Islam is based on five pillars which the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has explained for us, when he said:
“Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; establishing regular prayer (salaah); paying the zakaah; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting Ramadaan.” (Agreed upon; narrated by al-Bukhaari)
The first pillar: al-Shahaadatayn (the twin testimony of faith):
This means that a person believes that Allaah alone is the Lord, Sovereign and Controller, the Creator and Provider. He affirms all His most beautiful names and the sublime attributes that Allaah has affirmed for Himself or that His Prophet affirmed for Him. He believes that Allaah alone, and no one else, is the Only One Who is deserving of worship.
Such is Allaah, your Lord! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Creator of all things. So worship Him (Alone), and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs or Guardian) over all things”[al-An’aam 6:101-102]
And he believes that Allaah sent His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and revealed to him the Qur’aan, and commanded him to convey this religion to all of mankind. He believes that loving Allaah and His Messenger and obeying them are duties which are obligatory upon all of mankind, and that love of Allaah can only be realized by following His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allaah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’aan and the Sunnah), Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:31 – interpretation of the meaning]
The second pillar: salaah (prayer)
The Muslim believes that Allaah has enjoined upon every sane adult Muslim five prayers each day and night, which he does in a state of purity, standing before his Lord, every day in a state of purity and humility, thanking his Lord for His blessings, asking Him of His bounty, seeking His forgiveness for his sins, asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from Hell.
The five obligatory prayers which are required day and night are Fajr (early morning, before dawn), Zuhr (mid-day, just after noon), ‘Asr (mid afternoon), Maghrib (just after sunset) and ‘Ishaa’ (at night, after dark has fallen).
There are also Sunnah prayers such as Qiyaam al-Layl (prayer at night), Taraweeh prayers, two rak’ahs of Duha prayer, etc.
Prayer, whether it is fard or naafil, represents a sincere turning towards Allaah alone in all one’s affairs. Allaah has commanded all the believers to guard strictly the observance of the prayers, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Guard strictly (five obligatory) As‑Salawaat (the prayers) especially the middle Salaah (i.e. the best prayer ‑ ‘Asr). And stand before Allaah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salaah (prayers)]”[al-Baqarah 2:238]
The five daily prayers are obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, night and day:
“Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”[al-Nisaa’ 4:103 – interpretation of the meaning]
The one who abandons prayer has no share in Islam. Whoever neglects it deliberately is a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“(And remain always) turning in repentance to Him (only), and be afraid and dutiful to Him; and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah) and be not of Al‑Mushrikoon (the polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah)[al-Room 30:31]
Prayer helps the believer at times of hardship and calamity. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And seek help in patience and As-Salaah (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khaashi‘oon [i.e. the true believers in Allaah — those who obey Allaah with full submission, fear much from His punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise) and in His Warnings (Hell)].[al-Baqarah 2:45]
Prayer brings the slave and his Creator together. It was the delight of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Whenever any matter grieved him, he would turn to prayer and converse with his Lord and call upon Him, seeking His forgiveness and asking Him of His bounty.
Prayer done with proper humility and fear of Allaah brings the Muslim closer to his Lord, and keeps him from doing evil, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’aan), and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah). Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) prevents from Al‑Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al‑Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)”[al-‘Ankaboot 29:45]
The third pillar: zakaah (poor due, charity tax)
Just asAllaah has created people with different colours, attitudes and levels of knowledge, so too their deeds and provision vary. He has made some of them rich and some poor, to test the rich as to whether they show gratitude, and to test the poor as to whether they are patient. Because the believers are a brotherhood, and brotherhood is based on compassion, kindness, love and mercy, Allaah has enjoined upon the Muslims zakaah which is taken from the rich and given to the poor. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allaah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of security for them”[al-Tawbah 9:103]
Zakaah purifies and cleanses wealth, and purifies the soul from stinginess and miserliness. It strengthens the love between the rich and poor, takes away hatred, makes security prevail and brings happiness to the ummah happy.
Allaah has made the payment of zakaah obligatory upon everyone who owns the nisaab (minimum amount) for one year. The rate of zakaah on gold, silver, other metals and trade goods is one quarter of ten percent. On agricultural produce and fruits the amount is one-tenth if it is irrigated (by artificial means), and one-half of one-tenth if it is not irrigated (by artificial means, i.e., it is watered by rainfall or other natural means). Concerning an’aam animals (i.e., sheep, goats, cattle and camels) the details are explained in the books of fiqh… Whoever pays zakaah, Allaah expiates his sins thereby, and blesses his wealth, and stores up for him a great reward. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give Zakaah, and whatever of good (deeds that Allaah loves) you send forth for yourselves before you, you shall find it with Allaah. Certainly, Allaah is All-Seer of what you do”[al-Baqarah 2:110]
The fourth pillar: sawm (fasting) in Ramadaan
Fasting means abstaining from things which break the fast, such as food, drink and intercourse, from sunrise until sunset, with the intention of fasting.
The relationship of patience to faith is like that of the head to the body. Allaah has enjoined upon this ummah fasting for one month of the year, in order to draw closer to Allaah, to avoid that which Allaah has forbidden, to get used to being patient, to bring the nafs (self) under control, to compete in generosity and to demonstrate co-operation and mutual compassion. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”[al-Baqarah 2:183]
The month of Ramadaan is a great month, in which Allaah revealed the Qur’aan. The reward for good deeds, acts of charity and acts of worship are multiplied in this month. In it is Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months. The gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the shayaateen (devils) are tied up.
Allaah has made fasting the month of Ramadaan obligatory upon every sane, adult Muslim, male and female alike, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allaah [i.e. to say Takbeer (Allaahu Akbar: Allaah is the Most Great)] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” [al-Baqarah 2:185]
There is a great reward with Allaah for fasting. The Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wassalaam) said:
“Every action of the son of Adam is multiplied, each good deed receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allaah said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it, for he gives up his desire and food for My sake.’” (Narrated by Muslim, al-Siyaam)
The fifth pillar: Hajj (pilgrimage)