The Five Pillars of Islam
1. Shahadah (The declaration of faith)
The first of the five pillars is the Shahadah, “I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, And I bear witness that Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم is the messenger of Allah” ( اشھد ان لا الہ الا اللہ و اشھد ان محمدا رسول اللہ ),Shahadah is the keystone of Islam and the first and foremost item in the teaching of all the prophets.
It consists of two parts. The first part , I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, contains the affirmation of Oneness of God. It means that no one except the Almighty is worthy of worship and obedience. Worship and obedience should be offered to Him alone because He and no one else is our Lord and Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer, Dispenser of Life and Death. Sickness and health, poverty and riches; in short, all manner of good and evil, gain or loss, lies solely in His control. Apart from Him whaterver living things exist on the earth, or in the heavens be they men or angels, are all His creatures and slaves.
The second part of the Shahadah contains of ‘and I bear witness that Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم is the messenger of Allah’. In this the affirmation is made of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم that the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم is the Apostle of God. It means that he was raised up by the Almighty for the guidance of the world, and whatever he taught, preached or revealed such as; Divinity of the Holy Quran, the existence of the angels, the certainty of the Last Day, the Resurrection, the Judgement, the award of Heaven ansd Hell according to one’s deeds on earth, war true and authentic. Indeed the Apostleship of the Holy Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم denotes nothing less than that all the things he taught in the world.
It is obvious that onece we have accepted the Prophet as the true Apostle of God, it becomes obligatory for us to believe in his guidance, to adhere to his commands and to observe faithfully the Shariah he brought.
2. Prayer (Salah)
Five daily obligatory prayers are the prescribed means of spiritual progress on a daily basis.
The second pillar of Islam is Prayer. It literally means ‘ to supplicate’ and ‘to pray’. Prayer in Islam means to worship Allah five times a day, as taught by Holy Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم. Prayer is an important pillar of Islam. Allah Almighty says: اِنَّنِيْٓ اَنَا اللّٰهُ لَآ اِلٰهَ اِلَّآ اَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِيْ ۙ وَاَ قِمِ الصَّلٰوةَ لِذِكْرِيْ “Verily I am Allah there is none worthy of worship but Me, so worship Me and establish Prayer for my remembrance”. (Quran, 20:14) Therefore it is obligatoryon every Muslim whether he is rich or poor, old or youmgn man or woman, ill or healthy to perform prayer.
Prayer prevents Muslims from shameful and indecent acts. It is a strong and effective shield against evil deeds Allah Himself says in the Holy Quran: اِنَّ الصَّلٰوةَ تَنْهٰى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاۗءِ وَالْمُنْكَر “Undoubtedly, the prayer forbids one from indecency and evil things”. (Quran, 29:45)
3. Alms-giving (Zakat)
Zakat literally means purification. In Islamic terminology, it means the amount in kind or cash which a Muslim of means must pay annually on cash, gold, silver, trade goods, minerals, agricultural produce and cattle, to a deserving fellow Muslim. Zakat is an important pillar of Islam. It was made compulsory on the first of Ramadan in the second year after Hijra. Zakat is too one of those practises which have been made obligatory in the revealed books of all previous religions. Zakat is also known with different names such as ‘poor due’, ‘poor rate’ and ‘poor tax’.
“Keep up prayer and pay Zakat” is the constant theme of the Holy Quran. Allah considers prayer and ‘poor due’ (Zakat) as the twin foundation stones of practical faith. The image of true Muslim is set forth by the Quran usually in words like these, اِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ وَاَقَامُوا الصَّلٰوةَ وَاٰتَوُا الزَّكٰوةَ لَھُمْ اَجْرُھُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ “Lo! Those who believe and do good deeds and establish prayer and pay the Zakat, their reward is with their Lord” (Quran, 2:277)
While prayer is a physical form of worshipping Allah, Zakat is a material form. Allah’s beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم said, “Allah has made Zakat obligatory simply to purify your remaining property” ( Mustadrak Imam Hakim) He described Zakat as wealth taken from the rich and returned to the poor.
By the oblogation of Zakat, Islam teaches people that the poor and the deprived have a right in the wealth of the rich and constantly exhorts the rich to meet that obligation. If they do not fulfill this duty, they will be called to account.
4. Fasting (Sawm)
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is only next in importance to obligatory prayers. The literal meaning of fast is abstinence. In Islamic terminology, it means to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, marital relations and not allowing any thing to enter into the stomach from the break of dawn till sunset. Every year, Muslims fast every day of Ramadan, the ninth month of Islamic Calendar.
Fasting was made obligatory for Muslims in second A.H. Allah has commanded this sanctified duty and enjoined it on Muslims, as He had enjoined it on the believing nations before. It is stated in the Holy Quran: يٰٓاَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَي الَّذِيْنَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُوْنَ “O believers! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may attain piety ” (Quran, 2: 183)
Fasting does not merely means to abstain from eating and drinking. It is, in fact, an apparent sign of obedience, submission and servitude to Almighty Allah. By fasting, a Muslim expresses his submission to Allah’s command, he responds to His will, and exerts control over his own desires and wishes at God’s behet. The Holy Prophet said: مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ وَالْجَهْلَ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah does not require his hunger and thirst, (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting) (Bukhari)
The first and foremost quality of fast is that it creates piety and fear of Allah. The Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم said, الصِّيَامُ جُنَّةٌ “Fating is a shield for you” (Masnad Imam Ahmad) (as it saves you from sins in this world and would protect you from hell in the hereafter).
The Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وآلہ وسلم said, “A fasting person is in a state of worship, even when (asleep) in bed, except when he backbites another Muslims” (Ad-Dailami)
Fasting is a Universal spiritual and moral training program held annually. It instills unity and brotherhood amongst Muslims, as every Muslim around the world undergoes the same feelings. Each of them understands the pangs of hunger of the poor which develops a sympathetic feeling toward the poor and needy and they are inciteddd to help and uplift them. Fasting during the month of Ramadan gives a sense of compassion and humanism. It creates a spiritual and emotional kinship among the Muslims and removes barriers between the rich and poor. The entire atmosphere of the Muslim community experiences a sense of calm, peace, love and cariing for mankind.
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)
Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. The literal meaning of the word ‘Hajj’ is ‘to set out’, ‘to depart’ or ‘to make a pilgrimage’. Canonically it refers to a Muslim’s act of worship, performed annually in the month of Dhil-Hajj, the 12 month of lunar calendar. To perform Hajj is incumbent at least once in lifetime, upon every Muslim, who is an adult, free, in good health and has sufficient money for the expenses of the journey and for the provision for his dependents during the period of his absence. Women have to be accompanied by a close relative like a husband, father, son or brother. It is said in the Holy Quran: وَلِلّٰهِ عَلَي النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْـتَـطَاعَ اِلَيْهِ سَبِيْلًا “Pilgrimage to the House is a duty which man owes to Allah, who can find a way to it”. (Quran, 3:97)Hajj is not obligatory on children, the sick, the insane and those who are unable to bear the expenses for Hajj.
Pilgrimage is one of the fundamental religious institution of Islam. It is the greatest of all acts of worship; it brings great reward and purifies from sins.The Holy Prophet said, مَن حَجّ فَلَم يَرفُث ولَم يَفسُق رَجَع كَيَومِ ولَدَتهُ أُمُّهُ “Anyone who performs pilgrimage and does not involve himself in sins and indecent words, he gets purified from all sins as he was on day of birth”. At another place, the Holy Prophet said, الْحَجُّ الْمَبْرُورُ لَيْس لَهُ جَزَاءٌ إِلا الْجَنَّةُ ‘‘Hajj which is free from sind and defects, is rewarded with paradise”. However, if any believer does not perform Hajj despite that he is financially, physically, and mentally able, he is warned by Holy Prophet in these words:
مَنْ مَلَکَ زَادًا وَرَاحِلَةً تُبَلِّغُهُ إِلَی بَيْتِ اللَّهِ وَلَمْ يَحُجَّ فَلَا عَلَيْهِ أَنْ يَمُوتَ يَهُودِيًّا أَوْ نَصْرَانِيًّا “If a person is not hampered by any disease, real necessities or a tyrannical ruler and yet does not perform Hajj, his death and the death of a Jew or Christian mare the same”. (Tirmidhi)
Pilgrimage is the only pillar of Islam which requires both physical and finincial sacrifices. It reminds of the grand assembly on the Day of Judgment when people will stand equally before God, waiting for their final destiny and where no superior race or creed can be claimed, nor any person will be underestimated or degraded due to his class, race or color.