Relearning the 5 Pillars

Notes on Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner’s
Unveiling Islam
Chapter 7: Fundamentals (The Five Pillars)

This is the Islam I learned in high school: the five pillars, the essentials.

  1. The creed
  2. Prayer
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Ramadan
  5. Pilgrimage

This chapter might have been a review–but it only reinforced how little I actually know about Islam. I know so little, even about the five pillars–the part I thought I knew.

For instance, did you know that Islam requires ritual ablutions prior to prayer? Did you know that petitions in prayer are frowned upon? There is no sense in Islam that Allah will stay his hand or act based on the requests of his servants. Prayer is not communication with Allah, but simply an act of ritual obedience.

Did you know that Ramadan celebrates the “giving” of the Qur’an?

Did you know that the pilgrimage means more than just traveling to Mecca? It includes a great deal of ritual, including encircling the city several times, walking several miles outside the city to a certain spot, throwing a certain amount of stones in a certain way, etc.

I didn’t. This was definitely an enlightening chapter.

Addendum (May 10, 2010): Ergun Caner’s testimony as a converted Muslim has been challenged by several bloggers who claim that he has grossly exaggerated the extent of his Muslim upbringing. Readers of this book ought to be aware that the Caners may or may not have the experiential knowledge of Islam that they claim to have, and should therefore be careful to test the statements found in this book against other reliable sources.

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