Becoming a Practicing Muslim: The Five Pillars of Islam [I]

Dina Essawy

30 Jan 2018

First: The Shahada

In order to become a practicing Muslim, one must be acquainted with the five pillars of Islam, namely reciting the Shahada, performing the five prayers every day, paying zakat, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, and going on pilgrimage to Mecca to perform Hajj.

First and foremost, anyone who wishes to join the Muslim faith must recite the Shahada, which states, “All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allaah exalt his mention) is His slave and Messenger.”

Reciting the Shahada means that the person doing so is declaring his intention to join the Islamic faith and to follow its teachings and practices. It is important to say the Shahada out loud and in front of witnesses as well.

The Shahada is considered to be such a blessing that adults usually whisper it to new born babies. It is also repeated during prayer and is part of the call to prayer (adhan). The Shahada is also what should be said by every Muslim before their passing, or if they are unable to, it is whispered into their ears just as it is done to newborn babies. The fact that it should be the first and last thing that a Muslim hears in their lifetime proves its significance to the Islamic faith.

Not only is the shahada revered in Muslim countries, but also abroad. While the full shahada is engraved on several architectural landmarks all around the world, including the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, as well as different Islamic buildings in Cairo and Istanbul, it was also used by European artists, such as Italian Renaissance artist Masaccio who painted the full shahada on one of his paintings, titled “San Giovenale Triptych”, proving the influence of Arabic writings and scripts in different places around the world.

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