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What is the importance of these five pillars? What happens if one of them is missing in someone's practice?

I understand that each of these five ibadats/pillars actually exist in Islam, but why do Muslims group them together and call them pillars? When did people start calling them pillars of Islam and why?

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-1 this question is actually very generic. Is there something more specific you want to know? –  ashes999 Jun 19 '12 at 20:25
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What are you having trouble understanding, specifically? See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Pillars_of_Islam Stack Exchange generally works better when you ask very specific questions about problems you are encountering. When a question is posed as "tell me everything you know about...", this forum is not well equipped up to provide that type of encyclopedic knowledge. –  Robert Cartaino Jun 20 '12 at 14:48
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closed as not a real question by Robert Cartaino Jun 20 '12 at 14:48

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There are two main reasons why we call them pillars. The first is that they are arkaan (pillars), which is a technical term in the science of deriving law (usool-ul-fiqh).

The technical definition of a pillar (rukn) is something that, if it is missing, then whatever it holds up is broken. Similarly, these five pillars are the foundational basis of Islam, like pillars of a building.

Also, there is a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which mentions that "Islam was built upon five (pillars)." [Collection of 40 hadith by Imam Nawawi]. In this hadith, the wording use directly implies building pillars.

Just to be clear, the five pillars are:

  • Belief in Allah (and generally: the revealed books, the angels, the prophets, the Day of Judgment, etc.)
  • Praying five times a day at specific times and in a specific format
  • Giving 2.5% of savings to the poor
  • Fasting in the daytime in the Islamic month of Ramadan
  • Making pilgrimage to Mecca to perform the rights of Hajj (pilgrimage)

If someone is missing one of the middle three pillars, then their Islam is deficient (incomplete). Technically, it means that they are sinful for not doing that action.

If someone is missing pillar #1 (belief in Allah) -- for example, denying the existence of God -- they may or may not be Muslim. It depends on the severity of the belief.

The final pillar (Hajj) is contingent on you having the means (physical and financial) to go.

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Asalamu wa alaikum,

The Pillars are

***On the authority of Abdullah, the son of Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, “Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the salah (prayer), paying the zakat (obligatory charity), making the hajj (pilgrimage) to the House, and fasting in Ramadhan.”’ It was related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

عن أبي عـبد الرحمن عبد الله بن عـمر بـن الخطاب رضي الله عـنهما ، قـال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسـلم يقـول :( بـني الإسـلام على خـمـس : شـهـادة أن لا إلـه إلا الله وأن محمد رسول الله ، وإقامة الصلاة ، وإيـتـاء الـزكـاة ، وحـج البيت ، وصـوم رمضان ) رواه البخاري [ رقم : 8 ] ومسلم [ رقم : 16 ].*

These are Faraidh , which mean they are obligatory on every Muslim. If one leaves Allah will punish him. They are called Pillars because they are like the foundation of Islam, a house without foundation will most likely fall, well this is the foundation of Islam as the Hadith says. Prophet Muhammad may peace and blessings be Upon Him was sent with them. Each of the Pillars were introduced at different time, they were not brought all at once. They are called The Pillars of Islam because they are the base/foundation of this religion.

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