The Five Pillars of Islam

Pillars are solid structures that hold up the roof of a building. Each pillar needs to be equally strong to do the job effectively. If some pillars are weak, the whole building becomes unstable and may fall apart. Similarly, the five pillars of Islam are the framework of a Muslim’s life. Practicing the five pillars of Islam upholds the Iman (faith) of the believer and gives structure to their life. The five pillars of Islam describe the most essential forms of worship to Allah (s.w.t). The five pillars are: the testimony of faith (Shahadah), prayer (Salah), fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm), giving support to the needy (Zakat), and the pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) once in a lifetime if they are able to. If a person does not take care to uphold these five pillars, their Iman will weaken, and they will become distanced from Allah (s.w.t). In such a vulnerable state, they may easily be led astray by the Shaitan and lose all happiness in this world and in the hereafter. If a Muslim observes the five pillars of Islam sincerely, Allah (s.w.t.) will reward them by guiding them to the right path and strengthening their Iman.

1. The Testimony of Faith

The testimony of faith is saying with conviction, “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah.” This saying means “There is no true god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” The first part, “There is no true god but God,” means none has the right to be worshipped but God (Allah) alone, and that God (Allah) has neither partner nor son. This testimony of faith is called the Shahadah, a simple formula which should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam.

2. Prayer

Muslims perform five prayers a day. Each prayer does not take more than a few minutes to perform. Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and Allah (s.w.t). There are no intermediaries between Allah (s.w.t) and the worshipper. In prayer, a person feels a sense of happiness, peace, and comfort, and that Allah (s.w.t) is pleased with him or her. Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and night. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories, and universities.

3. Giving Zakat (Support of the Needy)

All things belong to Allah (s.w.t), and wealth is therefore held by human beings as a trust. The original meaning of the word zakat is both purification and growth. Giving zakat means giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people. The percentage which is due on gold, silver, and cash funds that have reached the amount of 85 grams of gold and held in possession for one lunar year is two and a half percent. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth. A person may also give as much as he or she pleases as voluntary alms or charity.

4. Fasting the Month of Ramadan

Every year in the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification. By depriving oneself of worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who are starving, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life.

5. The Pilgrimage to Makkah

The annual pilgrimage, Hajj, to Makkah is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of Islamic calendar. Male pilgrims wear special simple clothes which strip away distinction of class and culture so that all stand equal before Allah (s.w.t). The rites of the Hajj include circling the Kaaba seven times and going seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa, as Hajar the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) did during her search for water for her infant son. Then the pilgrims stand together in Arafa and ask Allah (s.w.t) for what they wish and for His forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Day of the Judgment. The end of the Hajj is marked by a festival, Eid al Adha, which is celebrated with prayers. This, and Eid al Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the two annual festivals of the Islamic Calendar.

Source: A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam by I.A Ibrahim; Islamic Aqidah and Fiqh by Aisha Lemu


Brief Intro to Islam

For many Muslims this post is probably just a quick review. However, Inshallah (God-Willing) non-Muslims or even Muslims who are just starting to learn about their beautiful religion will find this post to be quite informative.

The Word Islam comes from the Arabic root “SLM” (Silm) which has several different meanings. Some of the meanings are peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the Will of Allah and obedience to His Law. It is important to mention that the word Allah is simply the Arabic word for the One Eternal God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. There is a strong and significant connection between the original Arabic meaning of the word Islam and its religious meaning. It is only through complete submission to the Will of Allah that one can achieve true inner peace.

Followers of Islam are called Muslims because a Muslim is anyone who believes in Allah, submits to the Will of Allah, and rejects worshipping the creation of Allah. For a true Muslim, the total submission to the Will of Allah and obedience of His Law results in peace with one’s self, with other people, with nature, and with their Lord and Creator. Today more than one billion people from various races, nationalities, and cultures across the globe are submitters to the Will of Allah because the Law of Allah means justice for all people regardless of nationality, color, gender, or social status.

Beliefs of a Muslim

A true Muslim believes in Allah, His messengers, the divine revelations, the angels, and the Day of Judgment.

·        A Muslim believes in Allah, the Supreme and Eternal, Merciful, and Compassionate Lord and Creator. The true Muslim believes in Allah by submitting to His Will. This requires complete trust and hope in Allah and reliance on His aid.

·        A Muslim believes in all of the Prophets and Messengers of God, with Adam (a.s.) being the very first Prophet and Muhammad (s.a.w.s) being the last and final Prophet and Messenger. Muslims believe that Allah, in His infinite mercy sent at least one prophet or messenger to every nation. These prophets and messengers were sent to deliver the Divine message by calling their people to worship Allah alone and to lead a righteous life. The prophets and messengers were exemplary human beings with the highest morals and manners. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 of them and the true Muslim believes in all of them without discriminating between them.

·        The true Muslim believes in all of the Holy Scriptures and Divine revelations sent down by God. Muslims believe that at the time of their revelation all of these books were the guiding light sent to guide their respective peoples towards the right path. However, with the passage of time some of these revelations were lost or changed by human beings. Although, in principle, Muslims do believe in the previous revelations they believe that the Holy Quran is the only authentic divine revelation that is in existence today. For Muslims, the Holy Quran is the criterion by which all other books are judged. Anything that is in agreement with the Quran is accepted and anything that goes against the teachings of the Quran is rejected.

·        The true Muslim believes in the angels of God. Angels are purely spiritual beings who do not require any food, drink, or sleep. Angels have neither physical desires nor material needs. They spend their entire lives in the service of their Lord and Creator. Since we cannot see the angels with our naked eyes the belief in them comes from the Islamic principle that knowledge and truth are not always limited to an individual’s sensory perception.

·        The true Muslim believes in the Day of Judgment. Eventually, this world will come to an end. On the Day of Judgment the dead will rise to be judged by the Almighty, All-Knowing, Merciful, Lord and Creator in a fair trial.  Each human being will be held accountable for everything that they did in this world. Those who have wronged their souls and their bad deeds outweigh their good deeds will be punished with eternal damnation in the fires of Hell. However, those whose good deeds outweigh their bad deeds will be rewarded with eternal bliss in Heaven.