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The Spiritual Side of Islam

            Devotions (Form of Worship):

            Islam contains a cluster of verbal, practical and ideological devotions. Verbal and practical devotions represent what is called the 'Pillars of Islam', and is deemed to be the basis on which we describe someone as Muslim or non-Muslim. Of these Pillars the two testimonies of faith are verbal, fasting is physical, Zakat is financial and Hajj (Pilgrimage) is both physical and financial. Islam does not intend these pillars to be mere appearances: it aims at purifying and refining their souls through the performance of these devotions. It wants the performance of these pillars to be a means of reforming the individual. About prayer, the Qur'aan says, which meaning of is translated as: ��The prayer prevents from great sins and evil deeds��  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Ankabut, 29:45). About Zakat: �Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it��  (The Qur'aan, Chapter At-Tauba, 9:103). It purifies the soul of the filth of miserliness and avarice. About fasting: �O you who believe! Observing the fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become righteous.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Baqarah, 2:183). It trains a person to refrain from indulgence in whims. This is explained by the Prophet's Hadith peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, about fasting said which meaning of is translated as: �If a person does not give up telling falsehood and acting according to it, Allah does not need his abstinence from eating and drinking.�  (Bukhari). About Hajj: �The Hajj is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months. So whosoever intends to perform Hajj, then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj��  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Baqarah, 2:197). Devotions then play an essential role in the establishment and enhancement of good morals.

Pillars of Islam

            I. The Two Testimonies of Faith:
            It is to testify that 'there is no god (worthy of worship) but Allah, and that Muhammad is the servant and Messenger of Allah.' This verbal fundamental is the key to embracing Islam, and all other pillars of Islam are based on it. 'There is no god but Allah' means to deny the existence of any god worthy to be worshipped other than Allah, Glory by to Him. To Him all kinds of devotions must be addressed, including supplication, whishes, hopes, sacrifice, bowing prostration, trust, vows, etc. He glory to Him. To him all kinds of supplications, wishes hopes, sacrifice, bowing, prostration, trust, vows, etc. He glory be to Him, is the Creator of everything in this universe. He is also the Provider and the Absolute Sovereign, Allah which meaning of is translated as: �And We sent no messenger before you but we inspired him, saying: There is no God save Me (Allah), So worship me.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Anbiyaa, 21:25). The testimony that 'Muhammad is Allah's Messenger' reflects the belief that he is the servant and messenger of Allah who received and conveyed divine revelation, that he was sent by Allah to all mankind as the final crowning of the line of the prophets - no prophet or messenger is to come after him, and that he must be believe and obeyed as he is the conveyor of Allah's message and guidance.

            II. Observing Regular Prayer:
            Prayer comprises words (including invocations and glorification of Allah) and acts (including prostration and bowing) said and done in glorification and reverence for Allah. It gives man an opportunity to commune with his Lord humbly. It is, in fact, a link between Allah and His servant. Whenever man gets immersed in worldly pleasures and the light of faith begins to fade in his heart, the call to prayer is announced and the light in his heart is revived, keeping him near to, and on good terms with his Creator all the time. Prayer is to be performed five times a day. Muslims perform these prayers in congregation at Mosques unless there is some excuse. Congregational prayer helps people to get acquainted with one another, it strengthens the bonds of friendship and affection between them and motivates them to look after each other: visiting the sick, helping the needy, consoling the grieved, and giving advice to the negligent. Moreover, it removes all social differences, for Muslims stand all side by side, old and young, rich and poor, high and low - equal in their submission to Allah, directed towards one Qiblah (direction), performing the same movements and recitation simultaneously.

            III. Payment of Zakat:
            Zakat is a specified rate given willfully by well-to-do Muslims, in compliance with Allah's instructions and commandments, to their poor brothers, so as to meet their needs and save them from the humiliation caused by begging. It is incumbent on every Muslim who owns the minimum amount of value liable to payment of zakat. The Qur'aan states, which meaning of is translated as: �And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, keeping religion pure for Him, as men by nature upright, and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due (Zakat). That is true religion.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Baiyina, 98:5). Those who deny zakat will commit an act of disbelief because they deprive the rightful recipients of zakat, including the poor and the needy, of their rights. Therefore, the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, fought those who refused to pay zakat after the Holy Prophet's death, and uttered his well-known statement:"By Allah! If they hold back from me even equal to a piece of rope of a camel which they paid during the days of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, then I shall fight against them for holding this piece of rope back." Zakat is not, as claimed by some people who are unfamiliar with Islam, a tax levied by the Islamic State on its subject, for if it had been a tax it would have been collected by all population of the Islamic State, both Muslims and non-Muslims. In the case of zakat, however, it is required only of Muslims, it is not considered an obligation for non-Muslims. The conditions and prerequisites of zakat as prescribed by Islam are as follows:

  • To have the minimum amount of money or property liable to payment of zakat (i.e. nisab) provided it is in excess of one's basic needs, namely: food, clothing, drink and house.
  • Expiry of one year after beginning of ownership; otherwise no zakat shall be paid. Recipients of zakat are defined in the Holy Qur'aan, which meaning of is translated as: �The alms (i.e.: zakat) are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled (newly converted Muslims), and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter At-Tauba, 9:60).
            It is fixed at a percentage of 2.5%. By imposing it, Islam aims at uprooting poverty from society and dealing with its resulting dangers, such as robbery, murder, indecent assaults (like rape), as well as reviving the spirit of cooperation and social solidarity among Muslims by satisfying the needs of the poor and the destitute and helping debtors. If we read the Prophet's Hadith peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: �A neighborhood in which one suffers from hunger will be deprived of Allah's protection.�  (Imam Ahmad), the concept of zakat becomes clear. The difference between zakat and tax consists in the fact that zakat is generally paid by a Muslim willingly without the need to compel him to do that. Moreover, its very name suggests purifying the souls of the rich of miserliness and avarice that induce them to forget their needy and poor brothers. The Qur'aan says, which meaning of is translated as: �And who-so is saved from his own greed, such are the successful.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter At-Tagabun, 64:16). Zakat also purifies the hearts of poor people of hate and grudge against the rich, especially when they see them pay the prescribed percentage and attend to them with kindness and generosity. Allah has warned those who refuse to pay zakat, by saying which meaning of is translated as: �And let not those who hoard up that which Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty think that it is better for them. Nay, it is worse for them. That which they hoard will be their collar on the Day of Resurrection��  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-i-Imran, 3:180). The Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said in this regard which meaning of is translated as: �A wealthy person who has got gold and silver, but does not pay the zakat due on them, (should know that) his gold and silver will be melted on the Day of Judgement and converted into slabs which will then be heated in the fire of Hell, and then his forehead, his sides, and his back will be branded therewith. Whenever these slabs get cold, they will be heated up once more (in the furnace of the Hell), the branding will be continued throughout the day, the duration of which will be equal to fifty thousand years, and the cases of all the people will have been decided by this time and they will be shown their way either to the Hell or to Paradise.�  (Muslim).

            IV. Fasting During Ramadan:
            It is one month in the Hijri (Lunar) Calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drinks, and sexual intercourse during daytime, i.e.: from dawn up to sunset, in accordance with the Qur'aanic verse which meaning of is translated as: �O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may ward off (evil).�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Baqarah, 2:183). Fasting is not limited to abstinence from tangible things that break it. It has a wider scope that includes, as well, such moral evils as telling lies, backbiting, tale-bearing, cheating, deceit, nonsense etc. It is to be borne in mind that such bad habits must be avoided at all times. However, this requirement is most emphasized in the month of Ramadan, as pointed out in the Hadith of the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: �If a person does not refrain from lying and indecent activities, Allah does not want that he should abstain from eating and drinking.�  (Bukhari, Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi). Fasting is a form of strife between the human soul and its desires and whims. It has social benefits explained in the following Hadith of the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: �When anyone of you is fasting, he should abstain from loose talk and avoid verbosity and noisy exchange of words. If someone starts cursing him or picks up a quarrel with him, he should tell him that 'I am observing a fast'.�  (Bukhari & Muslim). Fasting also makes a Muslim feel the needs of his poor brothers who do not get sufficient food, clothing or housing and therefore he inquires about their conditions and see to their needs and requirements.

            V. Hajj (Pilgrimage):
            Hajj is preparing to the Holy House at Makkah for the performance of specific acts at a specified times. This fifth pillar of Islam is obligatory, once in a life time, on every Muslim who has reached the age of puberty, male or female, provided he is capable physically and financially and in sanity. A sick Muslim with hopeless disease that prevents him from performing Hajj and has the financial ability should hire someone to perform Hajj on his behalf. Also a poor man who does not have sufficient money for the Hajj trip, in excess of his basis needs and the needs of his family, is exempt from Hajj. The Qur'aan states, which meaning of is translated as: ��And Pilgrimage to the House (of Allah) is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him who can find a way thither (i.e.: who can afford the journey). As for him who disbelieves (let him know that) Lo! Allah is Independent of (all) creatures.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-i-Imran, 3:97). Hajj is the largest Islamic congregation in which Muslims from everywhere gather at one place, at one time, to pray unto One Lord. They put on uniform dress, perform one rite, reiterate one Talbiya saying: "Labbaykal-Lahumma Labbayk. Labbayka La sharika Laka Labbayk. Innal-hamda wanni'mata Laka wul-mulk, La sharika Lak." That means: "Here I am at your Service, O Allah, here I am at your service. Here I am. There is no partner with you. Here I am. Verily, all praise and grace is due to you and the sovereignty too. There is no partner with you." It means also: 'O Allah! We have come to this place in compliance with your call, seeking your pleasure and acknowledging your Oneness and that you alone are worthy of sincere worship." In Hajj, there is no difference or discrimination between the rich and the poor, the high and the low, blacks and whites, Arabs and non-Arabs - All are equal in the sight of Allah: Only righteousness differentiates between them. This would confirm brotherly relations between Muslims and unify their feelings and hopes. Another aspect of devotions is that related to belief. It is required to believe in it, since it was contained in the scriptures revealed by Allah and Prophets were commanded to convey it and call upon people to believe in it without compulsion. Conviction is a must, for coercion makes a man proclaim with his tongue what is in conflict with what he hides in his mind or heart, and that is, in fact, hypocrisy condemned by Islam and deemed to be worse than misbelief or disbelief. In several verses, the Qur'aan made it clear that Prophet's mission is limited to guidance of people to good and conveyance of the divine message. It states, which meaning of is translated as: �� but if you turn away, then the duty of our Messenger is only to convey (the message) plainly.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter At-Tagabun, 64:12). Yet calling to the way of Allah, glory be to Him, should be in the best manner as stated in the Qur'an, which meaning of is translated as: �Call unto the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way��  (The Qur'aan, Chapter An-Nahl, 16:125). Guidance is from Allah only, as stated in the Qur'an which meaning of is translated as: �Lo! You (O Muhammad) guide not whom you love, but Allah guides whom He wills.�  (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Qasas, 28:56). Such devotions are defined as the 'Fundamentals of Faith' and the faith, or belief, of a Muslim can never be complete unless he believes in all of them: Whoever denies any of them is considered disbeliever.

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