Five Pillars of Islam

The Five Pillars of Islam are five duties that Muslims of all branches of Islam must follow.

Visualisation of the Five Pillars of Islam with spellings specific to the OCR specification.

Sunni Muslims set the pillars out clearly, as a metaphor of five supporting structures holding up the religion. They keep faith strong, so Muslims try to keep all five pillars to make them a better Muslim and support the religion fully. Shi’a Muslims, on the other hand, add further duties that, along with the Five Pillars of Islam, are known as the Ten Obligatory Acts.

The Five Pillars of Islam are:

  1. Shahadah is the Muslim declaration of faith. All Muslims know the words of the Shahadah and it is repeated multiple times during the day.
  2. Salah is prayer, which is compulsory for Muslims to take part in five times a day.
  3. Zakah, or charitable giving, encourages generosity and compassion.
  4. Sawm is the obligation to fast during Ramadan, which teaches Muslims self-discipline, in turn bringing them closer to Allah.
  5. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca). The trip is compulsory at least once in a lifetime for Muslims as long as they are fit and healthy and can afford to make the trip.


The Shahadah is the declaration of faith or the key statement of belief of Muslims. All Muslims know the declaration of faith and it is repeated multiple times during the day.

For Sunni Muslims, the Shahadah is: There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah. Shi’a Muslims add an extra phrase to the Shahadah: And Ali is the friend of God. This shows their belief that Ali, Muhammad’s cousin, was the true successor to Muhammad.

The Shahadah is usually said a few times a day. It is always said at birth as the first words a baby hears, whispered into its ear. Muslims aim for the Shahadah to be the last words they say or hear before death. The Shahadah forms the foundation of the other four pillars. A person can convert to Islam by saying the Shahadah out loud and meaning it sincerely.


What is the name of the pillar that means fasting during the month of Ramadan?