What it means to be Muslim
The Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) has enjoined us to believe in five articles of faith:
1. Belief in one God Who has absolutely no associate with Him in His divinity.
2. Belief in God’s Angels;
3. Belief in God’s Books, and in the Holy Qur’an as His Last Book.
4. Belief in God’s Prophets, and in Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) as His Last and Final Messenger;
5. Belief in life after death; in the resurrection and judgment
6. And the belief in destiny.
These articles make up the bedrock of Islam. One who believes in them enters the fold of Islam and becomes a member of the Muslim community. But one does not become a complete Muslim by mere vocal profession alone. To become a complete Muslim one has to fully carry out in practice the instructions given by Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) as ordained by God.
For belief in God makes practical obedience to Him incumbent; and it is obedience to God, which constitutes the religion of Islam. By this belief you profess that Allah, the one God, alone is your God, and this means that He is your Creator and you are His creature; that He is your Master and you are His slave; that He is your Ruler and you are His subject. Having acknowledged Him as your Master and Ruler, if you refuse to obey Him you become a self-admitted rebel. Along with faith in God, you believe that the Qur’an is God’s Book. This means that you have admitted all the contents of the Qur’an to be from God. Thus it becomes your bounden duty to accept and obey whatever is contained in it. Along with that, you have admitted Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) to be God’s Messenger, which means that you have admitted that each and every one of his orders and prohibitions are from God. After this admission, obedience to him becomes your duty. You will therefore be a fully-fledged Muslim only when your practice is consistent with your profession.
Salah is the most fundamental and the most important of the religious obligations. Salah are the prescribed daily prayers, which consist in repeating and refreshing five times a day the belief in which you repose your faith.
If we refuse to avail ourselves of them, then we and only we are the losers. Neglecting the prayers can only mean one of two things. Either we do not recognise prayers as our duty or we recognise them as our duty and still neglect them. In the first case, our claim to faith is a shameless lie, for if we refuse to take orders, we no longer acknowledge God’s Authority. In the second case, if we recognise His Authority and still flout His Commands, we are the most unreliable of the creatures that ever trod the earth. For if we can do this to the Highest Authority in the universe, what guarantee is there that we shall not do the same in our dealings with fellow human beings? And if double-dealing dominates a society, terrible discord will be the certain outcome!
Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi [Towards Understanding Islam]