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The 5 Pillars of Islam

According to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم),Islam is based on the following five pillars:

  1. To testify that there is no true God but Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and that Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is His last Messenger and the seal (last) of prophets.
  2. To perform prayers (5 times a day).
  3. To pay zakat (Charity-poor due once a year).
  4. To fast during the month of Ramadhan.
  5. To perform hajj (Pilgrimage - Once in a lifetime, if one capable).

Islam is based on five pillars which the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) has explained for us, when he said: “Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing regular prayer (salaah); paying the zakaah; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting Ramadaan.” (Agreed upon; narrated by al-Bukhaari)

Islam is both belief and laws, in which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) have told us what is halaal, permissible, and what is haraam, prohibitted, morals and good manners, acts of worship and how to interact with people, rights and duties, and scenes of the resurrection. When Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) completed this religion, He chose it to be the way of life for all of mankind until the Hour begins: 

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion" [Quran: Surah 5: Ayah 3] 

These are the pillars of Islam and the principles upon which it is based: 

The first pillar: al-Shahaadatayn (the twin testimony of faith) 

This means that a person believes that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone is the Lord, Sovereign and Controller, the Creator and Provider. He affirms all His most beautiful names and the sublime attributes that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has affirmed for Himself or that His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) affirmed for Him. He believes that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone, and no one else, is the Only One Who is deserving of worship, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: 

“He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have children when He has no wife? He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything.

Such is Allah, your Lord! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Creator of all things. So worship Him (Alone), and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs or Guardian) over all things." [Quran: Surah 2: Ayah 238] 

The second pillar: five daily prayers

The five daily prayers are obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, night and day: 

“Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours." [Quran: Surah 2: Ayah 45] 

The five daily prayers wipe out sins, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Do you not think that if there was a river at the door of any one of you, and he were to bathe in it five times each day, would there by any dirt left on him?” They said, “No dirt would be left on him at all.” He said, “That is the likeness of the five daily prayers, by means of which Allah erases sin.” 

Prayer in the mosque is a means of entering Paradise. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever comes and goes to the mosque, Allah will prepare for him a house in Paradise for each time he comes and goes.” [Narrated by Muslim, no. 669]

Prayer brings the slave and his Creator together. It was the delight of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Whenever any matter grieved him, he would turn to prayer and converse with his Lord and call upon Him, seeking His forgiveness and asking Him of His bounty. 

Prayer done with proper humility and fear of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) brings the Muslim closer to his Lord, and keeps him from doing evil, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: 

“Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’aan), and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah). Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) prevents from Al‑Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al‑Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed." [Quran: Surah 9: Ayahs 34-35] 

The third pillar: the zakaat

Concealing one’s zakaah is better than paying it openly in front of people, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: 

“If you disclose your Sadaqaat (almsgiving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will expiate you some of your sins. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do." [Quran: Surah 2: Ayah 271] 

When a Muslim pays his zakaah, it is not permissible for him to give it to anyone except those whom Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) mentions in the ayah, verse: 

“As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor), and Al‑Masaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujahidoon — those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wisei.e. to say Takbeer (Allahu Akbar: Allah is the Most Great)] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [Quran: Surah 2: Ayah 185] 

The fourth pillar: Fasting

There is a great reward with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) for fasting. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Every action of the son of Adam is multiplied, each good deed  receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allah said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it, for he gives up his desire and food for My sake.’” [Narrated by Muslim, al-Siyaam]

The first pillar: Hajj (Pilgrimage)

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has given the Muslims a Qiblah (direction of prayer) which they face when they pray (salaah) and offer supplications (du’aa’), wherever they may be. This qiblah is the Ancient House (the Ka’bah) in Makkah al-Mukarramah: 

“so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction." [Quran: Surah 2: Ayah 144] 

Because the Muslims scattered all over the world, and Islam calls people to be united and get to know one another, just as it calls them to co-operate in righteousness and piety, to recommend one another to the truth, to call people to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and to venerate the rituals of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) – hence Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has made it obligatory for every sane, adult Muslim who has the means, to visit His Ancient House, the Kaaba, to circumambulate it and to perform all the rituals of Hajj as explained by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: 

“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists).” [Quran: Surah 3: Ayah 97]  

Hajj is an occasion on which the unity of the Muslims, their strength and pride, are made manifest. For the Lord is One, the Book is one, the Messenger is one, the ummah is one, Muslim Community, their worship is one and their clothing is one. 

Hajj has its own etiquette and conditions which the Muslims must observe, such as restraining their tongues, hearing and sight from all that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has forbidden, being sincere in their intentions, using money from good sources (for Hajj), fostering the best attitude, and avoiding everything that could invalidate the Hajj, such as sexual relations, sin or arguing unjustly, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:

“The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months (i.e. the 10th month, the 11th month and the first ten days of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, i.e. two months and ten days). So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein (by assuming Ihraam), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!"