“I am a muslim” a checklist

Posted on December 15, 2011


When we are asked what we do for a living, we say, “I am a Doctor”, or “I am an Engineer”, or “I am a Teacher”, or “I am still a Student”, etc and we are truly qualified when we say that. We have either degrees or school transcripts to prove what we say. We have put in years of effort in learning and applying the knowledge in our daily lives. However, when we are asked what we are in terms of religion, we proudly say, “I am a Muslim”, but are we truly qualified to say that? Have we taken the time to learn and apply the guidance given in the Qur’an and Hadith in our daily lives?

Let’s go through a checklist to see if we can truly claim to be a Muslim just because we were born or reverted into Islam.

Every Muslim must know that Allah’s Apostle [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): 

      1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity). 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

(Bukhari V1.B2#7)

So, let’s analyze if we are truly basing our “I am a Muslim” statement on these Five Pillars.

1. Lâ ilâha illAllâh, Muḥammadur RasûlAllâh = “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”.

This declaration, or statement of faith, is called the first Kalima, basically the very First Pillar of Islam. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of this first Kalima. In this Kalima, it clearly states that Prophet Muhammad [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] is the Messenger of Allah [Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala].

In the below Ayat from the Qur’an, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has conveyed to us that Prophet Muhammad [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] is the Messenger and that if we love Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) then we must follow Prophet Muhammad [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] – which basically means following the Qur’an and referring to the Sunnah (Hadith) for further guidance.

“He [Allah] it is Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad SAW) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islâm), that He may make it (Islâm) superior over all religions. And All-Sufficient is Allâh as a Witness. (28) Muhammad (SAW) is the Messenger of Allâh, And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.” (The Qur’an: 48.28-partof29)

“It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad SAW) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islâm), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) hate (it).” (The Qur’an: 9.33)

“Say (O Muhammad SAW to mankind): “If you (really) love Allâh then follow me (i.e. accept Islâmic Monotheism, follow the Qur’ân and the Sunnah), Allâh will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (31) Say (O Muhammad SAW): “Obey Allâh and the Messenger (Muhammad SAW).” But if they turn away, then Allâh does not like the disbelievers[] (32)” (The Holy Qur’an: 3:31-32)

This Pillar is probably the one that majority of us can truly put a check mark next to on our list since we sincerely believe it.

2. Rasulullah [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said “The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it he has become a disbeliever.” (Agreed upon by Ahmad, Tirmidhee and Nasaa’ee to be authentic)

“So glorify Allâh [above all that (evil) they associate with Him (O believers)], when you come up to the evening [i.e. offer the (Maghrib) sunset and (‘Ishâ’) night prayers], and when you enter the morning [i.e offer the (Fajr) morning prayer]. (17) And His are all the praises and thanks in the heavens and the earth, and (glorify Him) in the afternoon (i.e. offer ‘Asr prayer) and when you come up to the time, when the day begins to decline (i.e offer Zuhr prayer). (Ibn ‘Abbâs said: “These are the five compulsory congregational prayers mentioned in the Qur’ân).” (Tafsir At-Tabari) (18)” (The Qur’an: 30.17-18)

“Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’aan), and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah). Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) prevents from Al‑Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al‑Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)” (The Qur’an: 29.45) 

If we call ourselves Muslims, then we must at the least pray the following five Fard Salat at their prescribed times with complete purity (Wudu) and sincerity (at ease & not in a hurry):

Fajr: Two rakat Fard
Zuhr: Four rakat Fard 
Asr: Four rakat Fard
Maghrib: Three rakat Fard
Isha: Four rakat Fard & Three rakat Wajib

Basically, on a daily basis we should pray at least 17 Fard rakat and 3 rakat Wajib at Isha. A minimum of 20 rakat, and for those who pray the additional Sunnah rakat:

“Allah will build house in Jannah for whoever is diligent in observing 12 Sunnah rakat (as follows) 4 rakat before and 2 after Dhur, 2 after the Maghrib, 2 after Ishaa, and 2 before Fajr.” (Tirmidhi)

We must also pray Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer): Two rakat Fard – This replaces Zuhr for those who pray in congregation.

The Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “Who ever does not attend three Friday prayers, (without a valid excuse) Allah will set a seal on his heart” (authentic hadith reported by Abu Dawod, Termithi, An-Nesaii, and Ibn-Majah)

How many of us can truly put a check mark next to this Pillar in our “I am a Muslim” checklist? Most likely, this Pillar filters out majority of the non-practicing Muslims since it requires the most time and effort.

3. Allah’s Apostle [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “Whoever is made wealthy by Allah and does not pay the Zakat of his wealth, then on the Day of Resurrection his wealth will be made like a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and say, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure.’ “ 

Then the Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] recited the holy verses:–
“And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allâh has bestowed on them of His Bounty (Wealth) think that it is good for them (and so they do not pay the obligatory Zakât). Nay, it will be worse for them; the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection[]. And to Allâh belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allâh is Well¬Acquainted with all that you do. (The Qur’an: 3.180). ” (Bukhari V2.B24#486) 

“Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allaah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of security for them” (The Qur’an 9.103) 

The Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. [One of them is]
(6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (Bukhari V2.B24#504)

A man asked the Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam], “O Allah’s Apostle! What kind of charity is the best?” He [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] replied. “To give in charity when you are healthy and greedy hoping to be wealthy and afraid of becoming poor. Don’t delay giving in charity till the time when you are on the death bed when you say, ‘Give so much to so-and-so and so much to so-and so,’ and at that time the property is not yours but it belongs to so-and-so (i.e. your inheritors).” (Bukhari V4.B51#11)

The Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.” (Bukhari V2.B24#498) 

Hopefully, majority of us can put a check mark next to this Pillar on our “I am a Muslim” checklist.

4. “And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allaah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allaah], then Allaah stands not in need of any of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)” (The Qur’an: 3.97)

The Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.” (Bukhari V2.B26#596)

“The whole ceremony of Hajj is commemorative of Hadrat Ibrahim and his family’s acts of devotion to God Almighty. This shows that the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) did not innovate this institution but purged it of all evil practices and made it an obligatory act of piety by which one can develop God-consciousness. 

It is rightly said that it is the perfection of faith since it combines in itself all the distinctive qualities of other obligatory acts. It represents the quality of salat since a pilgrim offers prayers in the Ka’ba, the House of the Lord. It encourages the spending of material wealth for the sake of the Lord, the chief characteristic of Zakat. When a pilgrim sets out for Hajj, he dissociates himself from his hearth and home, from his dear and near ones to please the Lord. He suffers privation and undertakes the hardship of journey-the lessons we learn from fasting and i’tikaf. In Hajj one is trained to be completely forgetful of the material comforts and show of worldly thing. One has to sleep on stony ground, circumambulate the Ka’ba, run between Safa and Marwa and spend his night and day wearing, only two pieces of unsewn cloth. He is required to avoid the use of oil or scent or any other perfume. He is not even allowed to get his hair cut or trim his beard. In short, he is commanded to abandon everything for the sake of Allah and submit himself before his Lord, the ultimate aim of the life of a Muslim. In fact, physical pilgrimage is a prelude to spiritual pilgrimage to God, when man would bid goodbye to everything of the world and present himself before Him as His humble servant saying: ‘Here I am before Thee, my Lord, as a slave of Thine.’ “ (Excerpt from Sahih Muslim: Introduction to The Book of Pilgrimage (Kitab Al-Hajj))

Those of us who have already completed the Hajj should be happy to mark a check on their list for this Pillar. For those of us who need to perform Hajj, let’s not procrastinate and let’s complete it while we are still young and strong. Insha’Allah.

5. “O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)” (The Qur’an: 2.183) 

The Prophet [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Raiyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to observe fasts?’ They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it.” (Bukhari V3.B31#120) 

The Fard fasts:

Allah’s Apostle [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] said, “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you can’t see It) then regard the crescent (month) of Ramadan (as of 30 days)”. (Bukhari V3.B31#124) 

A bedouin with unkempt hair came to Allah’s Apostle [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] and asked, “Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards fasting.” He [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] replied, “You have to fast during the whole month of Ramadan, unless you want to fast more as Nawafil.” (Bukhari V3.B31#115)

Narrated Anas [RadhiAllahu ‘Anhu]: 
Allah’s Apostle [SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam] used to leave fasting in a certain month till we thought that he would not fast in that month, and he used to fast in another month till we thought he would not stop fasting at all in that month. (Bukhari V3.B31#193)

Majority of the Muslims make it a point to fast during the month of Ramadan, therefore most of us should be able to put a check mark next to the Pillar of Fasting.

Now, let’s look at our checklist. How many checks do we have out of five? Based on the number of check marks, are we qualified to say that “I am a Muslim”? If the answer if “Yes”, then great and we should continue practicing these duties. However, if the answer is “No”, then we must pray to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) to guide us to the right path and help us in becoming a practicing Muslim. We must sincerely believe and practice all of the Five Pillars. Thereafter, we can proudly say “I am a Muslim”!

And Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) knows best.

Posted in: Islam