The Five Pillars of Islam is the term given to the five most fundamental aspects of Sunni Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam , are five formal acts of worship, bringing clarity and order for living righteously. For a Muslim, they are the framework of life. The first of the Five Pillars is a state of faith; the other four are major exercises of faith.

The First Pillar is SHAHADA (Confession of Faith): “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his messenger” Shi’is add “and Ali is his friend”.

One must state “La ilaha illa Allah”, publicly and with conviction to become a Muslim.

This statement of faith is referring to two basic concept of Islam: Monotheism and Uniqueness of Muhammad (pbuh) as a prophet.

The Second Pillar is SALAH (Prayer): To pray 5 times a day, facing toward Mecca. The person bows, kneels, and then into a prostate position with the forehead touching the ground.

The time for prayers are:

  • Fajr: Morning / right before sunrise
  • Dhuhr: After midday
  • Asr: Midway between midday and sunset
  • Maghrib: Right after sunset
  • Isha’a: One hour after sunset

Before prayer, the body must be purified by water or sand if water is not available. 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 . Unless the Muslim does something to remove this cleanliness, there is no need to repeat the cleansing before the next prayer. Unless the Muslim does something to remove this cleanliness, the cleansing would not need to be repeated before the next prayer. Cleansing with sand is temporary.

The summons for prayer is announced by a ” muezzin ” (caller) from atop a “minaret” (tall tower).

The essential prayer is the Shahada just described. And the most common and important in both private and public worship is the Sura 1 :


  1. Al l praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds
  2. Extremely Compassionat e , the Merciful
  3. Lord of the day of J udgment
  4. We worship you and we seek refuge from you only.
  5. Guide us on the straight path.
  6. The path of those who receive your grace.
  7. Not of those who receive your anger, nor of the lost.

The salah must be performed in the Arabic language.

Fridays , at noon, Muslims congregate in the Mosque for the “Assembly” to pray. Friday prayer are directed by an Imam (Leader) designated to conduct worship. The imam also delivers a sermon. If there is no mosque nearby, public prayers may be held outside.

The Mosque (Masjid) characteristics are:

  1. A minaret or tall tower.
  2. A niche (mihrab), indicating the direction of Mecca.
  3. The pulpit.
  4. A fountain at the entrance for the ablutions. One has to enter the Mosque without shoes, as it is a sacred place. The main hall of a mosque is a bare room largely devoid of furniture. There are no pictures or statues. The floor is covered with the prayer rugs.

The “call to prayer” (Adhan), is made 5 times a day by the muezzin (caller).

The Tasbih or Subha (Rosary): Tasbih (rosary) has 99 beads, corresponding to the 99 attributes given to God by Qur’an. There is also a smaller Tasbih with 33 beads.

The Third Pillar is ZAKAT (Wealth Sharing): The Third pillar of Islam is the compulsory giving of Zakat . Zakat helps to ensure the economic welfare of the Muslim community. Zakat means purification and growth. Zakat is systematic giving of 2.5% of one’s wealth each year to the 8 Asnaf (categories) of people, and that towards the end of sawm .The main belief behind Zakat is is the belief that all things belong to God. Wealth sharing is considered a form of worship. Sadaqah (charity) may also be donated.

A world on economy in Islam: Qur’an is forbidding usury (debt slavery). There is an agreement that the basic premise of Islamic finance lies in the need to eliminate both interest (Riba) and uncertainty (Gharar): the borrower must not bear all the cost of a failure, as “it is Allah who determines that failure, and intends that it fall on all those involved.” Major financial institutions are practicing four major types of financing called Murabaha, Ijara, Mudarabah and Musharakah.

The Fourth Pillar is SAWM (Fasting): Fasting is taking place during Ramadan , the ninth month of the Muslim calendar (comes around 11 days earlier each successive year).

During the 29-30 days of Lunar month of Ramadan , Muslim adults will avoid eating, drinking, smoking, sexual intercourse, and other forms of worldly pleasure. All Muslims in good health, above 13 for girls and above 14 for boys should fast during Ramadan. Many mosques will sponsor Iftar: meals after sundown. Also extra prayers called Tarawih are prayed each night in the mosque during Ramadan. During this month Sawn (fasting) is helping Muslims to develop self-control, a better understanding of God’s gifts and greater compassion towards the poor. The month of Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid ul-Fitr . The Holy Qur’an was first revealed in the month of Ramadan.

The Fifth Pillar is HAJJ (Pilgrimage to Mecca): All who are physically able and financially can afford it, at least once in one’s lifetime is obligatory to journey to Mecca. During the month of Zul Hijjah , about two million people go to Mecca. Hajj (pilgrimage) captures the communal idea of the Umma . If this journey is done with reverence, Allah forgives the sins. Pilgrims are required to dress only in an Ihram (Plain white clothing for male, female ware simple and colorful clothing typical of their homeland). The pilgrimage last for at least fifteen days. The pilgrimage involves several ritual acts called Umrah (Lesser Hajj):

  • Tawaf: circling the Kaaba seven times, in a counterclockwise direction. Kabba is in the shape of a cube. It is made of granite from the hills near Mecca and covered with a black and gold-embroidered silk cloth (kiswa). Hajar el Aswad , the sacred black Stone (though to be a meteorite) is one of the cornerstones of the Kaaba. Kaaba is the holiest place in Islam and is believed to have been built by Abraham.
  • Walk seven times back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwa .

Ihram: After Umrah, pilgrims start Ihram

  • Journey to the hill of Arafat
  • Stoning of the devil at city of Mina. After stoning the devil many pilgrims will then shave their head to show their rebirth
  • Pilgrims perform a second tawaf

Sometimes referred to as the sixth pillar of Islam, Jihad (Battle, struggle) is based on two levels:

  • Personal: Struggle against anything that refrain the Muslim to venerate Allah and follow the divine will.
  • Social: Preservation of Allah’s will for the world.

Sometimes Jihad has also been regarded as a “holy war”.

The concept of the five Pillars is not used in Shia Islam . For the Shia there are five beliefs, named “Usool-ad-Deen” (Roots of religion), and there are ten practices, called “Furoo-ad-Deen” (Branches of religion).

Usool-ad-Deen beliefs are: Tawhid (The Oneness of God), Adl (The Justice of God), Nubuwwah (Prophethood), Imamah (Leadership of Mankind), Me’ad (The Resurrection).

Furoo-ad-Deen are: five daily prayers (Salah), Fasting during r amadhan (Sawm), Paying to the poor (Zakat), pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj), Enjoining what is good (Amr-bil-Ma’roof), Forbidding what is evil (Nahi-anil-Munkar), God’s approval through Jihad, tax on profit (Khums), To love the Ahl-ul-Bayt (People of the House) and their followers (Tawalla), hate the enemies of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (Tabarra).

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