, Islam has become the place of comfort, peace, and faith for over one billion people. To have this type of growth there must be an underlying foundation to the movement.
As any builder can attest, in order for a structure to maintain its integrity the support for that structure must be stabilized and strengthened. Within the holy writings of Islam the support and structure of the faithful is proclaimed. The concept of "no deity except God" is always alive within the heart of a Moslem. They recognize that he alone is the Creator, the Provider and Sustainer, and the true Reality; the source of all things -- of all benefits and harm. This belief requires that He be worshipped and obeyed.
In the Holy Koran, God has made obedience to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad incumbent upon the all believers. The teachings of Prophet Muhammad are available today in the form of Hadith. Although Islamic faith and beliefs are vast, the establishing doctrine, i.e., foundation, for Islam remains to be the five pillars of faith. The first is a statement of faith, the subsequent four are major exercises of faith of which some are daily, some weekly, some monthly, some annually, and some are required as a minimum once in a lifetime.
The Five Pillars of Islam
These Five Pillars are the frameworks of a Muslim's life. At one time, when the Prophet Muhammad was asked to give a definition of Islam, he named the Five Pillars. In the Hadith, the collection of sayings of Muhammed, "these exercises of faith are stated to serve man's spiritual purposes, satisfy his human needs, and to mark his whole life with a Divine touch" (Hadith Shih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7). The writings comprising the Hadith, while regarded as an excellent guide to living, are not regarded as having the same status as the Holy Koran (Qur'an). The major duties, nevertheless, in the life of a Moslem are to fulfill these Five Pillars. They are:
1. The Statement of Faith (Shahadah)
2. The Establishment of Prayers (Salah)
3. The Giving of Alms (Zakah)
4. Fasting (Sawm), and
5. Pilgrimage to...