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published: 3/17/04
updated: 6/13/13

The Five Pillars of Islam

What are the Five Pillars of Islam?

The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic arkan ud-Din, "pillars of the faith") are the five religious duties expected of every Muslim. The five pillars are mentioned individually throughout the Qur'an and Muhammad listed them together in the Hadith when he was asked to define Islam.

Within a few decades of Muhammad's death, the five practices were singled out to serve as anchoring points in the Muslim community and designated "pillars." Fulfillment of the Five Pillars is believed to bring rewards both in this life and in the afterlife.

The pillars are acknowledged and observed by all sects of Muslims, although Shi'ites add further obligatory duties, including: jihad, payment of the imam's tax, the encouragement of good deeds and the prevention of evil.

The Five Pillars of Islam are:

  1. Daily confession of faith (shahada)
  2. Daily ritual prayer (salat)
  3. Paying the alms tax (zakat)
  4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm)
  5. Pilgrimmage to Mecca (hajj)


  1. "Islam." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service
  2. "Five Pillars of Islam." John Bowker, ed., Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions (Oxford UP, 2000).