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What does a Muslim Believe?

The 5 Pillars of Islam

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Islam is built on five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, establishing prayer, paying zakah, performing pilgrimage to the House, and fasting Ramadan.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, 8; Muslim, 16].

Hence, we know that Islam is based upon 5 pillars.  These can be summarised as:

  1. To testify that there is non worthy of worship except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and that Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is His last Messenger and the seal (last) of the prophets.
  2. To perform prayers (5 times a day).
  3. To pay zakat (Charity- a poor due, on those whe are eligible to pay it, once a year, and given to those in need of it).
  4. To fast during the month of Ramadhan.
  5. To perform hajj (Pilgrimage - Once in a lifetime, due on those with the ability to do so).

The 6 Pillars of Iman (Faith)

These six pillars (articles) of faith are derived from the hadeeth of Umar (رضي الله عنه): 'While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah(صلى الله عليه و سلم), there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of travel were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet(صلى الله عليه و سلم), rested his knees against his knees and placed his palms on his thighs, and said, O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam." Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, "Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah (ritual prayer), pay the zakah (alms), fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka'bah at Makkah), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it)." Said he (the man), "You have spoken truly." We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, "Inform me about Iman (faith)." He (the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم)) answered, "It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects." He said, "You have spoken truly." Then he (the man) said, "Inform me about Ihsan." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, " It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you." He said, "Inform me about the Hour (time of the resurrection)." He (the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم)) said, "About that the one questioned knows no more than the questioner." So he said, "Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming)." Said he, "They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings." Thereupon the man went off. I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم)) said, "O 'Umar, do you know who that questioner was?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better." He said, "That was Jibril. He came to teach you your religion."'[Muslim].

Hence we know from the above hadeeth that a Muslim's belief is based upon the six pillars (articles) of Iman, faith/belief.  These are:

  1. Belief in God (Allah سبحانه و تعالى), the one and only one worthy of all worship (this is Tawheed).
  2. Belief in the Angels (mala'ika).
  3. Belief in the Books (kutub) sent by Allah
  4. Belief in all the Messengers (rusul) sent by Allah
  5. Belief in the Day of Judgment (qiyama) and in the Resurrection (life after death).
  6. Belief in Destiny (Fate) (qadar).



More in this category: « What is Islam? Islamic Honorifics »