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The pillars of Islam explained

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The purpose of this article is to explain the main fundamentals of Islam, the 5 pillars of Islam, and what they entail. Hopefully the article can be a benefit for non-Muslims that are interested in Islam, and what Islam is about, as well as what Muslims believe in.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has been reported to have said:

Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.

2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.

3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .

4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)

5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

And also from another narrative:

Sahih Muslim book 1, number 4

He (again) said: Messenger of Allah, (tell me) what does al-Islam signify. He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Al-Islam signifies that you worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him and you establish obligatory prayer and you pay the obligatory poor-rate (Zakat) and you observe the fast of Ramadan.

So in light of these teachings from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Islam stands upon 5 main pillars that are as follows:

-The testimony of faith

-The obligatory prayer (Salat)

-The obligatory charity money (Zakat)

-The pilgrimage to the holy site of the Kaaba (Hajj)

-The fasting during the month of the Ramadan (Saum)

Islam stands upon these five foundations. A Muslim must believe in all of these 5 pillars, while also sincerely carrying these actions out.

Each of these five pillars has their foundations found within the holy Quran:

The Testimony of faith:

This is the most important pillar of Islam, the Islamic testimony of faith.

It is to testify that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is his final messenger.

This teaching is taught throughout the Quran in several different places:

112.001 Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

042.049To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan),

 031.013 Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: “O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing.”

 011.002 (It teacheth) that ye should worship none but Allah. (Say): “Verily I am (sent) unto you from Him to warn and to bring glad tidings:

 025.002 He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: no son has He begotten, nor has He a partner in His dominion: it is He who created all things, and ordered them in due proportions.

002.163And your Allah is One Allah: There is no god but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Quran makes it clear that there is only one true God and that this true God is the only one who deserves to be worshipped.

Hence when someone takes the testimony of faith and declares that there is no God but Allah they are affirming and negating several things. They affirm that there is only one true God, and that this one true God is Allah, and that only Allah has the right to be worshipped. By doing this they negate polytheism and the worship or association of other gods and idols with the one true God.

It is not an empty statement when you say there is only one God and that God is Allah, there are conditions to it and sincere beliefs attached to it that must be properly followed. For example you can’t properly believe in the testimony of faith, while bowing to some human made idol and so on.

The second part of the testimony is testifying that Muhammad (pbuh) is the last and final messenger of God.

We also see this taught throughout the glorious Quran:

047.002 But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad – for it is the Truth from their Lord,- He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition.

033.040Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.

034.028We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.

012.102 Such is one of the stories of what happened unseen, which We reveal by inspiration unto thee; nor wast thou (present) with them then when they concerted their plans together in the process of weaving their plots.

035.004And if they reject thee, so were messengers rejected before thee: to Allah back for decision all affairs.

007.158Say: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.”

062.002It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error;-

So it is made very clear that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is indeed a messenger of God as well as being the last and final one.

This therefore is the first and most important pillar of Islam

The Obligatory Prayer and the Zakat

The second most important pillar in Islam is the obligatory Salat, which is the prayer that Muslims make five times a day. This is then followed by the third pillar of Islam, which is the obligatory charity money a Muslim must give, which is 2.5% of his yearly income and wealth.

Before quoting the passages from the Quran that teach these basic fundamentals of Islam, we must say a little about these commands.

Indeed the act of worship and the Zakat are wonderful blessings from God, which lead to a person’s spiritual peace, as well as a good foundation for society. These pillars of Islam are not meant to be for nothing, and sadly many non-Muslims view these rites as very hard and vigorous tasks that the Muslims have to carry out.

When one prays to God he is speaking to his Creator, he finds himself at peace, and at ease. He is in the presence of his Lord, and his Lord is watching him, and is listening to him. Listening to any requests that he has, or any problems he has, and any help he needs. It is a beautiful spiritual relationship between man and God, and a relationship that is kept alive on a daily basis. We have so much time for so many things in our lives, including the most mundane and useless things you could imagine, is it so bad to give just but a few minutes of your day in worship to God?

The obligatory charity money (zakat) shall lead to a good and fruitful society as it will help the weak and the poor, can you imagine how much less poverty we would have around the world if every single human being donated at least 2.5% of their income on a yearly basis?

Hence Non-Muslims and Muslims alike should not view these rites and moan and groan about it, they should be happy about it, and rush to it. Allah grants you life, grants you mercy, happiness, food, clothing, shelter, and you complain about giving a few moments of your life to God?

And if Allah has given you everything you have and you are happy with your life and possessions, cannot you repay it back by giving some of your possessions and money to the poor?

Here are the commands to make the prayer and charity money from the Glorious Quran:

002.045Nay, seek (Allah’s) help with patient perseverance and prayer: It is indeed hard, except to those who bring a lowly spirit,-

004.103When ye pass (Congregational) prayers, celebrate Allah’s praises, standing, sitting down, or lying down on your sides; but when ye are free from danger, set up Regular Prayers: For such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.

007.206Those who are near to thy Lord, disdain not to do Him worship: They celebrate His praises, and prostrate before Him.

011.114 And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):

 017.078 Establish regular prayers – at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.

002.043And be steadfast in prayer; practise regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship).

009.060Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.

005.055Your (real) friends are (no less than) Allah, His Messenger, and the (fellowship of) believers,- those who establish regular prayers and regular charity, and they bow down humbly (in worship).

024.037 By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new),-

063.010and spend something (in charity) out of the substance which We have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you and he should say, “O my Lord! why didst Thou not give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity, and I should have been one of the doers of good”.

The Fasting in the month of Ramadan

The fourth pillar of Islam is the annual fasting during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The month of Ramadan is a beautiful month for what it signifies. A Muslim abstains from food and many of the things that he desires from sunrise to sunset. It is a spiritual month, where a Muslim can learn to appreciate what he has, and to be thankful for what he has been given, it is a month in which he reflects.

Sadly there are certain Muslims who completely ruin the whole idea and practice of Ramadan, for instance when the time of iftar, which is the breaking of the fast, they eat so much till they can’t even move. Several Muslims have even gained weight during this blessed month! Many more do several other bad habits, such as eating huge meals right before sunrise. This is not the way one must conduct him or herself during Ramadan, and it completely misses the point. Non-Muslims should not take the actions of these Muslims as the example and intention of Ramadan.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the companions would not stuff themselves with food during iftar, nor before fasting commenced. Ramadan is not about eating food, it is about being thankful for the food you have, and for the many other things that make you happy.

A Muslim’s goal during this month is to learn as much as he can from the Noble Quran, and to learn as much as he can about himself, and about the hardships that others face.

Here is the main passage concerning the fasting in the month of Ramadan:

002.185 Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.

The Holy Pilgrimage

The fifth pillar of Islam is the holy Pilgrimage to Makkah, which is known as the Hajj in Arabic. The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage that the Muslims make to the holy city of Makkah, in which they visit the Kaaba, which was the first place of worship for mankind.

This is another very spiritual and joyful act, and one gets cleansed of all his sins if he completes the hajj sincerely and properly, the person becomes like a newborn baby.

Over 2 million people from all walks of life make the pilgrimage every year, and many of the pilgrims have said how they have felt at peace after they have made this pilgrimage and that their outlook on life has changed for the better.

The Hajj pilgrimage has its roots within the glorious Quran:

002.196And complete the Hajj or ‘umra in the service of Allah. But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that Allah Is strict in punishment.

003.097In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.

003.096  The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings:

Conclusion

So these are the main pillars and fundamentals of Islam, this is what Islam stands upon, and what all Muslims believe in. 

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