What Are the Basic Teachings of Islam?

The basic teachings of Islam are called the Five Pillars of Faith and comprise confession of faith, prayer, giving alms, fasting during Ramadaan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. These are often also called the Five Pillars of Islam.

The confession of faith is that there is only one god, which is Allah, and that Muhammad was his final prophet. The teachings of the Qur’an are considered to be eternal and for all humans. Prayer includes the five daily prayers, community prayers, individual meritorious prayers, and prayers that go above and beyond what is required.

Giving alms is considered a religious duty and requires no less than 2.5 percent of the income over what one needs to survive. The duty of fasting during Ramadaan applies to all Muslims, with exceptions made for pregnant women, sick people, travellers, children and nursing mothers. The pilgrimage to Mecca is to take place during the month of Zu’l-Hijjah and must be done once in a lifetime.

A sixth pillar is sometimes added and is called Jihaad, or Holy War. The connotation has taken on a negative meaning in the West, but was meant to be interpreted as a spreading of faith, not dissimilar from evangelizing.