020 8809 2137 | [email protected]

Thu 09 Saf 1443 | 16-Sep-2021

The Five Pillars of Islam

The ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam are the foundation of a Muslim’s way of life. It is the practical manifestation of a person’s true belief and to follow them is a requirement of all those who profess to be Muslim. They should be carried out with sincerity and willingness as Islam means peace and submission to Allah – they cannot be forced and are meaningless if done so.
The five pillars of Islam are:
  • Shahadah – to recite the declaration of faith 
  • Salah – to pray five times a day 
  • Zakat – to give in charity to the poor 
  • Sawm – to fast during the month of Ramadhan 
  • Hajj – to perform pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime
please click on the links above to view detail.

Shahadah (Declaration of Faith) 

The declaration of faith is called the shahadah; a simple formula that all the faithful pronounce. 
There is none worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His messenger
The transliteration of the Arabic is ‘la ilaha illa’Llah Muhammadun rasulu’Llah’ 
Sometimes the prefix ‘ashadu an’ – I bear witness that, is added. 
This declaration recognises the fundamental belief in ONE God. The significance of this is the belief that the only purpose of life is to serve and obey God. This is achieved through following the guidance in the Qur’an sent down to Prophet Muhammad, His final messenger and the example the Prophet set in the way he followed that guidance and lived his life (the Sunnah). 
Reciting this statement with the knowledge of what it means and with sincerity of belief is all that is needed to become a Muslim. 

Salah (Prayer)

Salah is the name for the formal prayers that are performed by Muslims. These are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam; there is no need for another person to intercede between the believer and God. 
A Muslim must perform obligatory prayers five times a day. These five daily prayers are considered to be one of the most important pillars in Islam and every good Muslim strives to say their prayers regularly and on time. Children are encouraged to pray, although it is not obligatory until puberty is reached. 

Purpose of Prayer 

The reason we pray is quite simple – because God has asked us to! 
Prayer plays a central role in a Muslim’s daily life. It is not a mere recitation of God’s words, rather it is a reflection within one’s self to reach out to the Creator. Every limb, every emotion, every element of the senses are focused on this journey towards God. 
The preparation and performance of the prayer is physically, mentally and spiritually uplifting for a Muslim. It allows one to forget worldly concerns and focus on praising and worshipping God alone. It serves as a constant reminder to be good, refrain from wrong and moral deviancy In the Qur’an it is stated that:
 “…Without a doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” (Surah Ar Rad, Chapter 13, Verse 28) 

Prayer Times 

Prayers are set at certain times throughout the day: 
  • Fajr: the dawn prayer, just before sunrise 
  • Zuhr: the midday prayer 
  • Asr: the late-afternoon prayer 
  • Maghrib: the prayer just after sunset 
  • Esha: the prayer at nightfall 
The prayer consists of reading selected verses from the Qur’an, which are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication (dua) can be offered in one’s own language. 
Personal note: 
For many in Britain trying to incorporate the five daily prayers in a normal working day is a jihad (struggle). It is not always easy to find a place to pray or a five-minute break. Some also feel they will be discriminated against if they openly express their faith which is understandable in light of recent events. It is such a shame that a few individuals can cause repercussions for so many in such different ways. Britain has always been known for its ability and willingness to welcome and embrace people of different faiths and culture and to accommodate their needs. It will be a sad day when any group in British society feels marginalised due to the misguided actions of a few. 

Adhan (The Call to Prayer)

Before the five required daily prayers, a person known as the muezzin calls the worshipers to prayer from the minaret – the highest part of the mosque. This call to prayer can be heard 5 times a day in Muslim countries; you will have experienced the unforgettable early morning call if you have visited countries with a Muslim majority such as Malaysia, Turkey or Egypt. 
A translation of the Call to Prayer is: 
God is most great. God is most great. 
God is most great. God is most great. 
I testify that there is no god except God. 
I testify that there is no god except God. 
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God. 
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God. 
Come to prayer! Come to prayer! 
Come to success (in this life and the Hereafter)! 
Come to success! 
God is most great. God is most great. 
There is no god except God. 

Wudu (Ablution)

This is the Islamic act of washing certain parts of the body using water. Muslims are required to perform wudu in preparation for the daily prayers. Most mosques have washing facilities.
It is not only a physical act that cleanses the body but it is the very beginning stage of purifying one’s soul to commune with the Almighty.
 The Prophet, peace be upon him, said ‘cleanliness is half of faith’. 

Performance of Prayer 

The physical act of worship follows a set pattern along with specific supplications and verses from the Qur’an which are read in each position. 
The salah must be performed with sincere devotion, otherwise, it could be considered invalid. It is performed facing the direction of the Ka’bah in Makkah. 
The Ka’bah is the place of worship that God commanded Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his son Ishmael, to build over 4000 years ago. The structure itself has been rebuilt several times but it is the importance placed on the site, rather than the Ka’bah itself, which renders it as the holiest site for Muslims.
Don’t forget, there are over 1 billion Muslims all over the world, who will all be reciting the same prayer which has remained unchanged for 1400 years, in the same direction all through the day – can you imagine how incredible that is! 

Praying in a Mosque 

A mosque is any place specifically dedicated to the worship of God. The English word mosque is derived from its Arabic equivalent, masjid, which means place of prostration. 
The mosque provides a place to pray in the congregation which is preferable although not obligatory (except for Friday Prayer). To be praying in unison, as one body, reminds us that we are all equal in the eyes of God and here to serve one purpose alone – that is to worship Him. It is only our actions that will be used to differentiate between us in the Hereafter; not our social standing or worldly belongings. 
Although the main function of the mosque is as a place of prayer, it can also act as a local community centre where educational and charity events, youth activities, Qur’anic lessons and interfaith dialogues often take place. 
Individuals who cannot pray at a mosque may pray individually or together with family/friends or colleagues at home or at work. The only requirement is that the surface on which one prays must be clean. 

Jummah (Friday prayer)

Friday is observed as the day on which the major congregational sermon and prayer take place. It is the only prayer that is an obligation for men (and is recommended for women) to perform in the congregation. 
It was originally used as a time for interaction and consultation between the representatives of the Muslim state and the citizens. Now it is led by the Imam of the mosque – that is a person who is learned and knowledgeable about Islam. 
The Khutbah (Sermon) 
  • Is used to talk about issues affecting the local community and recite sections of the Qur’an and the Hadith. 
  • It can be in any language.  Most of the Imam’s in Britain are multilingual and they will often interchange between Arabic, English and another language which usually reflects the type of people in the congregation. 
After the Khutbah the Imam then leads everyone in prayer – this is offered in place of the Zuhr (midday) prayer 

Architecture of Mosques 

In Britain, mosques vary in size from tiny storefronts serving a handful of worshippers, to large Islamic centres that can accommodate thousands. 
The basic requirement is that it is a clean area. There doesn’t even need to be a building, four stones defining the area would be enough. 
Generally, mosques are a place of elaborate decoration and architectural beauty. Instead of images, mosques will have intricate Arabic calligraphy, arabesque and verses from the Qur’an to assist worshippers in focusing on the beauty of Islam and the Qur’an, as well as for decoration. As in a saying of the Prophet (PBUH), “ Indeed, Allah is Beautiful, and He loves beauty”.
A mosque may have:
A prayer hall. This contains no images of people, animals or spiritual figures as Muslims in prayer are supposed to be focusing on Allah alone. This is also the reason why men and women have separate prayer areas – we are only human and it is best to avoid the possible distraction the opposite sex may cause!
A mihrab (niche). This indicates the direction of the Ka’bah and is where the imam stands to lead the congregation. It is often decorated with Arabic calligraphy. Its curved shape helps reflect the voice of the imam back towards the congregation when he is leading them in prayer.   
A minbar (pulpit). This is used during the Friday prayer to deliver the sermon from.

A minaret: This is a common feature in mosques. The minaret is a tall, slender tower that is usually situated at one of the corners of the mosque structure. The top of the minaret is always the highest point in mosques that have one and is therefore used for the call to prayer.
A dome: These are often placed directly above the main prayer hall and may signify the vaults of heaven and the sky. Some mosques will have multiple domes in addition to the main large dome that resides at the centre. The intricate design and proportions of the domes enhance the acoustics of the building such that in the large mosques of the Muslim world, such as those of Istanbul, Egypt, there was not a need for any loudspeakers to reach the tens of thousands of worshippers!
Most mosques will also have a library containing a selection of works on Islamic philosophy, theology and law, as well as collections of the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)  and copies of the Qur’an translated in several different languages. Mosques in the Muslim world often had schools annexed to them, as well as sleeping quarters for the students, hospitals, and other services that formed part of the mosque complex.

Rules and Etiquette 

  • Cleanliness – This is an essential part of the worshipper’s experience. Even those who enter the prayer hall of a mosque without the intention of praying, including visitors, must be clean and remove their shoes although they are not required to perform wudu. 
  • Dress – Islam requires that its followers wear clothes that portray modesty. Men and women should always dress conservatively, covering their arms and legs. Women may be asked to cover their hair. Many mosques have scarves at hand for visitors to borrow, but it is better to bring a head covering in case none are available. 
  • Quiet – As mosques are places of worship and meditation, loud talking within the prayer area is avoided. 
Visiting a mosque Mosques in Britain welcome and encourage visitors.
Tours can be arranged at most facilities.