Islam is an international religion which follows five key tenets known as the Five Pillars of Islam. These pillars form the cornerstone of Muslim belief and help guide religious practices around the globe. We will explore each pillar, their meanings, and how they affect Muslim lives worldwide in this easy-to-understand guide. Whether you’re new to the faith or looking to learn more, this article offers valuable insights into these core principles that support this rich religious tradition.
Five Pillars of Islam
Shahada: Declaring Your Faith
The first pillar is called Shahada and involves declaring one’s faith. Muslims believe in one God – Allah – and in Muhammad (PBUH) being His Messenger, thus making their religion explicit through simple statements like: “There is no God other than Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH) is His Prophet”. Muslims use this statement as evidence that they support Islamic teachings by saying it frequently to show they stand firm behind this belief system.
The shahada emphasises on the idea that there is only one God as an expression of the fundamental belief found in the holy texts of all three monotheistic religions. The first of the Torah’s ten commandments is:
You must not worship any other gods than Me. In Exodus 20:3,
The cornerstone that ensures world peace, according to the Quran, is the truth that God is the one and only God:
The Quranic Shahada :
(شَهِدَ اللّٰهُ اَنَّهٗ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَۙ وَالۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ وَاُولُوا الۡعِلۡمِ قَآئِمًا ۢ بِالۡقِسۡطِؕ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ الۡعَزِيۡزُ الۡحَكِيۡمُؕ ﴿3:18
Allah Himself bears witness that there is no God but He; and likewise do the angels and the men possessed of knowledge bear witness in truth and justice that there is no God but He, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.
Salat: Praying to Allah
The second pillar is Salat, or praying to Allah. Muslims pray five times every day at specific times and face Mecca during prayer while reciting verses from their Quran recitation. Regular prayer practice helps Muslims feel humbled, grateful, and disciplined.
فَإِذَا قَضَیۡتُمُ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ فَٱذۡكُرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ قِیَـٰمࣰا وَقُعُودࣰا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِكُمۡۚ فَإِذَا ٱطۡمَأۡنَنتُمۡ فَأَقِیمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَۚ إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ كَانَتۡ عَلَى ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِینَ كِتَـٰبࣰا مَّوۡقُوتࣰا ١٠٣
Ayah an-Nisa` (Women) 4:103. When the prayers are over, remember Allah—whether you are standing, sitting, or lying down. But when you are secure, establish regular prayers. Indeed, performing prayers is a duty on the believers at the appointed times.
The importance of Salah Quran verse:
يٰٓاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اسۡتَعِيۡنُوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ وَالصَّلٰوةِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَ الصّٰبِرِيۡنَ
Believers! Seek help in patience and in Prayer; Allah is with those that are patient. (2:153)
Zakat: Helping Others
The third pillar of Islam is Zakat, or giving to others. Muslims are encouraged to share some of their wealth with those less fortunate in order to create a more equal society and purify their wealth by giving to the poor or supporting charitable causes. Zakat teaches Muslims how to be generous and kind towards others in need.
وَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱرۡكَعُواْ مَعَ ٱلرَّـٰكِعِينَ
And establish prayer and give Zakah and bow with those who bow [in worship and obedience] (2:43)
The Quran verse:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِینَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ وَأَقَامُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَوُا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ لَهُمۡ أَجۡرُهُمۡ عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَیۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ یَحۡزَنُونَ ٢٧٧
Ayah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:277. Indeed, those who believe, do good deeds, establish prayer, and give Zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.
Sawm: Fasting during Ramadan
The fourth pillar is Sawm, or fasting during Ramadan, where Muslims refrain from eating or drinking between dawn and sunset – fasting is practiced to practice self-control, feel gratefulness, understand those living without adequate resources, as well as become closer to Allah through worship and reflection.
يٰٓـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا كُتِبَ عَلَيۡکُمُ الصِّيَامُ کَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِيۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَۙ
Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you, as it was enjoined upon those before you, that you become God-fearing. (2:183)
Ayah al-Baqarah (The Cow) (2:184) Fasting is for a fixed number of days, and if one of you be sick, or if one of you be on a journey, you will fast the same number of other days later on. For those who are capable of fasting (but still do not fast) there is a redemption: feeding a needy man for each day missed. Whoever voluntarily does more good than is required, will find it better for him; and that you should fast is better for you, if you only know.
……..شَهۡرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِىۡٓ اُنۡزِلَ فِيۡهِ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَ بَيِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الۡهُدٰى وَالۡفُرۡقَانِۚ فَمَنۡ شَهِدَ مِنۡكُمُ الشَّهۡرَ فَلۡيَـصُمۡهُ
During the month of Ramadan the Qur’an was sent down as a guidance to the people with Clear Signs of the true guidance and as the Criterion (between right and wrong). So those of you who live to see that month should fast it, and whoever is sick or on a journey should fast the same number of other days instead. Allah wants ease and not hardship for you so that you may complete the number of days required, magnify Allah for what He has guided you to, and give thanks to Him. (2:185)
Hajj: A Special Journey
The Hajj pilgrimage, or Hajj in Arabic, is one of Islam’s five pillars and takes place annually in Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Each physically and financially capable Muslim must make at least one pilgrimage during their lifetime to Mecca to observe specific rituals performed in Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps while unifying society as one through an act that celebrates Islam as universal.
ۚ ؕ وَلِلّٰهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الۡبَيۡتِ مَنِ اسۡتَطَاعَ اِلَيۡهِ سَبِيۡلًا ؕ وَمَنۡ كَفَرَ فَاِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَنِىٌّ عَنِ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ
In it there are clear signs and the station of Abraham; whoever enters it becomes secure. Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to Allah by all who can make their way to it. As for those who refuse to follow His command, surely Allah does not stand in need of anything. (3:97)
إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَائِرِ اللَّـهِ ۖ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا ۚ وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
Ayah al-Baqarah (The Cow) (2:185) Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.
The Five Pillars of Islam form the cornerstone of their faith, providing guidance and direction for millions of Muslims worldwide. By understanding them, we can appreciate how their beliefs and practices shape Muslim society – through declaring faith, praying, helping others, fasting, Hajj pilgrimages and Hajj itself Muslims can connect with Allah while strengthening spirituality while learning important values such as compassion and unity. Exploring their meaning promotes understanding among different faiths for a more inclusive and harmonious society.
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