What is the five pillars of İslam?

As we have stated before Islam consists of faith and good deeds.

According to Islam man has two kinds of obligations towards Allah, one is to have faith and the other is in terms of practice. The obligations of faith are considered before the practical ones. Therefore the Prophet (J) has said:

“The thing I fear most for my Ummah is associating partners to Allah.” (Musnad, IV, 124,126)

Human beings will be divided into two nations before Allah as believers and non-believers. Faith is rootel in an indivisible unith. In other words, if anyone refuses to believe in any of the principles of faith it is the same as refusing all of them. All the principles possess the same weight since man has no right to call something wrong which is termed right by Allah. In his state of total weakness, can man reject the omnipotent and omniscient Creator? Without faith good deeds are of no benefit. In Islam, faith occupies the highest place among necessities.


However, faith cannot stand alone without good deeds. Through good deeds it is protected from harm. Islam is like a fruit tree. Faith through the heart is its roots. Declaring faith by tongue is the trunk and good deeds are as the flowers and fruits of the tree. As fruit are the purpose behind the tree, similarly good deeds are the necessary consequence of faith. Gnosis and proximity to Allah can be gained through good deeds. In other words, Islam is not a matter of belief it is also a matter of good practice. It is a dangerous path to expect salvation through faith only without having good practice. As a result, four out of five pillars of Islam are practical principles of good deeds. Only the first pillar of Islam is related to faith alone. It is the profession of faith. The following hadith clearly numerates the five pillars of Islam:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

Allah’s Apostle said:

“Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

  • 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.
  • 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
  • 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .
  • 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
  • 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.”

(Bukhari,Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7)

However, these five principles are not the whole of Islam. They are the main pillars that support the building but there are also other principles. Islam organizes man’s life from the cradle to the grave, both his spiritual and material life as well as his personal and public life. Even a cursory study of the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet (J) will show that they cover all aspects of life. The above hadith however, provides Muslims with the primary directives that they need to construct their life. Without a building’s main pillars, no structure can stand firmly on its foundation. The other principles however support these main ones thus widening the strength of the whole structure. In keeping with this many other hadiths elucidate additional principles. As an example the following hadith states:

“Islam is made out of eight shares. The first share is believing in Islam, performing salat is one share, paying the poors’ due is a share, fasting is a share, performing pilgrimage is a share, commanding goodness is a share, refraining from evil is a share, striving in the path of Allah is a share…”


Islam is a robe of guidance extended from Allah to all of humanity. Those who submit to it, will rise above

The commandments of Islam function as the arms of a compass. One point is fixed and other is moving and mobile. This means that obligatory commandments are incumbent (fixed) upon all believers whereas the superogotary acts of worship are like the. One can freely do these acts as much as he can according to his capacity. Those who have a capacity similar to that of Abu Bakr should do more, it is not correct for them to behave like a weak Muslim. On the other hand, those who do not possess a high capacity like that of Abu Bakr cannot practice Islam as he did. The important principle here is that after having fulfilled the obligatory acts of worship in as perfect of a manner as possible one should then do the superogotary acts to the degree possible so as to reach Allah through renunciation of the world. Throngh doing this we may grow to deserve the role of being Allah’s vicegerent on earth.

As it is important to understand Islam’s apparent rules, so too is it important to understand Islam’s hidden spiritual aspects. Allah the Almighty repeatedly informed us of these principles through His Messenger (J). In this way Allah has empowered us to teach Islam in a correct way and has also extended to us the opportunity to practice it to perfection. The following hadith, which is best known as the hadith of Gabriel, emphasizes this point:

As narrated by Umar (may Allah be happy with him)

“Umar ibn al-Khattab, told me: ‘One day we were sitting in the company of Allah’s Apostle (J) when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him. None amongst us recognized him. At last he sat with the Apostle (J)

He knelt before him placed his palms on his thighs and said:

– Muhammad, inform me about al-Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (J) said:

– Al-Islam implies that you testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakat, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you are solvent enough (to bear the expense of) the journey.

He (the inquirer) said:

– You have told the truth.

He (Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: “It amazed us that he would put the question and then he would himself verify the truth.”

He (the inquirer) said:

– Inform me about Iman (faith).

He (the Holy Prophet) replied:

– That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil.

He (the inquirer) said:

– You have told the truth.

He (the inquirer) again said: Inform me about al-Ihsan (performance of good deeds).

He (the Holy Prophet) said:

– That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don’t see Him, He, verily, sees you.

He (the enquirer) again said:

– Inform me about the hour (of the Doom).

He (the Holy Prophet) remarked:

– One who is asked knows no more than the one who is inquiring (about it).

He (the inquirer) said:

– Tell me some of its indications.

– He (the Holy Prophet) said:

– That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master, that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herds vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.

He (the narrator, Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: ‘Then he (the inquirer) went on his way but I stayed with him (the Holy Prophet) for a long while. He then, said to me: “Umar, do you know who this inquirer was?” I replied: “Allah and His Apostle knows best.” He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: “He was Gabriel (the angel). He came to you in order to instruct you in matters of religion.”

In short, Islam is a religion of worshipping the one Allah. Allah the Almighty states in the Qur’an:

“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” (Zâriyat, 51:56)

Allah the Almighty commands his Prophet (J) to inform humanity about this fact:

“Say (O Muhammad): Lo! I am commanded to worship Allah, making religion pure for Him (only).

And I am commanded to be the first of those who are Muslims (surrender unto Him).

Say: Lo! if I should disobey my Lord, I fear the doom of a tremendous Day.

Say: Allah I worship, making my religion pure for Him (only).” (Zumar, 39:11-14)

Faith in Allah is not a blind, robotic imitation of religious law. It is to worship the creator of the universe, the owner of life and death, to be happy with His verdict, and to do good deeds in accordance with His will.

Establishing religion is a privilege only given to prophets. Among all of the world’s religions, the sources of Islam have been best preserved. Allah has made the miracle of the Qur’an valid forever.

Islam demolished all myths, all superstitions and removed any vestige of darkness. In the place of ignorance, Islam established justice, high morality and brought forth felicity and peace to the world.

Islam helps one to discover his true identity and to teach him the secret of the verse:

 “I breathed him from my own soul”

Islam polishes the mirror of the heart, prepares it to reach to Allah, adorns it with high morality, and is such a powerful elixir that it transforms the night of death into an object of desire as in the case of a young man anxiously awaiting his wedding night.

Mehmet Akif looking at the sad situation of Muslims in his time due to their weakness in submitting to Islam said:

“If Muslims do not want to be crushed by the passage of days

They should return to the bosom of Islam.”

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, ISLAM SPIRIT AND FORM, Erkam Publications