Five Pillars of Islam

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March 17, 2017
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Five Pillars of Islam

The five pillars of Islam (أركان الإسلام) are are five basic acts in Islam considered to be mandatory by Muslims and are the foundation of Islam.  Following is the list of these ordered by significance:

These are well summarized by the Hadees of Jibrail (Gabriel):

From Sahih al-Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira:

One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked,

“What is faith?”

Allah’s Messenger replied,

“Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.”

Then he further asked, “What is Islam?”

Allah’s Messenger replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.”

Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan (perfection)?”

Allah’s Messenger replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.”

Then he further asked, “When will the Hour be established?”

Allah’s Messenger replied, “The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents.

  1. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master.
  2. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah.

The Prophet then recited: “Verily, with Allah (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour–.” [q:31:34] Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet said, “That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion.” Abu Abdullah said: He (the Prophet) considered all that as a part of faith.

Shahada (Faith)

Shahada is a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad (pbuh) is God’s messenger.  It is a set statement normally recited in Arabic also known as the first Kalama:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله

“There is no god but God (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is essential to utter it to become a Muslim and to convert to Islam.

First kalama should recited by every Muslim at least once in a lifetime with a full understanding of its meaning and with an assent of the heart.  Muslims say this when they wake up in the morning, and before they go to sleep at night.  It is repeated five times in the call to prayer in every mosque.  A person who utters the shahada as their last words in this life has been promised Paradise.

Salah (Prayer)

Salat, Salah or Namaz is the compulsary Islamic prayer.  Salat consists of five daily prayers according to the Sunna.  The names are according to the prayer times:

  • Fajr (dawn)
  • Zuhr (noon)
  • Asr (afternoon)
  • Maghrib (evening)
  • Isha (night).

The Fajr prayer is performed before sunrise, Zuhr is performed in the midday after the sun has surpassed its highest point, Asr is the evening prayer before sunset, Maghrib is the evening prayer after sunset and Isha is the night prayer. Wudu is required before all Salat.  This is the washing of your body with water or tayammum (if water is not available).  A Muslim may perform their prayer anywhere, however, the mosque is the more preferable place for prayers because the mosque allows for fellowship.

Zakat: Charity

Zakat  is the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth. The word zakat is  defined as purification and growth because it allows an individual to achieve balance and encourages new growth. Zakat is obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so. Zakat is due on accumulated wealth and not necessarily on income.  It is the personal responsibility of each Muslim to ease the economic hardship of others and to strive towards eliminating inequality.  Zakat consists of spending a portion (1/40th) of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), rather than to achieve additional divine reward.

Sawm: Fasting

Three types of fasting (Siyam) are recognized by the Quran: Ritual fasting, fasting as compensation for repentance (both from sura Al-Baqara), and ascetic fasting (from Al-Ahzab).

Ritual fasting is an obligatory act during the month of Ramadan.  Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during this month.  Although abstaining from food is most focused on, the real purpose dictates to abstain from other sinful activities as well.  Fasting is required for every Muslim that has reached puberty.  Unlike Salat, exception to Fasting is applicable to those with medical conditions which prevents them from fasting.  Observing fasts is not permitted for menstruating women. Other individuals for whom it is considered acceptable not to fast are those who are ill or traveling.

The fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek nearness and to look for forgiveness from God, to express their gratitude to and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and to remind them of the needy. Missing fasts usually must be made up for soon afterward, although the exact requirements vary according to circumstance.

Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca

The Hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Zu-al-Hijjah to the holy city of Makkah. Every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim (man or woman) is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life. There are special requirements when it comes to Hajj such as wearing Ihram(two piece white cloth) 10 km from Makkah.  The main rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba termed Tawaf, touching the Hajr-e-Aswad (Black Stone) termed Istilam, traveling seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah termed Sayee, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina termed Ramee.

Haji, is honored tradition in the Muslim community.