Islamic College of Canberra
ﺑﺴﻢ ﺍﷲ ﺍﻟﺮﲪﻦ ﺍﻟﺮﺣﻴﻢ
Explanation of the Three Fundamental Principles
Class Notes – Term 4, Week 5
ﻭﻫﻮ ﹶﺛﻼﺙ ﻣﺮﺍِﺗﺐ : ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻡ، ﻭﺍﻹْﻳﻤﺎﻥ، ﻭﺍﻹﺣﺴﺎﻥ، ﻭﻛﻞ ﻣﺮَﺗﺒﺔ ﹶﻟﻬﺎ ﹶﺃﺭﻛﺎ ﹲ . ﻓﺄﺭﻛﺎﻥ ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻡ
َ ُ َ ﹸ َ َ َ ِ ْ ُ َ ِ َ ﹸ َ ِ ْ َ ﹸ َ ﹸ ﱡ َ ْ َ ٍ َ ْ ﹶ ﻥ ﹶﹶ ْ ﹶ ﹸ ِ ْ ﹺ
َ َ ْ َﺔ َ َ َ ﹸ ﹾ
ﺧﻤﺴ ﹲ ﺷﻬﺎﺩﺓ ﹶﺃﻥ ﻻﹺﺇﹶﻟﻪ ﹺﺇﻻ ﺍﷲ ﻭﹶﺃ ﱠ ﻣﺤ ﱠﺪﺍ ﺭﺳﻮﻝ ﺍﷲ، ﻭﹺﺇﻗﺎﻡ ﺍﻟ ﱠﻼﺓ، ﻭﹺﺇْﻳﺘﺎﺀ ﺍﻟ ﱠﻛﺎﺓ، ﻭﺻﻮﻡ
ُ ْ َ َ ِ ُ َ ﻥ ُ َﻤ ً َ ُ ﹸ ِ َ ﹶ ُ ﺼ ِ َ َ ُ ﺰ ﹶ
ﺭﻣﻀﺎﻥ، ﻭﺣ ﱡ َﺑﻴﺖ ﺍﷲ ﺍﹾﻟﺤﺮﺍﻡ. ﻓﺪِﻟﻴﻞ ﺍﻟ ﱠﻬﺎﺩﺓ ﻗﻮﹸﻟﻪ َﺗﻌﺎﹶﻟﻰ: ﴿ ﺷﻬﺪ ﺍﷲ ﹶﺃﱠﻪ ﻻﹺﺇﹶﻟﻪ ﹺﺇﻻ ﻫﻮ
َ ُ َ َُ ﹺ َ ُ ﻧ
َ ُ ْ َ َ َ ﹶ َ َﺞ ْ ِ ِ َ َ ﹺ ﹶ َ ﹸ ﺸ َ َ ِ ﹶ
.﴾ﻭﺍﹾﻟﻤﻼِﺋﻜﺔ ﻭﹸﺃﻭﹸﻟﻮﺍ ﺍﹾﻟﻌﻠﻢ ﻗﺎِﺋﻤﺎ ﹺﺑﺎﹾﻟﻘﺴﻂ ﻻﹺﺇﹶﻟﻪ ﹺﺇﻻ ﻫﻮ ﺍﻟﻌﺰﻳﺰ ﺍﹾﻟﺤﻜﻴﻢ
ُ ِ َ ُ َ َ ﹶﹸ َ ْ ِﹾ ﹺ ﹶ ً ِ ْ ِ َ ُ َ َ ﹺ
And it is of three levels: Islam (submission and obedience to Allah), Iman (true faith comprising belief
of the heart, speech of the tongue and action of the limb) and Ihsaan (perfection of worship). Each
level has its pillars. [The first level] The pillars of Islam are five. The testification that none has the
right to be worshipped except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; to establish the
Prayer; to pay the Zakaat; to fast Ramadan, and to make Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah. So the
proof for the testification (shahadah) is the saying of Allah (swt): Allah bears witness that none has
the right to be worshipped but Him; and likewise the angels and the people of knowledge bear
witness: He who maintains justice, none has the right to be worshipped but Him, the All‐Mighty, the
All‐Wise [Aal‐Imran; 3:18]
The Deen of Islam is Three Levels
After explaining the definition of Islam, the Sheikh (ra) moves onto the three levels of Islam as have been
established in the Sunnah.
The word ‘martaba’ (level) in the Arabic language means a grade, degree or rank. To grade or rank
something means to organise it and compare its grades and ranks with one another
Thus, the Sheikh (ra) mentioned that the religion of Islam is of three levels, one above the other, and they
are Islam, Iman and Ihsaan. That is, Islam is a level, Iman is a level and Ihsaan is a level. The Sheikh (ra)
mentions them here in summary and then progressively explains them with details and evidences.
The proof of this categorisation of Islam is the lengthy hadith narrated by Umar (raa), concerning the time
when Jibreel (as) came and asked the Prophet (saw) about Islam, Iman and Ihsaan. The Prophet (saw)
defined them to him, and Jibreel (as) confirmed the validity of his answers. He (saw) then explained: “That
was Jibreel, he came to teach you your religion”.
Every level from the levels of Islam has pillars, and they can only be established upon them. When we say
the ‘arkaan’ (pillars) of something in Arabic, it means the sum of its parts which subsequently make the
whole. It is called this because it can be compared to the pillars of a house, without which the house cannot
Thus, a person’s Islam is not complete should any of its pillars be absent. Similarly a person’s Iman is not
complete if any of its pillars are missing, and again the same for Ihsaan which only has a single pillar.
Generally, Islam deals with the outward matters of the religion, Iman is the inward matters and Ihsaan is
worshipping Allah (swt) with Islam and Iman in a perfect manner.
The Pillars of Islam are Five
The first level is Islam and it is established upon five pillars. It cannot be established except with them. As
per our definition of ‘arkaan’ previously, the absence of any one these pillars means the absence of Islam in
If any of the pillars of Islam are lost or ignored, so is the Islam of a person. For example the person who
knows tawheed and does not testify to it, then he is not a Muslim. Similarly, if he knows shirk and testifies
to it and implements it, then he is not a Muslim. It is important to note that this is conditional to them
knowing shirk and tawheed, yet despite their knowledge, they continue to implement or reject them
This may also include those beliefs and actions which negate a person’s Islam, for example belying and
rejecting Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) with intent, then this removes them from the fold of Islam.
This even includes the one who performs the actions outwardly, but inwardly rejects and belies them, then
they have also disbelieved. This is the characteristic of the hypocrites.
Regarding the other pillars of Islam, it is unanimously agreed by the scholars that intentionally leaving them
while knowing they are obligatory constitutes disbelief.
The proof for these five pillars is the hadith of Ibn Umar (rah) who said that the Prophet (saw) said: ”Islam is
built upon five: The testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (swt) and that
Muhammad is His Messenger, establishment of the prayer, payment of the zakaat, fasting Ramadan and
Hajj to Allah’s sacred House”.
You will notice in this hadith that the Prophet (saw) has explained the outward actions of Islam upon the
limbs. Thus, the testification is an action of the tongue and the salaat, zakaat, sawm and hajj are those of
the body. Later on, we will Inshallah explain the difference between Islam and Iman and their meanings
when they are used independently or together (as per the hadith).
The First Pillar of Islam
The first of the pillars of Islam is the testification (shahadah) that none has the right to be worshipped
except Allah (swt), and that Muhammad (saw) is His Messenger.
The shahadah is considered to be a single pillar, even though it consists of two complimentary parts:
Testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (swt).
Testification that Muhammad (saw) is His Messenger.
It is considered to be a single pillar because all acts of worship depend upon implementing the two parts of
the shahadah. Therefore, no act of worship will accepted without:
Sincerity and purity of intention for Allah (swt) and this is comprised in the shahadah that none has
the right to be worshipped except Allah (swt).
Following and adhering to the way of the Messenger (saw) and this is comprised in the shahadah
that none should be followed except the Prophet (saw).
The repetition of the shahadah in this verse emphasises the great importance of tawheed. Allah (swt) then
praises Himself with two of His magnificent names and attributes.
Al‐Azeez (the All‐Mighty) that does not submit to weakness due to His might and greatness, and Al‐Hakeem
(All‐Wise) in His statements, actions, legislations and decrees.
1. Explain the meaning of the Arabic words ‘martaba’ and ‘arkaan’ and how they relate to the topic.
2. If any of the pillars of Islam a missing then so is the Islam of a person. What does this mean and what is
it conditional to?
3. Explain why the shahadah is considered a single pillar even though it consists of two important
4. Briefly explain the difference between Islam and Iman when they are used both together and
independent of one another. Give further evidence if possible.
5. The verse in Surat Aal‐Imran used by the Sheikh (ra) as evidence for the first pillar of Islam is
an endorsement for the seekers of knowledge. Explain why this is so.