by Pastor Gordon Brubaker

Christ Meeting the World

"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them,
for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

1 Timothy 4:16


Serious Study Home / Community Door / Christianity and Islam Home Page

A Study of Conflicting Beliefs

Session Six - December 4, 2002
"What are the fundamentals of Islam? The five pillars?"

Islam believes in a strong community which finds its identity not in race but in it’s religion. Islam is a belief in absolutes. It is in these absolutes that the community finds it’s solidarity, unity. Muslims value spiritual kinship MORE than individual freedom.

While the United States of America finds it’s strength in diversity, the blending of peoples and cultures, Islam finds it’s strength in conformity. The five pillars of Islamic belief serve as this rallying point, unifying believers under the umbrella of essential beliefs.

For example, in America, there are many very different forms and understandings of worship. In Islam all Muslims worship the same way, throughout the world, with no significant variations, regardless of social or cultural contexts.

"The pillars of Islam are non-negotiable. They are not to be questioned, but believed to the utmost. To criticize the five pillars is, in fact, paramount to treason, perceived as heresy and blasphemy, punishable in many Islamic countries by imprisonment or worse", Unveiling Islam, page 122.

The five pillars are: 
1) recital of the creed, 
2) prayer, 
3) almsgiving, 
4) fasting, 
5) pilgrimage to the Ka’ba at Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

How do these compare with Christian beliefs?


Is there a Christian "creed," and what would it be?

"There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger (prophet) of Allah."

This creed is the indoctrination into accepting the beliefs and teachings of Muhammad and the Qur’an.

This creed is to be repeated daily. The devout Muslim must unite belief (imam) with practice (din).


What is the Christian’s understanding of prayer?

Even during prayer time (rakats), Muslims do not make supplication. It is the repetition of the first surah (chapter) of the Qur’an that takes up most of the prayer time. "This repetition is a type of mantra, invoking the power of Allah, but does not request anything. Prayer is understand as an act of obedience (and escaping the punishment due those who neglect prayer) not petition.

The Muslim is required to say prayers five times a day at ‘the hours’. Prayer is a strictly prescribed ritual of stances, genuflexions and prostrations which differ slightly between the orthodox schools. The noon Friday prayer is the most important and attendance is mandatory among adult males, and must be given in ritual purity. A sermon is also given at this time.

Prayer is the ultimate worship of the Muslim. Even in the Muslim call to prayer we see the Islamic concept of worship:

God is Great. God is Great. God is Great. God is Great.
I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God.
I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Come to prayer! Come to prayer!
Come to success! Come to success!
God is Great! God is Great!
There is none worthy of worship except God!

This call to prayer illustrates the importance of repetition in the Muslim’s prayer life. In the cleansing preceding the prayer, Muslims are called to purify themselves in the following manner:

Wash their hands up to the wrist three times;
rinse out the mouth three times;
clean the nostrils by sniffing water three times;
wash the face from forehead to chin and from ear to ear;
wash the forearms up to the elbows three times;
pass a wet hand over the whole head;
wash the feet up to the ankles three times, the right then the left.

Muslims can expect Allah to hear their prayers ONLY if they are clean physically.

"Prayer, then, is not a personal conversation between a human and God; rather, it is an external practice saturated withy formal procedures and required customs", Unveiling Islam, page 124.

All Prayers must be recited in Arabic.

While Christians generally disregard body language in worship, Muslims use their whole body in prayer. The submission of the spirit is symbolized by the submissive gestures of the body, made according to a ritualized pattern. Thus Muslims identify more with the developed liturgical worship of the Eastern Orthodox Christians than with what they consider to be overly informal, unregulated worship of the Evangelical Christian.

In fact the word "masque", literally means a place of prostration. The importance of humility in Islam is unquestioned. During times of prayer, Muslim prostrate themselves before Allah, as an act of submission.

One hadith tells us that "The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty-five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one’s house or in the market."

The Caner brothers conclude that "If prayers were not repeated five times daily, believers would soon forget about Allah and his greatness," page 125.

What similarities, or dissimilarities between Muslim and Christian prayer?


What part does giving play in the Christian belief system?

A: Tithe goes to establish the covenant of God in the earth. Biblically the tithe goes to the priesthood. Offerings are given to build the Temple and to provide welfare for the poor. What are some other purposes of offerings?

Zakat (almsgiving) is central in the theme of salvation, mixed in with other good actions. "One recites the creed, offers prayers, and does good, but to neglect charitable giving nullifies salvation. It is integral to earning the mercy of Allah," Unveiling Islam, page 126.

"In the end, the Muslim hopes that Allah will compensate him or her proportionally and comparably to that which he or she has given," Unveiling Islam, page 127.

It is understood that if a Muslim abstains from doing evil, it is seen as a part of voluntary almsgiving.

Almsgiving, to the Muslim, cleanses them of greed and selfishness while creating an equitable distribution of goods to the entire community. It is intended to bring unity and betterment to the society as a whole.

At the University of Northumbria at Newcastle the Islamic Society explained , "Zakat represents the unbreakable bond between members of the community, whom prophet Muhammad described to be ‘like the organs of the body, if one suffers then all others rally in response.’ "

The Muslim must recognize that everything is the property of Allah Almighty. Muslims are obliged to give 2.5% of their incomes, after excluding outstanding debts.

Almsgiving CANNOT be, and is not, taken lightly in the Islamic world. It is an essential part of Islamic belief.

Does the tithe and offerings play a part in a Christian’s salvation? If so what part does it play?


What role does fasting have in Christianity? Describe what a fast is, ex: complete and partial.

Fasting to the Muslim practiced in the festival of Ramadan. It is believed that Muhammad first received his revelation from Allah in the month of Ramadan. Therefore they lay aside special times to worship and meet.

Fasting is an annual (for the month of Ramadan) lifelong requirement for every devout Muslim. Surah 2:183, "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may [learn] self-restraint." For the month of Ramadan, from sunrise to sunset the Muslim is required to abstain from sexual intercourse, eating, drinking, and smoking. In its place, he is to read the Qur’an forming an act of worship in their practice of self restraint.

For a Muslim to not participate in this fast without a legal excuse is deemed an unpardonable sin with potential eternal effects. The sin of abandoning this duty is irreversible.


Millions of believers from all over the globe come together to celebrate the oneness of Allah at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. The Ka’aba is an ancient stone building some thirty three feet wide, forty feet long, and fifty feet high. A black stone, thought to be a meteorite, is set in a corner of the building. The heritage of the Hajj (pilgrimage) allegedly goes back to the time of Abraham.

The Islamic tradition is that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Ishmael, but instead Allah offered a ram to take Ishmael’s place. In gratitude, Abraham built a place of worship calling it the Ka’aba, and requested that people make an annual pilgrimage to it. In years to come local Arab’s corrupted the ritual setting up idols beginning a tradition of polytheism. Muhammad through the revelations of Allah restored monotheism and the pilgrimage.

The Bible, and the Jewish stories tell us it was Isaac, not Ishmael, who offered in sacrifice. The place was Mt. Moriah, which is where the Temple mount is in Jerusalem.

The pilgrimage is the climax of the Muslim’s spiritual journey. Only Muslims are allowed inside the city of Mecca, and all are required to dress in a simple white robe to demonstrate unity. People come from almost every race, speaking many languages.

The pilgrimage is more than just journeying to Mecca. The pilgrims first cleanse themselves before they begin their rituals. The first stage begins as thousands circle the Ka’aba seven times, reciting verses from the Qur’an and offering prayers along the way. Muslims must also run seven times between the two hills of Mecca, reenacting Hagar’s search for water for her son Ishmael. Finally, pilgrims find water at the well of Zamzam and take a drink, a reenacting Hagar’s discovery of water.

Pilgrims must travel 13 miles to the plain of Arafat, where Muhammad preached his last sermon. Here they stand from noon to sunset in honor of Muhammad’s standing in the community.

Pilgrims then must go to Mina, the site of the sacrifice of Ishmael by Abraham. Here pilgrims throw seven stones, in representation of Ishmael throwing stones at the devil to resist his temptations.

Next, pilgrims sacrifice as animal in remembrance of the ram offered in place of Ishmael. Now Muslims return to Mecca and repeat their encircling of the Ka’aba and running of the hills.

All of this is for one main purpose – the forgiveness of sin. As one Muslim expert writes, "The Hajj is designed to develop God consciousness and a sense of spiritual upliftment. It is also believed to be an opportunity to seek forgiveness of sins accumulated throughout life. Prophet Muhammad had said that a person who performs Hajj properly ‘will return as a newly born baby [free of all sins].’ "

"The hajj, then, is the perfect illustration of what it takes to get to heaven: hard work, meditation, and the mercy of Allah" Unveiling Islam, page 130.

"Such is the ultimate goal for all five pillars of Islam, which are eternally interwoven together. The five pillars act as a tapestry that gives Muslims a portrait of their task in life, a journey that they hope ends as it began – as a new born baby free from all sins", Unveiling Islam, page 130.


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