The Five Pillars of Islam

According to Muslims, there are Five Pillars at the core of a Muslim’s duty to worship God. These five obligations of every Muslim fortify the Islamic faith. They guide every Muslim into a life of servitude to God.

The Five Pillars include shahada (the profession of faith), salah (prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting) and hajj (pilgrimage).

This article is the first in a series designed to familiarize us with these core beliefs, discovering hidden gems that open the door for friendship and witness to Muslim people.

Shahada, the first of the Five Pillars, is what is known as a profession of faith or “bearing witness.” It is a two-part statement. The first part is, “I bear witness that there is no god but God.” The second half of the profession is “and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” By saying the complete statement, “I bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God,” a person becomes a Muslim. These words are so important that they are the first spoken to a newborn baby and the last uttered by a person who is dying.

The first part affirms Islamic monotheism and confirms reliance on God. In fact, the wordings of the first part are somewhat based on the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Jesus quoted this verse in answering a question about which is the most important commandment (Mark 12:28). The concept of the oneness of God is biblical (Deuteronomy 4:39, 32:39, Isaiah 44:6). Islam has adapted it from pre-existing Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Submission is the core principle in worshiping the True One God. The Bible details how. We fear Him, walk in all His ways, love Him, serve Him with heart and soul and keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Submission is total obedience, surrendering one’s will to the True God and finding a complete state of peace—peace with the Creator, peace of mind and heart, and peace in society. Submission is how you build a relationship with God the Creator and the Redeemer.

Now, we do not accept the prophethood of Muhammad, so I usually answer that the Qur’anic role of Muhammad is as a bearer of good news and a forewarner. So Muhammad came to witness about whom? What is the good news he came to bear? About what is he warning people? Muhammad came to remind them of what and whom?

In conversing with Muslims, it is important to emphasize our belief in the One and only God, submitting everything to Him (James 4:7-10), obeying His teaching and living it daily in our lives, and depending on His mercy for our salvation and daily needs. That is the great shahada (testimony) that we can give.