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To look at the pillars of Islam is to see some interesting similarities between this rapidly growing religion and other religions, particularly Christianity, in terms of social justice and commitment to a single deity. The first pillar, known as the "Shahada", is a profession of faith in a single god, and his messenger, Mohammad. In fact, reciting a statement that professes these things is part of the required daily prayer ritual. The second pillar of Islam refers to five required daily prayers, performed at different times of day, but collectively known as "Salat". The third pillar is reminiscient of the words of Jesus of Nazareth regarding the poor, as Muslims are expected to give charitably as much as possible to those in need. This practice is called the "Zakat". Fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan is a fourth pillar, and is intended to elicit thoughtful repentance and recommitment to Allah and Muhammad, and the final pillar requires that the follower of Islam make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca during his or her lifetime.
The five pillars of Islam are as follows:
1. Shahada-Declaration of faith
2. Salat- prayer five times a day
3. Zakat- alms to the poor and needy
4. Sawm- fasting the month of Ramadan, the month in which the holy Quran was revealed
5. Hajj-pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca
Each of the five pillars has in important social aspect. For example, when you take your shahada, or declare your faith in god and his last prophet, you become part of the Muslim community, or ummah. Once you do that, you will have a whole community of Muslim brothers and sisters to supprt you. Zakat has a strong social impact because it allows people to remember the struggles of others less fortunate than themselves. Zakat is the compulsory alms giving that every Muslim with money must give. Just like zakat, sawm also allows one to understand what it's like to be deprived of a basic everyday necessity: food. Prayer also has a huge social impact. Muslims pray five times a day, at the same time, in the same direction, and they say much of the same things while they pray. This unifies the community because it reminds Muslims everyday that they are all worshiping the same god, and despite their differences, they have much of the same goals. Hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, unifies the community because it brings people from all over he world to share ideas and to worship. In Mecca, you can see people with all different ethnicities and races joing together to worship one god.
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