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What are the 5 Pillars of Islam? Part 2

As part of the Islamic belief system, adherents are expected to follow the 5 Pillars of Islam. In this article, you are introduced to the third, fourth, and fifth pillar, which includes making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Giving to the Needy

Muslims are obliged to give to the needy, which is called zakat. A donation of 2.5 percent of their net assets is paid each year. If their net worth is above a certain level, they can choose various forms of almsgiving, including coins or kind acts. The poor, needy, and people in serious debt, benefit from this pillar. If one chooses to voluntarily give charity beyond their requirement, it is called sadaqat.

Fasting

Fasting (or sawm) takes place between dawn and sunset during Ramadan , the ninth month in the Islamic year. During this time, adherents do not eat, drink, smoke, or engage in sexual acts. This practice stems from the significance of the month, which was the time where Allah sent down the Qur’an from the seventh heaven to Gabriel in the first heaven so that it could be revealed to Mohammed. When a Muslim reaches adulthood, he or she is expected to keep to the fast , with the exception of the elderly, physically unfit, mentally unstable, serving in the armed forces, working in the manual labor field, or on a journey. Women, who are nursing a child, pregnant, or menstruating, are also not expected to fast during Ramadan. At the end of the fasting period, a celebration follows with a festival called Id al-Fitr.

Pilgrimage to Mecca

At least one time in life, a pilgrimage to Mecca (the holy city) is also expected of all Muslims who are physically and mentally capable to travel, as well as have the financial means. Because of this, several million Muslims make the trip from all over the world to visit Mecca. This pilgrimage is referred to as hajj. In the twelfth month of the Islamic year, the largest religious convention in the world takes place. The pilgrims come wearing simple clothing to honor the rituals observed by Abraham and his son Ishmael , known as the father of the Arabs.

Pilgrims circle the Kaaba (considered the house of Allah on earth) seven times to commemorate Adam’s imitation of the circling of angels around the throne of Allah. This is accomplished by running three times and slowly walking four times. Pilgrims also kiss the black stone, and then run seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa to imitate Hagar’s search for water to give to her son Ishmael. Pilgrims additionally stand together and pray in anticipation of the Day of Judgment.

During the hajj, the sacrifice of a ram is expected to take place in the valley of Mina on the tenth day of the pilgrimage month. It is also recommended that pilgrims visit the tomb of Mohammed in Medina, but this is not a requirement. At the end of the hajj, celebratory prayers and the exchange of gifts take place throughout Muslim communities in a festival called Id al-Adha.