19 May 2022


Investigating Islam Essay

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Assad Afreen is an imam, serving as the head of the Muslim community in my neighborhood. He was more than willing to offer me a safe virtual interview amidst COVID-19 pandemic. I had already sent out the question that I wanted the imam to address, together with my interview invitation. My question was on the description of each of the five pillars and a reflection on why they are referred to as Pillars of Islam. According to Assad, the five pillars constitute obligations that every Muslim must satisfy for responsible living according to Islam (A. Afreen, Personal communication, 2020). They include

(I). Shahada : the profession of faith

This is an Islamic statement of faith on Allah as the sole deity and Mohammed as his messenger. It’s the most important pillar and submission to Islam. It should be recited three times.

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(ii). Salah (Prayer)

This is the daily prayer. There are five set obligatory daily prayers in Muslim life. They include Fajir, Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha. Wudhu (ablution) must be performed before an act of Salah and adhaan (a call to prayer) is made at mosques announces that the set time for the payer.

(iii). Zakat (Alms)

This is a pillar of purification and growth. It encourages Muslims to give because God is the giver of all wealth and what humans have has been entrusted to them by the maker. The wealthy Muslims are expected to give some of their wealth to the needy. Most Muslims fund community projects in hospitals, schools as a fulfillment of this pillar.

(iv) . Sawn (fasting)

The pillar is exercised in the month of Ramadan. A lot of discipline and abstinence is exercised, so that purity of mind, body, and soul is achieved. Ramadan’s key principle is reclaiming closeness with Allah by seeking repentance and giving to charity (Mullen, 2019). The pillar is concluded with an Eid-ul-Fitr festival.

5. Hajj (pilgrimage)

This is an annual occurrence where Muslims globally congregate at the holy Ka’aba in Mecca, wearing plain white clothes (ihram). All able Muslims are expected to aim at taking the Ka’aba journey once in their lifetime. Ka’aba is believed to be where Abraham put up a house for God.

  A detailed analysis of how one of the pillars function in the daily life of a Muslim classmate

Fareed is a fellow classmate who judiciously exercises Salah pillar of Islam. Daily, when the call to prayer is made at our campus mosque, he performs ablution by washing the right hand up to the wrist three times, before rinsing his mouth and spitting out water three times. He then applies sweet-smelling oil, brushes his teeth to pull a good physical appearance before presenting himself before God. According to Fareed, cleanliness and purity are significant in Islam, and Wuduh is physically and spiritually purifying. Still, Wuduh regular handwashing has health benefits because it reduces the transfer of germs and diseases. The strict daily observance of the pillar attracts spiritual rewards for him than when he performs individual prayers. He gets forgiveness and answered prayer requests from Allah .

How the Egyptian Copts rituals compare and contrast to the five pillars of Islam

Coptic Christians are majorly concentrated in Egypt, the Middle East. Copts are indigenous Christians of Egyptian descent whose history spans back to the first decades following the life of Christ. The book of Acts tells of how Egyptian Jews arrived in Jerusalem fleeing from Pentecost, the Jewish harvest festival. The Egyptians took with them the Christianity message home. By the fourth century, many Egyptians had converted to the Christian faith and still maintained their faith after the seventh conquest. The term “Copt” is thus derivative of an ancient Greek term used to generalize all these Christians (Copts, 2020). The Copts Christians are scattered all over the world, including here in the US.

There are numerous similarities between Egyptian Muslims and Copts because of thriving in a shared context. One of the major beliefs that Egyptian Copts are guided by is salvation. It comes from Jesus Christ, who was crucified on the cross, and whenever they do well to others, it is an honor to God. This tenet of the Coptic faith is similar to the Islamic shahada faith that venerates Allah as the sole deity. The Copts interchange the terms Allah and God in their daily conversations since, besides being a predominantly Islamic term referring to their God, Allah is also an Arabic term, and most Copts are native Arabic speakers. As such, Egyptian Copts share a culture with Muslims.

Another similarity between the two groups is prayer. Both use prayer as a way of talking to the heavenly father. While the Copt Christians are not obligated to recite five prayers per day, like in the Islamic Salah, the Copts pray frequently to remain in a relationship with God. However, unlike Muslims whose adhaan is conducted openly, Copts Christians do it in private. The Bible directs that prayer should be done in private just as the heavenly father is.

Charity is another ritual practiced by the Egyptian Copts. The ritual is comparable to Islamic Zakat where sharing one’s wealth with the less fortunate attracts rewards from God and is an appreciation that earthly belongings are just material possessions.

The Islamic pillar on fasting in the month of Ramadan is similar to the fasting practiced by Copts in in adherence to the Coptic calendar. Copts practice it between 180 and 210 days and is a spiritual symbol. Just like the Muslims, the cops seek to recapture paradise by exercising abstinence from all canal practices. As a contrast from Muslims, the Copts live on a vegan diet.

Lastly, Islamic Hajj is also a ritual that is also comparable to Egyptian pilgrim to Jerusalem. While the pilgrimage was a contentious issue with Egyptian Christians being discriminated from visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem. The higher Constitutional court granted the Coptic and other Egyptian Christians the right to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, indicating a resemblance to Islamic Hajj.


Asad Afreen, An Imam & religious leader. Personal online communication, June 18th, 2020.

Copts. (2020).  Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition , 1. https://search-ebscohost-


Mullen, A. (2019). In Islam fasting is embodied as one of the Five Pillars of Faith.  Westmorland 

Gazette (Kendal, England) . Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost- com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgin&AN=edsgcl.585890688&site=eds-live&scope=site

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