Home > Islam, Religion > Three and a Half Pillar Muslims

Three and a Half Pillar Muslims

There are five basic duties that all Muslims are supposed to observe. These are called the five pillars of Islam. Here, I want to talk about these pillars and Orthodox Christianity.

The first pillar of Islam is called the shahada. The shahada is the creed that all Muslims are required to profess. It is very short according to Christian standards. The shahada is: There is no god but God. Muhammad is the Apostle of God. Many English versions of this creed say: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. As I have already said in a previous blog, Allah is only the Arabic name for God. The word Apostle, in my opinion, is a better word than messenger because the Arabic word is rasul which I believe means “one who is sent.” The word apostle is derived from a Greek word in the New Testament which means “one who is sent.” So, a Muslim confesses that there is only one God and that God sent Muhammad.

Orthodox Christians confess half of this  creed, when they say the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly called the Nicene Creed). In their personal prayers and in church, they say, “I believe in one God…” Those are the first words of the Creed.

Whether or not Muhammad was sent by God remains unclear in the minds of Orthodox Christians. There is no dogma of the Orthodox Church which says that he was sent by God. However, maybe in His sovereignty God did in some sense send Muhammad to convert polytheists to monotheism and prepare them to receive the Gospel.

In the Koran, it says:

And We caused Jesus, Son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before Him in the Torah, and We bestowed on Him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil). Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers. (Koran 5:46, 47, Pickthall)

It also says that Jesus is a Messenger (or Apostle) of God (Koran 3:49; 57:27, 28; 61:6) and that we should believe in God’s messengers. (Koran 4:171) It specifically states that we should believe in Jesus in verses in verses 5:111; 57:27, 28; and 61:6-11. So, if the Koran says that we should read the Gospel, believe the Gospel, and obey the teachings of the Gospel, then Muhammad was telling people something that Christians would definitely agree about. It appears from those texts just cited that Muhammad did that.

Orthodox Christians accept only half of the shahada, however – the part about there being only one God. The Orthodox Church has not officially stated that Muhammad is someone who has been sent by God. Therefore, the last half is not officially accepted.

The second pillar of Islam is salah. That means prayer. Muslims are required to pray five times a day.

Orthodox Christians have a rule of prayer which they are told to observe daily. There are prayers to be prayed in the morning, at noon, and at night. Also, there are prayers to be prayed before and after meals. In the Orthodox Church, there are eight offices of prayer: Vespers, Compline, Nocturnes, Matins, the First Hour, the Third Hour, the Sixth Hour, and the Ninth Hour. Many Orthodox Christians even pray some if not all of these prayers as well, for example, Compline before going to bed.

The Koran does not specify which prayers to pray. However, the first chapter of the Koran is a prayer. Muslims pray this prayer quite frequently. They should also pray the prayer that Jesus told us to pray in the Gospel according to St. Matthew. (St. Matthew 6:9-13) Otherwise, they are disobeying a Messenger of Allah and Muhammad commanded us to obey Jesus and believe in God’s messengers.

When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), He said: I have come unto you with wisdom, and to make plain some of that concerning which ye differ. So keep your duty to Allah, and obey Me. (Koran 43:63, Pickthall)

And those who believe in Allah and His messengers, they are the loyal, and the martyrs are with their Lord; they have their reward and their light; while as for those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, they are owners of hell-fire. (Koran 57:19, Pickthall)

Orthodox Christians, therefore, practice the second pillar of Islam.

Third pillar of Islam is zakat. This is compulsory charity.Muslims are required to give money to further the cause of Islam and to help needy people.

Likewise, Orthodox Christians are supposed to give alms in secret. (St. Matthew 6:1-4) Many Orthodox Christians do give to the Church and to Church charities. In our country, there is a charitable organization called International Orthodox Christian Charities. Many give to this organization. So, Orthodox Christians observe the third pillar of Islam.

The fourth pillar of Islam is sawm. This pillar is fasting. Muslims observe the fast during the month of Ramadan and three other fasts which occur in three other months of the Islamic calendar.

Orthodox Christians do keep fasts. They usually fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. They observe the fasts of Great Lent which precedes Pascha (Orthodox Easter). Also, they observe the Apostle’s Fast in June, the Dormition Fast in August, and the Nativity Fast (Advent) in November and December. Therefore, Orthodox Christians do observe the fourth pillar of Islam.

The last pillar of Islam is hajj. This pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Only Muslims are allowed in Mecca and every Muslim is required to visit Mecca at least once during his or her lifetime.

Orthodox Christians are not Muslims in the Islamic sense. They are Muslims in the sense that they have surrendered to God. The word, Muslim, means “one who has surrendered.” Jesus told us to love God with all of our being. (St. Matt. 22:37; St. Mark  12:30; St. Luke 10:27) Those who are striving to do that are in a sense Muslims.

Although many Orthodox Christians are Muslims in the sense that they strive to love God with all of their being and keep His commandments, they still are not Muslims in the Islamic sense. So, even if they wanted to go to Mecca, they would not be allowed to enter the city. Making a pilgrimage to Mecca, however, is not required in the Orthodox Christian religion. Orthodox Christians do not, therefore, observe the fifth pillar of Islam.

So, Orthodox Christians are Muslims in a non-Islamic sense and they do observe three and a half pillars of Islam. Orthodox Christians are three and a half pillar Muslims. According to the Koran, we Orthodox Christians are simply following our traced out way. (See Koran 5:44-48.)

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