Five Pillars of Islam


The Five Pillars of Islam are an adopted set of practices and beliefs that evolved over many years. While they are alluded to in the Quran, it is believed they were not formally in place during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad.


The Five Pillars are the ritual obligations for living a Muslim life. They are considered to be the duties of a Muslim.

While the Sunni and Shia agree on the essential details for the performance and practice of these acts, the Shia to do not refer to them by the same name. (Wikipedia).

Five Pillars of Islam - The Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca
Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash


The first pillar is Shahada or the expression and declaration of faith. This is said five times a day during prayer. Muslims recite: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”.

The second pillar is Salat or prayer. Five times a day a Muslim faces Mecca and performs a physical type of prayer known as a prostration which involves having the forehead, nose, both hands, knees and all toes touching the ground together. The prayer includes silent or spoken versus from the Quran.

The third pillar is Zakat or alms giving to charity. Muslims give a certain amount of their income to support the Islamic community. This is a purification process that acknowledges that all things belong to God.

The fourth pillar is Sawm or fasting. Ramadam is the holy month in the Islamic calendar and is when fasting takes place. A Muslim fasts between sunrise and sunset and it includes abstaining from food, sex and smoking. The purpose is to remind Muslims that all individuals equally need the assistance of Allah.

The fifth pillar is Hajj or pilgrimage. At some point during one’s life, a Muslim is expected to travel to Mecca during the 12th month of the lunar cycle. The hajj is to express your devotion to God.



Religions are something you do.

This manifesto reinforces this viewpoint with a series of rituals – practices with meaning.

While the Quran is the written form of Islam, it is through these practices that Muslims are able to live their faith.

Each of the five pillars has a specific meaning that link the action to a celebration of their faith.

Notably, it starts with a five times daily declaration of your faith through Shahada. You might like to compare this to forming a daily habit – practicing it regularly builds the emotional and neurological connection.

The Five Pillars also has rituals expressed in different timeframes in different ways. For instance, Shahada is daily, Ramadam is once a year and the pilgrimage to Mecca is once in a lifetime.


The Bible – Ten Commandments

Wikipedia – Five Pillars

Michael Pollan – Food Rules

The Seven Rules of Done


Geoff McDonald, author of Done and curator of


The Seven Rules – They are rules because they are principles, guidelines, actions, procedures and hopefully useful! They are the seven key ideas that allow us to move from the usual way of doing project planning to the more holistic view of project design.

Geoff McDonald - Done: How to finish your projects when traditional ways don't work


1 Stop planning!

The old saying suggests that ‘if we fail to plan, we plan to fail’. But planning is not enough – particularly when it only describes what are we are going to do. We need to stop planning and start designing to include our motivations, inspirations, and passion for our projects.

2 Don’t fix your problems

We all know what we want. But most of what we want is to fix something that went wrong in our past. This is limiting and it’s not satisfying either. Instead, we need to clear the decks of our past if we want to create a truly compelling future.

3 Inner over outer

When we fail at things we presume we are the failure. And that we are fatally flawed in some way. That’s human nature. But the real problem is we fail because we choose the wrong type of goal. We need to focus on our internal motivations to keep us going when we face the dip, an obstacle or simply when it all gets too hard.

4 Rules rule!

As the world has become more complex our plans for the future have also become more complex. Fighting complexity with more complexity is a recipe for confusion, chaos, and disaster. Instead, we need to develop simple rules to make it easier to navigate in complex situations. Think traffic lights!

5 Ship smaller sooner

Traditionally we aim to deliver one big thing at the end of our projects. The problem with this approach is the lack of feedback. This leaves us wide open for creating something that nobody wants. Been there, done that! That’s a short cut to “Why did I waste my time doing that?” Or worse, “What is wrong with these people, don’t they recognise my brilliant work?” That’s not going to lead you to a happy place. Instead, we need to create smaller versions of our final big thing to find out what will ultimately work.

6 Structure shapes success

The usual story is that we fail because of a lack of willpower, discipline or focus. This only tells part of the story as there are forces bigger than us at work impacting us in invisible ways. Therefore, we need to design our environments to promote the behaviours we want and to stifle those we don’t.

7 You have to change

When we create our projects our focus is naturally on the end result. However, if that’s all we do we miss a big opportunity. The real purpose of our project is to create a change in our situation and to make that change stick. To do that we need to change!


Geoff McDonald and his book Done: How to finish your projects when traditional ways don’t work


The language we use in our manifesto is the key to giving it a decisive edge.

There’s something strong and definitive about saying things are ‘rules’. It implies following them, sticking to them and using them as boundaries.

Compare this to principles, guidelines, things… All useful but provide a different flavour to our message.

Further, the rules that follow also need to have a mix of familiarity and intrigue. I believe some need to be relatively obvious – for instance, most people will understand ‘rules rule’. It implies that rules are important.

In contrast, ‘inner over outer’ is less obvious. It begs the question, what specifically is ‘in and out’ referring to? In this case it’s about inner and outer motivation styles.

Stop Planning is another interesting rule because it is provocative – it challenges our usual thinking.

Plus, we want our rules to be sexy and slightly clever (not too clever). For instance, the alliteration (using the same sound or letter) of ‘Ship Smaller Sooner’ rolls off the tongue and becomes a snappy idea. It’s much more engaging than ‘Get things done quicker’.

When you’re writing your manifesto, pay attention to the words you use – words have meaning and impact. Choose carefully. Play with a thesaurus to figure out the right ones. And test this with a live audience face-to-face to reveal their emotional impact.


Geoff McDonald, The Manifesto Manifesto

Geoff McDonald, The Expert Manifesto

The Cult of Done