The purpose and importance of the Five Pillars: Islam 2.10/2.11

The Pillars are important acts of worship that develop the Muslim character and strengthen Islam. Muslims are commanded by Allah to carry out these duties and to follow the example of the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wassallam) in the manner they perform these duties. The importance of the pillars can be remembered by spelling out the word RUSH. So the pillars:

  • Remind Muslims about the teachings of Islam 
  • Unite Muslims and strengthen links between them as they worship only Allah and follow the example of the Prophet 
  • Support the development of consciousness of Allah and taqwa (piety) of Him
  • Help Muslims to put Allah first in everything they do

And each pillar has its own special importance:

Shahaadah: This pillar reminds the Muslims about the purpose of their life which is to worship Allaah alone by following the teachings of His Messenger. When they declare their faith, they are united with other Muslims as everyone tries to fulfill this purpose and feel closer to Allaah.

Salaah: Salaah reminds Muslims of their duty to Allaah, in worshipping Him throughout their lives, and that all Muslims are equal in front of Allaah. It brings Muslims together and makes them feel Allaah is watching them at all times. It stops them from making everyday life more important than serving Allaah. This is because ordinary life stops for prayer.

Zakaah: Zakaah reminds richer Muslims of their duty to the poor and strengthens the feelings of brotherhood among Muslims. It also stops wealthy Muslims from making money more important than Allaah.

Sawm: Sawm reminds Muslims of the teachings of the Qur’aan because the whole Qur’aan is usually recited throughout this month. It unites them because they are all fasting together and break the fast together. It make them focus on their faith and stops them from making the desires of the body more important than service to Allaah.

Hajj: The Hajj reminds Muslims of Ibraaheem (alaihi salaam) and his worship and devotion to Allaah alone – so Muslims do the same. It brings the international community of Muslims together. It makes them focus on Allaah and teaches the importance of sacrifice.

How important are the pillars? All the pillars are commanded by Allaah but not all of them are duties for all Muslims, as those who are unable are excused by God. Those who are too ill to fast, or too poor to pay Zakaah or go on Hajj, can still lead a life of total obedience to Allaah. That leaves the Prayer – those who cannot do the movements of the prayer because they are too sick or too old, can sit or even lie down to pray. This shows the great mercy of Allaah in that “Allaah does not burden a soul more than it can bear.” (Qurān) 

A person does that which is obligated upon him in his capacity and in accordance to his strength just as Allaah and the Prophet have explained in the Qur’aan and Sunnah. All of this in order to make you a better Muslim and to do the best you can in every situation. 

Questions:

  1. What are Muslims reminded about when they declare their faith?
  2. How does Salaah unite the Muslims?
  3. “Allaah expects more from a rich person than a poor person…it’s not fair” What do think a Muslim scholar would say about such a comment?
  4. Fasting is once a year and prayer is daily. Mention some benefits of each.
  5. Poorer Muslims may never make Hajj. Does that mean they are not good Muslims? What else can they do?
  6. What is RUSH?
  7. Write a few sentences about each of the Pillars as to when and how it is performed.

Islam 2.11 Summary – Five Pillars and Chapter

For the examination you should be able to:

  1. Know and understand Muslim attitudes to the Five Pillars.
  2. Recall and explain what the Shahaadah is, including the concept of the Oneness of God and prophethood.
  3. Explain the practice of Salaah and consider the importance of prayer in Islaam.
  4. Understand the meaning and importance of:
  • the call to prayer
  • wudoo and the rak’ahs
  • Jumu’ah and du’aa prayers
  1. Explain the practice of Zakaah and consider its importance.
  2. Explain the practice of Sawm (fasting) in the month of Ramadaan and consider its importance.
  3. Explain the practice of Hajj and its importance.
  4. Recall what happens at each of the sites of pilgrimage: Makkah, ‘Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina – understand the meaning and importance of these rituals and customs.

Questions:

  1. “For Muslims, prayer is more important than pilgrimage.” What do you think? Explain your answer. (3 marks)
  2. Explain why the Ka’bah is important to Muslims. (4 marks)
  3. Describe what Muslims do when they go to the Ka’bah on pilgrimage. (4 marks)
  4. What are the conditions of “laa ilaaha illallaah”? (8 marks)
  5. “Muslims do not need a special place in which to worship God.” Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer, showing that you have thought about more than one point of view. You may bring a view and rebut it. (6 marks)
  6. Explain how Muslims carry out the duty of fasting in Ramadaan. (4 marks)
  7. “God knows everything, so there is no point in praying to Him.” This is a wrong thing for a Muslim to think. Why? Give reasons for your answer showing that you have thought about more than one point of view. You may bring a view and rebut it. (6 marks)

NOTE:

I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school could also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books (especially Religious Studies) and adapted them for my classes.

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