The Religion of Good Works
While everyone who confesses the faith of Islam is a Muslim or true believer, it is incumbent on all who believe to show their faith by outward observance of the religious duties of Islam.
Muhammad taught that believers need to be especially submissive to His will in the observance of five duties. These five duties merit reward and are called ‘the pillars’ or foundation of religion. Their pious observance is the mark of the true Muslim; to break loose from any one of them is to be in peril of damnation.
These duties are carefully gathered in the collection of the traditions and leave no doubt as to the importance of each duty if the believer would be assured of eternal life. “Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.
2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .
4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
5. To observe the fast during the month of Ramadan.” (Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7)
The Ritual of Islam
While some Muslims are sincere in their religous practices, others may be superficial in their beliefs as noted by Dr Samuel Zwemer:
“The creed of Islam is only a half-truth, and its pure monotheism does not satisfy the soul’s need of a mediator and an atonement for sin; their prayers are formal and do not demand or produce holiness in the one that uses them. Their fasting is productive of two distinct evils; it manufactures an unlimited amount of hypocrites who profess to keep the fast and do not do so, and in the second place, the reaction which occurs at sunset of every night of Ramadan tends to produce a low form of revelling. Their almsgiving stimulates indolence and has produced that acme of social parasites – the derwish or faqir.”
The First Pillar of Islam
1. The confession of the Creed
La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Apostle of God” is the key to every door of difficulty. These words are inscribed on their banners and on their door-posts. They appear on all the early coins of the caliphs and has remain unchanged for centuries. This continual repetition of the creed in public has been a source of strength to Islam through the ages, as well as a stimulus to fanaticism.