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Thursday, August 01, 2013

The five 'pillars' of Islam?

In my childhood I was told that there were FIVE PILLARS in Islam. I had always thought that a building had to have 4 Pillars to stand up and believed that adding the 'fifth' was a peculiar idea. I asked a mulla at a mosque one day, after Eed prayers, and he said (in an approximate conversion from his Urdu), "The fifth makes it doubly strong!"

I suppose that was enough to get a child accepting it for a while. Most of us never read the Qur'an, or did so without any proper translation, so we accepted everything that we were told, anyway.

Until I decided to read it, later. Much later, actually — but still a lot better than most other people that I encounter. Many have very strong beliefs about Islam, some do lots of readings of books on Islam by scholars, but rarely anyone I meet among friends does any real reading of the Qur'an itself! And of those that do, I find many follow one form of meanings from a particular 'School of Thought'. These schools developed years after the book was being read by many people who followed it without the various Tafseers and numerous contradictions that now seem to have spread across the various sects.

The object of this blog post is to try and see if I can find someone who will tell me - in the Comments of this post - when these 5 Rukns became 'popular'. So popular that they are now concerned to be a part of the Religion.

Karen Armstrong suggests that the Prophet gave that command (in her book Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths). Perhaps she is using a piece from Bukhari.
Narrated Ibn Umar that Allah's Apostle said:
“Islam is based on five:
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah
     - and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.
2. To offer the prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3. To pay Zakat.
4. To perform Hajj.
5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.”

(Bukhari: Book 2, Hadith 7)
But many people disagree with Bukhari and lots do not follow his (or other) Ahaadees. You can see a few quoted here and believe them, if you think they are right. That's up to you. Anyway, the Quran said Muslims must follow Quran & Sunnah, not Ahadees, so that puts the matter away.

Think of this Verse (7:185) 
about Qur'an and the Ahaadees

فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَهُ يُؤْمِنُونَ

(After this what Message [Hadees] will they believe in?)
The Prophet went to Hajj just once. He passed away 70 days after returning from Hajj. The Hadeeses shown above (in the Ibn Umar quote plus those on the following link) cannot be the only way for us to get the fact. Is there a Sunnah I am missing?

As far as I am concerned,
there must have been only 4 things that were important:

(There is only one God)
(Mohammad is the Prophet of God)
(the message that God gave to us)
The way that the Prophet did things
(and his followers saw him doing them:
Look at the way Muslims offer their Namaaz!)

Everything in the Qur'an is, obviously, a Rukn. Do's and Don'ts are all to be followed — and altered, sometimes, by way of Ijtehaad. Why would anyone have chosen Muslims to follow just FIVE of those as important?

As I grew up and started looking at all religions, reading their books (in chronological order, where possible), I finally reached the Qur'an and a few Tafseers. Soon I discovered that Muslims had decided to choose Tauheed, Namaaz, Roza, Zakat as four Rukns, since they were compulsory in all circumstances. Four blocks to hold up the building called Islam. But, for some reason, Muslims also added a fifth one: Hajj!
Look at this in or on similar sites.
Question: Is every Muslim required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca?
Answer: Performance of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is required of every adult Muslim, male or female, if physically and financially possible. Many Muslims spend their entire lives saving and planning for this journey; others make the pilgrimage more than once if they are able.The requirements for performing the pilgrimage are as follows: Maturity and sound mind, in order to understand the significance of the pilgrimage experience; Physical capability to travel and perform the pilgrimage rites; Financial stability, free of debt, so that one is able to bear the pilgrimage expenses as well as provide for dependents during travel. For one who meets these criteria, performing the pilgrimage is obligatory.
What I fail to understand is that the first four are something Muslims must do. The fifth one is not really compulsory until you have the funds, have given away any loans that you took, have left sufficient for your life after Hajj, and more.

Most Muslims that I can think of can't put it all together, not counting other difficulties: Travelling from Arabia for Hajj is possible, I suppose; travelling from the sub-continent of Pakistan/India rather difficult; travelling from the really poor African countries: very very difficult; travelling from Australia and from South America much more difficult just for the money it involves.

And that's just the Geography … and the money. Then there's the Immigration Rules that Saudi Arabia puts in, as do many countries from where you decide to go.

At times, the Saudis might also decide that you can't go to Hajj. Remember when an Iranian group had attacked the Ka'ba? The Ka'ba had to be closed for a few days … until God-fearing Zia-ul-Haque (then in the Pakistan Army team training Saudi soldiers) led a team to cleanse the place, killing many Muslims. Iranis were disallowed for a while to perform Hajj under Saudi Laws.

There's always, of course, the Ahmadi issue: Their religion is not written into their Passports (unlike Pakistan) in most countries where they live. So they can go to Hajj by not writing the Ahmadi part. That's only a little white lie to meet their Qur'anic teachings, anyway! I don't know if they do that … but I guess it could be done.

The going to Hajj also brings a slightly different argument: Women!

Obviously it is not the Qur'an that says women can't have their own money  … and since Islam converted people from other faiths it would not have asked the women who had money to give it up, when converting.

We do know that Bibi Khadijah had money and ran a business. I guess some tribes and qabeelahs, allowed this - and so did other faiths. Bibi Khadijah was a Christian when she married the Prophet. She converted to Islam soon after the Prophet told her about Gabriel's visit and she took him to her cousin, a Christian priest, who said the angel's visits were proof since he had seen these visits in his own books. Pity he never became a Muslim!

However, at the present moment, the majority of Muslim women have no money of their own. Whether they work in fields, bring up children at home, cook all day … no one ever pays them for that … A father or brother looks after them until they are married. Then the husband looks after them. That is if they get married, happily, at all! So my question is: How will she perform Hajj? She has to have money … and, contrary to what my friend's insistence is, the husband is not the guy who has to pool in and give her the money for Hajj. He may, if he's a 'good guy', and she can 'thank' him for it. But it is not said anywhere that he must!!! (Remember, he can't say Prayers on her behalf, either!)

Also: What happens if the husband does not exist (or exists but decides to go to Hajj on his own!) …? Or he dies. Or their marriage breaks down. She has to travel with a mahram and that makes her to pay for twice that amount that her husband may have paid. Imagine a plane trip for two from Argentina or some place on the other side of the world and a non-working woman paying for it. This means that Hajj is not really possible for her. Agreed that she can skip doing it — since her faith says she can.

But why would anyone make it a 'fifth article of faith' when it is so difficult for all Muslim men … and almost impossible for Muslim women?

Here's what the Qur'an says about Hajj
Surah 2
128. Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation submissive unto You, and show us our Manasik (all the ceremonies of pilgrimage - Hajj and Umrah, etc.), and accept our repentance. Truly, You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful. 
Surah 2 
158. Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeyeth his own impulse to good,- be sure that Allah is He Who recogniseth and knoweth.
Surah 2 
196. And complete the Hajj or 'umra in the service of Allah. But if ye are prevented (from completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the 'umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that Allah Is strict in punishment.
197. For Hajj are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise.
198. It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage). Then when ye pour down from (Mount) Arafat, celebrate the praises of Allah at the Sacred Monument, and celebrate His praises as He has directed you, even though, before this, ye went astray.
199. Then pass on at a quick pace from the place whence it is usual for the multitude so to do, and ask for Allah.s forgiveness. For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
200. So when ye have accomplished your holy rites, celebrate the praises of Allah, as ye used to celebrate the praises of your fathers,- yea, with far more Heart and soul. There are men who say: "Our Lord! Give us (Thy bounties) in this world!" but they will have no portion in the Hereafter.
201. And there are men who say: "Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the Fire!"
202. To these will be allotted what they have earned; and Allah is quick in account.
203. Celebrate the praises of Allah during the Appointed Days. But if any one hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if any one stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right. Then fear Allah, and know that ye will surely be gathered unto Him. 
Surah 3 
96. The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings:
97. In it are Signs Manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures. 
Surah 5 
1. O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations. Lawful unto you (for food) are all four-footed animals, with the exceptions named: But animals of the chase are forbidden while ye are in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb: for Allah doth command according to His will and plan. 
Surah 22 
25. As to those who have rejected ((Allah)), and would keep back (men) from the Way of Allah, and from the Sacred Mosque, which We have made (open) to (all) men - equal is the dweller there and the visitor from the country - and any whose purpose therein is profanity or wrong-doing - them will We cause to taste of a most Grievous Penalty.
26. Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): "Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).
27. "And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways;
28. "That they may witness the benefits (provided) for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice): then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed ones in want.
29. "Then let them complete the rites prescribed for them, perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House."
30. Such (is the Pilgrimage): whoever honours the sacred rites of Allah, for him it is good in the Sight of his Lord. Lawful to you (for food in Pilgrimage) are cattle, except those mentioned to you (as exception): but shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false,-
31. Being true in faith to Allah, and never assigning partners to Him: if anyone assigns partners to Allah, is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far- distant place.
32. Such (is his state): and whoever holds in honour the symbols of Allah, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart.
33. In them ye have benefits for a term appointed: in the end their place of sacrifice is near the Ancient House.
34. To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your Allah is One Allah. submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves,-
35. To those whose hearts when Allah is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their afflictions, keep up regular prayer, and spend (in charity) out of what We have bestowed upon them.
36. The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the symbols from Allah. in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice): when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat ye thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that ye may be grateful.
37. It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah. it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right. 
Surah 48 
27. Allah has fulfilled His messenger's truthful vision. You will enter the Sacred Masjid, Allah willing, perfectly secure, and you will cut your hair or shorten it (as you fulfill the pilgrimage rituals) there. You will not have any fear. Since He knew what you did not know, He has coupled this with an immediate victory.
So where does the mention of the requirement of paying all your dues, of having no money owed, of having all these things that Muslims consider essential for Hajj, come from?

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Anonymous Salman Siddiqui said...

Zak Sahab,
This piece is certainly unique. Your blog is not known for deep, and dry, Islamic law discussions. Yes, you often touch on religion *related* topics (Sectarian killings, Mullah's hypocrisy, Outward show of piety, etc) - but this one being a purely theological discussion, is different.
Sub theek to hai na Janaab?

01 August, 2013 12:46

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Another blog used to have some serious discussions on Religion. It was removed after a few months when I started getting abuses from people who seemed to have read nothing at all.

Mainly, it was Muslims, but I also got a couple of Christians when I wrote about the Bible.

Later I got a couple of death threats so I decided to pull it away. No point in getting the family hurt.

This issue has troubled me for a while so I decided to write about it and hoped to get a sensibly acceptable answer.

01 August, 2013 16:22

Anonymous Salman Siddiqui said...

Yes, like so many other things (the list is ever increasing) our society doesn't allow open debate on religion. We like our religious education taught by the likes of Aamir Liaqat Hussain - with just the right mix of hypocrisy, showmanship, drama, emotion and blah.

Hajj: In that case, I am inclined to agree with Karen Armstrong's quotation of Bukhari in the support of hajj.
Yes, there is the whole discussion (issue?) about how ahadees are not verbatim quotes of the messenger but as Professor Fazlur Rahman explained in his writings we still have to agree that they do reflect the spirit or essence of what the prophet taught/said. and can be taken as a guiding light in matters of religion.

02 August, 2013 11:37

Anonymous soraya said...

I feel that the answer is: Not performing Hajj is certainly NOT a dealbreaker!!

18 August, 2013 23:33


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