Like many other religions, the Muslim faith has experienced many changes and branches. Like Christianity, the original faith is still practiced by some, but others have started new branches with their own unique interpretation being Muslim. Despite these differences within the Muslim religion, one set of rules for moral guidance is central to all. These rules are the Five Pillars of Islam. The Five Pillars act as a moral compass for Muslims and are universally accepted as they are mentioned specifically in the Qur’an, the sacred Muslim book of God’s words as they were recited to Muhammad (Molloy, 425).
The first of the Five Pillars is the creed. The creed states, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger,” (Molloy, 431). This pillar is the core for the Muslim faith. When the creed is recited and believed, it is believed that that person is now truly a Muslim. This message is also found all over within the Muslim faith. It is recited daily and frequently written within mosques and private homes (Molloy, 431).
The second pillar is prayer. Devote Muslims pray five times a day, at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset and nighttime (Molloy, 432). The prayer process for Muslims is rich with ritual. Prayers are called together by a muezzin from atop a tower called a minaret. Another ritual involved with prayer includes a purification process with water or sand, where the believer cleanses their hands, arms, face, neck and feet before beginning. Believers always pray facing Mecca, regardless of whether they are praying in a mosque, at home, or somewhere else. However, if they are praying in a mosque, there will be a leader that orchestrates the recitation, as well as instructs followers on various body positions that correspond to the prayer. Another important component to the prayer process is determining how many sets, or rakas, of prayer to complete. This is set by the time of day. The last important component to the prayer pillar is the public day of prayer, Friday. On this day, devote Muslims join together to pray in mosques (Molloy, 432-434).
The third pillar is charity to the poor. It is expected that a good Muslim will donate so much of their annual income or product to charity, although the amount varies between Muslim countries. Muhammad, who maintained a focus on creating a more just society with less poverty, injustice or inequality, started this trend. Some Islamic countries incorporate this charity into governmental policies, which support things like welfare and disability. Other, less money-based economies, donate crops and livestock to fulfill this obligation (Molloy, 434). Another important component to this pillar is the understanding that a devote Muslim will act with generosity in mind on a daily basis. The religion assumes that believers will commit random acts of kindness throughout everyday life. These random acts can be in the form of charity or generosity (Molloy, 434).