As cliché as this may sound, I think everyone is searching for peace. To be facing a painful situation or a most chaotic circumstance, and yet feel at ease with the decree of Allah, imagine that. So how does one achieve peace? I would like to believe that peace comes from a mix of virtues, all of which are attained by the fulfilment of a Muslim’s duties – in other words – the five pillars of Islam.
These are the two testimonies that Muslims bear witness to: Lā ilāha illa Allah Muhammad rasūl Allah, which means that there is no god but God, Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. The Shahāda is not just a statement, rather it carries a profound truth and inspires a Muslim to be truthful by acknowledging that he is a slave to a Generous Master, and to devoting all acts of worship to Allah, by the guidance and example of the Prophet peace be upon him. The Shahāda in itself is an act of worship, such that whoever proclaims it will be forbidden from entering the Fire (Sahih al-Bukhari).
The obligatory ṣalāt or prayer is performed five times throughout the day and night at specific times: at dawn (before sunrise), midday, the late part of the afternoon, just after sunset, and between sunset to the next dawn. The prayer is defined as a series of words and actions beginning with takbīrat al-iḥrạm and ending in salām. It only takes 2% of one’s time (2% of 24h = 28.8min), but in reality, prayer is much more than that. Ṣalāt is a Muslim’s direct connection to Allah. It is a place of refuge, where the Muslim thanks Allah, praises Him, confides in Him and asks Him for help. It is his offense and defense at the same time. In order to fulfill his needs and wants, a believer calls on Allah. That is his greatest strength. And Allah, the Most Kind and All-Knowing that He is, answers every call (Quran, 2:186). Also, the prayer when done right, is a shield that prevents him from committing sins (Quran, 29:45).
Once a Muslim reaches a minimum amount of wealth, he is obligated to make a contribution every year of two and a half percent of his savings, which will go to the poor, the destitute, the new convert etc. (Quran, 9:60) Zakāh is a form of charity, and a means of purification (Quran, 9:103) of one’s heart and wealth. By giving zakāh, a Muslim attributes himself with generosity and mercy, and Allah shows mercy to those who are merciful to others (Jami’ at-Tirmidhi – sahih hadith). Spend in the way of Allah, however much or in whatever way, such as sponsoring an orphan, donating money to refurbish a mosque, teaching and helping others with their assignment, lightening someone’s burden – be it physically or emotionally – or even putting on a smile for another person. Charity is that simple, and that rewarding.
Ṣawm, or fasting from dawn till dusk during the month of Ramaḍān, is the fourth pillar of Islam. Fasting teaches us discipline, when we abstain from food and drink and anything that displeases Allah. The Muslim learns to detach himself from worldly desires and focus on nourishing his soul with obligatory and supplementary good deeds. This leads to physical and spiritual health. Fasting also becomes less difficult when one realizes that there are 1.7 billion others all over the globe fasting together with you and I. Fasting reminds him of those who are stricken with poverty and who fast without having a choice, thus instilling gratitude in the heart of a Muslim. Gratitude that motivates him to help his people and share with them whatever that he has.
Ḥajj refers to the pilgrimage to Makkah, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation for those who are able to do it. The Holy Mosque is flooded all year round by people who come on foot and by vehicle, to perform minor and major pilgrimages. In the presence of so many Muslims gathered for a single common purpose, which is to fulfill the command of Allah, one is overwhelmed with a sense of unity. “Here I am at Your service, oh Lord, here I am – here I am. No partner do You have. Here I am. Truly, the praise and the favor are yours, and the dominion. No partner do You have” (Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik). These are the words that are chanted by the pilgrims as they journey toward Makkah. These are the words that bring them close to the Almighty.
Ultimately as Muslims, our purpose in life and the intention of our worship is to please Allah. And Allah rewards us for it. Is there any reward for good other than good? (Quran, 55:60). It is amazing, I feel, that there is wisdom in everything that Allah commands us to do; these are, to me, the five pillars of peace. Now that we have a map, we know what to do. And I promise you, the journey gets easier, and you are not alone. We will meet at the destination in sha Allah.
All that is good is from Allah, the All-Knowing.