Sixth Pillar of Islam

Shi'a Islam tends to incorporate the Sixth pillar of Islam, referring to an addition to the universally held Five Pillars of Islam.

Possible Sixth Pillar: Duty to do Well

In his book on Islam, Khaled Abou el Fadl says that in earlier times, many Muslims believed that there were 6 pillars of Iman, not five. El Fadl says: "The sixth pillar is summed up in the proclamation that every Muslim has a duty to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Today, all Muslims agree that [this] is a solemn religious duty … but few would still count it as the sixth pillar of Islam." [1]

Controversy over Sixth Pillar of Islam

Most Sunni Muslims believe there are precisely five Pillars of Islam, since Sunni leaders have taught that there are only five major pillars of the faith. Traditionalists say that no sixth pillar should be added, because changing the pillars would be altering the religion and its beliefs, and so one who believes that there is a sixth is committing a sin. Thus, Sunnis believe that a "six pillar of faith" is outside the folds of mainstream Islam. The sixth pillar of Islam is not included in the Sunni way of life.

Also, a minority among Sunni scholars sometimes refers to the duty of jihad as the sixth pillar of Islam. These are varying beliefs and most Sunni Muslims believe that exactly five pillars constitute valid Islam, but there is sufficient speculation between the duty to do good (see above), jihad and khums as to which, if any, moral ethic could or should be acknowledged as the sixth pillar of Islam.

See also


  1. El Fadl, The Great Theft (San Francisco: Harper-Collins, 2005), p. 122.
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