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Shahadah: The English translation of the Shahadah is as follows: “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (S.W.T), the One, without any partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Mohammad (S.A.W)” Islam’s fundamental belief is the Unity of God. All other beliefs hang on this belief. Therefore the acknowledgement and bearing witness of this is the key to the Muslim faith. Unless this is observed one cannot be a Muslim.
Salat: Islam lays the greatest of emphasis on Salat, prayers and remembrance of Allah (S.W.T), for spiritual reformation. Prior to Salat, one makes one’s ablutions have clean clothes on and in keeping with the sanctity of the worship present oneself on time and with full respect. The first part of this preparation is the apparent cleanliness. One should try and have clean clothes on. The ablutions before prayer need to be made to make the Salat valid. One cleans one’s hands, rinses the mouth, cleans the nostrils, washes the face, hands and forearms. All this is repeated three times. Wet hands are passed over the head and the ears are cleaned with the tips of the forefinger.
Lastly, the feet are washed, again three times. Along with the obvious cleanliness through ablution, it also signifies the purification of one’s inner self. When a worshipper washes during ablution with the intention of praying, he/she also reflects on his/her inner purification and cleanses his/her mind from worldly thoughts, and draws the attention of his/her soul to be in attendance of Allah (S.W.T).
The significance of all the different postures of Salat is there is a deep connection between what is on the outside and the inner self of a human being. The physical postures of Salat are in keeping with the mental attitude of humility with which one worships God. These postures affect the heart and indeed the hearts humility affects the physical postures. The prayer starts with a standing position called Qiyam. Then there is a bowing position called Tasbih. Two prostrations are followed, they are called Sajdah. In the end, there’s a sitting position and that is known as Qadah.
Zakat: Zakat is a part of devotion enjoined upon Muslims by the Holy Quran. It is a means where the well-off pay a set amount of their wealth. Zakat means to purify oneself. It is obligatory on Muslims to pay a little percentage of their accumulated wealth towards Zakat, which is used for the benefit of the needy and the poor. Zakat is not levied on one’s property that is in personal use, rather on the assets which have a means of increasing and which are surplus to one’s needs. It is a means of social justice and order. It teaches sympathy of the highest order.
Fasting: Along with salat, another important form of worship is fasting. It is obligatory for each Muslim, apart from some exemptions, to fast in the month of Ramadhan. During the hours of fasting, food and drink and conjugal relations between husband and wife are forbidden. It is enjoined that during fasting one should pay attention to remembrance of God and study the Holy Quran in abundance.
One should try to curtail ones worldly pastimes as much as possible during Ramadhan, and to be particularly inclined towards charity and alms giving. Human life is dependent on food and drink and the continuation of the human race depends on the marital relationship. While fasting one refrains from them both, as if bearing witness to God that for His pleasure man gives up the factors (temporarily) upon which his very existence depends.
The various other benefits of fasting are that man gets to exercise sacrificing physical comfort and to endure hunger and thirst. Fasting creates a sense of equality between the rich and the poor. By developing an appreciation of hunger and thirst, it makes the well-off think of the needs of the poor and impresses a feeling of compassion in their hearts.
It makes them appreciate, through the practicality of it, the state a human being endures when hungry and thirsty. Ramadhan is a most effective and excellent means of spiritual development for mankind.
Hajj: Hajj is another form of worship. It is obligatory for each adult Muslim who can afford it. Apart from the financial aspect, the ability to afford the pilgrimage also means that one is able to travel and perform the Hajj in peace. During Hajj, the person who intends to perform it is required to travel to Mecca during the prescribed days and observe all the rites and ceremonies. During Hajj Muslims from all corners of the world gather in Mecca and perform the rites of Hajj and thus strengthen the bond of Muslim unity. During Hajj each place brings to mind some event of the blessed life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings on him). It refreshes the memory of the supreme sacrifices made by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings on him) for the sake of Islam.