The Five Pillars of Islam

The five pillars of islam are Ash-Shahadah (the testimony), As-Salah (the prayer), Az-Zakah (alms-giving), As-Sawm (fasting, during the month of Ramadan), and Al-Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). Let’s discuss each of them to better understand our entire deen.

Details about pillars of Islam
  • Ash-Shahadah (The Testimony)

Ash-Shahadah (the testimony of faith) is the first pillar of Islam and its shortest form:

لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
[lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh]
“There is no god but God” and “Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

The purpose of the testimony is to express our firm conviction that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has been chosen by Allah SWT to be His Messenger and that Allah SWT has sent him to all of humanity to teach the Message of Islam. The testimony also affirms our faith in the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allah SWT (in Arabic, Tawhid).

  • As-Salah, the prayer

The next pillar of Islam is salah. It is related to the five daily prayers that every Muslim must perform once they have reached puberty. The five prayers should offer at their suitable time, determined by Allah SWT, as in Quran Allah SWT says

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

The believers are commanded to pray at designated times. (4:103 – Sura An-Nisa)

The five required prayers have many advantages for our life in addition to helping us meet our religious obligations to Allah SWT, such as discipline, focus, peace, and a feeling of direction as we perform the task for which Allah SWT created us—worshiping Him.

  • Az-Zakah, the almsgiving

The third pillar of Islam is known as Az-Zakah, and the word “zakah” comes from an Arabic root word that means to purify or increase. Giving a percentage of one’s wealth to those in need in our community is known as zakah. For any Muslim who has the resources to do so, this is an annual requirement (i.e., something to be performed once a year).
Zakah is one of the five pillars of Islam, and like the other four, Allah SWT states it frequently in the Quran as a way for us to purify ourselves and give back to Him for His blessings. Allah says in Quran:

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:71)

خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ إِنَّ صَلَاتَكَ سَكَنٌ لَّهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [Allah ‘s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:103)

In addition to helping us fulfil our religious obligation to Allah SWT, zakah has a number of other positive effects on our lives, including supporting understanding, raising our awareness of the struggles that others may be facing, increasing our gratitude for all that Allah SWT constantly bestows upon us, and giving us a sense of purpose as we carry out the purpose for which He created us—to worship Him.

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  • As-Sawm, fasting in the month of Ramadan

The fourth pillar of Islam is as-Sawm, or Ramadan fasting. Muslims are required to fast from dawn (when the Fajr prayer begins) until the dusk (when the Maghrib prayer begins) during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic (or Hijri) year. We avoid eating or drinking anything during a day to respond to Allah’s command in the Quran where he says:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ

“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it” (2:185)

  • Al-Hajj, the pilgrimage

The fifth and final pillar of Islam is al-Hajj. It referring to a religious trip (pilgrimage) to the Ka’bah, the House of Allah SWT in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and includes a number of rituals and acts of worship that must be performed according to Allah SWT’s specified schedule at particular time of the year. According to Islamic law, this period must occur between the eighth and the twelfth or thirteenth day of the Hijri month of Dhul Hijjah, which comes after Dhul Qa’dah and comes before Muharram.

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

وَأَذِّن فِى ٱلنَّاسِ بِٱلْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًۭا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍۢ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍۢ (٢٧)

لِّيَشْهَدُوا۟ مَنَـٰفِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا۟ ٱسْمَ ٱللَّهِ فِىٓ أَيَّامٍۢ مَّعْلُومَـٰتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّنۢ بَهِيمَةِ ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ ۖ فَكُلُوا۟ مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا۟ ٱلْبَآئِسَ ٱلْفَقِيرَ (٢٨)

ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا۟ تَفَثَهُمْ وَلْيُوفُوا۟ نُذُورَهُمْ وَلْيَطَّوَّفُوا۟ بِٱلْبَيْتِ ٱلْعَتِيقِ (٢٩

ذَٰلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ حُرُمَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌۭ لَّهُۥ عِندَ رَبِّهِۦ ۗ وَأُحِلَّتْ لَكُمُ ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمُ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ فَٱجْتَنِبُوا۟ ٱلرِّجْسَ مِنَ ٱلْأَوْثَـٰنِ وَٱجْتَنِبُوا۟ قَوْلَ ٱلزُّورِ (٣٠

“Proclaim the Pilgrimage to all people. They will come to you on foot and on every kind of swift mount, emerging from every deep mountain pass to attain benefits and celebrate God’s name, on specified days, over the livestock He has provided for them– feed yourselves and the poor and unfortunate– so let the pilgrims perform their acts of cleansing, fulfill their vows, and circle around the Ancient House.’ All this [is ordained by God]: anyone who honors the sacred commands of God will have good rewards from his Lord.” (Surah Al-Hajj, 22:27-30)

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