Pillars and Peoplehood
Grand Canyon University
INT – 244 World Religions
Instructor: Professor Steven Mathews
Pillars and Peoplehood
The Five Pillars of Islam provide a comprehensive lifestyle and a moral/ethical framework for the Umma, which is the religious community of the Muslim people, and can be easily compared to the Christian community, as well. However, there are a couple of questions that one might need to ask first in order to satisfy any curiosity on the issue or see if they really do share common interests. First of all, why are they referred to as the pillars of Islam, and what does each signify? Can a transformation really be achieved in an individual’s life by submitting to either Allah or God and observing what the symbol of the pillars might signify within each ones particular religion? Can one find comparable principles and practices that provide proof of a similar comprehensive lifestyle in the Christian community? Undeniable truths will be presented to help support this essay’s view where it will be shown that yes, indeed, the two individual religions do share a common framework.
In the Islam religion, Allah’s Will, obtained through transformation and submission to His created order, and through observing the five pillars, is achieved through rational analysis. The pillars are symbols of the obligations they must endure in order to come to faith with Him (Burrell, 1997). They represent mandatory acts of service, and reflect Allah’s intentions for all mankind to bare witness (shahadah) to the creed “There is no God, but Allah; and Mohammed is His prophet,” which is the first pillar, and is recited on a daily basis by all Muslims. The second pillar consists of a communal prayer (salat) that is recited every day at five designated periods, and almsgiving, the third pillar, is an end of the year obligatory tax (zakat). The fourth pillar, however, consists of fasting (sawm) during the lunar month of Ramadan, the ninth month of their calendar season, and revolves around the elimination of many of life’s pleasures. The last of the five pillars is the pilgrimage (hajj). This is a spiritual trip that recreates Mohammed’s pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in 632BCE. All Muslims should take this trip at least once in their life, and are encouraged to return as much as they are financially able enough to do so (Muck, 2001). These five pillars represent a comprehensive lifestyle in the Umma that consist of daily practices
of prayer and creed, and are based on particular principles that can transform one’s life by completely submitting to Allah’s Will. If one could find similar comprehensive proof in the Christian community where could that be found?
The Bible consists of the written Word of God and contains His created order. Christians reinforce some of His principles in practices they perform on a regular basis, and recite their own collection of prayers and creed’s when in fellowship and worship with other Christians. For example, the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus first spoke to His followers in order to teach them how to pray to God, is an important part of Christian literature and teachings that affirm some of the basic Truths seen at the core of their faith and lifestyle (Koopman, 2007). Jesus’ Disciples, however, affirm their faith in the Truth in their own words when they gathered to write the Apostles Creed. Christian tradition regards the creeds teachings as provisions that clearly represent the beliefs of the religion (Skarsaune, 2008). In addition to these similar practices of prayer and creed, and to further compare the symbolism of the five pillars between the two religions, almsgiving and eating practices are two more examples of obligations that are found in the religion and shared by Christians in their fellowship experience. In...