Written with a contemporary Muslim audience in mind, the creed is based on the orthodox Sunni Maturidi School of Theology, and the legal rulings upon the Hanafi Legal School. The Five Pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory by Muslims. These are summarised in the famous Hadith of Gabriel. The Qur’an presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith.
About the Author
In 2009 he was awarded the OBE for his services to community relations in Britain. Dr Musharraf Hussain is the director of the Karimia Institute in Nottingham, a leading British Muslim organisation, which works on a number of projects ranging from community development to adult classes and interfaith work. He undertook his Islamic education in the UK, Pakistan and the Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Dr Musharraf has also helped to establish a number of Muslim schools in the UK. He has also written numerous books on Islam as well as some 100 articles.
‘The Five Pillars of Islam: Laying the Foundations of Divine Love and Service to Humanity’ (Kube Publishing 2012), by Dr M. Hussain al-Azhari.
Review by Sabah Hussain
This book is a practical manual educating readers about essential Islamic beliefs and practices by locating exoteric acts of worship within their spiritual context and framework. In this, it is distinct from similar manuals- readers are not merely instructed on how to perform acts related to each of the five pillars (the Shahada, Salah, Zakah, Sawm, and Hajj), but instead are educated about the spiritual framework to which those external acts belong. If religious traditions can be described as tapestries, then this book endeavours to weave a complete one for its subject matter: internal and external facets of worship are sewn in together, with strands illuminating social and even biological contexts. Thus, the chapter entitled ‘Introduction to the Shari’ah and the Science of Fiqh’ incorporates the mechanics of the human brain and its preference for repeated actions in its description of the spiritual practice of wirds:
“Brain cells work together to lay pathways of incoming signals. When actions are repeated, for instance, prayers are said over and over again, a pathway is created in the brain… Wird literally refers to ‘a watering place’, or anything that returns or one returns to, again and again. In Islamic spiritual circles it refers to a portion of the Qur’an, a Prophetic prayer or a Divine Name recited repeatedly at a set time”.
The words of well-known Islamic intellectuals are also employed to elaborate on certain points; for example, Imam al-Ghazali and Mawlana Rumi are cited on ritual prayer, with the latter emphasising the idea that prayers are not merely external formalities- “The purpose of ritual prayer is not that you should bow and prostrate yourself all day. Its purpose is that you develop a prayerful attitude…”
A succinct translation of ‘Aqa’id al-Nafasi (a comprehensive summary of Islamic beliefs widespread in Islamic schools across the world, especially in the Central and South Asia regions) is also included, to make more accessible this masterpiece manual of Islamic beliefs to readers.
Each of the five pillars of Islam receives its own section. The section dealing with the first pillar- the Shahada (declaration of faith)- describes its significance, the meaning of faith and its development, the nature of Iman (faith), and the beliefs and practices of the Ahl-al Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. The section describing the second pillar- the Salah (prayer)- details the meaning of salah, its spiritual benefits, developing concentration in salah, the social and moral benefits of it, how to prepare for salah, and how to pray salah and special congregational prayers, among other things. The third section is about Zakah (almsgiving). It covers the meaning and wisdom of zakah, its spiritual and social benefits, and the specifics of paying zakah (such as who is eligible to pay it and receive it, and the manners to be employed upon paying it). The fourth section deals with Sawm (fasting in Ramadan). It includes the blessings of Ramadan and fasting, using Ramadan as a program for spiritual growth, the social, health and moral benefits of fasting, the Fiqh rulings for Ramadan, I’tikaf (spiritual retreat), Laylat al Qadr (the night of power), and Id al-Fitr. The fifth section is concerned with Hajj (the pilgrimage). It discusses the meaning and significance of Hajj, an overview of its rules and conditions, the meaning and practice of the rites of Hajj, and how to perform it and how to perform Umrah.
The Appendix includes moon sighting, and the Selected Scholarly Biographies, Glossary and Bibliography are all useful and appropriately informative.
This is an excellent handbook for educating readers about the basics of Islam in a clear, concise yet detailed and informative manner.
 ‘The Five Pillars of Islam’, M. Hussain, (Leicestershire, 2012), pp.33-34.
 The Five Pillars of Islam’, M. Hussain, (Leicestershire, 2012), p. 41.