The Five Pillars of Islam

Profession of faith * Alms giving * Daily prayers * Fast of Ramadan * Pilgrimage to Mecca

“As a young man traveling across the Islamic world and exhibiting an interest in their spiritual traditions, I was often given instances of how mankind was surrounded with the proofs of Islam, how the five fingers and the five senses could be used as a handy reminder of the five pillars of Islam, the five daily prayers and also remind one of the five prohibitions (pork, wine, gambling, adultery, and divination). But the most charming evocation of five I ever came across was a scruffy old Moroccan shepard, who plucked at flowers and even cracked open a cucumber to show how the world was ordered by five, which he explained was upheld by a verse of the Koran. I nodded politely at the time but years later came across Arberry’s translation of the Sura al-anam: ‘Look upon their fruits when they fructify and ripen? Surely in all this there are signs for people who believe.'”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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