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The 5 Pillars Of Islam Explained To Kids

The 5 Pillars Of Islam Explained To Kids

Islam consists of five pillars: Ash-Shahadah (the testimony), As-Salah (the prayer), Az-Zakah (alms-giving), As-Sawm (fasting, during the month of Ramadan), and Al-Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). Let’s talk about each of them to learn more about our complete deen (religion)!

1. Ash-Shahadah, The Testimony of Faith

Ash-Shahadah (the testimony of faith) is the first pillar of Islam. In its shortest form:

لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
[lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh]
“There is no god but God” and “Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

The testimony is about declaring our faith in the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى (in Arabic, tawheed) and our firm belief that Prophet Muhammad has been chosen by Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى to be His Messenger, and Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى has sent him to all of humanity to teach the Message of Islam.


2. As-Salah, The Prayer

As-Salah is the second pillar of Islam. It refers to the five daily prayers that are obligatory upon every Muslim once he or she has reached the time of puberty. These five prayers have their determined times and have to be performed during those specific times, as Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى says in the Quran:

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

“The Prayer is enjoined upon the believers at stated times.” (Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:103)

Besides fulfilling our religious duty towards Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, there are many benefits that the five obligatory prayers can bring to our lives, such as discipline, focus, peace and a sense of purpose as we do what Allahسُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى  has created us for: to worship Him.


3. Az-Zakah, The Almsgiving

Az-Zakah is the third pillar of Islam and the word “zakah” is derived from the Arabic root word meaning to purify or to increase. Zakah refers the
act of giving a portion of one’s wealth to the ones in need in our community. This is an annual obligation (meaning, something to be done once a year) for any Muslim who has the means to do so. Just like the other four pillars of Islam, Zakah is an important part of our way of life and Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى mentions it numerous times in the Quran as a means to purify ourselves and share the blessings that Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى has given us:

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ
الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ
سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong
and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them.
Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:71)

خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا وَصَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ إِنَّ صَلَاتَكَ سَكَنٌ
لَّهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke
[Allah ‘s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and
Knowing.” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:103)

Besides fulfilling our religious duty towards Allah SWT, there are many other benefits that zakah can bring to our
lives, such as caring for others, being aware of the difficulties others might be going through, becoming more
grateful for all that Allah SWT gives us constantly, and a sense of purpose as we do what Allah SWT has created us
for: to worship Him.

4. As-Sawm, Fasting in the Month of Ramadan

As-Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadan) is the fourth pillar of Islam. During the Islamic month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic (or Hijri) year, Muslims (starting at the age of puberty) are expected to fast from dawn (when the Fajr prayer comes in) to dusk (when the Maghrib prayer comes in). We abstain from eating and drinking during the day to respond to Allah’s سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى command in the Quran, where He says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become
righteous” (2:183)

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ
فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of
guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it” (2:185)


5. Al-Hajj, The Pilgrimage

Al-Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It refers to the pilgrimage (journey) to the Ka’bah, the House of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and consists of a series of rituals and acts of worship that need to be fulfilled at a specific time of the year as prescribed by Allah SWT. This prescribed time take place from the 8th to the 12th or 13th day of the Hijri month of Dhul Hijjah, which is the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar, following Dhul Qa’dah and preceding Muharram. Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى says in the Quran:

وَأَذِّن فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ ‎﴿٢٧﴾‏
لِّيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن
بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۖ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ ‎﴿٢٨﴾‏ ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ
وَلْيُوفُوا نُذُورَهُمْ وَلْيَطَّوَّفُوا بِالْبَيْتِ الْعَتِيقِ ‎﴿٢٩﴾‏ ذَٰلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ حُرُمَاتِ اللَّهِ
فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ ۗ وَأُحِلَّتْ لَكُمُ الْأَنْعَامُ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ فَاجْتَنِبُوا
الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ
“Proclaim the Pilgrimage to all people. They will come to you on foot and on every kind of swift mount, emerging
from every deep mountain pass to attain benefits and celebrate God’s name, on specified days, over the livestock He
has provided for them– feed yourselves and the poor and unfortunate– so let the pilgrims perform their acts of
cleansing, fulfill their vows, and circle around the Ancient House.’ All this [is ordained by God]: anyone who
honors the sacred commands of God will have good rewards from his Lord.” (Surah Al-Hajj, 22:27-30)


This article was originally published in our Studio Arabiya Times magazines (Winter 2021 through Spring 2023). CLICK HERE to read past issues!

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