Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Five Pillars and The Pursuit of Happiness . . .

Islam's five pillars have always intrigued me. As a Muslim, I have found that these fundamental concepts of the Islamic faith, while obscure and unknown to many, have recourse to the American Constitution . Thus, as American Muslims we can create a life here in America that is both unique and dignified in an American sense. Let's outline the five pillars quickly. Important to mention here that the five pillars are key elements of early childhood education.

1. Profession of Faith
2. Five daily prayers
3. Giving of alms or charity
4. Fasting during Ramadan
5. Hajj or the Blessed Pilgrimage

How might you ask does this coincide with the rubric of the American Constitution. Let's examine closely. The profession of faith is a serious matter. Born Muslims are simply accepted as Muslims and converts "profess their faith" by reciding the Shahadah. How does this relate to the Constitution? Foremost, the Bill of Rights provides for freedom of religion and other freedoms. The profession of faith easily fits the mold. One might liken this to the Ten Commandments - that may have also inspired the framing of the Bill of Rights. Moving along - five daily prayers - this is a tall order if one lives in America. Firstly, there is never enough time in the day for the average American to take time out to perform such a rigorous ritual. Working Americans can be hard pressed to live up to these standards. However, the Constitution does not deny us this right in any way - but remember also that it does not praise any faith and quite understandably, seem arcane and agnostic to the religious and spiritual observer. This is a great challenge for any follower - to affirm their faith and impress upon a historical governing document a lasting glorification of religious rites - the sword of faith rises from the grave tearing the strands of parchment asunder - or in this case illuminating. The Consitution seems to invite religious struggle, which is also consistent with faith matters. After all, it never denies religious freedom or expressly or specifically condemns any religious practice. Thus, we are compelled to take part in citizenship. Fasting, pilgrimage, and charity all coincide with natural Constitutional rights and we come to know that life in America is defined either by faith or democracy. When Rudyard Kipling writes, "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet," we may be disheartened by the conundrum of democracy but reassured that faith is not limited to carvings on stone walls. The National Constitution Center and Museum in historic Philadelphia is a worthwhile resource to study the Constitution at more length.

No comments: