The Five Pillars of Islam: What Are They?
Most people know there are five pillars of Islam. That’s almost common knowledge. But now I’m going to go into deep detail about what each pillar is and what they mean to Muslims.
Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, has stated: “Islam is built upon five pillars.” He then went on to quote the five pillars of Islam, those being: Shahadatayn (two testimonies), Salah (prayer), zakah (charity), sawm (fasting), and hajj (pilgrimage). You will see how these five pillars help to strengthen the soul, guide the heart, and unify the community.
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Two Testimonies (Shahadatayn)
The first and most important of the pillars of Islam is the Shahadatayn which means, the two testimonies. The first is to affirm one’s belief in Islamic monotheism. A Muslim must testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone. When the Muslim states this fact, they are obligated to leave all false deities behind, and direct all forms of worship towards the almighty creator, Allah, Glorified and Most High.
With the second testimony, the Muslim states that Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah is the messenger of Allah. By testifying to this fact, the Muslim is acknowledging that Prophet Mohammad was sent by Allah to mankind as His messenger with the final revelation, The Quran. With this affirmation, the Muslim is obligated to obey the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with him, in all matters concerning the faith.
The second of the 5 pillars of Islam is the prayer. With this pillar, the Muslim must establish the five obligatory prayers, also known as Salah, within their correct times.In addition to performing the prayers on time, the Muslim must also perform them according to the method taught to us by Prophet Muhammad, may Allah be pleased with him.
The Islam prayer is not only significant because they were ordained by Allah. Muslims are encouraged to pray in congregation whenever possible. Doing so helps to unite the Muslims as brothers.
The Prophet has stated that prayer in congregation is worth 27 times more than prayer alone.
Muslims reject all intermediaries between them and Allah. Therefore, when a Muslim makes the prayer regularly and with sincerity and focus, they are communicating directly with Allah. This brings humility, satisfaction, and serenity to their character, Inshallah (if God wills).
The prayer is so important that the one who deliberately abandons it is no longer considered a Muslim. For as Prophet Muhammad has said: “(The difference) between a believer and a disbeliever is abandonment of the prayer.”
Paying Charity (Zakah)
The third of the five pillars of Islam is giving charity, or zakah. By giving zakah, the Muslim is taking action to purify his wealth by sharing his wealth with those less fortunate. This also helps to mitigate envy between different classes within a society, and also fosters brotherhood amongst Muslims. Such actions can go a long way in establishing a just and crime-free society.
In addition to creating harmony within society, paying zakah also creates harmony within the individual. The person who gives the proper charity to those in need is protecting himself from selfishness and miserliness.
Zakah is paid once a year on a Muslim’s surplus wealth. This means the Zakah is paid based on whatever wealth is left over after paying all debts, expenses, and necessities. And the rate to be paid is very low; only 2 ½%.
Fasting During the Month of Ramadan (Sawm)
The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this month, the Muslim must abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse from dawn till sundown.
Performing this pillar establishes patience and humility within the believer. Fasting also helps to bring a person’s carnal desires under control. A Muslim who is fasting is far less likely to commit a major sin than one who is not. In fact, there are many Muslims, who outside of Ramadan are addicted to cigarettes, yet they are able to leave them alone for a full month!
A Muslim is encouraged to fast throughout the year, but it is only during Ramadan that fasting is compulsory. Ramadan is an important month for Muslims as that is the month during which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, may Allah be pleased with him. And the devils and evil jinn are locked up during the month of Ramadan as well.
Fasting has many other benefits. It allows the rich to experience the suffering of the poor. And since many Muslims usually break fast and pray together during the month of Ramadan, this is also a chance to further strengthen the ties of brotherhood.
Pilgrimage to the Kaaba (Hajj)
The last of the 5 pillars of Islam is to perform a pilgrimage, or Hajj, to the Kaaba at least once in a Muslim’s lifetime. This is a difficult and arduous feat, but the Muslim who performs Hajj correctly will receive unlimited rewards.
The Hajj is especially important in bringing Muslims together. Muslims are spread out all over the world. Performing the Hajj pilgrimage helps to bring the global Muslim community together in a unique way. Only those Muslims who are financially and physically able are required to perform the Hajj.
But for the one who does it, conducts themselves in the appropriate manner, and performs all of the required rituals as taught by Prophet Mohammad, they will have all of their previous sins wiped clean. Inshallah.
If you are not yet Muslim, don’t let this be the end of your quest for knowledge.
And if you are Muslim, share this knowledge of the pillars of Islam with others.
For further reading on the pillars of Islam you may also want to read:
Five pillars of Islam
Here are some links within this site that further explain the Five Pillars of Islam in greater detail.
- Shahada (Testimony) - Muslims declare the shahada several times a day. It is our testimony, our pledge to the oneness of Allah and the status of Prophet Muhammad. Without the shahadah, there is no Islam.
- Salah (Islamic Prayers) - The Islamic prayers are a unique act of worship for Muslims. Every day, five times a day, millions of people around the world take time to perform the Muslim prayers.
- Sawmi Ramadan (Fasting in Ramadan) - Ramadan is my favorite time of the year. The month of Ramadan is a blessed period when the devils are locked up and Muslims fast for the pleasure of Allah.
- Zakah - This is not just a tax. It’s not just a charity. It’s not just giving alms. Zakaat is a powerful tool that helps bring harmony and stability.
- Hajj - Muslims must perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. This visit to Mecca is a lifelong goal for many, and the pilgrimage is not an easy journey to make.