There are five basic pillars of Islam, five primary obligations and acts of worship which constitute the foundation of a Muslim’s life. These are:
- Sawm (Fast)
First let us understand, in short, what does these pillars stand for.
Shahadah, which the most important of all, is the declaration of faith by a Muslim.”There is no God worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His messenger”, a Muslim has to say it verbally and admit it by heart. Shahadah means admission of the supremacy of Allah SWT, accepting the fact that He is only one and there is no other creation which can possess the powers and wisdom that Allah SWT has. Another obligatory part of Shahadah is to recognize Muhammad (PBUH) as the last messenger of Allah.
Salat means the obligatory prayers or Namaz which Muslims have to pray five times a day. It is also a very significant part of a Muslim’s life because it serves as a direct connection between him/her and Allah SWT. Salat is said to be a “conversation between a Muslim and Allah”. It means that five times, each day, a Muslim gets to talk with his Creator, during which he praises Him and admits that his own status is nothing but Allah Almighty’s slave and follower.
Then comes Zakat or the Charitable giving which is also made compulsory over Muslims who fall under the category of Sahib e Nasab (those who can afford to pay Zakat, according to Shariah). This act of worship is the acceptance of the fact that all our wealth and money belongs to Allah SWT. The word Zakat means “purification”. When a Muslim pays Zakat while following the orders of Allah SWT, setting aside a portion of his wealth for the needy Muslims, his/her possessions are hence purified.
Sawm or Fasting is another very important act of worship. Every year, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast daily for 30 days, for the sake of Allah SWT. From dawn to dusk every day, a Muslim with sawm doesn’t eat or drink anything and does not to indulge into any activity, which has been strictly prohibited by Allah SWT. For this, a fasting Muslim will be greatly rewarded. Aside from the health advantages which fast has on body, Sawm is also a method of self purification. When a Muslim cuts himself from the worldly aspects of life for the duration that he is fasting, it induces in him self control, which continues to be helpful in his life even after Ramadan ends. Also when a Muslim refrains from eating and drinking during fast, he gets to sympathize with those who are poor and cannot afford to have food.
Then there is Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Makkah, from 8th to 12th Dhu al-Hijjah, to perform certain religious rituals in accordance to the method prescribed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It is obligatory for every physically and financially able Muslim to perform Hajj at least once in his/ her lifetime.
Now why do we say that Hajj is the most comprehensive act of worship? Are the rest of above mentioned Ibadahs not comprehensive. Yes they are, but Hajj is the only form of worship which amalgamates the spirits of all the other pillars. How? Here is the answer.
From the moment a person intends to perform Hajj, he is admitting to the supremacy of Allah SWT by following His orders. Hajj is not an easy expedition, it involves a lot of obstacles, both financial and physical. When a Muslim, living anywhere in the world, decides to go on this spiritual journey, he/she is ready to leave the worldly comforts and face the hardships involved, only because Allah SWT has ordered him to do so. A true Muslim accepts the oneness and wisdom of Allah SWT wholeheartedly and he/she is willing to do anything for His sake, even if it means to take out time from his busy life, leave the coziness of his home and go to Makkah Saudi Arabia for carrying out the rites of Hajj, according to the Sunnah of Muhammad (PBUH). Following the teachings of Prophet(PBUH) while performing Hajj, is also a reinforcement of a Muslim’s belief in Muhammad being the prophet of Allah SWT.
It is obligatory for every Muslim to say prayers five times a day. When a person is on Hajj, he tries his level best to pray as much Nawafils as he can, aside from the obligatory Salat. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“The closest position a person can be from Allah is at the time of Sujood (prostration); hence increase your dua.”
Isn’t this what every Pilgrim hopes for? As much proximity to Allah SWT as possible!
Today, Muslims are spread all over the world. Going on Hajj requires financial stability and physical strength. The money needed to perform Hajj is not a small amount. Willingness of a Muslim to spend a considerable proportion of his money on Hajj arrangements, is the exact same spirit that Zakat promotes, i.e. spending money for Allah’s sake.
The state of Ihraam forbids a Pilgrim to wear fragrance, have a shave or haircut, cutting of nails and indulge in sexual activity. So although fasting is not a part of Hajj, but Hajj does incorporate the aspect of self control, which is the soul of Sawm.
Abu Huraira narrated that Prophet (PBUH) said “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins, then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as he were born an new.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Hajj involves a continuous physical and spiritual struggle. That’s why, it is also referred to as Jihad (struggle) in Islam. A Hadith refers to Jihad as: “The best Jihad (struggle) is (by) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, the Mighty and Majestic”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) also said
“The best Jihad ( for women) is Hajj Mabrur” (Sahih Bukhari)
Isn’t it amazing how Hajj beautifully amalgamates the zest of all the obligatory principles of Islam into a single act of worship? No doubt, Allah has set the reward of a Maqbool (accepted) Hajj as nothing less than Jannah!