Five Pillars of Islam

From Academic Kids

Template:Islam The religion of Islam consists of faith (إيمان, īmān) and practice (دين, dīn). The Five Pillars of Islam is the term given to the five most fundamental aspects of Sunni Islam. The term is not used in Shia Islam.

For the Sunni sect, the Five Pillars (Arkan-al-Islam) are the five most important obligations of a Muslim under Sharia law, and which devout Muslims will perform faithfully, believing them to be essential to pleasing Allah.

For the Shia sect, there are five beliefs, which are referred to as the Usool-ad-Deen (Roots of religion), and there are ten practices, which are referred to as the Furoo-ad-Deen (Branches of religion). The ten Branches of Religion correlate more closely to the Sunni concept of the "Pillars of Islam".


The Five Pillars of Sunni Islam

In summary, the practices are:

  • The profession of faith in God (Shahadah) - the declaration that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.
  • Prayer (Salat) - establishing of the five daily Prayers.
  • Fasting (Sawm) - refraining from eating, drinking or satisfying sexual needs from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar.
  • The paying of alms (Zakaah) - which is generally 2.5% of the total savings for a rich man working in trade or industry, and 10% or 20% of the annual produce for agriculturists. This money or produce is distributed among the poor. Also, one may give 25% of found treasure such as money won in a non-gambling lottery.
  • The Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) - this is done during the month of Zul Hijjah, and is compulsory once in a lifetime for one who has the ability to do it.

Some Muslims, mainly belonging to the sect of the Khawarij, hold that there is a sixth pillar of Islam, jihād (جهاد), literally meaning "struggle" or "combat", but usually understood to refer to holy war, but this is probably a misunderstanding in some cases. While jihād is widely considered a duty of Muslims, the view that it is one of the pillars is not shared by most theologians.

Shahādah, the profession of faith in God

According to the Qur'an, "There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is His messenger." This declaration of faith is called the shahadah, a simple formula which all of the faithful Muslims pronounce daily. Intrinsic in this action is the acknowledgment of Muhammad, as "Muhammad 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." [Qur'an: Surah al-Ahzab 33:40]

Şalāh, prayer

Muslims are obliged to perform ritual prayers or salat five times a day:

  • In the morning / right before sunrise (Fajr)
  • After midday (Dhuhr)
  • Midway between midday and sunset (Asr)
  • Right after sunset (Maghrib)
  • one hour after sunset (Isha'a)

A Muslim may offer extra optional prayer(s) at any other time.

Although it is preferable for men to pray together in a mosque, there is no strict requirement to do so. On Fridays, congregational prayer (jumu'ah) is held at midday, deemed obligatory for men but optional for women. A Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in a place of work or a school. It is also requirement for a Muslim to face Mecca during prayer.

Before prayer is the ritual of ablution, a ceremonial cleansing with water (or alternatively, with sand) which is usually performed. The parts cleansed include arms, head, and the feet up to the ankles. If the cleansing was done using water, the Muslim is considered to have wudhu, which means that he or she has cleansed him or herself from the physical manifestations of sin in a lasting fashion that extends between prayers. In other words, unless the Muslim does something to remove this cleanliness, the cleansing would not need to be repeated before the next prayer. When sand is used, the cleansing is only temporary and regardless of whether or not the Muslim commits any physical acts of uncleanliness he or she will need to undergo the ceremonial cleansing immediately before the next prayer.

The salat must be performed in the Arabic language (even if the person neither speaks nor understands Arabic; the prayers are to be recited by heart), and include praises to Allah, the shahada, a plea for forgiveness and various blessings, Chapter one (al Fatihah) and one or more other parts of the Qur'an (by heart) and an optional prayer of one's own. The entire session includes standing upright, bowing down, kneeling and prostrating oneself. The session ends with looking right and left to say "Peace be unto you, and on you be peace" in Arabic to the believers sitting with you. Muslims believe that there are angels sitting on one's both shoulders (the angel on the right is said to record the person's good deeds and the one on the left is said to record the person's bad deeds).

Şawm or şiyām, fasting

Observance of the Siyam involves abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, sexual intercourse, and other forms of worldly pleasure. This fasting is ordained in the Qur'an, and is observed by devout Muslims throughout the daylight hours of the 29 or 30 days of the lunar month of Ramadan. There are some exceptions, for example for children, pregnant women, sick Muslims, laborers, and travelers.

As well as fasting, Muslims spend more time praying during this period. Siyam is intended to teach patience and self-control, and is seen as a debt owed by the believer to Allah.

Zakāh, the paying of alms

A major principle of Islam is the belief that all things belong to God and that wealth is only held by human beings in trust. The word zakah means both purification and growth. Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakah individually, and for most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one's capital in excess of one's basic needs. A Muslim may also donate an additional amount as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), in order to achieve additional divine reward. Zakah is calculated on the basis of 2.5% of an amount in excess of what you have in hand, after the needs of the family has been met.

Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca


The final pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca performed during the month of Zul Hijjah. Performance of the Hajj at least once in one's lifetime is obligatory to all who are physically and financially able to undertake it, and about two million people go to Mecca each year. Pilgrims wear a distinctive attire of simple garments to strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God. Performance of the Hajj involves a series of rituals, including encircling the most holy shrine of Islam, the Ka'aba, a giant square house covered with a black cloth that lies in the center of a large square court. It also includes throwing stones at a hill outside the court, which symbolizes driving away evil spirits.

In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous and potentially hazardous undertaking. However, with the advent of modern transport and adequate infrastructure, Saudi Arabia is now able to accommodate the millions of annual visitors. A shorter, simpler version of the pilgrimage can be made as well, but this does not 'count' as one of the five pillars.

The beliefs and practices in Shia Islam

Although the term Five Pillars does not exist in Shi'a Islam, the five obligations that are referred to do apply. In Shi'a Islam, rather than Five Pillars, there are five beliefs and ten practices. The beliefs are referred to as the Usool-ad-Deen (Roots of religion) and the practices are referred to as the Furoo-ad-Deen (Branches of religion).

Shi'a Islam shares four of the practices found in the Sunni concept of the Five Pillars. These four practices are found in the Furoo-ad-Deen. The Shi'a shahadah can be found within the Usool-ad-Deen, where Tawhid confirms that "There is no god except Allah"; Nubuwwah confirms that Muhammad is the final "Messenger of Allah"; and Imamah confirms that "Ali is the Viceregent of Allah".

The Usool-ad-Deen (Roots of Religion)

  • Tawhid (The Oneness of God)
  • Adl (The Justice of God)
  • Nubuwwah (Prophethood)
  • Imamah (Leadership of Mankind)
  • Me'ad (The Resurrection)

The Furoo-ad-Deen (Branches of Religion)

  • Performing the five daily prayers (Salat).
  • Fasting during the month of Ramadhan (Sawm).
  • Paying the poor-rate (Zakat).
  • Performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
  • Enjoining what is good (Amr-bil-Ma'roof).
  • Forbidding what is evil (Nahi-anil-Munkar).
  • Striving to seek God's approval (Jihad).
  • Paying the tax on profit (Khums).
  • To love the Ahl-ul-Bayt and their followers (Tawalla).
  • To hate the enemies of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (Tabarra).

Modern Muslims and the pillars of Islam


Despite the fact that the practices of Islam are obligatory for Muslims to perform, not all Muslims perform them. This is due to a variety of reasons, including some which are acceptable in the Islamic religion, but most are not. For example, if a Muslim becomes ill during the month of Ramadan, then there is no requirement to fast. In Western societies, Islam, like the other main religions, has seen worship slacken. Some seek to excuse themselves from Islamic practices claiming that praying and fasting is more difficult than in other societies, a claim that is generally dismissed by the more devout Muslims; however the falling rate of Islamic worship is seen as being a symptom of the secularisation of Muslims in Western Society. Some Muslims may have stopped participating in religious duties altogether, or have chosen to only participate in the major events, for instance, the Ramadan fast.

External links

ar:أركان الإسلام

da:De fem sjler fr:Piliers de l'islam it:Cinque pilastri dell'Islam he:חמשת עמודי האסלאם ms:Rukun Islam nl:Vijf zuilen van de islam ja:五行 (イスラム教) pl:Pięć filarów islamu sl:Stebri islama


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