The Five Pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life. They are summarized in the famous hadith.
“Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.“
[Bukhari & Muslim]
1) Shahada: Faith
Shahada is a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. It is a set statement normally recited in Arabic:
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله) “There is no god but Allah (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
It is essential to utter it to become a Muslim and to convert to Islam.
2) Salah: Prayer
Salah is the Islamic prayer. Salah consists of five daily prayers named Fajr, Dhuhr, ʿAṣr, Maghrib, and ʿIshāʾ.
All of these prayers are recited while facing in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and form an important aspect of the Muslim Ummah.
The Prophet (
The Prophet (PBUH ) said: “The key to Paradise is prayer; the key to prayer is wudu (ablution).” (Musnad Ahmad)
Muslims must wash before prayer; this washing is called wudu (“purification”).
A Muslim may perform their prayer anywhere, such as in offices, universities, and fields. However, the mosque is the more preferable place for prayers because the mosque allows for fellowship.
3) Zakat: Charity
Zakāt or alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving based on accumulated wealth. The word zakāt can be defined as purification and growth because it allows an individual to achieve balance and encourages new growth. The principle of knowing that all things belong to God is essential to purification and growth.
Zakāt is obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so. It is the personal responsibility of each Muslim to ease the economic hardship of others and to strive towards eliminating inequality. Zakāt consists of spending a portion of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, like debtors or travelers. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (
4) Sawm: Fasting
Three types of fasting (Siyam) are recognized by the Quran: Ritual fasting, fasting as compensation for repentance (both from sura Al-Baqara), and ascetic fasting (from Al-Ahzab).
Ritual fasting is an obligatory act during the month of Ramadan. Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during this month and are to be especially mindful of other sins. Fasting is necessary for every Muslim that has reached puberty (unless he/she suffers from a medical condition which prevents him/her from doing so).
The fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek nearness and to look for forgiveness from God, to express their gratitude to and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and to remind them of the needy.
Narrated Abu Huraira(r.a): The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:“… whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Imam Bukhari).
During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, profane language, gossip and to try to get along with fellow Muslims better. In addition, all obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided.
Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory but is forbidden for several groups for whom it would be very dangerous and excessively problematic. These include pre-pubescent children, those with a medical condition such as diabetes, elderly people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Observing fasts is not permitted for menstruating women. Other individuals for whom it is considered acceptable not to fast are those who are ill or traveling. Missing fasts usually must be made up for soon afterward, although the exact requirements vary according to circumstance.
5) Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca
The Hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the holy city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life.
Allah states in the Holy Qur’an,
“.. and pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah, (upon) every one who is able to undertake the journey to it; and whoever disbelieves, surely Allah is Self-sufficient, above any need of the worlds”. (3/97).
Regarding the obligation of Hajj, this is the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which reported in Sahih Muslim:
Both Hajj and Umrah are duties to be performed once in
“The performance of Hajj and Umrah once (in life) is obligatory and if one performs it more than once, then it is a voluntary act.”
When the pilgrim is around 10 km (6.2 mi) from Mecca, he/she must dress in Ihram clothing, which, for men, consists of two white sheets. Both men and women are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. After a Muslim makes the trip to Mecca, he/she is known as a hajj/
The main rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba termed Tawaf, touching the Black Stone termed Istilam, traveling seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah termed Sa’yee, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina termed Ramee.
The pilgrim, or the haji, is