Islam is a religion that is based on five core beliefs and practices known as the “Arkn al-Islam” or the Five Pillars of Islam. These pillars represent the fundamental obligations that every Muslim must fulfil in his life. Each pillar is associated with a specific act or practice that is considered to be mandatory for all Muslims. These acts or practices are not only essential for the spiritual growth of an individual but also serve as a means to establish a strong connection with Allah Almighty and the wider Muslim community.
Shahada (Declaration of Faith)
The Shahada, also known as the declaration of faith, is the first pillar of Islam. It consists of two shahadas:
1. “There is no god but Allah Almighty.” Stating that there is no deity except Him.
2. “Muhammad (SAW) is the messenger of Allah (SAW).”
Read our other blog on the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The first shahada promotes the oneness of the faith by stating that Allah Almighty is the only God. This is a fundamental belief in Islam. The second shahada highlights Allah Almithy’s mercy by affirming that Muhammad (SAW) is the last Prophet and the guidance for humanity. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), having received the Quran’s guidance himself, now bears this guidance for the rest of Humanity throughout history. It also acknowledges that previous religious communities, such as Jews and Christians, distorted the original message of Islam.
Muslims recite the Shahada five times a day during prayers. It serves as a reminder of their faith and reinforces their belief in the oneness of Allah Almighty (Tawheed) and the Prophethood of Muhammad (SAW). It is also the first thing said to a newborn and the last thing said to a person on their deathbed.
I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.(Sahih Muslim 21b)
I am the messenger (from the Lord), and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.(Sahih Muslim 21b)
As Muslims, we have a religious duty known as “Salah” or “Salat,” which refers to the daily prayers that are considered the backbone of Islamic belief. It is the second pillar of Islam and we are required to perform five obligatory prayers daily at specific times. During these prayers, individuals and groups turn towards Makkah and perform certain rituals to fulfil this holy obligation. This practice is an essential aspect of our life and serves as a means of achieving a spiritual connection with Allah Almighty.
Salah is a very Important Pillar of Islam. Allah Almighty mentions this pillar many times in the Quran. Read our blog on “The Profound Significance of Salah in Islam”
The five sets of prayers and their times are:
- Fajr (Dawn Prayer)
- Zhuhr (Noon Prayer)
- Asr (After Noon Prayer)
- Maghrib (Sunset Prayer)
- Isha (After Sunset Prayer and Before Midnight)
In our other blog, we describe the five daily prayers in detail.
Hazrat Abdullah bin Buraidah (RA) narrated that his father said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: ‘The covenant that distinguishes between us and them is prayer; so whoever leaves it, he has committed Kufr.’”(Sunan Ibn Majah 1079)
“Sawm” or “Fasting” is the third pillar of Islam. Fasting in Islam means abstaining from many things during the fasting period, such as food, drink (including water), medication, any acts of evil, any sexual activity, backbiting, harming oneself or others, smoking, intoxication, impure thoughts, etc. As Muslims, we are obligated to fast during the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. However, Muslims may voluntarily fast at any time.
In Fasting, two important factors are discussed in our blog Understanding Suhoor and Iftar: Health and Wellness in Ramadan.
Moreover, the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) in the month of Ramadan. That’s why it is often called “The month of Quran“. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to spend time learning and reciting the Quran. During Ramadan, As Muslims, we are encouraged to enhance our relationships with fellow Muslims by practising kindness, generosity and forgiveness. Any behaviour or media that is considered obscene or irreligious should be avoided during this special month.
If you have any questions in your mind about Ramadan. So, read our in-depth blog on Fasting in Ramadan: Answers to Your Common Questions.
Narrated Hazrat Ibn `Umar (RA):
I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying, “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you can’t see it) then regard the month of Ramadan as of 30 days.”(Sahih al-Bukhari 1900)
Zakat (Almsgiving, charity)
“Zakat” is an Arabic word which means purification. It’s the fourth pillar of Islam and it involves giving alms or charity to those who are less fortunate and the needy. Zakat means purification which indicates that a payment makes the rest of our wealth legally and religiously pure.
In Islamic teachings, as Muslims, we are required to donate a specific percentage of our income to support fellow Muslims who are in need. This amount is usually around 2.5% of an individual’s net income, after deducting obligations and family expenses. The act of giving Zakat is considered a religious obligation and is a way for us to show our compassion and support towards those who are less fortunate.
Read our another in which we discuss the Islamic Charity: Sadaqah, Zakat, and More.
The Hajj, also known as the Mecca Pilgrimage, is considered the fifth pillar of Islam. It is a significant spiritual event where over two million Muslims from different parts of the world gather in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is the holiest city for Muslims. During the Hajj, a pilgrim follows the order of ritual that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) performed during his last pilgrimage.
The pilgrimages to Mecca for Hajj occur annually during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. All physically and financially able Muslims must make the pilgrimage to Mecca. The surrounding holy sites at least once in their lives. The Hajj provides pilgrims with the opportunity to pray for forgiveness, reflect on their lives, and find spiritual fulfilment. The Hajj reminds Muslims of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his worship and devotion to Allah (SWT), so Muslims do the same. Hajj brings the international community of Muslims together and makes them focus on worshipping Allah Almighty while teaching the importance of sacrifice.
Narrated by Hazrat Abu Huraira (RA):
The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”(Sahih al-Bukhari, 1521)
In this comprehensive guide to The Five Pillars of Islam. We have discussed the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the fundamental beliefs and practices that shape the lives of Muslims. From the declaration of faith to the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, each pillar plays a vital role in promoting unity, compassion, and devotion within the Muslim community. These pillars are not just religious duties but also serve as a cultural foundation, emphasizing the importance of community service and the welfare of others. Understanding these pillars is crucial to respecting the wealthy tapestry of Islamic faith and culture.