The Five Pillars of Islam


The Qur’an is said to set down five positive obligations that lie upon all Muslims individually (‘fard al-ayn’), popularly called, following a hadith , the ‘five pillars of Islam’.

These obligations are:

  • to perform the salat (obligatory daily prayers) 〈53.〉,
  • to fast during the month of Ramadan 〈55.〉 and
  • to make the hajj pilgrimage if one is able to 〈56.〉


‘Twelver’ Shia Islam (the school of Islam that recognises twelve imams after Muhammad, the most populous denomination of Shia Islam) lists ten practices, or ‘ancillaries’ of faith, which supplement the five obligations listed above with an additional further five:

  • to ’enjoin what is good’,
  • to ‘forbid what is bad’,
  • to follow and willingly submit to the authority of the imams (‘tawalli’), and
  • to dissociate from the enemies of God 〈91.〉