Falling Awake

Just Darts Since 2009

The five pillars of Islam

Robert Spencer’s latest installment of Blogging the Qur’an is up.  It covers verses 141-210 of Sura 2.

The five pillars of Islam are:

  1. The profession of faith (“There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is His prophet.”
  2. The qibla (prayer several times a day facing Mecca)
  3. Charity (ostensibly to the poor)
  4. Fasting during Ramadan (the holy month)
  5. The hajj (a trip to Mecca)

All but the profession of faith are introduced in these verses.  Also, and more importantly for non-Muslims, the concept of jihad is introduced:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression.  (2:190-193)

This text can be read in more than one way, obviously.  I think that on the face of it, it teaches that jihad should be a defensive struggle, waged against enemies who oppress Muslims.  The question then becomes, “What constitutes oppression?”

Mr. Spencer answers :

Ibn Ishaq explains that this means that Muslims must fight against unbelievers “until God alone is worshipped.” Says Bulandshahri: “The worst of sins are Infidelity (Kufr) and Polytheism (shirk) which constitute rebellion against Allah, The Creator. To eradicate these, Muslims are required to wage war until there exists none of it in the world, and the only religion is that of Allah.”

[Spencer:] This conflict would be essentially defensive, against the aggressions of unbelief: if Muslims must fight until unbelief does not exist, the mere presence of unbelief constitutes sufficient aggression to allow for the beginning of hostilities. This is one of the foundations for the supremacist notion that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers until those unbelievers are either converted to Islam or subjugated under the rule of Islamic law, as 9:29 states explicitly. As the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, puts it: “I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.” Thus one may reasonably assume that if one does not accept him as a prophet, one’s blood and riches are not safe from those who read these words as the words of a messenger from the one true God.

What matters, of course, is the interpretation.  And without a teaching authority like the Church, Muslims fall prey to whichever local imam shouts down all opposition.  (Shouts them down if they’re lucky.)


2 responses to “The five pillars of Islam

  1. mohamed August 4, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Actually there is 2 ways to look at this. His book “The truth about Muhammad” focussed on what sects in Islam said about him and not the Quran. He focussed on hadiths and not Quran. He seems to rely on Sunni accounts and not shia. He did not tell us why. So he is really relying on gossip and hearsay compiled 2 to 3 centuries after Muhammad during the Abbasid era because he finds in them a more autucratic and intolerant Islam then he would find in the Quran and then use that to blaspheme the character of Muhammad hoping that this woul lead more public support for the Jews and Israel. Its therefore not an academic book.

    But he can not say that he talked about the truth about Muhammad because the only truth about Muhammad is he came with the Quran. Either it was revealed to him or he came up withit himself. In both cases it is what he claimed to have been revealed to him. But Spencer does not judge Muhammad by what the Quran is saying.

  2. The Five Pillars of Islam July 11, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Very nice post. I want to say something in very detailed but I do not want to argue here. I believe everyone has rights and for us I means for muslims these 5 pillars are base of Islam.

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