5 Pillars of Islam
By Morgan Biretz
Salah, prayer, is the second pillar. The Islamic faith is based on the belief that individuals have a direct relationship with God. The world's Muslims turn individually and collectively to Makkah, Islam's holiest city, to offer five daily prayers at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. In addition, Friday congregational service is also required. Although salah can be performed alone, it is wise to perform it with another or with a group. It is okay to pray at home, at work, or even outdoors; however it is recommended that Muslims perform salah in a mosque.
Zakat, giving, is the third pillar. Social responsibility is considered part of one's service to God; the obligatory act of zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes payment of fixed proportions of a Muslim's possessions for the welfare of the entire community and in particular for its neediest members. It is equal to 2.5 percent of an individual's total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses.
Sawm, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, is the fourth pillar of Islam. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control. Ramadan is also a joyful month. Muslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal, then perform additional nocturnal worship. The end of Ramadan is observed by three days of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast. Customarily, it is a time for family reunion and the favored holiday for children who receive new clothing and gifts.