Thursday March 25, 2021
The foundation of Islam rests upon five main pillars, which are obligatory on all Muslims. These pillars lay down the framework for worshipping Allah (SWT) and pose as a sign of pure commitment and dedication to Allah (SWT) and His religion. The five pillars have been highlighted by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the following hadith:
“Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing regular prayer (Salah); paying the zakaat; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting in Ramadan.” (Bukhari, 8)
1. First Pillar of Islam: Shahadah
The Shahadah is a testimony of faith and a declaration. It can essentially be divided into two parts:
● “La ilaha illa Allah”: There is no true God (diety) but Allah (SWT)
● “Muhammadur rasoolu Allah”: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (SWT)
The first part is an affirmation in the Oneness of Allah (SWT) [Tawhid] and that no one has the right to be worshipped except Allah (SWT), who has no partner or offspring. The second part is an affirmation in the fact that Muhammad (PBUH) is a Messenger of Allah (SWT) and He revealed His message and His religion through Muhammad (PBUH).
2. Second Pillar of Islam: Salah
The second pillar comprises of Salah, the five daily prayers, which have been enjoined upon every Muslim man and Muslim woman. Salah is to be offered in a state of purity while facing the direction of the Holy Ka’bah. The five prescribed prayers are as follows:● Fajr (before dawn) ● Zuhr (Noon) ● Asr (mid-afternoon) ● Maghrib (after sunset) ● Isha (Night)
Salah is not only the physical submission to Allah (SWT), but is a direct link between the worshipper and Allah (SWT). For the Almighty, it is one of the most beloved forms of worship. When a believer offers Salah, it is an invocation for Allah’s (SWT) blessings, His forgiveness and His mercy in this world and the Hereafter.
3. Third Pillar of Islam: Zakaat
Zakaat basically entails support for the needy, where a certain percentage of wealth is taken from the rich and given to the poor. It is also known as alms tax.
“Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of security for them.” (Quran, 9:103)
Allah (SWT) has made it such that giving zakaat further purifies, cleanses and doubles wealth. It protects one from becoming stingy and miserly, and in turn instills generosity and love between the Ummah. Zakaat is only obligatory on those Muslims who own the nisaab (minimum amount) for at least a year and the amount to be given varies according to the value of possessions such as gold, silver etc. This is apart from the voluntary alms a person might want to give in charity.
4. Fourth Pillar of Islam: Sawm
Another major ingredient, which makes up the backbone of Islam is the annual observation of fasts in the month of Ramadan. While fasting, the believer abstains from food, drink and any kind of sexual relations from dawn till dusk.
It is, in essence, a demonstration of one’s commitment to Allah (SWT) where one sacrifices one’s humanly desires for the pleasure of Allah (SWT). There are great blessings in the act of fasting, when a person gets to truly feel the hunger and pain of those who are not so fortunate and realize that this world is only a temporary test. The month-long act of fasting draws a closer connection with the Almighty and serves as an opportunity to reign in the endless Mercy and Generosity of Allah (SWT) and His blessings.
5. Fifth Pillar of Islam: Hajj
The last pillar of Islam is Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah. It is obligatory on those Muslims who are physically and financially capable of performing the pilgrimage. Hajj is performed in the 12th month of the Islamic Calendar, Dhul Hijjah.
“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists).” (Quran 3:97)
Muslims from all over the world gather around the house of Allah (SWT) and become one – leaving behind all class, cultural, ethnic or racial barriers – just like all men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah (SWT). The Hajj ends with the celebratory festival of Eid ul-Azha.
The five pillars of Islam define the very foundation of what it means to be a Muslim and a servant of Allah (SWT). Without these five pillars, our faith would be utterly incomplete!