6.1. The five pillars (arcane) of Islam

1. The Creed (sahada)
“I testify that there is no deity (Allah) except God (Allah) and that Mohammed is the Messenger of God” Through this two-part formula, the Muslim first confesses monotheism and the prophetic legitimation of Mohammed as the messenger of the one, undivided God.

At the same time, the Koran is recognized as the revealed word of God. This is important in so far as they attempt to put someone on God’s side (sirk) is the worst sin in itself.
Therefore the polytheist (musrik) is also the worst of all sinners. Sura 112 explains. In the name of the merciful and gracious God! Say: He is God, one and only, God through and through. He has neither begotten nor has he been begotten. “And there is none like him.” With this sura Islam takes a clear stand against Christianity: God has no son
and cannot be a son himself. The representatives of a Trinitarian concept of God
commit the worst sin and are therefore the worst sinners. To convert to Islam, it is sufficient to simply confess faith with honest intent (niyya). Apostasy (Trinidad) from Islam to another religion is theologically not
possible. The apostate (murtad), if he does not listen to exhortations to return to Islam, will face the death penalty.

3.1.2. The prayer (salad)
The Islamic ritual prayer does not consist of a spoken (or imagined) text, but of a sequence of postures: Standing upright, bending the trunk, kneeling with the forehead touching the floor twice. Such a sequence is called Rak‛ a (flexion); in each of the five daily prayers, a varying number of such flexions are performed. The prayer ends with a turning of the head to the right and then to the left. During the prayer, the prayer leader has to orientate himself according to Ka‛ba in Mecca. In Sura 2, 144 it says: “Turn your face towards the holy place of worship! And wherever you are, turn with your face in that direction! Verses 2, 149, and 2, 150 are almost literally the same.

The Qur’an does not say how often the prayer is to be kept; the usual number of five prayers a day is “Sunna”, it goes back to the practice of the Prophet. According to the time of day, the five prayers are called fagˇr (dawn), zuhr (noon), ‛asr (afternoon), maġrib (sunset), and ‛isa’ (evening). Before the prayer, the prayerful person has to perform the ritual ablution (wudu’), according to Sura 5:6: “You believers! When you stand up for prayer, wash your face and hands up to the elbows and stroke your head and feet up to the ankles! “This is not a hygienic regulation, but a symbolic act of purification of man who comes before God. If there is a lack of water, e.g. when traveling in the desert, the “washing” can also be done with earth or sand that has been picked up in a high – i.e. uncontaminated – place (Sura 5, 6). In principle, the Muslim can fulfill his duty to pray wherever he is. However, he should take care that the ground at the place where he wants to pray is not contaminated; a small carpet (sagˇgˇada) can serve for this purpose. Where several Muslims are together, they should pray together. The place where they can come together at the mosque.

3.1.3. The Ramadan fasting
“You believers! It is prescribed for you to fast, just as it was prescribed for those who lived before you. Perhaps you will be godly. (The fasting) is a certain number of days (to be observed). And if one of you is ill or on a journey, several other days. And those who can do so,- if they fail to do so,- they are bound to compensation,- to
feed a poor man… The month of Ramadan, in which the Qurán was sent down (for the first time) as a guide for men… If any of you are present during the month, let him fast in it. And if any of you is ill or on a good journey (and therefore unable to fast), he shall have a (corresponding) number of other days (to make up for what he has missed)…

You are permitted to associate with your wives at night during Lent… Eat and drink until you can distinguish a white thread from a black one at dawn! Then keep fasting until night! “
Sura 2, 183-187 offers the theological basis for fasting (saum) as a divine commandment in Islam. At the beginning of the passage, the Koran consciously refers to traditions from Jewish and Christianity.

Ramadan itself is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Because of the time difference, Ramadan begins about 11 days earlier each year than the previous year and thus travels once throughout the year within 33 years.
Fasting in the Islamic sense means that no food or drink may be consumed during the day, with special regulations for certain groups of people (see above). During the night time, however, the consumption of all luxury foods is permitted, which usually takes place in the extended circle of family and friends together. Traditionally, the fast is broken with a date, as Mohammed is said to have done so. This is different from fasting as practiced in Christian circles, where at least water is by default unlimited, but no food is consumed during the fasting period, neither day nor night. Ramadan for Muslims is above all two things: firstly, a time for renewed spiritual devotion to Allah and secondly, a special time of fellowship, quite comparable in importance to Christian Christmas. Muslims, therefore, tend to see Ramadan not as a time of great stress, but as an event that is awaited with joy. For this reason, Ramadan is often practiced by Muslims who are otherwise not so keen on practicing their faith.


4. The poor tax (zakat)
There are two main aspects of the poor tax: First, it reflects the idea that the whole community (umma) sees itself (at least in theory) as a family community in which each Muslim has a responsibility for the well-being of the other Muslim. The idea of the clan community remains, except that religion now takes the place of family descent. The Muslim, therefore, gives to do his part to help the needy within the umma.

The second aspect of alms is in the area of purification. Sura 9, 103 expresses this as follows: “Take from her fortune almsgiving (sadaqah) to purify and chasten her with it (Suzuki-him).”
Here the basic idea comes to the fore that material goods on this earth are something impure, from whose effect one must purify oneself. The Muslim does this by taking care of those who have less than he has (see Article 14 GG (2): “Property obliges. Its use should at the same time serve the public good"). To give alms is to be obedient to God and the Prophet (Sura 58:13) and a must for the attainment of bliss (Sura 3:92). Who should receive this alms is regulated in Sura 9,60.

The exact amount or form of the tax remains undetermined, which has led to a relatively complicated tax system over time. A special form of zakat is zakat (or sadaqat) al-Fitr, the “alms of breaking fasting”, which is not based on a Koranic verse but a traditional saying of the Prophet (hadith) and on whose amount and circle of recipients there are considerable differences of opinion among Islamic schools of law. However, since it is considered an obligatory part of the fasting rules, especially by the Sunnis, without which Ramadan fasting would lose its validity, donations to the needy before breaking the fast – in regionally varying amounts and types – are generally very conscientiously observed. Traditionally, alms are increasingly given before or after Friday prayer in the mosque (the main day of prayer for Muslims), which can lead to a sharp increase in the number of beggars in mainly Islamic cities.

3.1.5. The Pilgrimage (Hajj)

“Perform the pilgrimage (hadj) and the visiting journey (Umra) in the service of God! And if you are prevented, then offer (as atonement) to sacrificial animals what is affordable (for you)! “In the long Koranic verse 2, 196, whose beginning is quoted here, details of the pilgrimage ceremony are regulated. The reason for the ritual is given in Sura 3, 95-97  Say: God has spoken the truth. Therefore follow the religion of Abraham, a God-seeker (hanif) – he was not a heathen! The first (God’s) house that has been set up for people is the one in Bakka (= Mecca), (set up) for blessing and guidance for people all over the world. In it, there are clear signs. It is the (holy) place of Abraham. Whoever
enters it is safe. And people are obliged to God to make the pilgrimage to the house -as far as they find a possibility to do so. “The destination of the journey is the “holy mosque” or the “venerable sanctuary”, whose center is the approximately 15-meter high cube of the Kaaba. This contains a single, empty room, which was cleansed by Mohammed of various idols from pre-Islamic times. The Kaaba itself, the element of pilgrimage and the seven times circling it (tawaf) go back to pre-Islamic rites, which were adopted into the religious rites of Islam. Abraham, Hagar, and Ismael are considered to be the builders. An essential part of the rites in Mecca itself is the already mentioned seven times circling (tawaf) of the Kaaba, whereby each time the black stone is to be touched or at least the hand is to be stretched out in its direction. The second main component is the sevenfold run (say) between the two hills near the Kaaba, as-Safa, and al-Marwa, which were probably crowned by idols in pagan times; a streambed runs between them. Today the 385 m long run (masa) is covered by a long, high hall. These two elements of the pilgrimage, the tawaf, and they say can, by the way, be completed by Mecca visitors throughout the year; they form the “small” or “visiting pilgrimage” (‛Umra), which is mentioned in the Koran verse quoted at the beginning. Usually, the pilgrims who come to the Hajj first perform these two rites after their arrival. However, the actual Hajj takes place outside of Mecca. It begins on the 8th of the pilgrim month in the village of Mina, 8km east of Mecca in a valley that fills with thousands of tents during the pilgrimage season. The pilgrims spend the night in Mina and then, after the early prayer in the morning of the 9th, move southeast through the valley of Muzdalifa to the plain of the village ‛Arafat, 15 km away, where they gather around the “Mountain of Mercy” (gˇabal ar-Rahma). This bare mountain range also once bore a pagan idol. After midday and afternoon prayers, the pilgrims perform the ritual of “standing” or “lingering” (waqf). The pilgrims need only be present there and stay until sunset; they can protect themselves from the sun by parasols or tents, pray, talk, or listen to a sermon. As soon as a cannon shot announces the end of the ritual, the crowd starts moving again in the direction of Muzdalifa and Mina in the running script (ifada). In the valley of Muzdalifah, the two evening prayers (maġrib and ‛isa ) are performed together. Here the pilgrims collect the pebbles they need for the next days ritual and then spend the night. In the morning of the 10th, another short wuquf
follows, a “pause” in front of Mount Quzah, named after a pagan god; the run continues to Minä, where each pilgrim throws seven of the stones collected on a stone mark, the “cairn of al-‛Aqaba” (gˇamrat al-‛Aqaba), which was once a pagan idol. He is reinterpreted in the Islamic sense as the “great Satan” (as-saitan al-kabir), whom the faithful “stone”. On this 10th, the ceremonies of Hajj reach their climax with sacrifice, which Muslims all over the world celebrate at the same time; besides the breaking of the fast after the end of Ramadan, this day of sacrifice (yaum al-Adha or yaum ann-nahr) is the highest religious festival of Islam, the "great festival" (al-‛id al-kabir). the
slaughtered animals are eaten by the pilgrims, the remains are distributed to the poor. Then the men have their heads shaved – a sign that their state of consecration (ihram) has been partially revoked. After returning to Mecca at a run, the pilgrims have to walk around the Kaaba (tawaf al-ifada). From the 11th to the 13th the pilgrims stay in Mina again, where they prepare for their return home with various rites, including the renewed “stoning” of the three local cairns.

From this description, it is already clear that this spiritual exercise mainly depends on the exact following of certain rituals. This fundamental aspect of Islamic spirituality is lived here in a particularly expressive way. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the organization of the annual Hajj Saudi Arabia faces great logistical challenges. Serious or fatal accidents are not uncommon during this period.