In today’s article we shall be looking at the 5 pillars of the religion of Islam. As someone growing up in a Sunni Muslim household, it was drilled into my head that the performance of these 5 pillars religiously was all that was needed to enter the Garden in the hereafter. Now, right off the bat what is interesting is that the reading of the Qur’an — with understanding of course — is nowhere in these 5 pillars of Islam. The reason it is not in there is because a man who reads the Qur’an carefully would soon realize that there are no pillars in the Qur’an — because the Qur’an does not contain the religion of Islam. Now before I proceed further, I want to give credit for most of the ideas presented here to Sam Gerrans whose entire work is available for free at quranite.com.
The five articles of faith
The religion of Islam is based on five fundamental articles of faith. A Muslim must perform them regularly to be considered a practicing Muslim.
- Shahadah; the testification of faith
- Salaat; a ritual prayer
- Sawm; fasting
- Zakat; charity
- Hajj; pilgrimage to Mecca
The shahadah, the testification of faith, is the de-facto requirement for entrance into the religion of Islam. It translates to: there is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God. However, this complete statement is not found anywhere in the Qur’an. This should come as no surprise to a student of the Qur’an because the simple fact is that Muslims do not follow the Qur’an. If you wish to challenge me on this statement, please ponder the following fact carefully: we have already established that the Qur’an is clear, complete, and fully detailed. How then is it possible that the Qur’an does not mention this fundamental requirement in full? It is not possible. Therefore, those who insist that a man must utter the shahadah — the full text of which is not found in the Qur’an — are not following the Qur’an, but outside sources.
I must impress upon the reader that Islam and islam — a state of submission to God — are entirely different concepts. The former is a membership to a group complete with rituals, dogma, and regulations. The latter is a personal choice — taken by a man who accepts individual responsibility for his actions — to believe in God and serve Him alone.
God bears witness that there is no god save He, as do the angels and those of knowledge upholding equity: “There is no god save He, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”
God himself testifies that there is no God but Him; those possessed of knowledge testify to this as well. This, then, is the true testification to which all believers must testify if they are to testify to anything. However, the truth of the matter is that the Qur’an never commands that a specific declaration be made in public or a specific formula be recited if one chooses to submit to God; it is a private matter, between God and man.
The Qur’an recounts the submission of three personalities and in each case, the complete shahadah — there is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God — was not uttered. Prophet Abraham — considered a role model by the Muslims — simply stated, “I have submitted to the Lord of All Creation” privately.
Abraham’s submission to God
And who is averse to the creed of Abraham save he who befools himself? And We chose him in the World; and in the Hereafter he is among the righteous.
When his Lord said to him: “Submit thou,” he said: “I have submitted to the Lord of All Creation.”
The sorcerers’ submission to God
And the sorcerers fell in submission.
They said: “We believe in the Lord of All Creation,
“The Lord of Moses and Aaron.”
Queen Sheba’s submission to God
(It was said to her: “Enter thou the palace.” But when she saw it, she thought it a body of water and uncovered her legs. He said: “It is a palace made smooth with glass.”) She said, “My Lord: I have wronged my soul, and I submit with Solomon to God, the Lord of All Creation.”
There is another grave problem with the shahadah; it treats of Muhammad as being a special messenger. The Qur’an specifically states that the believers do not make a distinction between any of God’s messengers. We must hear and obey these imperatives completely and sincerely if we claim to follow the Qur’an.
The Messenger believes in what is sent down to him from his Lord, as do the believers; each believes in God and His angels, and His Writs and His messengers: “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say: “We hear and we obey; Thy forgiveness our Lord[…]. And to Thee is the journey’s end.”
Perhaps the biggest problem with the shahadah is that Muslims are attaching the name of a man with the name of God, the Almighty. This is against strict Qur’anic commands to not set up any partners with God. Of course, Muslims will never agree to let go of their invented and inherited shahadah, as the Qur’an states:
And when God alone is remembered, the hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter shrink with aversion; but when those besides Him are remembered, then they rejoice.
Muslims claim that their religion requires the performance of a ritual prayer five times a day. In broad strokes, a Muslim performs this prayer, called salaat, by facing the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He stands and recites short chapters from the Qur’an in Arabic — regardless of whether he understands them or not. After this recitation, he bows, stands, prostrates, and sits in a specific manner. Depending on the prayer time, he might repeat these actions multiple times. He then concludes his prayer by greeting the two angels — which he believes are — sitting on his shoulders.
Salaat is not a ritual prayer according to the Qur’an. If, for a moment, we entertain the possibility that it is a ritual prayer then we arrive at another problem. The three names of these salaats (zuhr, asr and maghrib) are not mentioned in the Qur’an. Only two salaats are mentioned by name (fajr and isha). This is an incontestable fact. However, the troubles for Muslims do not end here. God commands the believers to uphold the salaat in many places in the Qur’an but the details of how to perform such an important ritual are not present even though the Qur’an claims to be sufficient for guidance.
However, if we take a step back and look at the usage of the word salaat across the entire Qur’an, we realize that it is an abstract noun which simply means duty. It is precisely because Muslims approach the Qur’an with inherited ideas that they misunderstand the Qur’an’s treatment of this word. They reflexively think ritual prayer when they read the word salaat in the Qur’an. When they do not find the details of this ritual prayer in the Qur’an, they revert to non-Quranic sources. This is not an honest approach. We are to take the Qur’an’s claim of being clear, complete and fully detailed seriously and investigate its usage of the word salaat; not what we think it means. The Qur’an uses salaat to mean duty and we can infer what a specific duty is by looking at the context. It is true that worship is a duty but not all duties are worship. Reading the Qur’an, remembering God, fighting in the cause of God, being grateful to God etc. are all salaats i.e. duties.
Sawm which means fasting, is another requirement of the religion of Islam. Muslims must fast throughout a special holy month called ramadan. During the fast, which lasts from dawn to sunset, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse.
A religion lives and dies on standardized requirements. Its followers then try to do the bare minimum of these requirements and hope that their efforts will be enough to satisfy their respective deity. Unfortunately for the religionists, the Qur’an does not work this way. It provides fundamental commandments and leaves it up to an individual to operate within these guidelines. Every man can judge his own efforts. It is true that fasting is recommended in the Qur’an, but a man must decide for himself how many days he wishes to fast.
O you who heed warning: fasting is prescribed for you: — as it was prescribed for those before you, that you might be in prudent fear —
For days numbered. And whoso among you is sick or on a journey: then a number of other days. And for those who are able to do it is a redemption: feeding a needy person. And whoso does good voluntarily, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you, if you would know.
A moon of scorching heat was that in which the Qur’an was sent down, a guidance for mankind, and clear signs of the guidance and the Division[…]. So whoso among you witnesses the moon, let him fast in it. And whoso of you is sick or on a journey: then a number of other days. God desires for you ease, and He desires not for you hardship; but that you complete the number; and that you magnify God for guiding you; and that you might be grateful.
And when My servants ask thee concerning Me: “I am near.” I respond to the call of the caller when he calls to Me. So let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me, that they might be guided.
It is made lawful for you on the night of the fast to go in unto your women. They are a covering for you, and you are a covering for them. God knows that you deceived yourselves, so He turned towards you and pardoned you; so now lie with them and seek what God has prescribed for you. And eat and drink until clear to you be the white thread from the black thread of the dawn. Then complete the fast until night. And lie with them not when you remain in the places of worship. Those are the limits of God, so approach them not. Thus does God make plain His proofs to men, that they might be in prudent fear.
Muslims cite the above verses to justify their practice of fasting throughout a holy month called ramadan. However, the word ramadan simply means scorching heat; Muslims assume that it is the name of a month. Furthermore, it does not say to fast during this month but to fast in it, i.e. we are to fast a number of days every month. It is left up to the individual how many days he wishes to fast.
According to Islam, zakat is a mandatory charitable contribution, often considered to be a tax. The amount is fixed at 2.5% of one’s savings. This percentage is nowhere in the Qur’an. The Qur’an uses the word sadaqah to mean charity. God has given us the leeway to decide the amount of sadaqah we should give. Similarly, he has left it to us to decide who to give charity to. Forcing individuals to pay this amount to the state, as is done in certain Islamic countries, is anathema to Qura’nic principles of self-determination and liberty.
According to the Qur’an, zakat means purification, and I shall investigate this word carefully in a different article. Certainly, almsgiving leads to self-purification but claiming that zakat is an annual obligatory religious tax is not supported by the Qur’an.
The last pillar of the religion of Islam, called Hajj, is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Among other activities, pilgrims perform the tawaf by circling the Kaaba seven times. They push and shove each other in hopes of kissing a “special” stone the Hajaru-al-Alaswad encased in its corner. The pilgrims then walk — or run — between two hills seven times. They also throw seven stones at three pillars on separate occasions. They then purchase “animal sacrifice vouchers” — which allows an animal to be slaughtered on a certain day without the pilgrim being physically present. The pilgrims then conclude the Hajj by performing a farewell circling of the Kaaba seven times.
Any objective man can see that these are pagan rituals. The Islamic religion attacks the Hindu religion for its paganistic practices but is blind to the fact that it is doing the same. These practices are not mentioned in the Qur’an. It is true that the Qur’an mentions hajj, but its core meaning is of debate. The point of hajj was pilgrimage to the house, debating with people and feeding the poor. Here is an article deconstructing the Hajj using the Qur’an alone.
The hajj, as practiced by Abraham, Muhammad and the believers in his time is no more. We do not have the details of the performance of the hajj anywhere in the Qur’an. Nor do we know the site of this pilgrimage. This is a bitter pill for the Muslims to follow. Rather than accept that God is not a local Arab god with a cultic center in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the inventors of the Islamic religion incorporated their pagan Arab rituals into the hajj of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an usage of the word tawaf (2:125, 7:201, 22:26, 68:19) is also of interest as this word is used in a general sense to move about. It is never used to denote a ritualistic movement — walking, running, circling seven times — around a stone idol i.e. the Kaaba.
So, to recap, there can be no doubt that the five pillars of the religion of Islam were derived from un-Quranic sources. This proves that the religion of Islam is not in the Qur’an but a later invention and has nothing to do with submission to God which is the doctrine God enjoined upon all his messengers and prophets including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
God willing until the next time,
Peace and blessings be upon you,