Hadith 3. Pillars of Islam

On the authority of Abee `Abd ir-Rahmaan `Abdullaah, the son of `Umar ibn al-Khattab (radiAllaahu ‘anhumaa), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) say:

Islaam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, establishing the salaah (prayer), paying the zakaah (obligatory charity), making the Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House, and fasting in Ramadaan.

Related by Bukhari and Muslim

Brief Commentary:

  • The correct translation of Islam is “submission”, and it is incorrect to translate it as “peace”
  • A building is built on pillars, and if the pillars are not there, then the building will collapse, therefore if these pillars of Islam are not there then a person’s Islam will collapse
  • We are required to say the testimony in this lifetime, and believing in it without having ever said it is not sufficient
  • It is incorrect to translate “la ilaaha illa Allah” to be “There is no god but Allah” because Allah mentions in the Qur’an that there are other gods, and He also spoke about the one who takes his desire to be his god, therefore we don’t say there is no god but Allah because there are other gods but they are not real gods that deserve worship.
  • The correct translation of “la ilaaha illa Allah” is “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah”
  • Virtues of “la ilaaha illa Allah”:
    • It is a price tag for the gardens of paradise
    • He whose last words are la ilaaha illa Allah will enter paradise
    • It is a salvation from the hellfire
    • It necessitates being forgiven
    • It is the best of all good actions
    • It wipes away sins
    • It renews the eeman that is planted in the heart
    • It outweighs on the scales the records of sins
    • It traverses all barriers until it reaches Allah, the Majestic
    • It is the best of what all the prophets have said
    • It is the best form of remembrance
    • It is a protection from the shaytaan
    • It is a means of safety from the darkness of the grave and the terror of the gathering
    • It will be a distinguishing sign for the believers when they emerge from their graves
    • To know it is the best blessing that Allah has blessed us with
  • The prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever says la ilaaha illa Allah will enter Jannah” (Reported in ibn Hibban). This doesn’t mean just saying it, rather it means saying it with full meaning, therefore fulfilling its conditions
  • The conditions of of “la ilaaha illa Allah” are:
    • Knowledge in what you are saying. [Muhammad:19]
    • Certainty in what you are saying. [Al-Hujurat:15]
    • Sincerity in your worship. [Al-Zumar:2]
    • Truthfulness in what you are saying. [Al-Zumar:54]
    • Love for what you are saying and what it entails. [Al-Baqarah:165]
    • Submission to what it entails. [Al-Nisaa’:125]
    • Acceptance in everything that it entails. [Al-Ahzab-36]
  • The conditions of “Muhammad Rasoolu Allah” are:
    • Affirming his message and believing in it inwardly within the heart. [Al-Hujurat:15]
    • Uttering the testimony and affirming it outwardly upon the tongue. [Al-Hujurat:15]
    • Following him by acting upon whatever he has come with from the truth and abandoning whatever he has prohibited from falsehood. [‘Aal-Imran:31]
    • Attesting to whatever he has informed of from enjoining the good and prohibiting the evil and the unseen affairs of the past and in the future and other than that. [Al-Hashr:7]
    • Love for him must be more intense than love for oneself, wealth, father, son and all of the people. (The prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to them than their father, children, and all of mankind” [Reported in Bukhari & Muslim])
    • Putting his statement over the rest of the people, regardless of whoever they might be, and to act upon his Sunnah. [Al-Hujurat:1]
    • To magnify, honour, respect, exalt, and revere him. And to magnify, honour respect, exalt, and revere what he came with from Allah, and that is the Book and the purified Sunnah. And that cannot occur, except by acting upon the two of them and loving them more than one loves himself. [Al-Fat-h:8,9]
  • The testimony is an example of how the previous prophets (alayhim assalam) used to give da’wa, which is by negating all that is incorrect and then affirming what is correct. This can be seen as the testimony starts off with a negation “None worthy of worship”, which is followed by an affirmation “except Allah”
  • A major deviation of the real purpose of the testimony is to say that everything is in the heart and actions are not needed
  • Another major deviation is to concern ourselves with purification of the heart and ignoring everything else
  • The hadith says “establishing the prayer”, which is different to just “praying”
  • In the Qur’an Allah refers to the believers as those who establish the prayer, but when He speaks about the ones who don’t pray properly, or don’t pray on time, He just refers to them as “the ones who pray” e.g. {Woe unto the ones who pray} [Al-Maa’oon, 107:4]
  • Definitions of “establishing the prayer”:
    • Praying with the heart, soul, with awe and with khushoo’
    • Bowing and prostrating, reciting of a complete manner, with full concentration and fear of Allah
  • Prayer is the best of deeds
  • The effects of prayer on a person keeps him away from evil
  • Ibn Al-Qayyim said prayer is of five degrees:
    • The one who is careless and is therefore punished
    • The one who prays on time but at the same time he is distracted and is therefore admonished
    • The one who fulfils his prayer by fighting the devil and is therefore redeemed
    • The one who is entirely concerned with his prayer and is therefore rewarded
    • The one who performs his prayer while only being preoccupied with Allah and is therefore rewarded and brought closer to Allah
  • Abandoning the prayer takes someone out of the fold of this religion
  • The Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was talking about obligatory prayers and he said, “whoever abandons it purposely, then bari’at minhu al dhimma (Islam is free from him)” (ibn Majah)
  • The Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:  “The covenant that distinguishes between us and them is the prayer, and whoever neglects it has disbelieved (become a kaafir).” (Ahmad)
  • However, The Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) also said: “Whoever says la ilaaha illa Allah will enter jannah” (ibn hibban)
  • The above hadith seems to contradict the two hadiths mentioned before it, as the implied meaning of the hadith is that saying “la ilaaha illa Allah” is sufficient to admit someone into Jannah
  • To understand the topic better, and remove the conflict, Scholars say:
    • Shahada is the key to jannah, and every key has its teeth. The teeth for it were mentioned in the commentary of the first part of the hadith, and they included “Submission to what it entails”, therefore praying falls under this condition
    • We give preference for the explicit evidences over the implicit ones. The above hadith implies that prayer is not required to admit someone into Jannah, but the two hadiths before it explicitly say that it is required, so we understand it in light of the two hadiths before it, which is that prayer is actually required
  • The majority opinion is that if someone generally stops praying then he becomes a kaafir, but if he prays on and off then he is not a kaafir, but has committed a grave sin
  • Prayer is composed of pledges, commitments, and recognitions which we make in every prayer. A great short piece of work was written on this topic. A summary in English can be found by going to https://hadithcommentary.wordpress.com/articles/letteronsalah
  • Zakah linguistically means:
    • To purify
    • To grow
    • To bless
  • The Shar’i (Islamic) meaning is: To give a certain amount of wealth from a certain category of wealth to a certain group of people at a certain time of year
  • From the above definition, we learn that zakah is not always 2.5%, as sometimes it can even be 10%, depending on what you are giving zakah from
  • If we don’t pay zakah, then had it not been for the animals, we would be prevented from rain
  • Importance of zakah:
    • Usually listed with Salah in the Qur’an
    • Reason for Abu Bakr to wage war on the Arab tribes
    • Can be a reason for Allah withholding rainfall from us if we leave it
    • Can be a source of punishment for us in the hereafter if we leave it
  • Why we give zakah
    • It is a test for those who claim to love Allah, as you are parting with what you love (wealth) for what you love more (Allah)
    • To be free from the destructive characteristic of miserliness
    • To thank Allah for His blessings
  • Benefits of giving zakah
    • It frees oneself from miserliness which Allah ordered us to stay away from. [Al-hashr, 59:9]
    • It refines your character
    • It increases your wealth. [Saba’, 34: 39]
    • It helps you to strive against your own nafs (soul)
    • It shows that Islam is not an individualistic faith
    • It helps in tasting the sweetness of Iman
  • It is haram to do hajj and fulfil all its requirements, but think you haven’t been forgiven
  • Benefits of hajj:
    • You have all of your sins forgiven
    • Entails all the five pillars of Islam
    • You glorify and manifest the emblems of Allah
    • Helps a person in submitting to Allah
    • Teaches us that Allah’s wisdom and knowledge is greater than ours
  • The linguistic meaning of fasting is to restrain oneself from something
  • The shar’i (Islamic) meaning of fasting is refraining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset
  • Fasting can be split into three levels
    • General fasting: abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse
    • Special fasting: general fasting + keeping the  tongue, eyesight, hands, feet, hearing and all other limbs away from sins
    • Extra special fasting: special fasting + restraining the heart from lowly ambitions, thoughts that move one away from Allah, and freeing it from anything other than Allah
  • Fasting helps in attaining piety because we train ourselves from refraining from good things, so it will be easier to refrain from bad things
  • When we break our fast, we are happy because we can eat, and because the reward of fasting has no limits
  • Benefits of fasting:
    • Helps in attaining piety
    • Decreases one’s desires
    • Has unlimited reward
    • Reward can never be taken away from us

Benefits and Action points:

  • Increase in saying la ilaaha illa Allah for it is a great form of remembrance of Allah
  • Understand the correct meaning of la ilaaha illa Allah
  • Adhere to the prophets’ (alayhim assalam) way of giving da’wa be first negating what is wrong, then affirming what is correct
  • Understand, learn, and adhere to the conditions of la ilaaha illa Allah, and Muhammad Rasoolu Allah
  • la ilaaha illa Allah is the key to paradise, but every key has teeth which enable it to open the door, and the teeth for this key are the conditions of la ilaaha illa Allah so you must adhere to them for this key to work
  • Ensure you establish the prayer by adhering to the descriptions mentioned in the definition of “establishing the prayer”
  • Ensure you pray on time and are not from the ones whom Allah has threatened in Surah Al-Maa’oon by saying {Woe unto those who pray}
  • Ensure you pray in the Masjid as you cannot consider yourself to be a practicing Muslim if you are not making an effort to pray in the Masjid
  • Aim to achieve the highest level from the five degrees of prayer mentioned by Ibn Al-Qayyim
  • How to increase in khusoo’
    • Right preparation before you pray
    • Tranquillity of the body
    • Remind yourself of death in the prayer
    • Understand and reflect on the meaning of the verses
    • Maintain the etiquettes of reciting the Qur’an
    • Recite beautifully
    • Realise that Allah loves this act
    • Look at the place of prostration
    • Vary what you say in the prayer
    • Remember who you are standing before
    • Read the stories of the pious predecessors
  • Reflect upon the reasons on why we give zakah and ensure you include them in your intention when you give zakah or sadaqah
  • Study the fiqh of zakah and understand when, how much and from what wealth you must give zakah
  • Manners when giving zakah/sadaqah
    • To be aware with what is intended behind the zakah or sadaqah itself
    • Give your wealth in secret
    • Do not spoil your wealth. [Al-baqarah, 2:264]
    • Belittle what you give
    • Choose the most halal, best, and most beloved wealth to you to give to charity
    • Choose the best people to give the charity to
  • How to protect oneself from greed:
    • Say: “اللهم إني أعوذ بك من البخل” (Oh Allah, I seek refuge in you from miserliness)
    • Believe in divine destiny
    • Look at those who are below us
  • Intend to do hajj at the earliest opportunity and ensure you do so
  • Try to attain the extra special level of fasting as defined above
  • Increase in voluntary fasts, especially Mondays and Thursdays, and at least 3 days of the month, preferably being the white days, which are the 13th, 14th and 15th of the Hijri month
  • Sunnah actions when fasting:
    • Have suhoor and have it late
    • Break your fast early
    • Break your fast with dates
    • Be generous in Ramadhan
    • Read the Qur’an
    • Do i’tikaf in the Masjid
    • Increase in righteous actions especially in the last ten nights of Ramadhan

One Comment on “Hadith 3. Pillars of Islam”

  1. Yusra Zainab Says:

    I have been studying about this hadith lately. It was very benefical for that purpose.


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