Islam is built upon five pillars:
1. The Declaration of Faith (Shahadah);
2. Establishing regular prayers (Salah);
3. Paying Charity (Zakah);
4. Fasting the (lunar) month of Ramadan (Sawm);
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)
These five pillars are a cornerstone of a Muslim’s life.
1. Declaration of Faith – SHAHADAH
The declaration of faith is bearing witness (testifying) that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah (God), and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Servant and Messenger. It must be based on a sincere and firm belief in the heart, as well as being uttered verbally.
The first part of the declaration implies that:
- No person, object or being has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone. The Arabic name “Allah” refers to the One True God of all mankind and everything that exists.
- Allah alone is the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, and He has power over all things.
- Allah alone has perfect attributes and is free from all deficiencies.
- Allah has no partner, equal, father, mother or son.
The second part of the declaration is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah’s Servant and final Messenger. He is the final Prophet in a long chain of Prophets sent to call the people to the obedience and worship of Allah alone. Some of these Prophets include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon them all).
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent with the Qur’an (the final revelation), in order to teach the people Allah’s message, and serve as an example for all to follow.
Some benefits of the Declaration of Faith:
- Complete surrender to the will of Allah and becoming His true servant and subject.
- Produces a high degree of self-respect and confidence, while also remaining humble and modest.
- Produces strong determination, patience and perseverance, making a person brave and courageous, as well as dutiful and upright.
- Makes a person obey and observe Allah’s commands.
2. The Prayer – SALAH
“Indeed, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer the prayer for My remembrance.”Qur’an 20:14
Prayer establishes a personal and spiritual connection between the Muslim and his Creator, based on faith, love, hope and reverence. When prayer is performed correctly with complete concentration, humility and sincerity, it will have an enduring effect on the person, filling his heart with contentment, peace and closeness with Allah.
Prayer is the centre of a Muslim’s life and the best way to achieve submission to Allah. It can be offered almost anywhere clean: such as in fields, offices, factories or universities; and takes only a few minutes to perform. It consists of recitation from the Holy Qur’an, supplicating to and praising Allah, with various body postures such as standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting. Through prayer, the Muslim remembers the greatness of his Creator and supplicates to Him for his needs and wishes.
Repeatedly humbling oneself before Allah prevents a person from falling into sin, and is a type of purification for one’s soul, as mentioned in the Qur’an: “Verily, the prayer prevents one from the shameful and evil deeds.” Qur’an 29:45. Prayer is also an opportunity for repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked his companions, “If one of you had a river by his door in which he bathed five times a day, would any filth remain on him?” They replied,“No.” Then the Prophet added, “Likewise, Allah wipes away sins with the five daily prayers.”
3. The Prescribed Charity – ZAKAH
All things belong to Allah, including wealth, which is considered as a trust. The prescribed charity (zakah) is an obligation on every Muslim who meets certain criteria (e.g. attained maturity, is sane, has wealth above a certain threshold). A small portion of wealth (includes 2.5% monetary and may include other assets) which must be paid annually to those who are eligible, as prescribed in the Qur’an (e.g. the poor and needy).
The Prophet (peace be on him) said: “Allah has made zakah obligatory simply to purify your remaining wealth.”