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The Five

Pillars Of Islam

The Five Pillars of Islam are five basic acts, considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life.  They are summarized in the Hadith of Gabriel, and practiced by both Sunni and Shi’a:


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The Five Pillars of Islam

The five ritual practices in Islam include declaration of Islamic faith (shahādah), prayer (alāt), almsgiving (zakāt), fasting (awm), and pilgrimage (ajj).  In Islamic sources, a variety of terms are used to describe these practices: arkān (sing. rukn) (pillars), da‘āim (sing. di‘āma) (pillars), ‘ibādāt (sing. ‘ibāda) (acts of worship), qawā‘id (sing. qā‘ida) (principles), and farāi al-Islām (sing. farīa) (Islamic obligations). These practices are required of all Muslim men and women, although they sometimes take different forms, depending on gender.


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The Six Pillars of Faith

The Five Pillars of Islam are followed in the Hadith of Gabriel by another group of creedal principles known as the Six Pillars of Faith (arkan al-iman).  Despite the Qura’nic link between knowledge and faith, these pillars of faith are not associated with the highest levels of knowledge.  Like the Pillars of Islam, they instead comprise a practice-oriented approach to religion because they are meant to be ritually affirmed at the time of conversion or whenever one’s doctrinal orientation is called into question by the religious authorities of the Islamic state.  Like the pillars of Islam, the pillars of faith are thus associated only with the most primary level of knowledge mentioned in the Qur’an — ilm al-yaqin (the rational or doctrinal knowledge of the truth) — and do not involve the most advanced states of knowledge (ayn al-yaqin and haqq al-yaqin).  


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Since the days of Muhammad, followers of Islam have supported many educational, religious, and social welfare causes.  Governments and individuals regularly contribute to charitable activities.  In the Islamic world, giving serves both social and spiritual purposes.


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The Arabic word for prayer is şalāh (plural şalawāt), which means “supplication” (al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhiyyah, vol. 27, p. 58).  In the religious sense, it can be defined both generally as well as technically.  Generally, according to Ibn Manūr (d. 1311), şalāh means “supplication” or “seeking forgiveness” depending on the context as well as on the one(s) to whom the prayer is attributed (Lisān al-ʿArab).  The Qurʾān uses şalāh in relation to Allah, to the angels, and to believers as well. When it is attributed to Allah, it means “the granting of mercy” to the recipients of the prayer.  The Qurʾān states: “He [i.e., Allah] it is Who sends blessings [şalāh] on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of darkness into light: and He is full of mercy to the believers” (33:43).  Later it says: “Allah and His angels send blessings [şalāh] on the Prophet” (33:56).  For the angels, it means supplication to Allah for His blessings upon those whom the prayer is made for.

DATE LAST EDITED: 03-2020   

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The Institutionalization

Of Islamic Practice

In The Shari’a

When speaking about Islamic law, informed Muslims use the term shari’a to connote the sacred law as a global concept or ideal, while fiqh is used to connote the ongoing interpretation of the law through the schools (four Sunni and one Shi’ite) of juridical practice (madhhab, pl. madhahib).  From the earliest days of Islamic history, knowledge of the law was regarded by Muslims as essential knowledge, the very epitome of “science” (ilm) itself.  But the science of the law, like any other science, does not stand still.  Ideal principles are useless unless they are put into practice, and the changing conditions of Islamic society demanded new interpretations and applications of the way set forth by God and the Prophet Muhammad.


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Five Fundamental Tenets

The Five Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam), which are presented systematically for the first time in the Hadith of Gabriel, are relatively simple to carry out and can easily be learned by the person who wishes to convert to Islam.