By Ayaz Nizami, New Age Islam
June 5, 2013
A Hadith in Sahih Muslim says:
“The prophet (pbuh) said that Islam is based on five pillars: follow one God, observe Salah (Namaz), pay Zakat, observe fasts in Ramadhan and perform hajj.”
In this brief article, I would like to explain the five fundamental pillars of Islam and analyse its effects on the lives of Muslims.
Tawhid (unity of God):
It means that man should have the belief that the creator of this universe is One and only He is worthy to be worshipped. Therefore, instead of worshipping numerous gods, man should worship only one God. The effect of the belief in the unity of God should manifest itself in the intellectual concentration of the Muslims. If more than one gods are worshipped in a society, conflicts among the devotees of different gods on the basis of the belief in the supremacy of their respective gods will be natural. But Tawhid gives its followers an opportunity to remove mutual difference on the subject of the ‘being’ of God. There are a few religions that claim to follow one God but the Islamic belief in unity of God is simpler, easier to understand and more developed.
But it is surprising that the Muslims who despite following a more progressive belief in the unity of God are going through mutual differences and suffering from intolerance than the followers of other religions and in this regard they are way ahead of the Hindus who worship 33 crore gods and goddesses. The attitude of intolerance and rifts is common among the Muslims belonging to various nationalities and ethnicities across the world. It shows that the belief in Tawhid could not play any role in the private and collective lives of the followers of Tawhid. The one fifth of the world population, despite having a wonderful common value is devoid of any unity and is unable to end its differences. On the contrary, the Muslims are at loggerheads with each other.
Salat (Namaz) has been declared as the pillar of Deen. In other words, the Deen is erected on Namaz. The style of the observance of Namaz is very much similar to the formation of the army in a battlefield where the commander leads the army and an aid de camp conveys the orders of the commander to the army which the army obeys diligently and promptly. The observance of Namaz is also done in the same organised way. Whenever, Muslim scholars give account of the benefits of Namaz, they do not forget to mention the point that Namaz generates discipline among the Muslims.
But when we analyse the individual and collective life of Muslims, we find that the individual and collective life of the Muslims is totally devoid of the discipline and they appear to be an unorganised crowd and there is no sign of discipline in their life impacted by Namaz. A verse of the Quran says that Namaz prevents Muslims from evil deeds but the general observation negates this. In our daily lives we come across people who religiously observe Namaz but at the same time commit many social and moral sins.
Punctuation is also counted as one of the benefits of Namaz but this effect of Namaz on the lives of Muslims is also missing.
Fasting or Rozah is another pillar of Islam in which the Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and indulging in physical relationship during the day. It is an important part of worship in Islam and the month of Ramadhan has a special place in Islam. In this month they also offer the special Namaz of Taraweeh. The Quran was revealed in this month. The important night of Shab-e-Quadr also occurs in this month. Muslims celebrate their most important festival of Eid at the end of Ramadhan. And above all, Satan is imprisoned in the month of Ramadhan.
Thus, the whole month of Ramadhan is like a training camp for the Muslims in which they get practical and ideological training so that they can endure the hardships of life with patience and tolerance and they can form a society based on tolerance and restraint.
But despite all the strenuous training they get during the month of Ramadhan, we do not find tolerance and restraint in Muslim societies. Leave aside showing tolerance and restraint after Ramadhan, Muslims are generally found showing intolerance and lack of restraint and patience even in the month of Ramadhan. As the time to break the fast comes closer, we can witness dozens of incidents of impatience and intolerance in streets, markets and in the localities. Despite the Satan’s imprisonment, the rate of crimes does not fall down, rather black-marketing and stockpiling is on the rise.
Zakat is obligatory on affluent Muslims. They have to pay 2.5 per cent of the annual income. Zakat is also said to be the purifier of wealth. The recipients of Zakat according to the Quran are the poor, the beggars and the destitute. By making Zakat obligatory for Muslims the Quran wants to help the poor, eliminate poverty and promote among Muslims a spirit of sacrifice.
But we observe that despite the presence of a considerable population of affluent Muslims in the world and the presence of the system of Zakat, there is not a single region in the world where poverty could be eliminated with the help of Zakat. A major part of the world population living in poverty and below the poverty line consists of Muslims. The Ulema insist that the Zakat money can only be used on Muslims (Though the Quran does not prohibit Muslims from spending Zakat money on non-Muslims). After this explanation ideally there should not be any poor Muslims left in the world. But the truth is that if one puts his hand on the poor of the world, every second poor will be a Muslim.
It is made obligatory for every financially capable Muslim at least once in a lifetime. Ulema explain the wisdom behind hajj saying that it has many individual and collective benefits. The collective benefit is that it is an international conference of the Muslims where Muslims gather once in a year and can present their social, political and economic problems and issues and find their solutions. The individual benefit of hajj is that after performing hajj, a Muslim is believed to become as pure from sins as a new born baby. We observe that the ritual of hajj too could not make any impact on the individual and collective life of the Muslims. The condition of Muslims all over the world does not need to be explained. Muslims are extremely backward economically, socially and politically in the world. But no collective problem of the Muslims could be solved through hajj. Hajj has, therefore, failed to establish unity among the Muslims. Presently, 3 to 4 million people perform hajj every year on which billions of rupees are spent. The Saudi government has formed its national laws in such a way that most of the hard earned money of the Muslims that is spent on hajj reaches the coffers of the Saudi rulers. Where and how all this money is spent is no secret.
Islam could not gain the required benefits from its fundamental constituents of worship but the west achieved the same unity, discipline, tolerance and power of restraint, elimination of poverty and the solutions of its social and political problems without the light of Wahi (revelation).