The Five Pillars of Islam: The Foundation of the Islamic Faith

Islam revolves around five pillars, which are the basis of faith and the foundation of the creed, as what is meant by the pillar is part of the thing.

In other words, the five pillars of Islam are the pillars of religion, and faith does not count except with them.

Moreover, the Islamic pillars are represented by the testimony of faith, establishing prayer, giving zakat (charity), fasting during Ramadan, and then Hajj (pilgrimage) which is the greatest pillar of faith. 

It is worth noting that these pillars have certain conditions that must be fulfilled. In the following paragraphs, we will learn about them in detail.

Five Pillars of Islam

The Shahada: The Declaration of Faith in Islam 

Shahada is the first pillar of Islam, and it includes submission and acceptance of the Oneness of Allah Almighty and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

The Shahada is the Islamic declaration of faith, and it is the first of the Islamic five pillars. It is a statement of belief in the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad.

And it is considered the most fundamental expression of the Islamic faith. The Shahada is recited by Muslims around the world, and it is the declaration that marks a person’s formal conversion to Islam.

The Shahada is comprised of two parts:

1- “La ilaha illa Allah” – There is no god but Allah

This affirms the belief in the oneness of Allah, who is the only God worthy of worship and is without partners.

2- “Muhammad rasul Allah” – Muhammad is the messenger of Allah

This affirms the belief that Muhammad is the last and final prophet sent by Allah to guide humanity.

Together, the Shahada declares the belief that there is only one Allah and that Muhammad is His final messenger.

The recitation of the Shahada is considered a vital part of a Muslim’s daily life, and it is recited during prayer, before eating.

And before undertaking any important task. It is also the first phrase whispered in the ear of a newborn baby, as a sign of welcome into the Muslim community.

Why is the Shahada important? 

Shahada is the first pillar of Islam and the gateway to faith. Through examining the texts of the Quran and Sunnah, we find that declaring the two testimonies of faith with a heart full of conviction is a condition for entering the religion of Allah. 

After pronouncing them, the rulings of Muslims apply to the person. Therefore, whoever believes in their heart but does not pronounce them is not a believer. 

No one enters the religion of Allah, and no one becomes a believer until they declare the two testimonies of faith.


Who must follow the Shahada? 

By declaring that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah with sincerity, certainty, and knowledge of its meaning.

And acting upon it, a disbeliever can enter Islam through this pillar. If a person did not declare these two testimonies of faith at the time of their disbelief, they must do so to enter Islam.

Salah: The Ritual Prayers of Islam 

The second practical pillar of Islam is the establishment of prayer. After declaring faith in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, a Muslim must observe the five daily prayers as prescribed by Allah. 

The purpose of establishing prayer is to instill in the believer the understanding that Allah has ordained five daily prayers, each with its specific time and format. 

Establishing prayer is one of the most important practical pillars of Islam, which Allah has called upon His servants to abide by and perform in all its requirements.

However, prayer is not just about performing the physical act of prayer; it is also about embodying the moral values that prayer encourages. 

Prayer calls for order and the observance of good morals by standing in organized and neat rows. Prayer also calls for cleanliness and purification from impurities and dirt, as Muslims must wear clean clothes and perform ablution before each prayer. 

The ablution includes washing the main visible body parts, such as the face, hands, and feet, as well as wiping the head and performing other recommended acts of ablution such as rinsing the mouth and nose.

And washing the ears. If a Muslim establishes prayer but does not embody its ethical values, their prayer will not be complete.

What is Salah?

In Islamic terminology, prayer is defined as an act of worship to Allah (the Most High), with specific known sayings and actions, beginning with Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) and ending with Taslim (saying salaam). 

The sayings include recitation, takbir, Tasbeeh (glorification), and others, while the actions include standing, bowing, prostrating, and others.

Why is Salah important?

Salah (prayer) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and it is an essential part of a Muslim’s religious practice. Here are some reasons why Salah is important:

  • It is a form of worship: Salah is a means of worshiping Allah and demonstrating one’s submission and devotion to Him. It is a way for Muslims to connect with Allah and seek His guidance and blessings.
  • It promotes discipline and self-control: Salah requires Muslims to perform prayer at specific times of the day, which helps to instill discipline and self-control. It also helps to regulate one’s daily routine and priorities.
  • It serves as a reminder of the purpose of life: Salah is a reminder of the purpose of life, which is to worship Allah and seek His pleasure. It helps Muslims to keep their priorities in order and remember the ultimate goal of their existence.
  • It provides spiritual nourishment: Salah provides spiritual nourishment and a sense of inner peace and tranquility. It helps to relieve stress and anxiety and promotes mental well-being.
  • It strengthens community ties: Salah is often performed in congregation, which helps to strengthen community ties and fosters a sense of unity among Muslims.

Who must perform Salah? 

The prayer is obligatory upon every adult, sane Muslim, whether male or female. It is not obligatory upon a disbeliever while they are in a state of disbelief, as there is no command for them to perform it. 

Additionally, if a disbeliever were to perform it, it would not be considered valid and they would remain in a state of disbelief. 

The prayer is also not obligatory upon a child who has not yet reached the age of maturity, as mentioned in a hadith narrated by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

However, it is the responsibility of the guardian of the child to command them to perform the prayer when they reach seven years old and to discipline them if they do not perform it when they reach ten years old, as stated in another hadith. This is seen by the majority of scholars as recommended, rather than obligatory. 

The prayer is also not obligatory upon an insane person, but the matter is disputed when it comes to someone whose mind has been affected by something like fainting, drug use, or alcohol consumption.

Some scholars consider it obligatory to make up the missed prayers in these situations, while others differentiate between what was done intentionally and what was not, and whether it was done for a legitimate reason or not.

Zakat: The Obligatory Charity of Islam

Zakat is the third Islamic pillar, and those who want to enter Islam must acknowledge its obligation. It is a fixed right that must be taken out of the rich people’s money and given to those who deserve it. 

Scholars have defined zakat as a mandatory right in the money under certain conditions at a specific time. The word “zakat” refers to the portion extracted from the money that the zakat payer pays.

Those who want to enter Islam must know that zakat is an obligation imposed by Allah on the money that is utilized and grows. Examples of such money include various kinds of livestock, such as cattle, and sheep.

And camels, as well as currency, especially gold and silver, and their substitutes that can be called money, such as paper currency today, and crops of all kinds, and trade in all its forms and types and organizations. As for the recipients of zakat, they are eight categories.

What is Zakat?

In language, zakat is derived from the word “Zakaa,” which means growth and increase. What is taken out of wealth and given to the poor is called zakat because it increases the remaining wealth, preserves it, and protects it from harm, as prescribed by Islamic law.

In Islamic law, zakat is defined as a right that must be paid from wealth, and it is also defined as a term used to take a specific thing from specific wealth according to specific conditions for a specific group.

Zakat is one of the Islamic five pillars, which are established in the Quran, Sunnah, and consensus of scholars. 

Zakat is distinguished among other financial obligations and taxes by its emphasis on the spirit of faith, accountability, and fulfilling duties, a spirit that is absent from official taxes.

Why is Zakat important?

Zakat is a financial worship and a right of Allah Almighty. It has positive economic effects that benefit the individual, society, and the state. 

Muslims pay it out of their faith in Allah, unlike taxes that many people evade when they find an opportunity. The main economic effects of Zakat are:

  • It contributes to improving the living, health, and educational standards of the poor, which enables them to become a participating workforce in economic development.
  • It relieves the financial burden borne by the state by agreeing on types of aid provided to the needy, such as orphans, the disabled, and others. This has an economic impact on the state’s budget.
  • It achieves a redistribution of income and wealth in society. It is a means of achieving economic justice, which has become an agreement among economists despite differences in its definition and means.

Who must pay Zakat? 

Zakat is required of every Muslim who meets certain criteria, which are:

  • Possession of wealth: A person must have enough wealth to be considered “Zakatable,” which is wealth that exceeds a certain minimum amount known as Nisab. The Nisab value is based on the current market value of silver and gold.
  • Ownership for a full lunar year: The wealth must have been in a person’s possession for a full Islamic lunar year (Hawl). This means that the person must have owned the wealth for at least 12 lunar months before they are required to pay Zakat on it.
  • Meet or exceed the Nisab: The wealth that a person possesses must meet or exceed the Nisab value in order for them to be obligated to pay Zakat.
  • Free of debt: A person must have paid off all their debts and be free from any financial obligations before paying Zakat.

Sawm The Fasting of Ramadan 

The fasting of the month of Ramadan is the obligatory fasting for Muslims, and it was mandated in the second year after the Hijra. Verses from the Quran were revealed in it, indicating its obligation on Muslims, and that it was obligatory on those who came before them in previous religions. 

Its rulings and timings were legislated in the verses of fasting, and its details and timings were explained in the prophetic narrations because the prophetic narrations are an explanation of the Quran.

What is Sawm? 

Fasting in Islam is a worship practice that Muslims follow according to the guidance of the Prophet in defining its nature and fundamentals. It means “refraining from the things that break the fast from dawn until sunset with intention.” 

Fasting during the month of Ramadan every year is a duty prescribed by consensus among Muslims. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it has many virtues.

Muslims are required to perform night prayers during this month, especially during the last ten days, which include the Night of Decree. 

It is also associated with the Zakat al-Fitr charity, and it is a time of joy, goodness, and building good relationships. Fasting was made obligatory for Muslims in the second year of Hijrah.

Why is Sawm important?

Sawm is the Arabic term for fasting, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It involves abstaining from food, drink, and other physical needs from dawn until sunset during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Sawm is considered an important religious duty for Muslims, and here are some reasons why:

  • It is a means of spiritual purification: Fasting is believed to purify the soul and increase one’s taqwa (Allah-consciousness). By refraining from food and drink, Muslims are reminded of the blessings they have and the suffering of those who are less fortunate. This helps to cultivate empathy and compassion towards others.
  • It is a form of worship: Fasting is considered an act of worship and obedience to Allah. It is a way for Muslims to demonstrate their devotion and commitment to their faith.
  • It promotes self-discipline and self-control: Fasting requires discipline and self-control, which are important virtues in Islam. By learning to control their desires, Muslims can become more disciplined and self-aware.
  • It strengthens community ties: Ramadan is a time of increased spiritual activity and community gatherings. Muslims break their fast together and engage in various forms of worship and charity. This helps to strengthen community ties and foster a sense of unity among Muslims.
  • It has health benefits: Fasting has been shown to have several health benefits, including improved blood sugar control, weight loss, and increased longevity.

Who must fast during Ramadan? 

Fasting is obligatory for a person if five conditions are met:

  • First, they must be a Muslim.
  • Second, they must be of sound mind and able to understand the obligation of fasting.
  • Third, they must be physically capable of fasting.
  • Fourth, they must be present in their hometown or city of residence during the month of Ramadan.
  • Fifth, they must not have any excuses or obstacles that would prevent them from fasting, such as illness, travel, or menstruation.

Hajj: The Annual Pilgrimage to Mecca

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is also the fifth pillar of Islam, and it is obligatory for able-bodied Muslims to perform it once in their lifetime. 

The Hajj involves rituals and ceremonies that begin on the eighth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.

The history of Hajj goes back to the story of Prophet Ibrahim, his wife Hagar, and his son Ismail, who is the ancestor of Prophet Muhammad. 

Islamic sources tell that Ibrahim received an order from Allah to leave his wife, Hagar, and his son Ismail in a barren place, now known as Makkah, with few provisions. 

With the water running out, Hagar ran seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa, searching for water for herself and her child. According to the narrative, a miraculous spring of water erupted, saving both of them from death.

Some of the rituals of Hajj trace back to that story, as the Sa’i between Safa and Marwa, seven times is one of the rituals performed in commemoration of Hagar. Years later, Ibrahim received an order to build the Kaaba in that place.

What is Hajj?

The word “Hajj” in Arabic refers to the intention of seeking something great. In the Islamic terminology, it means intending to visit the Holy Kaaba to perform specific rituals. 

Hajj is defined as visiting a specific place at a specific time with the intention of performing the Hajj rituals after assuming the state of Ihram. 

The specific place is the Kaaba and Arafat, and the specific time is the months of Hajj, which are Shawwal, Dhul-Qi’dah, and Dhul-Hijjah.

Why is Hajj important?

Hajj is one of the most important pillars of Islam and it is considered to be an obligatory religious duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to perform it. 

The Hajj pilgrimage takes place in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, and it involves a series of rituals that commemorate the Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail (Ishmael), as an act of obedience to Allah (Allah).

The significance of Hajj lies in its spiritual and communal aspects. By performing the Hajj pilgrimage, Muslims from all over the world come together in one place to worship Allah and seek His forgiveness. 

It is an opportunity for Muslims to renew their faith and connect with their fellow believers from different backgrounds and cultures. 

Additionally, Hajj is a reminder of the unity of the Muslim ummah (community) and the importance of solidarity and cooperation among Muslims.

Hajj also serves as a means of purification and spiritual rejuvenation for the individual pilgrim. It is a time for reflection, repentance, and seeking forgiveness for past sins. 

The hardships and challenges that pilgrims encounter during the Hajj journey serve as a reminder of the trials and tribulations of life and the need to remain steadfast in the faith.

Who must perform Hajj?

Every Muslim who intends to perform the Hajj pilgrimage must meet five conditions: Firstly, they must be a Muslim, meaning that non-Muslims are not allowed to perform the Hajj. 

Secondly, they must be sane; therefore, the insane cannot perform the Hajj until they recover. 


Thirdly, they must have reached the age of puberty; thus, a child is not obligated to perform the Hajj until they reach puberty. 

Fourthly, they must be free; thus, a slave is not obligated to perform the Hajj until they are set free. 

Finally, the fifth condition is the ability, meaning that the Hajj is obligatory for every capable Muslim person.


In conclusion, the Islamic religion has pillars that the religion cannot be achieved without, which are known as the five pillars of Islam.

Where these pillars are represented in pronouncing the two testimonies, establishing prayer, paying zakat, fasting Ramadan, and pilgrimage to the House for those who are able to find a way.

In addition to that, for each of the five pillars of Islam, the validity of conditions must be met by a Muslim first in order to achieve their validity. Source

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