The 5 Pillars of Islam and the 10 CommandmentsIslam and Christianity are both major religions in the world today, with followers from all walks of life and from every corner of the Earth. Each of these religions has its own teachings and beliefs but there are similarities amongst some, if not, a majority of the essential teachings. Islam and Christianity both have teachings and beliefs in a majority of the same prophets and messengers but the major split arises in the context that Christians believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ while Muslims believe that Jesus did not die. Nevertheless, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate, what may be to some, the foundation of both religions-more specifically, the 5 Pillars of Islam and the 10 Commandments of Christianity.
The 5 Pillars of Islam:The word Islam in a religious sense means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law. Therefore, Islam is more of a way of life instead of merely being a part of life. The 5 pillars of Islam refer to 5 duties that Muslims have to perform wholeheartedly and diligently.
The book ‘The Pillars of Islam’ contains a good representation of how the 5 Pillars came into being, from the narration of Umar (May Peace be Upon Him), while he was sitting with the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W):”One day while we were sitting with Allah’s messenger, a man suddenly appeared before us, wearing a very white dress and having very black hair, without any signs of journey upon him, and none of us knew him. He approached until he sat before the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) with his knees touching the Prophet’s knees and he placed his hands on his thighs and said, “O Muhammad inform me about Islam.”
Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W) said, “Islam is to bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to offer the Salat, pay Zakat, fast during the month of Ramadan and to make Hajj if you are able and have the means to make the journey.” The man said, “You spoke the truth.” We were surprised at his asking and confirming at the same time”The stranger then asked the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) a few more questions which the Prophet (S.A.W) answered and then the stranger left.
“The Prophet (S.A.W) remained seated for quite a while, then he asked me, “O ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?” I said, “Allah and his Messenger know best.” He said, “That was Jibrael, he came to teach you your religion.”From this, we can see that the five ritual duties that the Prophet Muhammad set forth were as follows:1.Pronouncing the confession of faith (shahada or kalima);2.Performing the five daily prayers (salat);3.Fasting during the month of Ramadan (saum)4.Paying the alms tax (zakat)5.Performing, at least once in life, the major pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).
I.The Shahadah, or profession of faith:The Shahada is the Arabic statement “La ilah illa Allah wa Muhammad rasul Allah,” meaning “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.”The Britannica Encyclopedia defines Shahadah as follows:”The first pillar is the profession of faith: “There is no deity but God, and Muḥammad is the messenger of God,” upon which depends membership in the community. The profession of faith must be recited at least once in one’s lifetime, aloud, correctly, and purposively, with an understanding of its meaning and with an assent from the heart. From this fundamental belief are derived beliefs in (1) angels (particularly Gabriel, the Angel of Revelation), (2) the revealed Books (the Qurʾān and the sacred books of Judaism and Christianity), (3) a series of prophets (among whom figures of the Judeo-Christian tradition are particularly eminent, although it is believed that God has sent messengers to every nation), and (4) the Last Day (Day of Judgment).”This profession of faith must be done with sincerity and without any reservation. It is the foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam.
II.Prayer or Salat:The second Pillar of Islam is prayer,”And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: for those things that are good remove those that are evil: That is a reminder for the mindful. And be steadfast in patience; For verily Allah (SWT) will not suffer the reward of the righteous to perish.”Every Muslim is required to pray 5 times a day. These prayers may be offered individually if one is unable to go to the mosque. The first prayer is performed before sunrise and is called Fajr, the second just after noon, the third in the late afternoon, the fourth immediately after sunset, and the fifth before retiring to bed.
“The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to lead the congregation of Muslims in Mecca and Medina in prayer, thus demonstrating to them the way in which prayer should be performed. The prayer consists of reciting the first Surah of the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah, referred to as “the seven often repeated verses,” followed by the recitation of a chosen verse or verses of the Qur’an and various praises to God. For each segment of the prayer, a Muslim adopts a distinguishing bodily position, beginning with standing and placing hands across the heart, and then bowing and kneeling. Muslims repeat these positions a prescribed number of times depending on which prayer is being performed.
The five daily prayers are the Morning Prayer, Fajr, the noon prayer, Dhur, the afternoon prayer, Asr, the evening prayer, Maghrib, and the night prayer, Ishaa. To pray five times a day is an obligation that every Muslim must adhere to except those exempted by Islamic law. “III.Fasting or Saum:Every year in the month of Ramadan Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk. In addition, Muslims are expected to refrain from anger, envy, greed, lust, gossip, violence, bad language and other inappropriate thoughts and actions. Fasting is meant to encourage Muslims to seek nearness to Allah, be patient, and learn the hardships faced by the less fortunate.
According to www.encarta.msn.com,”According to various traditional interpretations, the fast introduces physical and spiritual discipline, serves to remind the rich of the misfortunes of the poor, and fosters, through this rigorous act of worship, a sense of solidarity and mutual care among Muslims of all social backgrounds. Thus Muslims usually engage in further acts of worship beyond the ordinary during Ramadan, such as voluntary night prayer, reading sections from the Qur’an, and paying voluntary charity to the poor. Muslims may even choose to wake before daybreak to eat a meal that will sustain them until sunset.
After the fasting ends, the holiday of breaking the fast, ‘id al-fitr, begins, lasting for three days.”IV.Zakat or Alms:Every Muslim is obligated to pay a portion of his or her wealth for the benefit of the poor and needy. Zakat means “purification” and “growth”. This is an indication that our own wealth and possessions are purified by setting aside a portion for the poor and those in need. The amount varies for different categories. For grains and fruits it is 10 percent if land is watered by rain and 5 percent if land is watered artificially. On cash and precious metals it is 2.5 percent. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of Sadaqah (voluntary charity), in order to achieve additional reward from Allah.
V.Hajj or Pilgrimage:Hajj is a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Makkah. Hajj occurs every year during the Islamic month of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Every Muslim who is physically and financially able is obligated to perform Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. The hajj is the “greater” of the two pilgrimages to Mecca required of all Muslims, the lesser pilgrimage is called Umra.
www.religionfacts.com provides a good summary of what happens during the time of Hajj:”Upon arrival at the boundary of Mecca (about six miles from the Ka’ba), pilgrims enter the state of ihram (purity) in which they will remain throughout the hajj. Males entering this pure state don the ihram garments – two white, seamless sheets wrapped around the body – and sandals. This aspect of the rite not only signifies the state of holiness the pilgrims have entered, but it serves to contribute to a sense of equality and unity by removing visual indicators of class, wealth and culture. Requirements for women are less stringent, but they usually dress in white with only faces and hands uncovered. While in the state of ihram, pilgrims must not cut their nails or hair, engage in sexual relations, argue, fight or hunt.
When he or she enters the city of Mecca, the pilgrim first walks around the Ka’ba seven times (the tawaf, or circumambulation) while reciting the talbiya, then kisses or touches the Black Stone in the Ka’ba, prays twice towards the Station of Abraham and the Ka’ba and runs seven times between the small mountains of Safa and Marwa.
The second stage of the hajj takes place between the 8th and 12th days of Dhu al-Hijja, beginning with a sermon (khutba) at the mosque on the 7th day. On the eighth day and night, the pilgrim stays at Mina or Arafat. On the ninth day, the ritual of wuquf (“standing”) takes place at the small hill of Jabal al-Rahma in Arafat. The pilgrim then returns to Muzdalifa, a small town within the Meccan boundaries, to stay the night.
The tenth day is Eid al-Adha (The Feast of Sacrifice), a major holiday observed by all Muslims. For those participating in the hajj, the day is spent in Mina, where the pilgrim sacrifices an animal to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice and throws seven small stones at each of three pillars on three consecutive days (the pillars represent sins and devils). The pilgrim then returns to Mecca, where he or she once again performs the tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka’ba).
The head is then shaved or the hair is trimmed, which marks the end of the state of ihram.” The 10 Commandments of Christianity:Similar to the 5 Pillars of Islam, Christianity has its own duties and standards which Christians have to live their lives by. These 10 Commandments are a list of religious and moral imperatives that were authored by the Lord God and given to Moses at Mount Sinai. The 10 Commandments are found in the Bible in Exodus 20 as follows:””I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations, of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God, On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder”You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.””After receiving the commandments and returning to Mount Sinai, Moses saw that the Israelites had “defiled themselves”, and that his brother, Aaron, had made a Golden Calf and an altar in front of it for the Israelites to pray to. Moses, in terrible anger, broke the tablets. God later offered Moses to carve two other tablets, to replace the ones he smashed. From this it seem that God himself appears as the writer. This second sets of commandments were brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses and were placed in the Ark of the Covenant.
You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor10Islam’s confirmation of the Ten Commandments:Many might believe that Islam and Christianity are totally different in their teachings. This might be true when it comes to certain practices such as drinking alcohol or eating pork for example, yet some of the core teachings of both religions are similar. The same prophets appear in both the Quran as well as in the Bible, maybe under Arabic influenced name but still the same person. To further illustrate the similarities in this context, the following section relates the messages conveyed by the 10 Commandments to teachings found in the Holy Quran.
Exodus 24:12 states:”The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.”Deuteronomy 4:13 states:”He declared to you His covenant, the Ten Commandments, which He commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.”As stated before, both Islam and Christianity have similar teachings about certain prophets, Moses is one of them and is recognized in Islam and is written about a lot in the Quran. Two chapters in particular from the Quran could be said to affirm the belief in the commandments which God gave to Moses.
These chapters are 2:53 and 7:145. In respective manner, they state the following:”And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright.””And We ordained laws for him [Moses] in the tablets in all matters, both commanding and explaining all things, (and said): “Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin thy people to hold fast by the best in the precepts…”From this we can agree that there is sufficient evidence of both religions believing that God had given the commandments to Moses.
The First Commandment, found in Exodus 20:3, states the following.
“You shall have no other gods before me”‘It is well known that Christianity and Islam are both Monotheistic religions, with Christians believing in the Lord God and Muslims believing in Allah. There are numerous instances in the Quran where this is states, one of these is found in chapter 17:23 of the Quran:”Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him”Another affirmation of this commandment could be sought after in the translation of the Shahadah or first pillar of Islam which states:”Ash-hadu alaa-ilaaha illa-llaahu wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa Rasulu”Which when translated means: “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (S.A.W) is His Devotee and His Messenger.”This confirms the common belief between Muslims and Christians on the oneness of God.
The Second Commandment, found in Exodus 20:4, states:”You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.”Chapter 31:13 of the Quran gives just one of the many instances in the Quran where Idol worshipping is mentioned. It goes:”Recall that Luqmaan said to his son, as he enlightened him, “O my son, do not set up any idols beside GOD; idolatry is a gross injustice.”Also, Chapter 22:12 of the Quran states:”They call on such deities, besides Allah, as can neither hurt nor profit them: that is straying far indeed (from the Way)! “Because of the monotheistic nature of both these religions, it can be easily noted that both these religions reject the idea of worshipping any other gods but God himself.
The Third Commandment, found in Exodus 20:7 of the Bible states:”You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, [i.e. in an irreverent or disrespectful manner] for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) revealed”Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e. one-hundred minus one, and whoever knows them will go to Paradise.”In the Quran, Allah is referred to in many instances, not just by Allah but by other names. Over time, these names have been collected in the Quran and amount to 99. These are deemed the 99 names of Allah. Even though there are 99 names of Allah, the misuse of these names is not allowed in Islam, just as the misuse of the name of the Lord is scorned upon in Christianity.
From chapter 7:180 in the Quran,”And Allah’s are the best names, therefore call on Him thereby, and leave alone those who violate the sanctity of His names; they shall be requited for what they did.”From this we can see that the violation or misuse of God’s names in both Christianity and Islam, are both subject to punishment in the afterlife.
The Fourth Commandment, found in Exodus 20:8-11, states the following:”Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”Islam rejects the idea of God resting as seen from the following:”And verily we created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six periods, and naught of weariness touched us”If the thought of rest is disregarded and the Sabbath day is viewed as just holy day on which should worship God, then a similarity arises with the teachings of Islam.
Based on this assumption, the following excerpt outlines the day of worship for Muslims:”The Holy Prophet Muhammad said : “The day of Friday has been exalted and conferred many rights. Therefore do not be negligent of your duty. Do not be tardy in your worship this day. Try to attain nearness to Allah by performing pure deeds and refraining from the prohibited things, because this day Allah increases the reward for good deeds and obliterates the sins. Allah raises the position of the believer in the world and the Hereafter.”So if we disregard the argument over whether God rested or not after the creation of the Earth, then the result that we left with is a day that is set aside to worship God. For Christians this is on Sunday and for Muslims, Friday.
There is mention of the Sabbath in the Quran in Chapter 16:124:”The Sabbath was only made (strict) for those who disagreed (as to its observance); But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, as to their differences. “This, in my opinion, could be interpreted to mean that those who take lightly to the Sabbath are the ones for whom the Sabbath was set forth.
The Fifth Commandment, found in Exodus 20:12, states:”Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gave you.”Similar to this, the Quran also teaches Muslims to respect and honor their parents.
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.”As a result of these excerpts, we can conclude that both religions hold parents in high esteem, and should be respected and honored. We are not to be rude to them and should uphold their honor for as long as they may live.
The Sixth Commandment, found in Exodus 20:13, states:”You shall not murder”In today’s world, Islam is viewed as a terrorist religion which approves the acts of murder. This is not true, the Qur’an commands Muslims to stick up for themselves in a defensive battle – i.e. if an enemy army attacks, then Muslims are to fight against that army until they stop their aggression. All of the verses that speak about fighting/war in the Qur’an are in this context. The following verse from the Quran illustrates the views on murder:”You shall not kill any person – for GOD has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder; he will be helped.”From this is we can see that both Islam and Christianity condemn the acts of murder, however, Islam teaches Muslims to stand up for themselves and fight for what they believe in and if killed unjustly, then justice can be enforced upon the murderer.
The Seventh Commandment, found in Exodus 20:14, states:”You shall not commit adultery”In the Quran, chapter 17:32, the following is stated:”Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).”Adultery is scorned upon in both Christianity and Islam. In some Islamic cities, adultery is a serious offence and punishable by death- usually in the form of stoning.
From Chapter 24:2 in the Quran:”The woman and the man, guilty of fornication. Flog each of them with a hundred stripes, and let a party of believers witness their punishment.”From this we see that in Islam, both men and woman are subject to punishment if guilty of adultery.
The Eight Commandment, found in Exodus 20:15, states:”You shall not steal”The Quran states, in chapter 2:188:”And do not eat up unjustly the property of each other among yourselves nor convey their cases to the authorities for devouring unlawfully some portion of the property of the people knowingly.”Stealing is an offence also not taken lightly in Islam. If found guilty of theft, the Quran states that the thief’s hand should be cut off as compensation as well as a deterrence so that the thief will know that the consequences of stealing are much greater than the rewards of theft.
“As for the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they earned [i.e. committed] as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”The Ninth Commandment, found in Exodus 20:16, states:”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”The term ‘false witness’ is a synonym for not telling the truth, or lying. The Quran states the following about lying:”And cover not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is).”As with most religions, both Christianity and Islam both condemn the act of lying or not telling the truth.
And finally, the Tenth and last Commandment, found in Exodus 20:17, states:”You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”From the Quran, Chapter 4:32:”Do not covet the bounties that God has bestowed more abundantly on some of you than on others.”As we can see, both Islam and Christianity condemn the acts of coveting. However, Bible limits coveting to neighbor’s property only. Quran goes further and extends the prohibition to all society.
1.’The Pillars of Islam and Iman: and What Every Muslim Must Know About His Religion’,2.By Muhammad Bin Jamil Zeno, Published by Darussalam; pages 18-19.
3.Islām. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 03, 2008,
from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/295507/Islam4.Holy Qur’an, 11:1145.http://www.islamonline.net/iol-english/info/discover2.asp6.http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761579171_2/Islam.html7.http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/practices/hajj-pilgrimage.htm8.Holy Bible, Exodus 20.
9.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments10.The Holy Bible, Exodus 24:1211.The Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 4:1312.The Holy Qur’an, 2:5313.The Holy Qur’an, 7:14514.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:315.The Holy Qur’an, 17:2316.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:417.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 31:1318.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:719.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 7:18020.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:8-1121.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 50:3822.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 16:12423.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:1224.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 17:2325.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:1326.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 17:3327.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:1428.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 17:3229.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 24:230.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:1531.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 2:18832.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 5:3833.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:1634.The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 2:4235.The Holy Bible, Exodus 20:1736.The Holy Quran, Chapter 4:32