Five Pillars of Islam

Five Pillars of Islam

The Pillars of Islam أركان الإسلام are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.

The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts,[1][2] but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name (see Theology of Twelvers and Aspects of the Religion for Twelvers and Seven pillars of Ismailism).


Pillars of Shia

According to Shia Islam, the five basic pillars are as follow:[3]

  1. Monotheism, God is one and unique.
  2. Justice, the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, fairness, and equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics.
  3. Prophethood, the institution by which God sends emissaries, or prophets, to guide mankind.
  4. Leadership, A divine institution which succeeded the institution of Prophethood. Its appointees (Imams) are divinely appointed.
  5. Last Judgment, God's final assessment of humanity.

These five pillars are followed by ten subsidiary pillars;

  1. Prayer
  2. Fasting
  3. Pilgrimage
  4. Alms giving
  5. Struggle
  6. Directing others towards good
  7. Directing others away from evil
  8. Alms giving "(One Fifth) (2.5% tax on yearly earnings after deduction of house-hold and commercial expenses.)
  9. Love those who are in the God's path
  10. Disassociation with those who oppose the God

The Pillars of Sunnis

For Sunni Muslims, there are Five pillars considered obligatory. These are summarized in the famous Hadith of Gabriel.[4][5][6][7] The Qur'an presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith.They are (1) the shahada (creed), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) fasting during Ramadan (sawm), (4) almsgiving (zakāt), and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.[8][9]


Shahadah is a saying professing monotheism and accepting Muhammad as God's messenger.[10] The shahadah is a set statement normally recited in Arabic: (ašhadu an) lā ilāha illá l-Lāhu (wa ashhadu 'anna) Muḥammadan rasūlu l-Lāhi "(I profess that) there is no god except God and (I profess that) Muhammad is the Messenger of God." Also, it is said that when dying one should recite this declaration of faith. In Azaan (call to prayer) it is recited. When a person wishes to revert religions they should recite this affirmation and believe in it.[11]


View of the prayer hall of the Mosque of Uqba also called the Great Mosque of Kairouan (in Tunisia); performing the prayer or Salat is one of the five pillars of Islam.[12]

Salat is the Islamic prayer. Salat consists of five daily prayers: Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha'a. Fajr is performed before the light of dawn, Dhuhr is performed when the sun starts to decline from its zenith, Asr is performed in the afternoon, Maghrib is the sunset prayer, and Isha'a is the evening prayer. Each prayer consists of a certain amount of rakaʿāt. A prayer either consists of two, three, or four rakaʿāt. All of these prayers are recited while facing the Ka'bah in Mecca. Muslims must wash themselves before prayer, this washing is called Wudu. The prayer is accompanied by a series of set positions including; bowing with hands on knees, standing, prostrating and sitting in a special position (not on the heels, nor on the buttocks, with the toes pointing away from Mecca), usually with one foot tucked under the body.


Muslims traditionally break their fasts in the month of Ramadan with dates (like those offered by this date seller in Kuwait City), as was the recorded practice (Sunnah) of Muhammad.

Three types of fasting (Sawm) are recognized by the Qur'an: Ritual fasting,[13] fasting as compensation for repentance (both from sura Al-Baqara),[14] and ascetic fasting (from Al-Ahzab).[15][16]

Ritual fasting is an obligatory act during the month of Ramadan.[17] Muslims must abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk during this month, and are to be especially mindful of other sins.[17] Fasting is necessary for every Muslim that has reached puberty. [18]

The fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek nearness to God, to express their gratitude to and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and to remind them of the needy.[19] During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, profane language, gossip and to try to get along with fellow Muslims better. In addition, all obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided.[20]

Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory, but is forbidden for several groups for whom it would be very dangerous and excessively problematic. These include pre-pubescent children, those with a medical condition such as diabetes, elderly people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Observing fasts is not permitted for menstruating women. Other individuals for whom it is considered acceptable not to fast are those who are ill or traveling. Missing fasts usually must be made up for soon afterward, although the exact requirements vary according to circumstance.[21][22][23][24]


Zakāt or alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality.[25] Zakat consists of spending 2.5% of one's wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, including slaves, debtors and travelers. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), rather than to achieve additional divine reward.[26] There are two main types of Zakat. First, there is the kajj, which is a fixed amount There are five principles that should be followed when giving the Zakat:

  1. The giver must declare to God his intention to give the Zakat.
  2. The Zakat must be paid on the day that it is due.
  3. After the Offering, the payer must not exaggerate on spending his money more than usual means.
  4. Payment must be in kind. This means if one is wealthy then he or she needs to pay 2.5% of their income. If a person does not have much money, then they should compensate for it in different ways, such as good deeds and good behavior toward others.
  5. The Zakat must be distributed in the community from which it was taken.[27]


The route the pilgrims take during the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The Hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the holy city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if he or she can afford it.[28] When the pilgrim is around 10 km (6.2 mi) from Mecca, he must dress in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white sheets. Both men and women are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. After a Muslim makes the trip to Mecca, he/she is known as a hajj/hajja (one who made the pilgrimage to Mecca).[29] The main rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the Black Stone, traveling seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina.[29]

The pilgrim, or the haji, is honoured in the Muslim community. Islamic teachers say that the Hajj should be an expression of devotion to God, not a means to gain social standing. The believer should be self-aware and examine their intentions in performing the pilgrimage. This should lead to constant striving for self-improvement.[30] A pilgrimage made at any time other than the Hajj season is called an Umrah, and while not mandatory is strongly recommended. Also, they make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Jerusalem in their alms giving feast.

Pillars of Kharijites

Most Sunni Muslims believe there are precisely five Pillars of Islam, and the idea of there being more than five pillars is not a mainstream idea; Sunni leaders have taught that there are only five major pillars of the faith. Traditionalists say that no sixth pillar should be added, because changing the pillars would be altering the religion and its beliefs, and so one who believes that there is a sixth is committing a sin. A few Muslims, mainly some Kharijite groups in ancient times[31][32] and members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad recently,[33] have taught that Jihad or personal struggle should be considered the sixth pillar of Islam. In this context, Jihad is viewed as external war against those perceived to be enemies of Islam.[34][35] However, other commentators have distinguished between fundamentalist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda, identifying those groups as sharing the Kharijite view that jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam, and renewalist groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which are described as not sharing that view.[36]

Pillars of Ismailis

Ismailis have their own pillars, known as Seven pillars of Ismailism, which are as follow:

  • Tawhid “Oneness”: As Muslims, the Ismā'īlī attest to the Tawhīd, "Lā ilāha illa 'l-Lāla muhammadu(n) 'r-rasuulu 'l-Lāhi" the first half of which (There is no deity save Allāh) contains the fundamental Muslim principle of the Oneness of Allah (Tawhīd).
  • Salah "Prayer": Unlike Sunni and Twelver Muslims, Nizari Ismāʻīliyya reason that it is up to the current imām to designate the style and form of prayer, and for this reason the current Nizari practices resemble dua and pray them three times a day. These three times have been related with the three times that have been mentioned in the Qur'an: sunrise, before sunset, and after sunset. In contrast, the Mustaʻlī maintain five prayers and their style is generally closely related to that of the Twelvers. The Druze believe that the meaning of prayer is sidqu l-lisān "speaking Truth (to/about God)" and do not believe in five daily prayers. They do sometimes attend prayers, which is the practice of the "uninitiated" (juhhāl) and historically was also done for reasons of taqiyya.
  • Zakah "Charity": with the exception of the Druze, all Ismāʻīlī madhāhab have practices resembling that of Sunni and Twelver Muslims with the addition of the characteristic Shīʻa khums: payment of 1/8th of one's unspent money at the end of the year to the imām. In addition to khums, Ismāʻīlīs pay 12.5% of their monthly gross income to the imām, which goes to the central accounts and then spent on welfare of the humankind like education and health projects. One of the major examples of these projects is the Aga Khan Development Network, that is one of the biggest welfare networks of the world. Thus, Ismāʻīlīs believe that as Prophet Muhammad was designated to take zakāt from the believers in the past, it is now the duty to pay the imām or his representative. The Druze practice hifzu l-'Ikhwān "Protection of One's Brothers" instead of paying a fee, a culturally complex practice of interdependence.
  • Sawm “Fasting”: Nizari and Mustaʻlī believe in both a metaphorical and literal meaning of fasting. The literal meaning is that one must fast as an obligation, such as during the Ramadan and the metaphorical meaning being that one is in attainment of the Divine Truth and must strive to avoid worldy activities which may detract from this goal. In particular, Ismāʻīlīs believe the real and esoteric meaning of fasting is avoiding devilish acts and doing the good deeds. Not eating during the month of Ramadan has been considered as a metaphorical implementation of fasting and is not compulsory. The Druze emphasise the esoteric meaning, which they call tark ʻibādat al-awthān "deserting idol-worship": that which detracts from communion with God is an idol (wathan).
  • Hajj “Pilgrimage”: For Ismāʻīlīs, this means visiting the imām or his representative and that this is the greatest and most spiritual of all pilgrimages. The Mustaʻlī maintain also the practice of going to Mecca. The Druze interpret this completely metaphorically as "fleeing from devils and oppressors" and rarely go to Mecca.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "The Five Pillars of Islam". United Kingdom: BBC. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  2. ^ Pillars of Islam , Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  3. ^ Mulla Bashir Rahim, An Introduction to Islam, by Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project
  4. ^ "Pillars of Islam". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  5. ^ "Pillars of Islam". Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. United Kingdom: Oxford University. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  6. ^ "Five Pillars". United Kingdom: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  7. ^ "The Five Pillars of Islam". Canada: University of Calgary. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  8. ^ Hooker, Richard (July 14, 1999). "arkan ad-din the five pillars of religion". United States: Washington State University. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  9. ^ "Religions". The World Factbook. United States: Central Intelligence Agency. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  10. ^ From the article on the Pillars of Islam in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  11. ^ Matthew S. Gordon and Martin Palmer, Islam, Infobase Publishing, 2009, page 87
  12. ^ Warren Matthews, World Religions, Cengage Learning, 2008, page 335
  13. ^ Quran 2:183–187
  14. ^ Quran 2:196
  15. ^ Quran 33:35
  16. ^ Fasting, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an (2005)
  17. ^ a b Farah (1994), p.144-145
  18. ^ talhaanjum_9
  19. ^ Esposito (1998), p.90,91
  20. ^ Tabatabaei (2002), p. 211,213
  21. ^ "For whom fasting is mandatory". USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  22. ^ Quran 2:184
  23. ^ Khan (2006), p. 54
  24. ^ Islam, The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2005)
  25. ^ Ridgeon (2003), p.258
  26. ^ Zakat, Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
  27. ^ Zakat Alms-giving
  28. ^ Farah (1994), p.145-147
  29. ^ a b Hoiberg (2000), p.237–238
  30. ^ Goldschmidt (2005), p.48
  31. ^ Finer, S. E. (1999). The History of Government from the Earliest times. II. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 687. ISBN 0198207905. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  32. ^ Dabashi, Hamid (2002) [1989]. Authority in Islam: From the Rise of Muhammad to the Establishment of the Umayyads. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 1560005866. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  33. ^ Esposito, John L. (2003) [2002]. Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 62. ISBN 0195168860. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  34. ^ Bonner, Michael David (2006). Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 126–27. ISBN 0691125740.,M1. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  35. ^ Appiah, Kwame Anthony (2006-01-01). "The Case for Contamination". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2008. 
  36. ^ Kadayifci-Orellana, S. Ayse (2007). Standing on an Isthmus: Islamic Narratives on War and Peace in Palestinian Territories. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. p. 177. ISBN 0739111116.,M1. 
  37. ^ "Isma'ilism". Retrieved 2007-04-24. 


Books and journals

  • Brockopp, Jonathan; Tamara Sonn, Jacob Neusner (2000). Judaism and Islam in Practice: A Sourcebook. Routledge. ISBN 0415216737. 
  • Esposito, John (1998). Islam: The Straight Path (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195112344. 
  • Farah, Caesar (1994). Islam: Beliefs and Observances (5th ed.). Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 978-0812018530. 
  • Hedayetullah, Muhammad (2006). Dynamics of Islam: An Exposition. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1553698425. 
  • Khan, Arshad (2006). Islam 101: Principles and Practice. Khan Consulting and Publishing, LLC. ISBN 0977283836. 
  • Kobeisy, Ahmed Nezar (2004). Counseling American Muslims: Understanding the Faith and Helping the People. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0313324727. 
  • Momen, Moojan (1987). An Introduction to Shi`i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelver Shi`ism. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300035315. 
  • Levy, Reuben (1957). The Social Structure of Islam. UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521091824. 
  • Tabatabae, Mohammad Hosayn; R. Campbell (translator) (2002). Islamic teachings: An Overview and a Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Green Gold. ISBN 0-922817-00-6. 
  • Goldschmidt, Jr., Arthur; Lawrence Davidson (2005). A Concise History of the Middle East (8th ed.). Westview Press. ISBN 978-0813342757. 
  • Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. Encyclopaedia Britannica (UK) Ltd. ISBN 978-0852297605. 
  • Ridgeon, Lloyd (2003). Major World Religions (1st ed.). RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 978-0415297967. 


  • P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs, ed. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  • Salamone Frank, ed (2004). Encyclopedia of Religious Rites, Rituals, and Festivals (1st ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0415941808. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Five Pillars of Islam — n. Pillars of Islam, five basic tenets of the Islamic faith (they are: belief in Allah and in Muhammad as his prophet, prayer, charity, fasting, making a pilgrimage to Mecca) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM —    the fundamental duties of a devout MUSLIM. These are    1) confession of the FAITH by reciting the phrase There is no GOD but ALLAH and MUHAMMAD is His PROPHET;    2) PRAYER five times a day at dawn, noon, mid afternoon, evening and night;… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Five Pillars of Islam — plural noun the five fundamental duties incumbent on a Muslim person, the performance of which is central to the Islamic religion, comprising testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, the giving of alms, and the pilgrimage to Mecca …   Australian English dictionary

  • Five Pillars of Islam — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Five Pillars — The term Five Pillars may refer to: *Five Pillars of Islam *The five pillars puzzle, a mechanical puzzle …   Wikipedia

  • Pillars of Islam — n. Five Pillars of Islam, 5 basic tenets of the Islamic faith (they are: belief in Allah and in Muhammad as his prophet, prayer, charity, fasting, making a pilgrimage to Mecca) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Pillars of Islam — the five bases of the Islamic faith: shahada (confession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting, esp. during the month of Ramadan), and hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). Also called Pillars of the Faith. Cf. din …   Useful english dictionary

  • Pillars of Islam — the five bases of the Islamic faith: shahada (confession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting, esp. during the month of Ramadan), and hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). Also called Pillars of the Faith. Cf. din2, Ibada …   Universalium

  • five pillars — noun The five basic ritual or devotional duties of Sunni Islam, namely: a declaration of faith in God (shahada); five daily prayers (salat); fasting (saum); almsgiving (zakat); and pilgrimage to …   Wiktionary

  • Seven Pillars of Islam (Druze) — The Druze (a group with Ismaili roots who describe themselves as Muslims, but are not considered by most Muslims to be Muslims) believe in seven pillars of faith. The Druze call these seven ordinances da‘a im al Islam , rather than, as most… …   Wikipedia

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