Page 3 of 4 Pillars of Islam. 1st Pillar: - DECLARATION OF FAITH
The Declaration of Faith is: - There is no object or person worthy to be worshiped except God and that Muhammad is God's servant and messenger.
The first requirement of this Pillar is for the person who has decided to submit to the will of God to repeat this declaration verbally in front of witnesses.
Secondly, this person (whom we now call a Muslim i.e. one who submit to the will of God) must know that these words are an oath, that from the time he utters them, he will strive to live his entire life according to the laws of the Creator.
He must know that his life and that of the entire universe is in God's hands. Nothing in this world happens without the will of God. Therefore, for a Muslim to be successful in this world and in the hereafter, he has to submit himself to the commandments of God.
This does not mean that he has to forsake society and shun marriage, children, work and the comforts, which God has given him, but that he has to follow God's laws in all his actions.
After belief in God, the second part of this declaration means that as God gave man laws to live by, He also handpicked certain people from amongst man and sent them to explain and show man how to obey these laws.
These chosen people were the Prophets and the last of them was Muhammad (peace be upon him). A Muslim must know that to submit to the will of God means to tread on the path shown by Prophet Muhammad, the last Messenger (peace be upon him)
As God's messenger, he lived his life according to the instructions and revelation sent to him by God. He is a perfect example on how to submit to God's will. All the teachings of Islam can be found in his life.
2nd Pillar: - PRAYER
The life of a human being is made up of two things, the body and soul.
For the body to be healthy and strong it needs food and clothes, it needs to be kept clean and protected etc. If the body gets all these things properly it grows and becomes strong. In this state it can fight diseases and infections and serve its owner well.
But we all know that the body is a temporal vehicle, for this world only. When a person's time ends in this world the soul leaves the body however the soul continues to live but in a different world.
Most of us forget the importance of looking after the soul and nourishing it properly. What is the proper way of nourishing the soul?
Nourishment of the soul is through prayer. Prayer keeps the soul alive and healthy. Prayer softens the heart. A soul that is nourished by prayer becomes content. When trials and hardships come they find such a soul strong because it has received proper nourishment.
According to the healthcare professionals, for a person to live healthily, he must eat at least three times a day. It is clear that the soul needs even more nourishment than this because of the important part it plays in a person's life. So it is not surprising that Islam says that a Muslim must pray five times a day.
Secondly, prayer is a great favour and gift from the Creator, a favour of being able to talk to Him whenever we desire, wherever and whoever we are.
When we study the history of religions like Judaism, Christianity etc. we find that the right to talk to God was only given to certain people. People like prophets and certain priests, not the general populace.
However in Islam God has given us the license and the honour of communicating with Him without a mediator. All our needs, requests, complaints, dreams, problems, gratitude, in fact anything that we want to talk to Him about, we are free to do so.
Another very important thing is that prayer is a means of purification. In other words this means that prayer has the power to wipe out certain sins that a person may have committed. Also, when performed properly prayer prevents a person from committing sins.
3rd Pillar: - FASTING
This means that every Muslim who is mature is obliged to fast for a month once a year (in the 9th Islamic month of Ramadhan).
Fasting means abstinence from food, drink and sex dawn to sunset.
By abstaining from food, sympathy is built in the hearts of the rich for the poor, because for the whole day they stay hungry, even though they have food, so they get to experience hunger first hand.
Secondly, during this time the Muslim gets trained in submission. The whole day he does not eat or drink, although he has food, just because God has commanded him not to.
This creates within him the ability to abstain from sins generally.
4th Pillar: - ZAKAAT
Zakaat means that Muslims who have wealth which is above a prescribed value and which remains in his possession for a period of twelve months, has to give a certain amount to be distributed among specific beneficiaries.
Secondly Zakaat alleviates poverty in the community because wealth does not stay only on the hands of the rich. The poor are also catered for.
5th Pillar: - HAJJ
That Muslim who is able (in health and finance) must undertake a pilgrimage to Makkah during the Hajj season, at least once in his life.
Here Muslims from all over the world, from different nationalities, different races, speaking different languages, gather together to worship God.
On top of worship, this coming together reminds the Muslims that mankind is one, from one ancestor, Adam. Secondly, that, in front of God everybody is equal, the only difference is through their pious actions.
Pillars of Faith
After the five Pillars of Islam there are seven Pillars of Faith.
We have explained that the Five Pillars of Islam are things that a Muslim (the person who follows Islam) has to do. Now when we talk of Pillars of Faith we are talking about things that a Muslim has to believe in.
Here also, a person cannot say that he is a follower of Islam if he does not believe in all these Pillars completely without leaving a single one out.
In other words a person who does not believe in one of these is not a Muslim.
1. Belief in God:-
This means that a Muslim must believe in God as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. There is no authority besides His! There was none before Him and there will be none after Him! He is one! He begot no son and it is not fitting for His Majesty that such blasphemy be uttered about Him.
He is not similar to anything in this world or in heaven.
He sees everything. He hears everything. He knows everything but His seeing, hearing and knowing is not like that of man!
He alone is worthy of worship!
2. Belief in Angels:-
God created angels from light.
They were created only to carry out certain duties that God entrusted to them.
Angels are different from men in that they do not have the will to do either bad or good. They only do that which they are created for.
They do not eat, drink, sleep or sin. They do not have gender. They only live to do what they are commanded to do by God.
Amongst the angels that we know by name are:
a) Michael, who is in charge of angels responsible for weather, mountains and all "Natural Phenomena".
b) Izraa'il, in charge of extracting souls from those whose time on earth has expired.
c) Israafil, who will blow the trumpet that will destroy the universe at the end of time.
d) Munkar and Nakir, who question the dead when they are placed in the grave.
e) Gabriel, the Archangel who brought down revelation. His work finished when the last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), died.
3. Belief in Scriptures:-
God revealed many scriptures to man through the Prophets. The purpose of these scriptures was to show man the way of life suitable for the attainment of the object for which they were created.
These scriptures are many. They were given to different Prophets and different nations at different times.
There are four of these scriptures which we know by their names and also know to which Prophet they were revealed.
a) Torah (Tauraat) was give to Prophet Moses.
b) Psalms (Zaboor) were given to Prophet David.
c) Gospel (Injeel) was given to Prophet Jesus.
d) Qur'an which was given to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them all).
Except for the Qur'an, all these other scriptures were changed and corrupted by some people after the demise of the Prophets, who brought them. The Qur'an is the only scripture to remain unchanged and is in its original form of revelation from the time of the Prophet up until today.
The main reason for the corruption of these scriptures is that they were written down long after the Prophets who had taught them were gone. However the Qur'an was written down whilst Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still alive and it was written under his supervision. (Since he was illiterate he engaged certain literate Muslims and dictated the revelations to them.)
Another assert which is peculiar to the Qur'an is that it was sent for the benefit of the entire mankind whereas the other scriptures were sent only for those nations for whom they were revealed.
Because these scriptures were only sent to specific nations their authority ceased with the revelation of the Qur'an.
4. Belief in Prophets:-
From all nations God chose certain people amongst them and made them His Prophets and Messengers so that they teach those nations the Divine way of life.
There are many Prophets which were sent to man. We do not know all their names. We only know the names of twenty five of them who are mentioned in the Qur'an.
Some prophets and messengers were sent to their people with scriptures and new laws, whilst some were sent to revive and support previous prophet's work. Thus, the latter type did not bring any new scriptures and laws.
There are five prophets who are regarded as having played major roles in the history of prophethood. These are those from whom the major religions of today trace some of their teachings. They are Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus (peace be upon them). All these were sent to the children of Israel whilst the last messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), was sent to all mankind.
5. Belief in the Last Day:-
Islam teaches that life in this world is temporary. A time will come when this world will perish and all life on it will come to an end. This is the Last Day.
Only the creator knows exactly when the Last Day will be. All that we, as man, know is that certain events will occur as signs of its coming e.g. many wars, the return of Prophet Jesus, the rising of the sun from the West etc.
6. Belief in Predestination:-
Everything, which happens in this world, is destined by God.
This does not mean that a person can do anything he likes with the excuse that he is being forced by destiny.
Everything is destined by God but man chooses whether to do good or bad. That is why he has to answer for his actions. God has explained to man the way of life and has informed him about choosing right from wrong and the consequences of his choice.
7. Belief in Life After Death:-
This means that life does not end with death but after the grave there is life which is not like the life of this world. The life after death is that of reward or punishment according to man's actions whilst alive.
A person in this stage does not have power to influence anything in this world. He does not even have the ability to see what is happening in this world.
From this place of waiting man will be gathered together on the day of judgement to be judged by the Almighty. Those who fulfilled the purpose of their creation will be sent to Paradise and those who fail will be sent to eternal punishment in Hell.