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Chapter-4: Islam: Six Articles of Faith and Five Pillars of Islam


The ‘articles of faith’ are orally confessed by the Muslims (believers), which should be deep rooted in the heart, they are six:

  1. To affirm his/her belief in Allah (The Creator, Just One God)
  2. To believe in His Messengers (from Adam, Noah, Abraham to Moses  and Jesus Christ (pbuh), 25 are mentioned by name in Qur’an), and Muhammad (pbuh) the Last Messenger for humanity.
  3. His BooksQuran  and all scriptures revealed to His Messengers which also include the original Torah, Psalms (Zabur) and original Gospel (Injeel) to Jesus Christ (pbuh). 
  4. To believe in Al Ghaib [metaphysical, hidden creatures] like the angels, Jinns, etc. 
  5. Resurrection after death on the Day of Judgment, accounting and the scales, hell and paradise.  
  6. Qada  & Qadar (Predestination), the good and evil of destiny are in the power of Allah, the Most High.

The pillars of faith are the physical manifestation of combination of faith and practices. Islam is based on the five obligatory pillars (principles), which are also the forms of worship (Qur’an;2:21, 43:64, 69:52); the first two (Shahada & Salah) are daily, next two (Zakat & Saum) are annual and the last (Hajj) is once in life :-

The First Pillar: Confession:
 The Muslims believe in One God- Allah, the Unique, Single God of the universe, worshiped by all the Prophets and their followers Adam -- Noah --  Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob -- Moses -- Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). The Islamic Creed of Confession (Shahada) is the verbal commitment and pledge to testify: “La ilaha Illallah , Muhammad-ur- Rasul-Allah” [None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah]. Belief in One God is repeatedly mentioned in Bible at: Deuteronomy;6:4; Isaiah;44:6, 45:21-22, Hosea; 13:4, 1 Timothy,2:5 and in Qur’an;7:158. The second part of Islamic Confession about the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) was also revealed in the Bible: Deuteronomy; 18:18,19,  Song of Solomon 5:16, John; 16:7, 12-14, 14:16 & 15:26This is the basic step towards the spiritual form of worship repeated in every prayer. The Jewish creed is embodied in a single prayer recited at every prayer service: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One", also translated as "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is unique, alone."In Hebrew this is pronounced phonetically: “ Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.” (Deuteronomy; 6:4, & Mark 12:29-30 also Deuteronomy; 5:7-9 and 6:13-15, John;5:30).
The ‘Nicene Creed’, which was promulgated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E is widely used by most of the Christians. This is a Christian statement of faith that is the only ecumenical creed because it is accepted as authoritative by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and major Protestant churches. The Nicene Creed was originally written in Greek, the modern English version of the text states: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.” It is obvious that this creed is far from the monotheism preached by Prophet Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and other prophets including Jesus Christ (peace be upon them all).

The Second Pillar: Prayer –Salah
Muslims are required to offer prayers (salah) to Allah (Qura’n;6:72) daily five times. Prayer is the physical, spiritual and social form of worship in congregation. It is general misconception that the daily prayers are only practiced in the present day Islam which is the revived faith of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Prayers (salah) have been part of faith right from the beginning, Qur’an refers them at: 2:83, 14:37, 14:40, 11:87, 3:39, 19:31, 3:113. The Prayer (salah) of a Muslim is not complete without recitation of The Opening Chapter (Surah Fateha) of (Qur’an;1:1-7). The Bible mentions about prayer at Exodus; 34:6-7, Mathew;6:9-13, also in Psalms; 7:1-17 and 8:1-9. Abraham offered prayer: “And Abram fell on his face:”(Genesis; 17:3-5), offering of prayer is also mentioned at Genesis; 18:22, 22:5, 26:25, 12:8, Exodus; 4:31, 5:3, 5:7, 5:8 & 34:8-9, Psalms;86:9,  95:5, 5:7, 55:16,  55:17, 95:6, 138:2, 1 Kings; 8:33, 34, Jeremiah;7:2, Daniel; 6:10,  9:3, Joshua;7:6, Mathew;14:23 & 17:21. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) also offered prayers: “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and said unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder”.(Mathew;26:36, 26:39). The disciples of Jesus also offered prayers: “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour”.(Acts; 3:1, 10:9, 12:12, 16:13, 16:25, 20:36, Luke; 22: 44-46, Mark; 1:35 & 9:29). Cleanliness and purity is liked by Allah “…Allah loves those who purify themselves.”(Qur’an;9:108). Ablution is obligatory for the (Salah) prayer (Qur’an;5:6). 
Ablution before prayer is also mentioned in Bible: “And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet there at:”(Exodus;40:31); “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them”.(Acts;21:26).

The Third Pillar: Obligatory Alms -Zakat: 
Obligatory Charity (Zakat) involves annual payment of a certain percentage of assets which is distributed among the poor or other rightful beneficiaries. This is a financial, social and spiritual form of obligatory worship (Qur’an;98.5, 24:56, 2:43). Charity has also been prescribed in the previous scriptures (Numbers;18:25-26, Leviticus;27:30-32, Deuteronomy;14:22, 14:28-29, 26:12,  1 Peter;4:8, Mathew;23:23-24). The massagers of God had always been emphasizing charity, which is mentioned in Qur’an at 2:83, 70:24, 5:121, 9:55,  19:31 & 21;73.

The Fourth Pillar: Fasting: 
The physical and spiritual forms of worship are combined in Saum (Fasting). This is very old form of worship which is obligatory for the Muslims as it was to the previous believers: “O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may learn self-restraint.”(Qur’an;2:183); “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, (Jonah;3:5-8). Fasting is mentioned in Bible: “And he (Jesus) said unto them (disciples), This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”(Mark;9:29) also at Exodus; 34:27-28, Leviticus;16:29-30, 2 Samuel; 1:12, 2 Samuel;12:16, Numbers; 9:1-3, Psalms;35:13, Jeremiah; 36:6, Joel; 2:12-13, Zechariah;8:18, Acts;13:2-3, Mark;9:29 & Mathew; 17:21. Every year in the lunar month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from early morning till sunset, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations with wife. Apart from spiritual benefits, fasting also has medical advantages.

The  Fifth Pillar: The Pilgrimage -Hajj: 
Performance of Hajj is the special form of worship, in which the physical, financial, social and spiritual  aspects are combined. The Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makka) is obligatory for every Muslim once in life time if one can afford financially and physically. Allah says: “And complete the Hajj or `Umra in the service of Allah.”(Qur’an;2:196); “In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the station of Abraham; Whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny Faith, Allah stands not In need of any of His creatures.”(Qur’an;3:97). Hajj revive the memory of pronouncement of Islamic monotheism (Tawheed) by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his first born Ishmael while building Ka’ba at Makka and reminder of the sacrifice of his only son Ishmael (Genesis;16:3,16:15), offered by Abraham in obedience to the command of God. Allah says: "Verily, the first house (of worship) appointed for mankind was that in Baca (Mecca), full of blessing, and guidance for all people."(Qur’an;3:96). The Bible also mentions about Baca: “As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.”(Psalms;84:6). Baca; in the ancient dialect, is synonymous with Makkah. The spring is known as the Zamzam. Some of the Hajj rituals (Qur’an;5:27 & Fiqh-us-Sunnah: 5.85) , are identical as mentioned  at Genesis; 22:2, 22:4-5, Exodus;29:26, Genesis;4:1-5, Numbers; 8:10-16, Numbers; 6:5,  6:13, & 6:18).

Jihad- The StrenuousEndeavour:

Jihad is derived from the Arabic word ‘Juhd’, which means “effort”. The verb Jahida means ‘to be tried as a result of exerting an effort or energy; making endeavor; so Jihad is to contend with difficulties and to work continually. Strenuous Efforts (Jihad) made sincerely for advancement of the cause of Allah, though not included among five pillars of Islam; but it is an important element of the Faith (ayman, Belief). Allah says: “The true believers are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, then never doubt; and make Jihad (exert their efforts) with their wealth and their persons in the cause of Allah. Such are the ones who are truthful in their claim to be the believers.”(Qur’an;49:15). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is striving (Jihad) in the way of Allah."(Fiqh As-Sunnah: 1.75). Jihad has wider meanings, it does not necessarily mean armed struggle against oppression and self defence only but other peaceful means are also included. The specific word used exclusively for warfare is Qitaal (Qur’an;2:216-217) or Qatelu, wa-Qatalu (Qar’an;4 89-91). Muslims are urged to conduct the Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira), through Qur’an. Allah says: “therefore, do not yield to the unbelievers, and make Jihad (strive) against them with this Qur'an, a mighty Jihad.”(Qur’an;25:52). The scholars have identified three main forms of Jihad, the First and foremost Jihad is to; ‘Strive against Selfish Desires’ (Nafs ammarah), to purify the heart, so that the faith (Ayman) of Islam is deeply rooted in the heart, to become fully subservient to the commands of God. Jihad is a life-long mission for the Muslims as a community to struggle against all evils, socio-economic, cultural, educational, political dogmas; superstitious and mythological concepts; and directing the Muslims towards obedience to Allah, enlightenment, refinement, progress, dignified character and honest actions. Second category of Jihad is, making strenuous efforts (Jihad) to convey the Last message of God (Islam) to the humanity(Dawah) using all means, sacrificing wealth or self being for the cause of God. Allah says: “Thus We have appointed you (Muslims) a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you.”(Qur’an;2:143); “We have given the Book as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen”.(Qur’an;35:32). The Prophet (peace be upon him) in his last sermon said: “O’ People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. … All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly”. As true followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the obligation of Muslims to pass on the Guidance and the Religion of Truth (Islam) to the humanity. This is a great responsibility so Muslims have to gain knowledge of Islam, practice it and then convey it to the humanity. The true believers may expect reward for their good deeds and salvation.
The third and top noblest form of Jihad is to fight in self defense, against oppression. Allah says: 

Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors. Kill them wherever they confront you in combat and drive them out of the places from which they have dr'iven you.[critics call it SWORD VERSE, quote out of context to malign Islam]. Though killing is bad, creating mischief is worse than killing. Do not fight them within the precincts of the Sacred Mosque unless they attack you there; but if they attack you put them to the sword; that is the punishment for such unbelievers. If they cease hostility, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Fight against them until there is no more disorder and Allah's supremacy is established. If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the oppressors.”(Qur’an;2:190-193). 

Islam urges the believers to show kindness and equity to non aggressor non Muslims: Allah says: “As for such of the unbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity. Indeed Allah loves those who act equitably. Allah only forbids you to make friendship with those who fought you on account of your faith and drove you out of your homes and backed up others in your expulsion. Those who will take them for friends are indeed the wrongdoers”(Qur’an;60:8-9). 

The tyrant rulers of the old, (especially in Arabia and around) did not allow Muslims to preach and those who embraced Islam were oppressed, killed or expelled; such people had to be subdued. According to traditional Islamic scholars, the world was divided into three zones: the House of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), where Muslims are ascendant; the House of Peace(Dar-ul-Aman), those powers with whom Muslims have peace agreements; and the House of War (Dar-ul-Harab), the rest of the world. Allah says: “Permission to fight back is hereby granted to the believers against whom war is waged and because they are oppressed (before this revelation, Muslims were not allowed to fight even for self defence); certainly Allah has power to grant them victory- those who have been unjustly expelled from their homes only because they said, "Our Lord is Allah." Had not Allah repelled some people by the might of others, the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah's praise is daily celebrated, would have been utterly demolished. Allah will certainly help those who help His cause; most surely Allah is Mighty, Powerful.”(Qur’an;22:39-40); “Warfare (Qitaal) is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows, ye know not.”(Qur’an;2:216); “And what reason do you have not to fight in the cause of Allah, to rescue the helpless oppressed old men, women, and children who are crying: "Our Lord! Deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors; send us a protector by Your grace and send us a helper from Your presence?”(Qur’an;4:75). In the present world all the nations are members of United Nations Organization and signatory to its charter of peaceful coexistence and basic human rights, whereby every human being is free to adopt and practice any faith. Hence now whole world may be termed as House of Peace (Dar-ul-Aman) except some zones where people are oppressed.

Why Companions fought against Byzantines and Iranians?
According to the traditional procedure of Allah, if a Messenger (Rasool) himself delivers the message of guidance to the community or nations, and they became rebellious by refusing to accept it: then those nations and communities were entitled to divine punishment. (Qur’an; 5:33-34, 11:117, 13:32, 28:59, 65:8, 73:15-16). Allah says: “But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a fire, to abide therein: and They shall have a humiliating punishment.”(Qur’an;4:14). Besides punishment in hereafter, the punishment in this world is either through the followers of the messenger if they are strong enough, but if they are weak in numbers and strength then the Divine punishment befalls upon them through natural calamities resulting in their destruction. The example of Divine punishment to the nations of Noah, Aad, Samood and Lot (peace be upon them) in the form of destruction through natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, tornados etc are well recorded in Bible and Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), prior to his death (632 C.E) had invited the rulers of neighboring powers to Islam through epistles and emissaries. Those who responded negatively, they were entitled for Divine punishment as per the tradition of God. After Prophet (peace be upon him), this pending task was accomplished by his successors by subduing the Byzantine and Persian empires. It is no more applicable now. Apart from Divine punishment the object of Jihad was not to coerce them to accept Islam, but to ensure that freedom of choice is provided to the people of neighboring areas to choose between truth (Haqq) and falsehood (Batil), forced conversion is prohibited by Qur’an;2:256. The non Muslims always enjoyed freedom of faith as protected citizens under Muslim rule. It is incorrect to consider every war fought by Muslims as Jihad. Jihad is the struggle only for the cause of Allah (jihad-fi-sabi-lillah): the concept of Jihad was nevertheless, used by some medieval Muslim rulers (even presently by some groups) to justify wars motivated by self power, sectarianism, geographical and economic ambitions.

The warfare for the cause of Allah (Qital) has always been permissible, and as such mentioned in the previous scriptures, Allah says: “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfills His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.”(Qur’an;9:111 also mentioned likewise at 2:54, 5:21-22, 5:26,2:251). 

The Bible declares; “And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”(Leviticus;26:7-8);“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”(1 Samel;15:3); “slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark: and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the old men that were before the house.”(Ezakhel;9:6). Also mentioned at Psalm;149:6-9, Hebrews;11:32-34, Numbers; 31:17-18, 31:35, Joshua;6:21, 10:28. In the New Testament the Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) says: “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.”(Luke;19:27), “Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword.”Mathew;10:34); “Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.”(Luke;2:51); “"I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled.”(Luke;12:49);“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division.”(Luke;12:51).“And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priests, and cut off his ear.”(Mathew;26:51).
Killing of Muslims brothers on sectarian or other people due o their different beliefs, is terrorism; it is not correct to malign Jihad in such heinous activities because the menace of sectarianism is totally rejected by Islam: Allah says: “Surely those who divide the religion into sects and identify themselves as a sect, O Muhammad, you have nothing to do with them. Their case will be called to account by Allah Himself, He will inform them as to what they did.”(Qur’an;6:159);“Be not like those who became divided into sects and who started to argue against each other after clear revelations had come to them. Those responsible for division and arguments will be sternly punished” (Qur’an;3:105)

“In fact, your religion is one religion, and I am your only Lord: so fear Me Alone. Yet people have divided themselves into factions and each faction rejoices in its own doctrines - well! Leave them in their heedlessness for an appointed time. Do they think that, in giving them wealth and children, We are eager for their welfare? By no means! They do not understand the reality of the matter.”(Qur’an;23:52-56)
“those who divide their religion into sects and become separate groups, each group rejoicing in its own circle. When an affliction befalls the people, they turn in prayer to their Lord  in repentance. But when He let them taste a blessing from Him, lo! Some of them begin to ascribe other powers a share in their Sustainers divinity, showing no gratitude for What We have given them. Enjoy yourselves; soon you will find out your folly.”(Qur’an;30:32-34). Reconciliation among Muslims brothers in conflict, is to be done with fairness and Justice: Allah says: “If two parties among the believers fall into mutual fighting, make peace between them. Then if one of them transgresses against the other, fight the one who has transgressed until he returns to the commands of Allah. Then, if he returns, make peace between them with justice and be fair; for Allah loves those who are fair and just. The believers are brothers to one another, therefore, make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah, so that you may be shown mercy.”(Qur’an;49:9-10).

In the 20th century the concept of jihad inspired Muslims in their struggle against Western colonialism, which still continues in different forms. While the theological legality of armed struggles (commonly referred as Jihad) being conducted by various armed groups against oppression and foreign occupation may have justification, but the mode of conduct of warfare in violation of principles set forth in Islam remains a hot topic of intense debate and controversies among Muslim and non Muslim thinkers. Killing of innocent people is strictly prohibited; human life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says: “whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). 
Killing of religious people, women, children, aged, sick people, animals and even cutting of trees is prohibited.(Al Muwata Hadith. Number;21.10). Suicide is not permissible (Qur’an;4:29, Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith Numbr:8.126). Killing by burning is not allowed (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.260); mutilation of  the dead bodies is prohibited (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804); safe conduct: is to be fulfilled: (Al Muwata Hadith, Number.21.12). Islam is the faith of Peace, the peace offer has to be accepted: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, do make peace with them, and put your trust in Allah. He is the One Who hears all , knows all.”(Qur’an;8:61), Grant of asylum is allowed: “If one amongst the Pagans ask Thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that He may Hear the word of Allah. and then escort Him to where He can be secure. that is because They are men without knowledge.”(Qur’an;9:6). Creating mischief  on the earth by killing innocents on the name of Jihad, amounts to malign the noble concept. Allah does not like mischief, He says : “.. and do not seek mischief in the land, for Allah does not love the mischief makers.”(Qur’an;28:77); “When it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on earth," they say: "We make peace. Be aware! They are the ones who make mischief but they do not realize it.”(Qur’an;2:11-12 similarly also at 2:60, 206, 3:63, 7:56). Allah says: “The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle and strive to create mischief in the land is death or crucifixion or the cutting off their hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land based on the gravity of their offense. This will be their humiliation in this world and in the Hereafter they will have grievous punishment,”(Qur’an;5:33). 
It is generally agreed that on failure of peace efforts, Jihad (for the cause of Allah Only) be declared by the Caliph or the Muslim ruler in consultation with the religious scholars keeping all the factors in view so that there is no deviation from the command of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him). The principles of warfare laid down by Islam must be adhered to. The noble concept of Jihad as defined by Qur’an has nothing to do with the terrorism, as practiced by some groups maligning Islam.

·       Jihad: Myth & Reality
·       Tolerance
·       Rebuttal to  Anti-Islam FAQs