The Foundations

They were not commanded but to serve God, being sincere to Him in obedience, and upright, and to establish the Prayer and pay the Due-Alms. (98:5)

It is not easy to reform a world fallen deep in misdeeds. In spite of knowledge, men are liable to fall prey to temptations, greed, envy, pride and prejudices. Certain drills have, therefore, been given to mankind, by the All-knowing, All-Wise God to condition them so that they adhere to His right path. They reminded people constantly and tune them in a manner that obedience to God and sense of virtue and goodness become their very nature. They are unconsciously drawn to obedience and goodness. Differences vanish and fraternity develops, provided these drills are carried in a correct manner and in their true spirit.

It is a Five-point Program viz. (a) Testimony, (b) Prayer, (c) Due-Alms, (d) Pilgrimage and (e) Fasting. They are called the Pillars of Islam, as the House of Islam cannot stand without them. They are the foundations on which the House stands. Their performance is essential to inculcate Islam in the soul making it subservient to God. They were, therefore, given to all peoples in all ages. They are found in all the communities. They differ in form from place to place, but forms do not matter as long as the essence and the spirit remain the same.

Jesus said, ‘I am God’s servant; He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet and made me blessed wherever I may be, and enjoined upon me the Prayer and the Due-Alms-giving, so long as I live. (19:30-31)

Ishmael bade his family the Prayer and the Due-Alms-giving. (19:55)

(O Moses!) Verily I am God, there is no god except Me, so serve Me and establish the Prayer for My remembrance. (20:14)

God took compact with the Children of Israel… if you establish the Prayer and pay the Due-Alms and believe in My Messengers and aid them, and lend to God a good loan, I will acquit you of your evils and admit you to gardens underneath which rivers flow. (5:12)

These drills were given as big tools in the hands of man to help him to achieve the ends. But man always forgot the ends and made these tools purposeless ceremonies. He even neglected them altogether, except for some bowing to God or an occasional act of charity. Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, (may God bless him), brought them afresh in a perfect shape for all people and for all ages to come.



There is no god except God;  Muhammad is God’s Messenger.

This is a declaration which everyone must testify. This is the foundation-stone of Islam. This is its First Pillar. This is an all-embracing Statement.

By first part of the Testimony one declares God, the creator, as the only Master and King, as the Sole Power in the world, as the Sole Guide and Protector, and thus one is taught to deny and reject all false gods that enslave humanity. This is a declaration of freedom of man. This lifts him above seven skies. After this, everything falls as dust before him. All men appear to him equal, humble and insignificant. It is a signal of equality of mankind.

Its second part states that Muhammad (may God bless him) speaks on behalf of God. His Message (Quran) is not a feat of his own wisdom which may or may not be accepted. It is a Message from God describing the Original Law on which man was created, and is, therefore, infallible and binding. If you reject or disregard even a word of it, you break God’s Original Law and invite disaster.

Thus, this Testimony is the Gate to Islam. You enter the House of Islam through it.

It is a big contract. You are henceforth a servant of God. You have sold yourself to Him. Your life and your property are all His. You live and die for Him. You have denied your very self.



Man is asked to perform the Prayer five times a day so that he continuously remembers God during his various activities and is able to control the rebellious temptations of the Devil. It is, moreover, not a prayer in isolation for his spiritual uplift only. He joins others, at fixed times, and stands in a line, under a commander, and bows and prostrates before God, all facing the central Mosque (Ka’ba) at Mecca. In addition, special congregation is enjoined on each Friday afternoon, so that the leaders may remind people of their duties.

Establish the Prayer; the Prayer forbids the Indecencies and the dejected. (29:45)

Establish the Prayer; the Prayer is a timed prescription for the Believers. (4:103)

Turn thy face towards the Sacred Mosque; and wherever you people may be, turn your faces towards it. (2:150)

For everyone is a direction to which he turns, so rush to good works; wherever you may be, God will bring you all together. (2:148)

O Believers, when call for the Prayer of the Day of Congregation is made, hasten to God’s remembrance and leave trading; that is better for you if you knew. Then, when the Prayer is finished, scatter in the land and seek God’s bounty, and remember God much that you may prosper. (62:9-10)

O Believers, when you stand up for the Prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. And if you are defiled, purify yourselves. But if you are sick or on a journey, or if any of you comes from the privy, or you have touched women and find no water, then have recourse to clean earth, and wipe your faces and your hands with it. (5:6)

O Believers, do not draw near to the Prayer, when you are drunken, until you know what you say. (4:43)

Establish the Prayer at the two ends of the day and early hours of the night; good takes away the evil; surely that is a remembrance for those who remember. (11:114)

Call on your Lord, humbly and secretly; He loves not the transgressors. And do not cause disorder in the land after its reformation, and call on Him fearfully and eagerly; mercy of God is near to the good-doers. (7:55-56)

If they repent, establish the Prayer and pay the Due-Alms, they are your brothers in Religion. (9:11)

Those who recite the Book of God, establish the Prayer, and expend of what We have provided them, secretly and in public, look for a trade that shall never perish. (35:29)

Nothing prevents their expending from being accepted, except that they have disbelieved in God and in His Messenger, and they do not come to the Prayer but Lazily, and they do not expend but that they are averse. (9:54)

Thus, through Prayer, man not only remembers God, the source of all virtue, all the time, but he also looks after his material gains, eagerly and fearfully.

He is taught fraternity and natural equality of man in spite of differences in economic status, color or race. He learns punctuality, discipline and obedience of his commander. He is taught to be clean and smart. His life is regulated around five times fixed for the Prayer. He comes to belong to an organization which is spread all over the world. During all this, he bows before God without any intermediary and is thus raised to the highest status that man can ever dream of. He prays for the Straight Path which brings God’s blessings. The words he speaks are important, and he must know what he is praying for, yet his movements alone—standing erect, bowing and prostrating—go on drilling in his unconscious mind a sense of obedience to God and listening to the commands of his leader. There is no better way to unite mankind, make them disciplined and smart, and direct them to the right path.

The following verses will show that the Prayer is also meant to improve the affairs of this world and to bring about unity, fraternity and special care for the orphans and the needy. A mosque which is built to cause division in the ranks of the Believers is not acceptable to God.

Those who made a mosque to harm and create unbelief and division among the Believers, and as a place of ambush for him who fought God and His Messenger aforetime, they will surely swear, ‘we desired not but good’, but God testifies that they are certainly liars---Stand in it never. (9:107-108)

Hast thou seen him who gives lies to the Religion? That is the one who repulses the orphan and urges not the feeding of the needy; Woe to worshippers who are unmindful of their Prayer, those who make display but refuse acts of kindness. (107)

In extreme emergencies, the Prayer may be cut short, or replaced only with remembrance of God, in any available position.

Be watchful over the prayers and the main Prayer, and stand obedient to God. And if you are in fear, then (pray) afoot or mounted. And when you are secure, remember God as He has taught you what you knew not. (2:238-239)

When you journey in the land, there is no blame on you that you shorten the Prayer, if you fear that the unbelievers may put you to trouble; the unbelievers are surely an open enemy to you. And when thou art among them and conducts the Prayer for them, let a group of them stand with thee and let them hold their weapons. Then, when they have prostrated themselves, let them be away from you and let the other group who have not prayed, come and pray with thee, and let them take their precautions and their weapons. The unbelievers wish that you should neglect your weapons and your baggage and they rush on you all at once. However, there is no blame on you, if you are in trouble due to rain or you are sick, that you lay aside your weapons, but do take your precautions; God has prepared for the unbelievers a humiliating punishment. (4:101-102)


DUE - ALMS (Zakat)

Men differ in intelligence and physical strength, hence in their capacities to earn and to save. This makes them rich or poor, then haughty or meek. To help the poor, therefore, the Religion of God taught Due-Alms-giving throughout ages. Indeed, the two biggest themes of all religions have been Prayer and Due-Alms. The Quran stirs people to acts of charity in many ways and curses those who try to gather riches and do not care for the needy.

You will not attain virtue until you expend of what you love. (3:92)

In their wealth is a known right for the beggar and the destitute. (70:24-25)

Woe to every backbiter, slanderer, who gathers riches and counts them over, thinking that his riches will make him immortal. No indeed, he shall be flung into the Crusher; and what teaches thee what the Crusher is? It is the kindled fire of God that mounts up over the hearts, covered down upon them, in columns outstretched. (104)

As for the orphan, do not oppress him; and as for the beggar scold him not; and as for thy Lord’s blessing, declare it. (93:9-11)

Woe to the idolaters, those who pay not the Due-Alms and who disbelieve in the Hereafter. (41:6-7)

Due-Alms add to the feelings of mercy, thankfulness and mutual love. They protect the poor and the destitute from utter destruction. Without them, there would be no mutually supporting society and even the gatherings at the Prayer will be an empty show. That is why the Quran mentions both the Prayer and Due-Alms together. One without the other does not fulfil God’s purpose. Ultimate aim of both of them is to equalize the human society, and that cannot be achieved without simultaneous effects of both. Moreover, what use is the wealth which a few hold while the humanity at large suffers.

They ask thee as to what they should expend; say, ‘the surplus.’ (2:219)

O Believers, expend of the good things you earn and of that which We bring forth for you from the earth. Devil promises you poverty and bids you to indecency, while God promises you His forgiveness and bounty; God is All-Embracing, Knowing, Who gives wisdom to whom He will. And whatever good you expend shall be repaid to you, and you will not be wronged. (2:267-272)



Abraham, the straight-forward, the father of many a Prophet, born in a community of idol-worshippers, left them. He settled his son, Ishmael, in the barren valley of Mecca where the two built the first House of God so that people may come there to worship God in stead of idols, and revolve round His House. He prayed for peace and plenty for the uncultivated land so that it may stay as a living symbol of God for all times to come.

When Abraham said, ‘my Lord, make this land secure and save me and my sons from serving idols; my Lord, they have led astray many men; now he who follows me shall be of me, and he who disobey me, then Thou art Forgiving, Merciful. Our Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a valley not cultivable, by Thy Sacred House, our Lord, that they establish the Prayer; so make hearts of men yearn towards them, and provide them with fruits, that may be thankful. (14:35-37)

The first House established for men is the one at Mecca, blessed and a guidance for the world. In it are Clear Signs, the Station of Abraham; and whoso enters it is secured. And men are obliged to pilgrim the House for the sake of God, whoso can afford to make his way to it. (3:96-97)

Safa and Marwa are among the way-marks of God, so he who makes Pilgrimage or Visitation to the House, there is no blame on him to go about them; and whoso volunteers good, God is Grateful, Knowing. (2:158)

Abraham’s prayers and efforts were duly heard and rewarded. No other place on the earth is so much the cause of worship of God as Mecca and its first House of God. People who have visited it bear testimony that peace of body and mind prevails there, and everything , including fruits, is available in plenty; and this is at a place which draws its main water supply from the hills of Taif, forty miles away.

Now, every year, on a fixed date, Muslims, from all over the world, who can afford, visit Mecca. Clad in a pair of unseen clothes (Ihram), they revolve round the Central House of God (Ka ‘ba), run about between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa (as Abraham’s wife Hajira did in search of water), go out of the city camping for 3-4 days, sacrifice some animal in memory of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son in the way of God, and shave their heads.

Proclaim among men the Pilgrimage and they shall come unto thee on foot and upon every lean carrier, coming from every distant ravine, that they may witness profits for them, and mention God’s Name in the known days, over the cattle, He has provided for them --- ‘eat thereof and feed the poor and the distressed’: then let them end with their dirt, fulfil their vows, and go about the Ancient House. (22:27-29)

Perform the Pilgrimage (Hajj) and the Visitation (Umra) for God. And if you are prevented, then whatever offering is feasible, but do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its place of sacrifice. And if any of you is sick or has an ailment in his head, then redemption by fasting or Due-Alms or ritual sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoso carries Visitation unto the Pilgrimage, let there be offering as is feasible; and any who does not find it shall fast for three days during the Pilgrimage, and seven when you return; that is ten complete; this is for him whose family is not present at the Sacred Mosque; and fear God and know that God is terrible in retribution. The Pilgrimage is in months known; then those who undertake the duty of Pilgrimage in them, let there be no obscenity, no wickedness and no disputing during pilgrimage; and whatever good you will do, God will know it. And take provision, and the best provision is godfearing, so fear Me, O men of wisdom! There is no blame on you in that you should seek bounty from your Lord; so when you press on form Arafat, remember God by the Sacred Way-mark, and remember Him as He has guided you, for you were indeed astray before this. Then press on from where the people press on, and ask for God’s Forgiveness; God is Forgiving, Merciful. Then, when you have completed your rites, remember God as you remember your fathers or more devoutly --- And remember God during the appointed days. Then, any who hastens in two days, it is no sin on him; and he who delays, it is no sin on him; it is for him who fears. And fear God, and know that you shall be mustered unto Him. (2:196-203)

Eat of them and feed the contented and the beggar; their flesh shall not reach God, nor their blood; but your fear of God does reach Him. (22:36-37)

O Believers, profane not the Way-marks of God, nor the Sacred Month, nor the Offering, nor the Necklaces, nor those repairing to the Sacred House, seeking from their Lord bounty and pleasure. (5:2)

O Believers, do not kill the game when you are in Pilgrim sanctity; if any of you kills it intentionally, the recompense shall be the like of what he killed in flocks, as judged by two men of equity among you, as an offering to reach Ka’ba; or expiation thereof is feeding of the needy, or equivalent of that in fasting, so that he may taste the mischief of his action---- Permitted to you is the game of the sea and food of it, a provision for you and the journeyer; but forbidden to you is the game of the land, so long as you are in pilgrim sanctity. (5:94-96)

By such physical ceremonies, man spiritually goes around God, his spirit trying to merge in Him. It shows complete submission and readiness to lay down his very life in time of need. It is indeed the most difficult pledge that he makes. During Prayer he stood erect, as if waiting for the orders, and here he marches to the goal.

He goes out camping like a soldier and sacrifices an animal only to show his willingness to die in the same manner when so required. He shaves his head to shed his evils symbolically. Clad as he is, he reaches the depth of humility and climax of spiritualism. He shows the world that mankind is one community which could unite only under the leadership of God.

It provides the Muslims an opportunity for an annual world conference of common men to discuss and solve their problems. It breaks geographical barriers and reminds mankind that the are one body – citizens of same one earthen hemisphere. It brings economic prosperity, as trade is permissible during the season, nay, it is inevitable.



Fasting makes the body feel weak and humble; and thereby affects the soul. It kills arrogance and pride, and reminds of the problems of the poor. Thus it makes one godfearing. It also gives practice in going without food in time of need. It was enjoined by all earlier Messengers of God but, again, it was given a perfect shape at the hands of Muhammad (may God bless him).

O Believers, prescribed for you is fasting, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Godfearing, for days numbered; and if any of you is sick or on a journey, then that number on other days; and for those who can afford, a redemption by feeding a poor man --- the month of Ramazan let him who witnesses it, fast. --- It is lawful to you on the night of fasting to go in to your wives --- Eat and drink until the white thread shows clearly to you from the black thread at the dawn, then complete the fast till night. And do not go to them while you stay in the mosques. (2:183-187)


Optional Additions

It must have been noted by now that this program is a handsome combination of both spiritual and material uplift of human society.

The main purpose of the Prayer is remembrance of God, but it also turns the people into a disciplined fraternity. Due-Alms initially appeal and polish the sense of mercy, the root of virtue, and raise one spiritually, but they also help in the material good of the community. Pilgrimage takes man to the heights of spiritualism by making him to revolve round God’s Ancient House, His biggest Sign on the earth, but, at the same time, it teaches him unity of mankind, practice in camping for war, and opportunity to travel, trade and commercial benefits. Fasting subdues baser emotions and improves spirit, but also improves bodily health by giving rest to various organs, and providing stamina to bear the strain of battles. To obtain these benefits, it has been ordained that every Muslim shall pray five times a day, pay prescribed Due-Alms once a year, visit the House of God once in life, and fast for a month every year. This is the minimum obligation for everyone who can afford.

But just as there is no end to perfection, all these acts may be performed more frequently, to obtain more benefits. Ultimate aim may be to remember God all the time, to be able to distribute everything in Due-Alms, to visit Ka’ba annually, and to fast more often than a month, so that the devil is completely subdued and man attains perfection.

All this is to receive God’s pleasure without shedding the world. In fact, the world is to be held only by men of God.


(One big reason for failure of Muslims to dominate the World during past centuries is their failure to implement this program vigorously and intelligently in its true spirit).


The Holy Quran Society