How do the five Pillars of Islam define Islam for Muslims?

Muslims hold certain key principles in common. One of them is known as the Five Pillars of Islam, each of which plays some vital role in uniting Muslims. This is a discussion of shahada, salat, zakat, sawm and haj and how they center and impact upon the life of a Muslim.

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...tinguishes Muslims, both individually and collectively, as distinct from adherents to other similar monotheistic faiths (namely Judaism and Christianity), and especially from other polytheistic faiths. With a Muslim's acceptance of the shahada, the world then becomes divided into two distinct groups: that of 'true believers'; and that of 'unbelievers'. The level of inter-faith tolerance or animosity, as well as the level of commitment to such beliefs, again varies between extremist and moderate Muslim individuals and groups.

The second duty is that of prayer (salat) which is usually required five times a day. Such prayers are performed in the direction of Mecca, the sacred site of pre-Islamic worship of Allah, and the place where Muhammad received the first of the Qur'anic revelations. Such worship, whether performed in solitude or collectively, engenders a feeling of fellowship which is further reinforced by the knowledge that all Muslims, the world over, are similarly directing their spiritual energies toward Mecca for the sake of Allah. Salat has a fixed form, both verbally and in bodily postures, which again reinforces the collective nature of worship. The congregational noon Friday prayer especially generates a sense of communal ritual, and again marks off Muslim practice from that of other faiths. The Muslim day and week is thus divided into a cycle of outward ritual performances, in which salat is both a public communal display of belief in the sovereignty of Allah, and ...