There are five basic pillars of Islam, five primary obligations and acts of worship which represent the base of a Muslim’s life. These are:
Shahadah, which the most important of all, is the report of faith by a Muslim.“There is no God worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His messenger”, a Muslim has to say it vocally and admit it by heart. Shahadah means admission of the supremacy of Allah SWT, accepting the fact that He is only one and there is no other creation which can possess the powers and wisdom that Allah SWT has. Another essential part of Shahadah is to identify Muhammad (PBUH) as the last messenger of Allah.
Salat means the obligatory prayers or Namaz which Muslims have to pray five times a day. It is also a very significant part of a Muslim’s life because it serves as a direct connection between him/her and Allah SWT. Salat is said to be a “discussion between a Muslim and Allah”. It means that five times, each day, a Muslim gets to talk with his Creator, during which he praises Him and admits that his own status is nothing but Allah Almighty’s slave and follower.
Then comes Zakat or the Charitable giving which is also made compulsory over Muslims who fall under the category of Sahib e Nasab. This act of worship is the acceptance of the fact that all our wealth and money belongs to Allah SWT. The word Zakat means “purification”. When a Muslim pays Zakat following the orders of Allah SWT, setting aside a proportions for the needy Muslims, his/her possessions are hence purified.
Sawm or Fasting is another very important act of worship. Every year, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast daily for 30 days, for the sake of Allah SWT. From dawn to dusk every day, a Muslim with sawm doesn’t eat or drink anything and does not to indulge into any activity, which has been strictly prohibited by Allah SWT. For this, a fasting Muslim will be greatly rewarded. Aside from the health advantages which fast has on body, Sawm is also a method of self purification. When a Muslim cuts himself from the worldly aspects of life for the duration that he is fasting, it induces in him self control, which continues to be helpful in his life even after Ramadan ends. Also when a Muslim refrains from eating and drinking during fast, he gets to sympathize with those who are poor and cannot afford to have food.
Then there is Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Makkah, from 8th to 12th Dhu al-Hijjah, to perform certain religious rituals in accordance to the method prescribed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It is obligatory for every physically and economically able Muslim to perform Hajj at least once in his/ her lifetime.
Why is Hajj a comprehensive form of Worship?
Now why do we say that Hajj is the most extensive act of worship? Are the rest of above mentioned Ibadahs not comprehensive. Yes they are, but Hajj is the only form of worship which amalgamates the spirits of all the other pillars.How? Here is the answer.
From the moment a person intends to perform Hajj, he is confessing to the supremacy of Allah SWT by following His orders. Hajj is not an easy adventure, it involves a lot of obstacles, both financial and physical. When a Muslim, living anywhere in the world, decides to go on this spiritual journey, he/she is ready to leave the worldly comforts and face the hardships involved, only because Allah SWT has ordered him to. A true Muslim accepts the unity and wisdom of Allah SWT completely and he/she is prepared to do anything for His sake, even if it means to take out time from his busy life, leave the coziness of his home and go to Makkah Saudi Arabia for carrying out the rites of Hajj, according to the Sunnah of Muhammad (PBUH). Following the lessons of Prophet(PBUH) while performing Hajj, is also a support of a Muslim’s belief in Muhammad being the prophet of Allah SWT.