Islam is not merely a religion; it is a complete code for living and conducting the matters that concern human life. The Five Pillars of Islam comprehensively define the Islamic code of living, complete with intrinsic beliefs and outward worship. With clear and forthright commands, explicitly defined through the Quran and revealed to the Last Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) established categorical teachings such as the Five Pillars of Islam in his life. Muslims believe that Islam as a Deen (way of life) since the creation of Prophet Adam (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), and the religion was finalized with Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). These beliefs and practices have existed in some form before the advent of Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam, also known as the tenets of Islam, form the bedrock of the core Islamic beliefs and practices. This concept of five core pillars, laying down the foundational framework of Islamic worship, is supported by authentically relayed hadith included by Imam Nawawi in his essential collection of 40 Hadiths. To every believing and practicing Muslim, each of these crucial practices works in tandem to establish their lives according to the essence of Islam. Learn more about these Five Pillars and refine your faith with practice and intentional remembrance.

Each Pillar of Islam Explained

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) taught his companions the very basis of Islamic beliefs and practices. In a Hadith narrated on the authority of Abdullah (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ), the son of Umar ibn al-Khattab (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, “Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the salah (prayer), paying the zakat (obligatory charity), making the hajj (pilgrimage) to the House, and fasting in Ramadhan.”[40 Hadith Nawawi #3: Sahih al-Bukhari 8 & Sahih Muslim 16 a]

Each pillar or tenet of Islam encompasses a particular core value that uplifts and strengthens the faith of those who commit themselves to believing in Islam. The practice of each further shapes the lives of Muslims into wholehearted submission to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).

Shahadah

The Shahada is mentioned first in the hadith about the five pillars of Islam. The declaration of faith is the most fundamental pillar of Islam, testifying to the profound yet simple statement: “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” It is an affirmation of Tawhid, the monotheistic belief in Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى), and acknowledges Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) as His final prophet sent with the message of Islam. To those who wish to revert to the true message of Islam, this imperative phrase proclaimed loudly marks the beginning of their conviction to the faith. It also serves as a reminder to practicing Muslims of their sincere commitment to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)) and to redirect their intentions and actions in life back to Islam.

Salah

Salah, or Namaz, is the first act performed in life on Earth that will be held accountable on the day of Judgment. They are a daily ritual; prayers are performed five times a day at prescribed times: Fajr (dawn), Dhuhr (noon), Asr (mid-afternoon), Maghrib (sunset), and Isha (night). Salah directs the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of Muslims with specific movements and recitations towards Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) and His true message. Facing the Kaaba in Masjid al-Haram as Qibla, the Muslims face one direction in worship with unifying faith while standing together in congregations at their local mosques or homes.

Zakat

Zakat is the mandatory almsgiving or charity that requires every sane, adult Muslim who owns wealth over a certain amount – known as the Nisab – to give a portion of their wealth to those in need. This portion is set at 2.5% of a Muslim’s wealth with meticulously researched methods for calculations through Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). It is due as soon as one Islamic Hijri year has passed since exceeding or meeting the Nisab and is distributed among those who meet the criteria to receive it. Zakat ensures social justice and harmony by making Muslims support the less fortunate fellow believers.

Hajj

Performed every year in the 12th and final month of the Islamic Hijri lunar calendar, Hajj is a profound pilgrimage that every Muslim seeks the opportunity to perform. The rites and rituals of Hajj commemorate the faith, sacrifice, and submission to Allah of the Prophet Ibrahim (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), his wife Hajerah, and his son Ismael (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). It includes the Tawaf (circumambulation) around Kaaba, Sa’i (walking between the hills of Safa and Marwah), and standing at Arafat.

Sawm

Ramadan is the month of Sawm (fasting), every year on the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri Calendar. Muslims are commanded to abstain from eating, drinking, marital relations, and other consumption during the day from Fajr (dawn) until Maghreb (sunset). Ramadan commemorates the month in which the revelation of the Quran was completed on the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and is a time of intense spiritual reflection and increased worship in devotion to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).

Five Pillars of Islam: As Illuminated by Quran and Hadith

Each of the five pillars of Islam provides a complete and immaculate framework to build a true Islamic lifestyle, wholly submitting to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) with the Deen He perfected through His Messenger (ﷺ). This is primarily taught in the Quran and by the Prophet with profound and earnest reasonings.

Tawhid and Finality of Prophethood

Tawhid, the monotheistic belief in Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) as the One Creator and All-Powerful, is the very core of Islam, followed by the finality of the prophethood with the revelation of the Quran upon Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). Declaring the Shahada is the foundation of all the beliefs and practices that curtail and is a profession of complete submission to the commandments of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad (ﷺ).

Shahdah is mentioned in the Quran in several verses, such as the following: “God is witness there is no god but He, and so are the angels and men full of learning. He is the upholder of justice. There is no god but He, the mighty and all-wise.” (Quran 3:18)

The finality of Prophethood is made evident by this authentic hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ): Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “My similitude in comparison with the other prophets before me, is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for a place of one brick in a corner. The people go about it and wonder at its beauty, but say: ‘Would that this brick be put in its place!’ So I am that brick, and I am the last of the Prophets.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3535)

Daily Worship

Salah is the very act of executing the Shahadah, the accumulation of Tawhid, and complete submission to the will and mercy of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى). In the Quran, Allah says, “I am God, and there is no god but I, so serve Me, and observe acts of prayer to remember Me.” (Quran 20:14) The commandment of Salah comes from this very verse, and its proper method was taught by the Prophet Muhammad to all the believers. It was narrated from Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Nothing stands between a person and Shirk (polytheism) except leaving the prayer, so if he leaves it he has committed Shirk.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1080)

Giving in the Way of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)

Zakat is an essential foundation of an Islamic society and its importance extends beyond an act of charity. It purifies the Muslims’s wealth and fosters empathy and a sense of responsibility towards fellow Muslims. According to the Quran, “Be firm in devotion; give zakat (the due share of your wealth for the welfare of others), and bow with those who bow (before God). (Quran 2:43)

It was mentioned in the three essential aspects of Dawah by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Narrated Ibn `Abbas (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ): When the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Mu`adh (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) to Yemen, he said to him, “You are going to a nation from the people of the Scripture, so let the first thing to which you will invite them, be the Tauhid of Allah. If they learn that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them, five prayers to be offered in one day and one night. And if they pray, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Zakat of their properties and it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor. And if they agree to that, then take from them Zakat but avoid the best property of the people.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 7372)

Pilgrimage of a Lifetime

“When We chose the site of the House for Abraham (We said:) ‘Associate no one with Me and clean My House for those who will circumambulate it, stand (in reverence), and bow in homage’.” (Quran 22:26) This verse in the Quran establishes the Kaaba as the “House of Allah” (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) and prescribes the pilgrimage of Hajj.

The spiritual benefits of performing the Hajj are beyond the comprehension of a man; the self-reflection, reconnection, and social harmony that this pilgrimage brings is sought after by many in this world. Abu Huraira (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever performs Hajj to this Ka`ba and does not approach his wife for sexual relations nor commit sins (while performing Hajj), he will come out as sinless as a newborn child, (just delivered by his mother). (Sahih al-Bukhari 1820)

Practicing Patience

With the following verse of the Quran in Surah Baqarah, fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed with clear mandates to the Muslim Ummah: “Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance to man and clear proof of the guidance, and criterion (of falsehood and truth). So when you see the new moon you should fast the whole month; but a person who is ill or traveling (and fails to do so) should fast on other days, as God wishes ease and not hardship for you, so that you complete the (fixed) number (of fasts), and give glory to God for the guidance, and be grateful.” (Quran 2:185)

As narrated by Abu Huraira (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1899)

Conclusion

Together the Five Pillars of Islam complete a framework that fuses the internal and outward acts of worship into ethical conduct, shaping the Muslims to be their selves. From the Shahada laying the crux of the Islamic faith to Salah bringing it into practice, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj cultivate Islamic social values of charity, self-discipline, patience, and sacrifice; each pillar strengthens the Muslim in faith and practice. They remain a constant reminder with daily and yearly responsibilities to Islam’s core purpose and belief, offering stability and guidance in today’s rapidly changing world.