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The Five Pillars of Islam: Their Meaning and Priority

By Jamal Badawi

What are the Five Pillars of Islam and what is the origin of this expression?

The term and the specification of the number appear in more than one saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). One of the most famous sayings is narrated in the collection by Muslim and says that “the infrastructure of Islam is based upon the Oneness of Allah, the performance of regular prayers, the payment of Zakah or the poor’s due, the fasting, and the pilgrimage”. (Muslim) The term was based on the mention of this hadith.

More specifically the first pillar on the Oneness of Allah means that in order for a person to be Muslim they would have to confess with conviction of the heart and mind that there is no deity but one God and that is Allah who is the One and Only universal God of all. One is required to mention this a minimum of one time in their lifetime in order to be Muslim.

The second pillar is the performance of regular prayers and these are also specified as five specific prayers which follow a specific format during the day and night. This is not prayer in terms of supplication, I use the term prayer in English because it is the closest translation. It is not prayer in the sense of sitting and making supplication but requires lots of preparation.

The third pillar is the payment of poor’s due and is called Zakah in Arabic.

The fourth is fasting and this refers to observing the fast from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan which is the ninth lunar month in the Islamic calendar.

Finally is the pilgrimage to the Holy places in Makkah (Mecca) at least once in a life time if a person is able to.

When non-Muslims write about Islam and mention these Five Pillars quite often one is under the impression that these Five Pillars is all that Islam is about. Is this correct?

Unfortunately, it is not. The problem with many non-Muslim authors, writers, film producers, and narrators is that they try to interpret Islam from the point of view of their own background which is like placing Islam in an alien framework and this is where the mistake occurs. Most writers in films and so on and many who pose as experts on Islam come from a background which views religion as a large set of dogmas or rituals or something that focuses on the spiritual aspect of life with some kind of separation from the secular or mundane activities.

True Islam is an all embracive comprehensive way of life, it is a way of looking at life and taking it as a totality not making an artificial separation between religion and secularism.  The lack of understanding of this particular point makes many people view the pillars of Islam in the sense that doing those five things is all that Islam is about.

Any particular structure pillars are not everything but essential for a building’s support. In addition to the pillars one needs a roof, walls, partitions, insulation heating system and furnishing. The same thing applies to Islam. Many people think that once we talk about the Five Pillars of Islam that they’ve got everything. No they have not.

If we look at Islam the same way we look at the structure of a building as a functioning religion as a faith that is not limited to the spiritual aspect but is a complete way of life. One doesn’t have a functional building just with the pillars one has got to have all the other things that go along side with the pillars.

The pillars are essential and are the create the base but they are not everything. There is a difference between saying the pillars are everything and between saying the Five Pillars are the basis of everything. This is the way a Muslim looks at the Pillars of Islam.

In fact Islam addresses spiritual, moral, social, economic and even political aspects of life. When those writers refer to the Pillars of Islam they do not even depict it in sufficient depth. It is depicted as a formal ritual, whereas if one looks very closely in depth at the nature of those pillars one finds that they give lots of lessons which regulates social, moral, economic and even political life. In a way Islam goes far beyond the simple notions of rituals or formalisms.

Is there any significance as to the order in which these pillars appear and if so which come first and why?

Yes, there is a hierarchy. For example the first pillar which we mentioned which is the corner stone of Islam is the belief in the one universal God of all. Belief in God and faith in Him and acceptance of his prophets represents the very foundation upon which any good deeds can be accepted by God. This is the source of all virtue.

One notices that the second Pillar is the keeping of regular five daily prayers which is the most noble act of communicating directly with God without an intermediary. This is a reflection of how a Muslim after accepting God tries to nourish this direct relationship with his creator.

The second pillar is followed by the poor’s due which is an instrumental pillar in building social equity and justice in society. This is followed by the fourth pillar which is fasting. This is a method to discipline one’s self and control our desires and as such lead a virtuous life. Finally is the pilgrimage for those who are able to. As I understand it there is a hierarchy of relative importance.

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Source: jamalbadawi.org

 

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The Conditions of the Shahadah to Be Accepted by God

It is not enough that one merely utter the Shahadah for it to be accepted by Allah. It is the key to the gates of Paradise, but in order for it to work, it needs to have the right ridges.

The Shahadah must meet the following conditions for it to be accepted by Allah:

1- Knowledge

One must have knowledge that all other deities worshipped besides Allah are false, so there is no deity worshipped in truth except Allah. Never should anyone else be worshipped, even if he be a prophet, a messenger or an angel. Allah is the only one who deserves all types worship, such as salah (prayer), du`aa’ (supplication), hope, sacrificial slaughtering, making oaths, etc.

Whoever directs any type of worship to other than Allah has committed kufr (disbelief), even if he uttered the Shahadah.

2- Certainty

One must have certainty in the Shahadah. Certainty is the opposite of doubt, so there is no room for a person to doubt or waver in his belief. Allah says:

The believers are only those who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not, and strive with their wealth and their lives for the Cause of Allah. Those! They are the truthful. (Al-Hujurat 49:15)

3- Acceptance

One should accept the Shahadah fully and not reject it. It is not sufficient that a person merely know what the Shahadah means and believe it with certainty. Rather he must accept it my pronouncing it openly and accepting to become a Muslim. Allah says:

Truly, when it was said to them, “La ilaha illa Allah (no deity is worshipped in truth except Allah),” they puff themselves up with pride and deny it. (As-Saffat 37:35)

4- Compliance

It means obedience and acting upon all what the Shahadah necessitates.

A person must do according to what Allah ordered and abstain from what He prohibited. Allah, Exalted be He, says:

And whosoever submits his face to Allah, while he is a muhsin (doer of good), then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold [La ilaha ill-Allah]. And to Allah return all matters for decision. (Luqman 31:22)

We should note that the word muhsin” in the verse literally means a person who does something well. Here it means one who does righteous deeds sincerely for Allah, according to the method the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us.

Here we see that Allah mentions both submission to Allah along with doing righteous deeds, and only if a person does this has he grasped onto the sure handhold of the Shahadah.

5- Truthfulness

One must be truthful in his Shahadah. Even though a person may be doing all these things on the outside, he might be hiding disbelief in his heart, like the hypocrites.

Allah says:

They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts. (Al-Fath 48:11)

6- Sincerity of worship

One must make his worship and obedience sincerely for Allah alone. And it may be that one fulfills all the previous conditions, but he directs worship to other than Allah at times, like supplicating to the dead, etc. He has not made his worship purely for Allah.

Allah says:

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, following the religion purely and sincerely for Him, turning away from other religions. (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

7- Love

One must love Allah, His Messenger, and His righteous slaves. He must hate and show enmity towards all who show enmity to Allah and His Messenger. He must prefer what Allah and His Messenger love, even if it is different to what he desires. Allah says:

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight… are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the rebellious and disobedient to Allah. (At-Tawbah 9:24)

Shahadah & Oneness

The Shahadah also necessitates that Allah is the only one who has the right to legislate, whether it be in matters concerning worship, or matters concerning the government of human relations in both the individual and public affairs. The act of making something prohibited or lawful is for Allah alone. His Messenger merely explained and clarified Allah’s commandments.

And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it). (Al-Hashr 59:7)

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The article is an excerpt from”How to Become a Muslim” by Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha.

 

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Tawheed: Its Meaning and Categories

By Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri 

Tawheed is to single out Allah (Exalted be He) in what is distinct to Him and obligatory for Him. That is, for the slave to know for certain that Allah is One with no partner in His rububiyyah (lordship), His uluhiyyah (servitude) and His Names and Attributes.

Tawheed: Its Meaning and Categories

Allah is One with no partner; One unparalleled in His essence, His names, His attributes and His actions.

It further means that: The slave knows for certain and acknowledges that Allah alone is the Lord and Sovereign of everything; that He alone is the Creator, the Ever-Living and the Sustainer of all that exists who alone maintains the whole universe; that He alone is worthy of worship with no partner; that everything which is worshipped besides Him is false; and that He possesses attributes of perfection, free of every imperfection and deficiency, and to Him alone belong the best names and loftiest attributes:

Allah – there is no god (worthy of worship) except Him. To Him belong the best names. (Ta-Ha 20:8)

The Fiqh of Tawheed

Allah is One with no partner; One unparalleled in His essence, His names, His attributes and His actions; to Him alone belong the dominion, creation and command with no partner. He is the Sovereign and everything besides Him belongs to Him; He is the Lord and everything besides Him is His slave; and He is the Creator and everything besides Him is created:

Say, ‘He is Allah, (Who is) One; Allah, the Self-Sufficient Master; He neither begets nor is He begotten; nor is there any equivalent to Him.’ (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

He (Exalted be He) is the Most Strong and everything besides Him is weak; He is the Most Powerful and everything besides Him is powerless; He is the Most Great and everything besides Him is minute; He is the Self-Sufficient and everything besides Him is in need of Him; He is the All-Mighty and everything besides Him is subservient; and He is the Truth and all that is worshipped besides Him is false:

That is because Allah is the Truth, and that which they call upon besides Him is falsehood, and that Allah is the Most High, the Most Great. (Luqman 31:30)

He is the Most Magnificent of which there is nothing more magnificent than Him; the Most High of which there is nothing higher than Him; the Most Great of which there is nothing greater than Him; and the Most Merciful of which there is nothing more merciful than Him.

He is the Most Strong who has created strength in every strong one; the Most Powerful who has created power in every powerful one; the Most Merciful who has created mercy in every merciful one; the Most Knowledgeable who has taught every creature; and the All-Provider who has created all sustenance and those who receive it:

That is Allah, your Lord; there is no god (worthy of worship) except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things. No vision can grasp Him, but His Grasp is over all vision; and He is the Most Subtle, the Well-Acquainted. (Al-An`am 6:102-103)

He is the True God who alone is worthy of worship besides everything else due to the perfection of His essence, His majesty, His beauty and His graceful kindness; and to Him alone belong the best names and loftiest attributes:

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

He is the All-Wise, the All-Knowing who does what He wills and commands what He desires:

Surely, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds. (Al-A`raf 7:54)

He is the First before everything else; the Last after everything else; the Most High above everything; the Most Near closer to everything; and the All-Knower of everything, alone with no partner:

He is the First and the Last, the Most High and the Most Near; and He is the All-Knower of everything. (Al-Hadid 57:3)

He is the True Sovereign in whose hand is everything, while nothing is in the hand of anything besides Him. So turn to Him alone with no partner:

Say, ‘O Allah! Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will; You honor whom You will and You humiliate whom You will. In Your hand is (all) good. Indeed, You are Able to do all things.’ (Aal `Imran 3:26)

He alone is the Owner of all things, the All-Powerful over all things, the All-Knowledgeable of all things and the Granter of all things. He alone is the All-Encompassing of every encompassing one, the All-Powerful over every powerful one, the Subjugator of every subjugating one, the One and the Owner of everyone:

Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Mulk 67:1)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Summarized Islamic Fiqh In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah”, translated by Kamil Ahmad & Jawad Beg

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The Meaning of La Ilaha Illa Allah (Tawheed)

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

This is the phrase of Tawheed (the concept of the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allah). Due to this concept Allah brought the creation into being, and due to this concept He created Paradise and Hellfire. Allah (Exalted be He) says:

The Meaning of La Ilaha Illa Allah (Tawheed)

This is the belief which all the Prophets and Messengers called to.

And I have neither created the Jinn nor humans except to worship Me. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

This is the belief which all the Prophets and Messengers called to, from Adam, the first Prophet, to Muhammad, the last messenger (peace be upon them all). Allah says:

And we have not sent before you any messenger except that We have revealed to him that there is no deity that is worshipped in truth except Me, so worship and obey Me. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:25)

Meanings of the Shahadah

There is no Creator of this existence except Allah. Allah says:

Such is Allah, your Lord! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Creator of all things. So worship and obey Him (Alone), and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian, etc.) over all things. (Al-An`am 6:102)

There is no True Master and Owner present in this existence except Allah. This is known as Tawheed Ar-Rubobiyyah, or the Oneness of Allah in His Attributes of Lordship. This is the belief that there is no Creator, Sovereign Master, Administrator, Provider, Sustainer, and Owner except for Allah:

Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the ‘aalameen (mankind, Jinns and all that exists)! (Al-A`raf 7:54)

No deity deserves servitude and worship except Allah. This is known as Tawheed Al-Ulohiyyah, or the Oneness of Allah in His Worship. This is the belief that no worship should be directed to any except Allah. Allah says:

No doubt! Verily, to Allah belongs whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth. And those who worship and invoke others besides Allah, in fact, follow not the (Allah’s so-called) partners, they follow only a conjecture and they only invent lies. (Yunus 10:66)

All the Names and Attributes of Allah are perfect and complete. This is known as Tawheed Al-Asmaa´ wa As-Sifaat, that Allah has all the Best of Names and Attributes, and that there are none equal, comparable to, or like them. He is high above and free from all faults and shortcomings. Allah says:

And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie or deny (or utter impious speech against) His Names. They will be requited for what they used to do. (Al-A`raf 7:180)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “How to Become a Muslim”.

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Shirk: Its Meaning and Punishment in Islam?

By: Muhammad Bin Ibrahim Bin `Abdullah Al-Tuwayjiri

Shirk is to set up a partner with Allah (Exalted be He) in His rububiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Lordship), or His uluhiyyah (Oneness of worship) or His attributes.

So if a person believes that there is a creator or helper with Allah then he is a mushrik; whoever believes that someone besides Allah is worthy of worship then he is a mushrik; and whoever believes that Allah has an equal in His names and attributes then he is a mushrik.

Danger of Shirk

1- Committing shirk is great injustice because it is a violation of the exclusive right of Allah, which is tawheed (Oneness of Allah). Hence, tawheed is the most fair of justices, and shirk is the most unfair of injustices and the most abominable of offences; because it is defaming the Lord of the worlds, directing what is exclusively His right to other than Him and equating Him with others.

Moreover, due to the great danger of shirk whoever meets Allah as a mushrik Allah will not forgive him, as Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive setting up partners with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

2- Committing shirk is the greatest of sins, for whoever worships other than Allah has placed worship in other than its rightful place and directed it to other than who is worthy of it; and that is great injustice and a heinous offence, as Allah says:

Indeed, shirk is great injustice. (Luqman 31:13)

3- Major shirk renders all deeds worthless, necessitates destruction and loss, and is the greatest of major sins:

1– Allah says:

And it was already revealed to you and to those before you: ‘If you set up partners with Allah, your deeds would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.’ Rather, worship Allah alone and be among the grateful. (Az-Zumar 39:65-66)

2– And Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said thrice, “Shall I not inform you of the greatest of major sins?” They said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Committing shirk and disobedience to parents.” He sat up after he had been reclining and added, “And giving false witness.” He continued to repeat it until we said, “We wish he would be quiet.” (AL-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abominable Characteristics of Shirk

Allah has mentioned four abominable characteristics of shirk in four verses. They are:

1 –Allah says:

Indeed, Allah does not forgive setting up partners with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (An-Nisaa’ 4:48)

2– Allah says:

And whoever sets up partners with Allah has certainly gone far astray. (An-Nisaa’ 4:116)

3– Allah says:

Indeed, whoever sets up partners with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his abode is the Fire. And there are no helpers for the wrongdoers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

4– Allah says:

And whoever sets up partners with Allah – it is as though he had fallen from the sky and was snatched by the birds, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place. (Al-Hajj 22:31)

Punishment for Those Who Commit Shirk

1– Allah says:

Indeed, those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the Fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. They are the worst of creatures. (Al-Bayyinah 98:6)

2– `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever dies while calling on something besides Allah, as a rival to Him, will enter the Fire.”

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “Summarized Islam Fiqh (In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah)”, translated by Kamil Ahmad & Jawad Beg.

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Islam and the Meaning of Deen

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

The word ‘deen’ is used in several meanings. The first is sovereignty, power, lordship, kingship, or rulership. The second is the opposite of this, i.e. submission, obedience, service or slavery. The third is to bring to account, to judge, or to dispense reward and punishment for actions. All those three uses are found in the Qur’an.

Allah says:

The only (true) Deen in the sight of God is (man’s) self-surrender (to Him). (Aal `Imran 3:19)

Here, deen is that way of life in which we recognize Allah alone as the possessor of all power and majesty and surrender ourselves to Him. We must not abase or humble ourselves before anybody save Him. We must regard only Allah as Master, Lord, and Sovereign, and must not be slaves or servants to anybody but Him. We must accept only Allah as the Lord of reward and punishment. We should covet no reward, fear no punishment, except His. Islam is the name of this deen.

Deen is that way of life in which we recognize Allah alone as the possessor of all power and majesty and surrender ourselves to Him.

False Deen

False deen arises when you ascribe real powers to anyone besides Allah, when you take anyone as a real ruler and master, as a dispenser of real reward and punishment, when you bow your heads before him in humility, when you serve him and obey his orders, when you covet his reward and fear his punishment more than Allah’s. This kind of deen Allah never accepts because it is totally contrary to reality.

No other being in the whole universe except God possesses any power and might, nor does anybody else’s sovereignty and kingship exist. We have not been created to be servants and slaves of anyone or anything but God, nor is there anyone else except that real Master who can judge us and award reward and punishment.

In many places in the Qur’an these facts have been explained.

And whoso seeks a Deen other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him. (Aal `Imran 3:85)

Thus, anyone who disregards the sovereignty and kingship of God, acknowledges someone else as his master and ruler, becomes his servant and slave, and considers anyone as a dispenser of reward and punishment in his own right, will never have his Deen or conduct accepted by God because:

They were not enjoined anything but that they should serve God, making submission exclusively His, turning away (from all false gods). (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

God has not created human beings to serve anyone except Himself. It is, therefore, incumbent on them to turn away from all false gods and reserve their submission, or their true deen, for Allah alone. They should single-mindedly devote themselves to His service and consider themselves as being accountable only to Him:

What! Do they seek a deen other than God’s, whereas unto Him surrenders whatever is in the heavens and on earth, willingly or unwillingly, and unto Him all must return? (Aal `Imran 3:83)

How can we human beings incline to be servants and to submit to someone other than God, when all other things on earth and in the heavens are slaves and obedient servants of God alone, accounting for their deeds to no other authority than God? Does man want to adopt a deviant way for himself, some kind of independent and autonomous existence, in defiance of the entire universe?

He it is Who has sent forth His Messenger with the Guidance and the way of Truth, so that he makes it prevail over all ways (religions), however much mushriks (who take gods besides God) may dislike it. (At-Tawbah 9:33)

God’s Deen

Allah has sent His Messenger with the true deen for the purpose of ending the sovereignty of all false gods and granting us immense freedom so that we live as servants of none but the Lord of the universe, no matter how much the idolaters and polytheists may dislike or oppose such a course.

And fight them, until there is no rebellion (against God) and all submission is to God alone. (Al-Anfal 8:39)

The lesson is clear: we must fight until the sovereignty of all beings other than Allah is brought to an end, until only the law of God rules in the world, until the sovereignty of God alone is acknowledged, until we serve only Him.

Thus these three meanings of deen stand out:

– To acknowledge God as Lord, Master and Ruler.

– To obey and serve only Him.

– To be accountable to Him, to fear only His punishment and to covet only His reward.

Deen also includes obedience to God’s Messengers. For the commandments of God have been given to human beings through His Books and His Messengers.

Children of Adam! If there should come to you Messengers from among you, who convey My revelations unto you, then whosoever refrains from evil and lives rightly no fear shall be on them, and neither shall they sorrow. (Al-A`raf 7:35)

No individual receives Allah’s commandments directly.

Hence, whoever acknowledges Allah as Ruler can be accepted as obedient to Him only when he becomes obedient to His Messengers and lives by the guidance received through them.

Deen consists of these fundamental principles.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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