The Five Pillars of Islam are the foundation of Muslim life. The Five Pillars include the Shahada, the Salat, the Zakat, the Swam, and the Hajj.

The Shahada
The Shahada is the first pillar, the testimony. This is considered the most important pillar. It’s the declaration of faith that must be said in order to convert to Islam. The declaration goes as follows: “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah.” This can be translated into “There is no god worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is His Messenger [or Prophet].”

The Salat
The Salat is the second pillar of faith which refers to the five prayers the Muslims must do each day. These prayers are mandatory and must be prayed at dawn, noon, late afternoon, sunset, and before going to bed. The prayers are completely between the worshipper and God. Before you start your prayers, you first must wash your hands. Then, when you’re ready to pray, you use a prayer rug, face Mecca, and begin praying. Every Friday you’re supposed to pray in the mosque.

The Zakat
The Zakat is the third pillar, which is giving. Zakat means purification and growth. The Muslims are called to give alms or charitable donations. They believe that all things belong to God, so they give away about 2.5% of their income, although they are allowed to give more if they want. They believe that their possessions are purified by setting aside a small amount for those who need it. They also believe that the cutting back both balances and encourages new growth.

The Swam
The Swam is the fourth pillar, pertaining to the fasting during Ramadan. This is when all Muslims must fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan, not only from food but from drinks and sexual relations. This is considered a method of self-purification. When you cut yourself off from necessities you’re so used to having, you start to sympathize more with the people that can’t live with these things every day.

The Hajj
The Hajj is the fifth pillar which is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims have their whole lifetime to finish out this last pillar. At some point in any Muslims life, they are to visit Mecca, the place where Muhammad was born. There are 2-3 Muslims that take this pilgrimage each year. The Hajj is usually on the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. The men wear simple clothes so you can’t distinguish between classes and culture so that everyone stands equal before God.