2.1 Introduction To The Five Pillars
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Islām is built upon five: The declaration that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh; to establish the Prayers; to pay the Zakāh; to perform Hajj to the House (Ka`bah) and fasting in the month of Ramadān.” (Bukhārī and Muslim)
Translation: Plural: Pillars = Arkān Singular: Pillar = Rukn
|There is no god worthy of worship except Allāh and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.||Stays with you throughout your life.|
|Salāh||Daily ritual prayers||To pray five times a day.||Five separate times throughout each day.|
|Zakāh||Obligatory charity||Taken from the wealthy and given to the needy.||Once a year.|
|Sawm||Obligatory Fasting||Fasting in the month of Ramadān.||One month a year.|
|Hajj||Pilgrimage||To visit Makkah and specified sites||Once in a lifetime|
They are known as the Five Pillars of Islām because they support Islām just as pillars in a building support the structure of a building. These five duties were legislated by Allāh upon every able, sane and adult Muslim. The Shahādah is the most important of these five because it enters a person into Islām and makes them a Muslim. The rest of the four Pillars are only valid if the Shahādah has already been declared. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sent his Companion, Mu`ādh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) to Yemen, saying to him: “You are going to the People of Book (the Jews and Christians), so let the first thing that you call them to be: That none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh. If they affirm that, then inform them that Allāh has obligated upon them the five daily prayers…” Muslims believe that Allāh has commanded them to fulfill these Five Pillars for their own benefit – and by doing so they become better Muslims and better believers. Islām is to submit to Allāh in worship, and show Him complete obedience. The word Muslim refers to one who has submitted his life to Allāh. Whatever Muslims do, they must do it in the way Allāh has commanded. The Five Pillars are the foundations of those outward acts of obedience. By carrying out these Pillars a Muslim increases in piety and righteousness – and he comes closer to Allāh spiritually – in this way he becomes happy in this world and is rewarded with Paradise in the Hereafter.
After the Shahādah, the most important pillar is the prayer. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The covenant between us and the non-Muslims is the Salāh. So whoever abandons it has disbelieved.” It was the first thing that the people of Yemen were commanded with after the testimony of faith (i.e. the Shahādah). Additionally Abdullāh Ibn Shaqeeq (may Allah’s mercy be upon him) said after meeting the Companions: “The Companions of the Prophet did not regard the abandonment of any action to be disbelief except for the abandonment of the Prayers.” (Hadith reported by At-Tirmidhī). So after entering into Islam with the Shahādah, the most important pillar is the Prayer, then the rest of the Pillars. It is considered a major sin to leave the rest of the three Pillars without a valid excuse.
When Muslims have “God-consciousness” (taqwa: piety/righteousness) they are always aware that Allāh is “with them” with His knowledge, aiding them, protecting them and that He is watching over them constantly. This constant awareness that Allāh is watching you is called al-Murāqabah. This is from the greatest of successes achieved by a Muslim, and the Five Pillars are the key to developing that. They are the key to living the best life, beginning of course with the Shahādah, which gathers together belief in Allāh and following the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
- Are all of the Five Pillars equally important?
- Does it matter if you simply do not wish to do one or more of them? (Think of the building that is supported by its pillars, and the narration of Abdullāh Ibn Shaqeeq).
- In what ways does adhering closely to fulfilling these pillars make a person a better Muslim?
- The pillar that needs to be done once in a lifetime is ___________________.
- The pillar that needs to be done 5 times daily is ______________________.
- The pillar that needs to be done for one month a year is ___________________.
- The pillar that remains with a person throughout his whole life is __________________.
- The pillar that is done once a year is __________________.
- In what way could being aware that Allāh is watching you at all times make someone a better Muslim?
I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school can also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books and adapted them for my classes.