The Fourth Pillar: The Fast of Ramadan

A Muslim must fast one month in the year, which is the month of Ramadan. From the first break of dawn until the sun sets, Muslims must abstain from anything that breaks the fast, whether it be food, drink, or sexual intercourse. Fasting is not an  act of worship introduced by Islam; rather it was an obligation legislated in the previous religions as well. Allah (SWT) says:

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.[2:183]

The objective of fasting is not that one merely abstains from those material and physical things which break one’s fast. Rather, one must also refrain from those intangible things which reduce the reward of one’s fast, such as lying, backbiting, tale-bearing, cheating, deception, false talk, and other offensive behavior. He should keep in mind that it is obligatory upon him to abstain from these offensive acts outside of Ramadan but  more so in this month  , due to the saying of the Prophet (ﷺ):

 “Whoever does not refrain from false speech and deeds,Allah had no need for him to leave his food and drink.”[al-Bukhari]

The Fasting is a struggle between one’s soul and its cravings and desires. It has many social benefits which the Prophet (ﷺ) explained in his saying:

“All the actions of the children of Adam are for him except fasting, for it is for Me and I will reward for it. Fasting is a shield; When one of you is fasting, he should not speak evil, nor should he yell and shout, and if someone were to curse or fight him, let him say, ‘Indeed I am a fasting person.’ By Him in Whose Hands is the soul of Muhammad, the smell which issues from the mouth of a fasting person is more dearer to Allah than the fragrance of musk. One who fasts will have two occasions of joy: upon breaking his fast and when he meets his Lord.” [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Through fasting, one realizes how his needy brothers feel who do not find sufficient food, clothing, and shelter, and this would entice him to fulfil his rights and ask about their conditions and what they need.

The Fifth Pillar: Hajj

Hajj is the pilgrimage one makes to the Sacred House of Allah (the Ka’bah) in order to perform certain rites at specific places at specific times. This pillar of Islam is obligatory upon every Muslim, male or female, who is sane and has reached the age of puberty once in a lifetime, if they have the physical and financial capability.

If a person has an incurable disease which prevents him from performing Hajj but has enough money, he must deputise someone to perform Hajj for him. If a person does not have more money than what he needs to fulfil his daily requirements or those whom he supports, Hajj is not an obligation upon him. Allah (SWT)says:

And the performing of Hajj to the House [Kaaba] is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who have the ability; and whoever disbelieves, then Allah stands not in need of any of the aalameen [Mankind, firms and all that exists]. [3:97]

Hajj is the largest Islamic gathering. Muslims from all over the world come together at one place and one time; they all call upon the same Lord, wear the same clothes, perform the same rituals, and recite the same call:

Lab’baik al’Iaahum’ma lab’baik, lab’baika laa shareeka laka lab’baik. In’nal hamda  wun’ni-mata laka wal-mulk laa shareeka lak.

Meaning: Here am I, O, Allah; here am I. There is no partner with You. Here am I. Surely, all praise and graces are Yours, and so is the dominion! There is no partner with You.

No difference is made between rich and poor, noble and ignoble, white and black, Arab and non-Arab; all are the same in front of Allah. There is no difference between them except in piety (taqwaa). The Hajj is an event which emphasizes the brotherhood of all Muslims and the unity of their hopes and feelings.

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