The fundamentals (pillars) of Islam are five: To testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad (pbuh) is His Messenger, to perform prayers, to pay zakah (alms), to perform Hajj and to observe fast during the month of Ramadan.
In the hadith in which the Prophet defines Islam, which is known as the hadith of Gabriel, which we mentioned at the beginning and which states that Islam is based on five pillars (which ignorant people wrongly call it five conditions of Islam), these five pillars are listed. We will deal with the basic principles of belief which we call kalima ash-shahada or kalima at-tawhid in detail when we explain the issue of oneness (tawhid). Here, we will briefly mention the principles (pillars) which are stated as prototype examples due to the importance of these kinds of worship and which we can inclusively define as righteous deeds along with other kinds of worship in terms of its aspect related to creed. How to do these deeds are dealt with in fiqh and catechism books and in the subject of fiqh.
What is righteous deed (amal salih)? Righteous deeds are deeds that are liked by Allah. A righteous deed has two characteristics: The first one is being in compliance with the shari’ah of Islam; the second one is the intention being for the sake of Allah and aiming to worship Him. If a deed does not contain both of them, it is not regarded as a righteous deed by Allah. Such a deed brings no profit and reward. Our Lord states the following:
“…Whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.” (al-Kahf, 18/110)
The place of righteous deed in Islam is very important because these deeds are the fruits of belief in Allah and the hereafter. The meaning of kalima ash-shahada (tawhid) becomes manifest through doing righteous deeds and being on this way. When we remember that the meaning of Islam is surrendering and submission, and that this submission means obeying and surrendering to Allah’s commands, it becomes clear that Islam cannot be without deeds, obedience and worship. Many verses praise righteous deeds due to its importance in Islam. Some of these verses regard them as close to belief; some mention the reward for them and others mention the benefits of them in the hereafter.
“By (the Token of) time (through the Ages), verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy..” (al-Asr, 103/1-3)
For some other verses, see al-Maida, 9 ; ar-Ra’d, 29 ;an-Nahl, 97 ; al-Kahf, 30; Maryam, 76; al-Ankabut, 7, 9.
It is necessary to adopt Islam for the deed to be accepted. Therefore, Allah mentions belief and righteous deeds together. If a person does a righteous deed that is incompliance with the shari’ah of Islam and for the sake of Allah, his deed will be rejected by Allah unless he accepts and adopts Islam as a whole. There is no reward or benefit for such a deed. (see Aal-i İmran, 3/85)
There are several kinds of good deeds. They are all of the things that God Almighty orders, whether they are related to worship or transactions. When a Muslim does a righteous deed by aiming to obey his Lord, surrender to the shari’ah and demand the consent of Allah, he becomes a person of good deed.
The righteous deeds in the first place (in the narrow sense) are the acts of worship. The main acts of worship are daily prayers, hajj and zakah. They are the foundations of Islam. It is definitely impermissible to neglect or to despise their importance. Therefore, they are clearly stated in the famous hadith that defines Islam.
The importance of worship in Islam is great. Worship arranges a person’s relationship with his Lord and shows his servitude to Allah. Worship is the special right of Allah that he demands from His slaves. It is necessary to take care of worship and to invite other people to belief principles and then to worship. When worship is incomplete, man’s belief cannot be strengthened and cannot settle in his heart. Furthermore, today, when the sovereignty of unbelief has reached everywhere, the belief of people who act lazily and neglect some kinds of worship especially daily prayers is imperiled. That is, it is very difficult for a person to remain a believer without performing daily prayers and other kinds of worship. Worship is like water for a fish and air for a person.
Among these kinds of worship, daily prayers are especially important in terms of creed. Islam describes prayers as a characteristic that distinguishes between a Muslim and an unbeliever. It s not permissible to neglect prayers even when a person is on a journey, at war or when he is ill. It is the habit of munafiqs (hypocrites) to abandon prayer and to act lazily when it is time to pray. When a person returns to his Lord, the first thing he will be questioned about is prayers. Prayer is a kind of worship that always reminds a person of his servitude to Allah and the meaning of kalima at-tawhid. Prayer prevents a person from committing all kinds of ugly deeds, fornication and evil. Some of the verses of the Quran that are related to the importance of prayers are as follows: ar-Rum, 31; al-Baqara, 1-3, 153 and 238; an-Nisa, 103; 142; al-Ankabut, 45 …
The Muslim is invited to prayer by “Allahu Akbar”; he starts prayer by it; he often repeats it while praying because Allah is greater than every great being and loftier than every powerful being. If a person adheres to Allah, who is greater and mightier than everything is, he will not be afraid of anyone. He will avoid worshipping others.
Fasting, hajj, zakah and all of the other kinds of worship strengthen belief, purify the soul of evil and make a person adhere to his Lord. In fasting, a person prefers love of Allah to the desires of his body. It makes a Muslim have sincerity, will and patience. Zakah is a kind of financial worship that enables a Muslim to be purified of the disease of stinginess. Thanks to zakah, he understands it better that Allah is the real owner of the property and that he is only a person to whom that property is entrusted. Zakah means to prefer the consent and love of Allah to the love of property. It means to allocate a share of one’s property to the poor of the community and hence to contribute to social justice. Hajj is the practical education of a Muslim. We see that a Muslim shows his servitude practically and clearly through the worship of hajj. The commands like obtaining knowledge, making jihad, ordering what is good, prohibiting what is evil, showing patience and tawakkul, having taqwa, loving Allah and fearing His torture are among the main kinds of righteous deeds that the Quran insistently emphasizes.