Introduction to the Articles
and Pillars of Islam
The Meaning of Islam
"ISLAM" is derived
from the Arabic root salaama peace, purity, submission and
obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will
of God and obedience to His law.
Everything and every phenomenon in
the world, other than man and jinn is administered totally
by God-made laws, they are obedient to God and submissive to His
laws, i.e. they are in the state of Islam. Man
possesses the quality of intelligence and choice, thus he is invited
to submit to the good will of God and obey His law, i.e. become
a Muslim. Submission to the good will of God, together
with obedience to His beneficial law, i.e. becoming a Muslim, is
the best safeguard for man's peace and harmony.
Islam dates back to the age of Adam
and its message has been conveyed to man by God's Prophets and Messengers
including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Islam's message has
been restored and enforced in the last stage of the religious evolution
by God's last Prophet and Messenger Muhammad.
The word ALLAH in
the Arabic language means God, or more accurately The One and Only
Eternal God, Creator of the Universe, Lord of all lords, King of
all kings, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. The word Allah to
mean God is also used by Arabic speaking Jews and Christians.
Articles of Faith
1. Allah, the One and Only God
A Muslim believes in ONE GOD,
Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate,
Creator and Provider. God has neither father nor mother, neither sons
nor was He fathered. None equal to Him. He is God of all mankind,
not of a special tribe or race.
Allah is High and Supreme but He
is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their
prayers and helps them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives
their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success.
Allah is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent,
the Rich and the Independent, the Forgiving and the Clement, the
Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the
Judge and the Peace. Allah's attributes are mentioned in the Qur'an
and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saws).
Allah creates in man the mind to
understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the
feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. If we try to count
His favours upon us, we cannot, because they are countless. In return
for all the great favours and mercy, Allah does not need anything
from us, because He is Needless and Independent. Allah asks us to
know Him, to love Him and to enforce His law for our benefit and
our own good.
2. Messengers and Prophets of God
A Muslim believes in all the Messengers
and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were
mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed
by God to teach mankind. The Holy Qur'an mentions the names of 25
messengers and prophets and states that there are others. These include
Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Their message
is the same and it is Islam and it came from One and the Same Source;
God, and it is to submit to His will and to obey His law; i.e., to
become a Muslim.
3. Revelations and the Qur'an
A Muslim believes in all scriptures
and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original
versions. Allah, the Creator, has not left man without guidance for
the conduct of his life. Revelations were given to guide the people
to the right path of Allah and sent down to selected people, the prophets
and messengers, to convey it to their fellow men.
The message of all the prophet and
messengers is the same. They all asked the people of their time
to obey and worship Allah and none other. Abraham, Moses, David,
Jesus and Muhammad who were revealed their own book of Allah, were
sent at different times to bring back straying human beings from
deviation to the right course.
The Qur'an is the sacred book of
the Muslims. It is the last book of guidance from Allah, sent down
to Muhammad, peace be upon him, through the angel Jibraeel (Gabriel).
Every word of it is the word of Allah.
It was revealed over a period of 23 years in the Arabic language.
It contains 114 Surahs (chapters) and over 6000 verses.
The Qur'an deals with man and his
ultimate goal in life. Its teachings cover all areas of this life
and the life after death. It contains principles, doctrines and
directions for every sphere of human life. The theme of the Qur'an
broadly consists of three fundamental ideas: Oneness of Allah, Prophethood
and life after death. The success of human beings on this earth
and in the life hereafter depends on obedience to the Qur'anic teaching.
The Qur'an is unrivalled in its recording
and preservation. The astonishing fact about this book of Allah
is that it has remained unchanged even to a dot over the
past fourteen hundred years. No scholar has questioned the fact
that the Qur'an today is the same as it was revealed. Muslims till
today memorize the Qur'an word by word as a whole or in part. Today,
the Qur'an is the only authentic and complete book of Allah. Allah
is protecting it from being lost, corrupted or concealed.
4. The Angels
There are purely spiritual and splendid
beings created by Allah. They require no food or drink or sleep. They
have no physical desires nor material needs. Angels spend their time
in the service of Allah. Each is charged with a certain duty. Angels
cannot be seen by the naked eyes. Knowledge and the truth are not
entirely confined to sensory knowledge or sensory perception alone.
5. The Day of Judgement
A Muslim believes in the Day of the
Judgement. This world as we know it will come to an end, and the dead
will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all
men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from
the state of death for judgement. Everything we do, say, make, intend
and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are
brought up on the Day of Judgement.
One who believes in life after death
is not expected to behave against the Will of Allah. He will always
bear in mind that Allah is watching all his actions and the angels
are recording them.
People with good records will be
generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Allah's Heaven. People
with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The
real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to Allah only, but they
are described by Allah in man's familiar terms in the Qur'an.
If some good deeds are seen not to
get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive
full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgement.
If some people who commit sins, neglect Allah and indulge in immoral
activities, seem superficially successful and prosperous in this
life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgement.
The time of the Day of Judgement is only known to Allah and Allah
6. Qadaa and Qadar
A Muslim believes in Qadaa and Qadar
which relate to the ultimate power of Allah. Qadaa and Qadar means
the Timeless Knowledge of Allah and His power to plan and execute
His plans. Allah is not indifferent to this world nor is He neutral
to it. It implies that everything on this earth originates from the
one and only Creator who is also the Sustainer and the Sole Source
Allah is Wise, Just, and Loving,
and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail
sometimes to understand it fully. We should have strong faith in
Allah and accept whatever He does because our knowledge is limited
and our thinking is based on individual consideration, whereas His
knowledge is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Man should
think, plan and make sound choices, but if things do not happen
the way he wants, he should not lose faith and surrender himself
to mental strains or shattering worries.
The Purpose of Life
A Muslim believes that the purpose of
life is to worship Allah. Worshipping Allah does not mean we spend
our entire lives in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. To
worship Allah is to live life according to His commands, not to run
away from it. To worship Allah is to know Him, to love Him, to obey
His commands, to enforce His laws in every aspect of life, to serve
His cause by doing right and shunning evil and to be just to Him,
to ourselves and to our fellow human beings.
Status of Human Beings
A Muslim believes that human beings
enjoy an especially high ranking status in the hierarchy of all known
creatures. Man and woman occupy this distinguished position because
they alone are gifted with rational faculties and spiritual aspirations
as well as powers of action. Man and woman are not a condemned race
from birth to death, but dignified beings potentially capable of good
and noble achievements.
A Muslim also believes that every
person is born Muslim. Every person is endowed by Allah
with the spiritual potential and intellectual inclination that can
make him a good Muslim. Every person's birth takes place according
to the will of Allah in realization of His plans and in submission
to His commands. Every person is born FREE FROM SIN.
When the person reaches the age of maturity and if he is sane, he
becomes accountable for all his deeds and intentions. Man is free
from sin until he commits sin. There is no inherited sin,
and no original sin. Adam committed the first sin, but he prayed
to Allah for pardon and Allah granted Adam pardon.
A Muslim believes that man must work
out his salvation through the guidance of Allah. No one can act on
behalf of another or intercede between him and Allah. In order to
obtain salvation, a person must combine faith and action, belief and
practice. Faith without doing good deeds is as insufficient as doing
good deeds without faith.
Also, a Muslim believes that Allah
does not hold any person responsible until he has shown him the
Right Way. If people do not know and have no way of knowing about
Islam, they will not be responsible for failing to be Muslim. Every
Muslim must preach Islam in words and action.
Acceptance of Faith
A Muslim believes that faith is not
complete when it is followed blindly or accepted unquestioningly.
Man must build his faith on well-grounded convictions beyond any reasonable
doubt and above uncertainty. Islam ensures freedom to believe and
forbids compulsion in religion (one of the oldest synagogues and one
of the oldest churches in the world are in Muslim countries).
A Muslim believes that the Qur'an
is the word of Allah revealed to prophet Muhammad through the Angel
Gabriel. The Qur'an was revealed from Allah on various occasions
to answer questions, solve problems, settle disputes and to be man's
best guide to the truth. The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic and it
is still in its original and complete Arabic version today.
It is memorized by millions.
A Muslim also believes in a clear
distinction between the Qur'an and the Traditions (called Hadiths)
of the Prophet Muhammad. Whereas, the Qur'an is the word of Allah,
the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (hadiths - i.e. his teachings,
sayings, and actions) are the practical interpretations of the Qur'an.
Both the Qur'an and the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad are the primary
sources of knowledge in Islam.
Pillars of Islam and
Application of Faith
Islam is built on five pillars as mentioned
in the following Hadith:
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
4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage
5. To observe fast during the month
(Hadith Sahih Bukhari Vol 1, Book
2, No 7 )
The first of which is a state of
faith, the other four are major exercises of faith of which some
are daily, some weekly, some monthly, some annually and some are
required as a minimum once in a lifetime. These exercises of faith
are to serve man's spiritual purposes, satisfy his human needs and
to mark his whole life with a Divine touch. The five pillars of
- WITNESSING (SHAHADA) THAT
ALLAH IS ONE AND MUHAMMAD IS HIS MESSENGER
- This statement of faith must be
declared publicly. It should be a genuine belief which includes
all the above articles of faith. The witnessing of the Oneness
of Allah is the rejection of any form of deity other than Allah,
and the witnessing that Muhammad is His Messenger is the acceptance
of him being chosen by Allah to convey His message of Islam to
all humanity and to deliver it from the darkness of ignorance
into the light of belief in, and knowledge of, the Creator. The
statement of Shahada in Arabic is:
Ashhadu Alla Ilaha Illa
Allah Wa Ashhadu Anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah
An English translation would
I bear witness that there
is no God but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His
- PRAYER (SALAH)
- Praying to the Creator on a daily
basis is the best way to cultivate in a man a sound personality
and to actualise his aspiration. Allah does not need man's prayer
because He is free of all needs. Prayer is for our immeasurable
benefit, and the blessings are beyond imagination.
In prayer, every muscle of the
body joins the soul and the mind in the worship and glory of
Allah. Prayer is an act of worship. It is a matchless and unprecedented
formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion, of
moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined.
Offering of prayers is obligatory
upon every Muslim male and female who is sane, mature and in
the case of women free from menstruation and confinement due
to child birth. Requirements of prayer: performing of ablution
(Wudu), purity of the whole body, clothes and ground used for
prayer, dressing properly and having the intention and facing
the Qiblah (the direction of the Ka'bah at Mecca).
Five daily prayers, the Friday's noon congregation prayer and
the funeral prayer. Times of obligatory prayers:
- Early morning:
After dawn and before sunrise.
- Noon: After
the sun begins to decline from its zenith until it is about
midway on its course to set.
After the expiration of the noon prayer time until sunset.
- Sunset: Immediately
after sunset until the red glow in the western horizon disappears.
After the expiration of the sunset prayer until dawn.
Highly recommended prayer:
Those accompanying the obligatory prayer and the two great festival
Voluntary prayer during the day and night.
Prayer should be offered in its
due time, unless there is a reasonable excuse. Delayed obligatory
prayers must be made up. In addition to the prescribed prayer,
a Muslim expresses gratitude to God and appreciation of His
favours and asks for His mercy all the time. Especially at times
of, for example, childbirth, marriage, going to or rising from
bed, leaving and returning to his home, starting a journey or
entering a city, riding or driving, before or after eating or
drinking, harvesting, visiting graveyards and at time of distress
- OBLIGATORY CHARITY (ZAKAH)
- Obligatory charity giving is an
act of worship and spiritual investment. The literal meaning of
Zakah is purity and it refers to the annual amount in
kind or coin which a Muslim with means must distribute among the
rightful beneficiaries. Zakah does not only purifies the property
of the contributor but also purifies his heart from selfishness
and greed. It also purifies the heart of the recipient from envy
and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness and it fosters instead
good-will and warm wishes for the contributors.
Zakah has a deep humanitarian
and social-political value; for example, it frees society from
class welfare, from ill feelings and distrust and from corruption.
Although Islam does not hinder private enterprise or condemn
private possession, it does not tolerate selfish and greedy
capitalism. Islam adopts a moderate but positive and effective
course between individual and society, between the citizen and
the state, between capitalism and socialism, between materialism
Zakah is paid on the net balance
after paying personal expenses, family expenses, due credits,
taxes, etc. Every Muslim male or female who at the end of the
year is in possession of the equivalent of 85 grams of gold
(approx. $1400 in 1990) or more in cash or articles of trade,
must give Zakah at the minimum rate of 2.5%. Taxes paid to government
do not substitute for this religious duty. The contributor should
not seek pride or fame but if disclosing his name and his contribution
is likely to encourage others, it is acceptable to do so.
The recipients of Zakah are:
the poor, the needy, the new Muslim converts, the Muslim prisoners
of war (to liberate them), Muslims in debt, employees appointed
to collect Zakah, Muslims in service of research or study or
propagation of Islam, and wayfarers who are foreigners in need
Note the obligatory nature of
Zakah; it is required. Muslims can also go above and
beyond what they pay as Zakah, in which case the offering is
a strictly voluntary charity (sadaqah).
- FASTING (SAWM)
- Fasting is abstaining completely
from eating, drinking, intimate sexual contacts and smoking from
the break of dawn till sunset. It is a matchless Islamic institution
which teaches man the principle of sincere love to God. Fasting
teaches man a creative sense of hope, devotion, patience, unselfishness,
moderation, willpower, wise saving, sound budgeting, mature adaptability,
healthy survival, discipline, spirit of social belonging, unity
Obligatory fasting is done once
a year for the period of the month of Ramadan; the ninth month
of the Islamic year. Recommended fasting includes every Monday
and Thursday of every week, three days in the middle of each
Islamic month, six days after Ramadan following the Feast Day
and a few days of the two months before Ramadan. Fasting of
Ramadan is a worship act which is obligatory on every adult
Muslim, male or female if he/she is mentally and physically
fit and not on a journey. Exceptions: women during their period
of menstruation and while nursing their child, and also in case
of travel and sickness for both men and women.
- THE PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ)
- It is a pilgrimage to Mecca, at
least once in a lifetime and it is obligatory upon every Muslim
male and female who is mentally, physically and financially fit.
It is the largest annual convention of faith on earth (in 1989:
2.5 million). Peace is the dominant theme. Peace with Allah, with
one's soul, with one another, with all living creatures. To disturb
the peace of anyone or any creature in any shape or form is strictly
Muslims from all walks of life,
from every corner of the globe assemble in Mecca in response
to the call of Allah. There is no royalty, but there is loyalty
of all to Allah, the Creator. It is to commemorate the Divine
rituals observed by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael,
who were the first pilgrims to the house of Allah on earth:
the Ka'bah. It is also to remember the great assembly of the
Day of Judgement when people will stand equal before Allah.
Muslims go to Mecca to glorify
Allah, not to worship a man. The visit to the tomb of Prophet
Muhammad at Medina is highly recommended but not essential
in making the Hajj valid and complete.
Sayyid Abu Al-'Ala Maududi, Islam: Its
Meaning and Message, in M. Tariq Quraishi (ed.), American Trust Publications,
Indianapolis, Indiana, 1984, 12-14.
Islam, An Introduction. Undated. Compiled by Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim
Elmasry c/o KW Islamic Association, P.O. Box 823, Waterloo, Ontario,
CANADA N2J 4C2, (519) 885-2225.