The Ten Catholic Commandments and the Five Pillars of Islam, which some call the Islamic commandments, each comprise the essential rules for living in their respective religions. While Catholicism and Islam have fundamental differences in doctrine and tradition, the basic frameworks set up by these sets of rules are more alike than different. Where they differ is largely a matter of perspective and tone.
The first Catholic commandment declares, "I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me," while the second commandment forbids the taking of God's name in vain. The first pillar of Islam is known as the Shahadah, and it contains two proclamations -- the declaration that there is no other God but God, and the affirmation that Muhammad is God's messenger. These particular commandments and pillars lay out the most basic pretexts for the their respective religions, particularly the central belief that there is only one deity.
Each set of laws from Catholicism and Islam sets aside a certain block of time to be devoted to worship, and thus, to the public affirmation of one's faith. The third commandment orders Catholics to keep the Lord's Day holy; the second pillar of Islam, called Salat, establishes the Muslim prayer ritual -- five prayer periods each day, facing in the direction of Mecca. The pillars go farther than the commandments, however, in outlining time for worship. The fourth pillar of Islam, Sawm, decrees that Musims must refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activity during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan, and the fifth, Hajj, requires that all able-bodied, financially capable Muslims must make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives.
The remaining commandments outline a Christian's obligations -- proscriptions against killing, adultery, theft, false witness, coveting another's wife and coveting another's goods. While these are not considered good things in Islam either, the only other pillar that addresses everyday behavior is the requirement of giving alms, known as Zakah. Generally, the tithe is set at 2.5 percent and is used as a way to reinforce a sense of communal responsibility.
The most obvious difference between the Ten Commandments and the Five Pillars is in the tone. The commandments are written in the voice of God and are believed to have been directly communicated by God, while the Five Pillars of Islam are presented as human interpretation of how to fulfill the desires of God. In purpose, the two sets of rules fill the same role. The Catholic Encyclopedia calls the Ten Commandments "the most precious rules of life," while the Saudi embassy to the United States calls the Five Pillars "primary obligations."
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