The Five Tenets of Islam

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  • 0:00 Definition of the Five Tenets
  • 0:30 The Five Tenets
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

In this lesson, we will discuss the Five Tenets of Islam. Learn more about each of the tenets and how they are related to Muslim life. Then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of the Five Tenets

The Five Tenets of Islam, also known as the Five Pillars of Islam, are the five primary obligations that all Muslims believe they must follow. The five tenets serve as a basic guide as to how Muslims should live their lives. The five tenets are Shahadah, Salah, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj.

Let's discuss each of the five tenets in more detail.

The Five Tenets

Shahadah: Testimony of Faith

The first tenet, which is also the most important, is a declaration in which one verbally proclaims that Allah is the one and only true God and that Muhammad is God's messenger. This declaration must be recited with conviction and sincerity. Only after this testimony of faith is publicly made can an individual be accepted as a member of the Islamic community.

Salah: Prayer

The second tenet is prayer. Muslims are required to pray five times each day, with each prayer lasing for only a few minutes. The prayers occur at dawn, high noon, in the middle of the afternoon, sunset, and again during the night. According to the Islamic faith, prayer provides a direct connection between God and individuals.


Though it's suggested that prayer take place in a mosque, as in the photo above, Muslims can pray anywhere. It's also acceptable to pray alone or with a group. During prayer, Muslims turn toward the holiest city in Islam, Makkah (Mecca), which is in Saudi Arabia. Depending on where a Muslim lives in relation to Mecca, they could be praying in any direction: whichever is the most direct to the holy city.

Zakat: Giving

The third tenet is giving. According to the Islamic faith, everything belongs to God, including wealth. Muslims have a social obligation to help others in their community. Muslims are required to give 2.5% of their worth to those who are in need.

Sawn: Fasting

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