Pillars of Islam


Human destiny, by Islamic lights, is a matter of man having been placed on this earth by God, so that he may be put to the test – the test being of his capacity to make correct moral choices. It is for this purpose that man has been given complete freedom, for without such freedom, the divine test would have no meaning, no validity. It is required of man that he should lead his life on earth following a regimen of strict self-discipline. Wherein should he find the guiding principles for such a course? The answer, according to Islam, is in prophethood.


A prophet is a person chosen by God as His representative. When God appoints someone as His Messenger, He sends His angel to him to inform him of his new status. In that way, the individual can have no doubts about his appointment as God’s apostle. Later, God reveals His message to him through His angels, so that he may communicate the divine teachings to all his fellow men. God has given man a mind so that he may be endowed with understanding. But this mind can only grasp things that are apparent.


In mutual dealings in social life, it often happens that a person gives his word to another. There is apparently no third person or group between the two, yet there is always a third present and that is God who is the supreme witness. That is why every promise becomes a divine promise. A believer therefore is extremely sensitive about giving his word. His conviction is that every commitment made between two persons is under the watchful eyes of God, and that he will be accountable for its fulfillment in the court of God. This compels him to be highly responsible as regards his promises.


Prayer is worship of God. It is obligatory for the believer to pray five times a day. These prayers are performed in mosques in congregation. But prior to the performance of prayer comes wudu, ablution. In ablution the hands, face, and feet are washed with water. This washing in order to cleanse awakens the feeling in man that he should always lead a life of purity. Then by uttering the words ‘God is Great’ he enters into the act of salat. This is to acknowledge that all greatness belongs to God. Thus the proper attitude for man is to lead a life of modesty and humility.


Vegetation and plants have been described in the Qur’an as a special blessing of God. According to the Qur’an; Paradise is a world of highest quality, where the believers, God’s favoured servants, will be inhabited. This abode has been called Paradise, meaning a garden, which is a special feature of paradise, referred to in the Qur’an as ‘beautiful mansions in Gardens of eternity.’ (61:12) A believer is God’s desired person. What is this desired person like? In the Qur’an he has been likened to a tree (14:24). This is a very meaningful simile.


Taqwa means piety that is, leading a life of caution and restraint in this world. Umar Farooq, the second Caliph once asked a companion of the Prophet what taqwa was. He replied, “O leader of the believers, have you ever crossed a path which has thorny shrubs on both sides?” But the companion instead of replying asked another question, “What did you do on such an occasion?” Umar Farooq replied, “I gathered my clothes close to me and moved ahead cautiously.” The companion said, “Now I know what is meant by taqwa.” The present world is a testing ground.

Peaceful Beginning

When the Qur’an began to be revealed, the first verse of the revelation conveyed the injunction: ‘Read!’ (Iqra) (96:1). By perusing this verse we learn about the initiation of Islamic action. It begins from the point where there is hope of continuing the movement along peaceful lines, and not from that point where there are chances of its being marred by violence. When the command of ‘Iqra’ was revealed, there were many options available in Mecca as starting points for a movement.


A believer is necessarily a lover of peace. In his mind faith and a desire for peace are so closely interlinked that, regardless of the circumstances, he will strive to the utmost for the maintenance of peace. He will bear the loss of anything else, but the loss of peace he will not endure. The life that the true believer desires in this world can be lived only in the propitious atmosphere which flowers in conditions of peace. Conditions of unrest breed a negative atmosphere, which to him is abhorrent. But if peace is to be maintained, it calls for a certain kind of sacrifice.

Patience (Sabr)

Patience is the exercise of restraint in trying situations. It is a virtue, which enables the individual to proceed towards worthy goals, undeflected by adverse circumstances or repeated provocations. If he allows himself to become upset by opposition, taunts or other kinds of unpleasantness, he will never reach his goals. He will simply become enmeshed in irrelevancies. The only way to deal with the irksome side of daily living is to exercise patience.