On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say:
Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.
[Bukhari & Muslim]
Written commentary compiled by volunteers utilizing Sh. Jamaal Diwan's audio commentary above and English translation of Ibn Daqiq Al-Id's commentary on The Forty Hadith of Imam al-Nawawi.
This hadith focuses on the five pillars of Islam. The Prophet (sas) describes the foundations of Islam as having been “built upon five.” These foundational actions are either of the tongue, heart or otherwise.
Imagine a home above the ocean, with five pillars that reach to the ground to support the home above. That is the imagery that comes to mind when the Prophet (sas) talks about these five aspects upon which Islam is built.
1. Shahadah: The Declaration of Faith
The Shahadah is a beautiful, profound, yet simple statement which brings one into Islam. All the person has to say is: “La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasulAllah.” “I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
These few words in themselves are very powerful and sometimes we don’t realize that. We think about all the details in Islam, all of the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh), and many times we forget the Quran. Sometimes we become concerned about legal rulings and we forget that “La ilaha illa Allah Muhammad rasul Allah” is really the foundation of everything. It is an absolute commitment to worship nothing other than Allah and to put all of one’s reliance on Allah, and to follow the Prophet (pbuh) as His Messenger, who was sent to mankind to embody the divine message just as other Prophets before Him.
2. Establishing Prayer
The second pillar of Islam, after the declaration of faith, is the establishment of prayer. It is very interesting terminology that is used in “the establishment of prayer.” The verb used in Arabic implies effort. The verb is “to establish,” as if one is making something stand. Essentially you are making something stand, so you are making your prayer stand, you are making the prayer happen; you are pushing it to a curve, you are sticking with it, and you are leaning upon it. It is also a foundation for your relationship with Allah.
It is important that we make the effort and we put forth the proper means in order to pray our prayers on time. One of the easiest effort is to make the intention to always make the prayers at the beginning of their time.
3. Paying the Zakaah (Obligatory Charity)
The third pillar of Islam is foundational. Allah (swt) describes the believers in Surah Al-Mu’minun as those who observe and establish the institution of Zakaah in society:
“And they who are observant of Zakah.” (The Quran 23:4)
Allah has made it obligatory on the Muslims to pay a certain percentage , 2.5%, in Zakaah when their wealth exceeds a minimum amount and a year has passed since that amount has been accumulated. It could be gold, silver, or any sort of wealth.
4. Making Pilgrimage to the House of Allah (Hajj)
Hajj is to make pilgrimage to the house of Allah, the Kabah, in Mecca to perform the traditional rights that were performed by the Prophet (sas). Hajj is one of the most beautiful human experiences and one of the greatest migrations on earth. It is absolutely incredible to experience the unity of millions of Muslims making pilgrimage to the Kaaba from every corner of the world.
5. Fasting the Month of Ramadan
“Oh you who believe, fasting is prescribed upon you, as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain God-consciousness (taqwa)” (The Quran 2:183)