The Five Pillars of Islam

Now, with the Ramadan appeal 2019 stronger than ever, it is vital that we revitalize our knowledge to get the most out of this blessed month. To do just that we attempt to delve deep into the five pillars of Islam so that we can learn what each of them exactly entails.

Just as the name suggests, the five pillars of Islam are the cornerstone of Muslim life. Similar to the structure of a building that simply cannot stand the test of time without having strong pillars, the framework of Muslim life is incomplete without the five pillars of Islam.

The five pillars – ritual obligations – of Islam are Shahadad (Profession of Faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Almsgiving), Fasting, and Hajj (Pilgrimage). These are practised by Muslims throughout the globe and are mandatory for all Muslims who wholeheartedly want to lead a life according to Islamic principles just like their beloved Prophet (PBUH).

Shahadah

The first and foremost pillar of Islam is Shahadah – Declaration of faith. It is basically the assertion of Muslim faith, highlighting both unity as well as mercy.

The two Shahadah are as follows:  “There is no god but God” and “Muhammad is the messenger of God”.

The first part of the declaration – Tawhid – refers to the monotheistic aspect of Islam that is its core. It is bearing witness to the fact that there is no one other than Allah who is worthy of our worship; He is the one true God – the perfect creator and sustainer – of all of humanity and He has no equal, partner, parents, or descendants.

The second part of the declaration states that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the final messenger of Allah and His servant. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was revealed the Quran so that people could be taught Allah’s message and lead a pure as well as true life.

Such is the importance of Shahadah that it is the first thing said to a newborn baby as well as the last thing said to an individual on his or her deathbed. Plus, it’s recited five times a day in all the prayers.

Salat

Observing the five daily prayers – Fajr at dawn, Zuhr at noon, Asr in the after-noon, Magrib at dusk, and Isha nightfall – is an essential form of worship in a Muslim’s life. The following two quotations, one from the Quran and the other from Prophet (PBUH) highlight’s its importance:

“Indeed, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer the prayer for My remembrance.”(Quran 20:14)

 “Allah wipes away sins with the five daily prayers.” (Muslim)

As evident from these quotations, Salat is the ultimate form of spiritual connection between Allah and His creations. By performing the prayers correctly and with the right intentions, one can connect with Allah and benefit from His blessings as well as mercy.

Zakat

Helping out the needy and the poor by paying Zakat (alms tax that is also referred to Charity) is the third pillar of Islam. Those Muslims who have annual wealth exceeding nisab – the minimum amount of cash equivalent to 3 ounces of gold and 21 ounces of silver – are eligible to pay Zakat worth 2.5% of their yearly wealth.

This act of selflessly giving purifies not only one’s wealth but also one’s heart as well as the soul. It makes individuals more compassionate by reminding them that all that they possess is due to the mercy of Allah. Moreover, answering the Zakat appeal ensures the socio-economic development in a society as it bridges the gap between the rich and poor.

Fasting

Abstaining from sustenance and all kinds of evil acts in the holy month of Ramadan – the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar – is the fourth Islamic pillar. It is obligatory for all healthy adult Muslims.

Ramadan is the month in which the Holy Scripture Quran was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH). Hence, Allah opens the gates of heaven and chains the devil during this month so that Muslims can benefit from His mercy and forgiveness.

In a nutshell, fasting is submitting to Allah, the one and only, and obeying his commandments. On a personal level, it promotes self-restraint and self-purification while on the community level, it ensures social cohesion and collective welfare.

Hajj

The final pillar of Islam is Hajj – an annual event in the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calender that refers to pilgrimage to Makah and other holy sites. It is mandatory to perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime for all those who are financially as well as physically capable.

It is regarded as a life-changing experience in which Muslims take out time by suspending their worldly activities to reflect and sincerely worship Allah. 

Conclusion

Embracing the five pillars of Islam is the key for Muslims. These pillars not only help Muslims in their personal growth and development but also make the community, on the whole, more resilient.  

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