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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

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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Acts of Worship New Muslims

Objectives of Fasting and Ramadan

By Jamaal Diwan

Discussing the objectives of our actions is an important thing because to do so is to discuss the actions in a true and deep way. It is possible that if we do not know why we are doing certain things, we could miss the entire point behind the action itself. So, what are the objectives of fasting in Ramadan?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said about this concept, “Maybe a fasting person gains nothing from his fast except hunger and thirst. And maybe a person who prays in the night gains nothing from their Prayer except staying up late.” (At-Tabarani) So this is a person who does an action but gets no result from it.

This is because if someone does an action without knowing why they are doing it or what the objective behind it is, then it is possible that the action will be useless. This is because, as Imam al-Shatibi said, “Actions without objectives are like bodies without souls.” So in this article we will discuss some of the general objectives of fasting and Ramadan.

1. Attaining Taqwa

This is the major objective of fasting in Ramadan as clarified by the Qur’an. God said,

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (muttaqun). (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

Fasting also teaches a person how to have taqwa because while one is fasting they are careful about all kinds of things. They watch what comes out of their mouth, what they look at, and all that they do. As a result, the person learns how to have a certain level of restraint regarding their actions. This helps them build their taqwa by making them watchful over everything that they do.

As to the definition of taqwa, the clearest way to understand it is through the definition that was provided by Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him).

Someone came to him and asked, “What is taqwa?” He responded by asking the man if he has ever walked through a thorny road. He said, “Yes.” He asked, “What did you do?” He replied, “Whenever I saw thorns I would avoid them or adjust my clothes to keep them safe.” Abu Hurayrah told him, “That’s taqwa.”

2. Fasting is a Shield

The Prophet said in an authentic hadith (narration) that “fasting is a shield.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Even the word shield in Arabic has the connotation of protection and this is one of the meanings of the word taqwa. The Prophet also said, “O youth! Whosoever amongst you can afford to get married, let them get married. And whoever cannot afford to do so then they should fast because it will help him control his desires.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This protection that fasting gives cannot be accomplished by just reducing one’s food intake because it is the material and immaterial elements of fasting that aide one in controlling themselves. For this reason Imam al-San`ani said about this, “It is for a secret that God put in fasting, so just reducing how much food you eat will not be enough.”

3. Fasting and Patience

Another thing that we should learn in Ramadan is to be patient with what we face in our daily lives. The Prophet said in a hadith, “Fasting the month of patience, and three days of every month is equivalent to fasting the entire year.” (Al-Nasaʾi and Ahmad) In this hadith, the Prophet refers to the month of Ramadan as the month of patience, emphasizing the importance of patience in this month.

It is also said that fasting is half of patience. This is because patience basically consists of staying away from bad deeds and persisting in good deeds. In the month of Ramadan, one of the major things that we seek to do is stay away from as many bad deeds as possible so that our fasting is half of patience.

4. Ramadan is the Month of the Qur’an

In the month of Ramadan, we spend more time with the Qur’an than in any other part of the year. We spend time reading it by ourselves, we spend time studying it, we spend time listening to it during Tarawih Prayers, and so on. In this month, the revelation of the Qur’an began and a civilization of learning and knowledge was born.

5. A Month of Generosity

It is narrated that the Prophet was the most generous of people and his most generous time was Ramadan. In doing this, the Prophet was combining between a personal act of worship, like reading the Qur’an, and a social act of worship, charity. Thereby, he showed what it means to live a comprehensive existence as someone who worships God. In doing so, he shows that our responsibilities are not only limited to ourselves but also include those around us.

6. The Importance of Time

We also learn in Ramadan that time is one of the most important blessings that we have in our lives. The Prophet said, “Two blessings, many people are at a loss regarding them: health and free time.” (Al-Bukhari) The major acts of worship in Islam are all related to specific times. We pay our zakah at a particular time. We pray at specific times. We start fasting at a particular time, in a particular month, and we break our fast at a particular time. We go on hajj at a particular time. All of these specifications are meant to teach us, among other things, the importance of time.

For this reason al-Hasan al-Basri said, “O son of Adam! You are nothing but a compilation of breaths, so every time you inhale and exhale, a piece of you is lost.” The believer is strict with their time and the more a person’s faith increases, the more their observance of their time increases. The responsibilities we have are more than the time we have to carry them out, so we should try to be as strict with our time as possible.

These are just some of the objectives of fasting and Ramadan that we should seek to actualize. We can use these as a measuring stick for our month and see how we add up. If we look throughout and see that we are improving in these aspects then we should thank God for His bounties upon us, and if we find that we are not, then we should seek His forgiveness and grace and work harder.

May Allah accept from us all our good deeds in this month and forgive us for our shortcomings. Ameen.

Note: Most of the this article is taken from an article on the topic that was written by Shaykh al-Raysuni.

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

Why Do Muslims Fast during Ramadan?

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan? What are the spiritual goals of fasting? Why do Muslims pay attention to the Qur’an during Ramadan?

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you shall be grateful. (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

Watch this video by Imam Suhaib Webb to know why Muslims fast during the Month of Ramadan…

 

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Fasting New Muslims

How to Prepare for Ramadan in Sha`ban

By Editorial Staff

To get the best of Ramadan, insha’Allah, one needs to prepare well and put the plan before the precious month knocks the door without being ready to receive it.

Be a Winner in Ramadan

It is the month of the year, and the actual loser is the one who witnesses Ramadan without being forgiven in it as narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The tips below discuss how to make actual and useful preparation for the precious month without dumping into details.

Ramadan

To get the best of Ramadan one needs to prepare well and put the plan before Ramadan knocks the door without being ready to receive it.

1- Supplicate Allah to prolong your life to attend Ramadan, bless it for you, accept your good deeds in it and forgive your shortcomings.

2- Make a sincere repentance from all sins and evil deeds, regret them, and ask Allah to help you not to turn again to them.

3- Keep away from the misdeeds that displease Allah and incur his Wrath upon you.

4- Always renew your repentance to Allah and your commitment with Him.

5- Strive to observe the obligatory prayers at their due times in congregation so that it will be easy for you to continue on this in and after Ramadan.

6- If you are not in the habit of offering the supererogatory prayers, try to do some of them and move on to do all of them.

7- Rectify your intention, make all your actions sincerely to Allah, the Almighty, Alone.

8- As the utmost goal of fasting is attaining Taqwa (righteousness and fear of God), facilitate its realization by the different means of Taqwa, such as remembering Allah, reading about the stories of the earlier generations, contemplation on the Qu’ran, thinking about death and the Hereafter, and so on.

9- Abandon TV series and movies that include prohibited scenes.

10- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. use up most of our free time. From now on, give Qur’an, dhikr, Salah, etc. the greater time to prepare for the month of the Qur’an and Salah; Ramadan.

11- Recitation of the Qur’an in Ramadan is the month’s worship, so make the Qur’an your companion by starting recitation from now and learning the rules of Tajweed.

12- If you have a missed fast from the former Ramadan, make up for them in Sha`ban, as Lady `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) used to do.

13- Accustom yourself to long du`aa’ (supplication), memorize some of the reported supplications of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and remember that the supplication of the fasting person is accepted.

13- Accustom yourself to long stay in the mosque after each Prayer, in preparation for i`tikaf in the month.

14- Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.

15- Follow the Prophet’s example in fasting in Sha`ban, as he used to fast most of the month of Sha`ban. Do not forget that this makes fasting in Ramadan easy for you.

To get the best of Ramadan, in sha’ Allah, one needs to prepare well and put the plan before Ramadan knocks the door without being ready to receive it.

Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.

16- Save some money to give in Sadaqah (charity) in Ramadan and start from now.

17- Start offering 2 rak`ahs (unit of Prayer) daily and increase the number from time to time during the night in preparation for tarawih (supererogatory night prayer).

18- Prepare yourself to make `Umrah in Ramadan, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “`Umrah in Ramadan equals Hajj with me (in reward).” (Al-Bukhari)

19- Among the best acts in this precious month is feeding the fasting persons, prepare yourself for it.

20- Map out your time and put a schedule to commit to it during the month in order to help you achieve the acts of worship you aim at.

21- Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.

21- If you are a smoker, you should bear in mind that Ramadan is a good chance for you to quit. Start from now and minimize the number of cigarettes until you rid yourself of this bad habit that devour your money and health and incurs the displeasure of God.

23- The month of Ramadan is the month where the Qur’an is revealed. Thus, it is the best time to memorize the Qur’an. Let’s start from Sha`ban.

24- We all know that people use in Ramadan a lot of the types of food and drinks, we do not mind this on a condition of avoiding wastefulness. I suggest that you buy these things in Sha`ban to be free for worship only in Ramadan.

25- Maintain the ties of kinship before the coming of the blessed month and remember that Allah does not accept the deeds of those who disrupt these ties.

26- Some people simulate poorness despite that they are not so. Thus, find the actual poor people to be the right place for your Sadaqah.

27- Some people pay their Zakat in Ramadan to take the reward multiplied.

28- Accustom yourself to good manners, because the fasting person is not expected to react violently or indecently.

29- Bring your youngsters and tell them about the merits of Ramadan and the virtues of fasting in it so that they prepare themselves for fasting as much as they can.

30- Congratulate each other with the coming of the Holy Month.

These are 30 tips about the preparation for the blessed month of Ramadan that every one of us can do while receiving this month.

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