Becoming a Believer

Before discussing the articles of faith, a couple of introductory topics need to be touched upon. The first concerns the definition of “faith” or “belief” from an Islamic perspective. The second concerns the basis of one’s faith.121

121 In preparing this chapter in particular, the author benefited greatly from three of his previous works: What is Islam (Riyadh: Ministry of Religious Affairs, 2006); He Came to Teach You Your Religion (Denver, CO: Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations, 1997); Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means (Denver, CO: Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Transla ons, 2001).

The Definition of “Belief”

For many an English speaker, “belief” simply means the acknowledgment the something is true. Thus, one can be asked, “Do you believe that God exists?” and the reply may be, “Yes.” The same person may be asked a follow up question, “Does your belief in God have any influence or ramifications upon your life, your deeds and your goals?” To this question, the same person who says he believes in God will reply, “No.” Given this common scenario, the following question must be addressed: Could this type of belief possibly be equivalent to what Islam means by, for example, “belief in Allah”?

The foundation of one’s Islam starts with what is in one’s heart and one’s beliefs. Thus, Islam has put a great emphasis on what to believe in, as shall be discussed in this chapter. At the same time, though, Islam also stresses what “belief” is supposed to be. Belief, from an Islamic perspective, cannot be something that a person claims is in his heart while it has no influence on the person’s life and behavior. On the contrary, the beliefs in the heart should be the driving force behind everything the individual does. The true and effective beliefs never remain at an abstract level but their influence is manifested on a day-to-day practical level. To take a simple example, the question of cheating and stealing is directly related to one’s overall belief system. If a person believes that these acts are morally wrong and that there is an all-knowing, just God who will hold him accountable for his deeds, he will most likely refrain from such acts. But if a person does not believe in any eternal ramifications or any day of judgment, his deciding factor may only be the chances of being caught and the severity of the punishment for those acts.

In fact, true belief does much more than make a person realize the negative or positive ramifications of an act. As a person develops in his faith and his beliefs become stronger, his faith molds the very way he looks at thing. His love for something and his hatred for something is determined by his beliefs about that thing. For example, when he recognizes that God loves something, he realizes that that thing must be wonderful and also deserving of his love. On the contrary, if God dislikes something, the individual realizes that that thing must be filled with traits that are deserving of his dislike as well.

One can take the example of smoking. Someone may believe that smoking is harmful and wrong by accepting the facts showing smoking to be harmful as true but he continues to smoke and he does not let what he recognizes to be true guide his actions. In other words, he does not submit to the truth he sees nor does he implement what it implies. His factual knowledge about smoking has not permeated into his heart such that he develops a hatred for smoking due to its evils. Hence, his recognition of the facts is not the same thing as “belief” or, in Quranic terms, imaan. Imaan necessitates that one has the willingness to submit to or enact what one recognizes to be true. In the case of true belief or Imaan, if that Imaan is strong and healthy at that moment, then it will put the feeling of hatred in the person’s heart for that act that he believes to be wrong or harmful. It will keep the person from wanting to commit that harmful act.

At the same time, it will put the love for all good deeds into his heart. Thus, Allah says, “Allah has endeared the Faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts, and has made disbelief, wickedness and disobedience hateful to you. These! They are the rightly guided ones” (49:7). Such a faith will, therefore, rule his life and it will guide him to what he should do. (If, however, his faith is weak and can be overcome by other forces in the heart, it may not have that effect.)

Therefore, true belief means that one acts in accordance with that belief. When, for example, an individual says that he believes in the angels, it means that he knows that the angels are present and that they are actually recording his deeds. This should affect him in that he will not perform those deeds that he does not want those angels to see and record.

Thus, a thorough study of the Quran and Sunnah shows that faith or Imaan has certain components. These components were summed up by the earliest scholars in their saying, “Imaan is statement and action.” Statement here includes both statement of the heart (affirmation) and statement of the tongue (verbal profession). Action includes both the actions of the heart (willingness to submit, love and so forth) and actions of the body (such as prayer and so forth).122

For the sake of clarity, over time, these two components were broken down into the three following essential components of Imaan that have also been stated by many scholars:

(1) Belief in the heart;
(2) Profession by the tongue;
(3) Performance of deeds by the physical parts of the body.

In sum, faith, meaning true and definitive belief in something, should lead to a corresponding submission to what one believes in. Otherwise, it is simply an acceptance of a fact but it is not the Islamic concept of “faith” (imaan).

Thus, Ibn Uthaimeen wrote, Imaan is the affirmation that requires acceptance and submission. If a person believes in something without acceptance and submission, that is not imaan. The evidence for that is that the polytheists [Arabs] believed in Allah’s existence and believed in Allah as the Creator, Sustainer, Giver of Life, Bringer of Death and the Manager of the Universe’s Affairs. Furthermore, one of them even accepted the messengership of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but he was not a believer. That person was Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet (peace be upon him)… But that [belief in the Prophet (peace be upon him)] will not avail him whatsoever because he did not accept and submit to what the Prophet (peace be upon him) brought.123

122 Cf., Ahmad ibn Taimiya, Majmoo Fatawaa Shaikh al-Islaam ibn Taimiya (collected by Abdul Rahmaan Qaasim and his son Muhammad, no publica on informa on given), vol. 7, p. 672.

123 Muhammad ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Hadith Jibreel Alaihi al-Salaam (Dar al-Thuraya, 1415 A.H.), pp. 4-5.

“A Leap of Faith”

The second introductory issue concerns the basis for one’s faith. In the English language, there is a common conception that “faith” implies believing in something that one cannot prove. In other words, “faith” requires what is known as a “leap of faith,” where one goes beyond what can be rationally accepted to mere blind acceptance and belief. This approach is very much contrary to the Islamic conception.

From an Islamic perspective, one’s faith must be "knowledge-based," so that both the heart and the mind find solace in it and submit to it with a firm resolution. Islam does not demand that humans believe in matters that go against their own nature and reasoning that God has given them. Instead, Allah calls upon humans to reflect—look at the creation, at their own selves and everything around them. Allah points to different aspects of the creation and describes them as signs for those people who reflect.

When humans honestly reflect upon the creation around them, very clear conclusions should result:

(1) This existence could not have come about without a wise and intelligent creator and

(2) such a wise and intelligent creator would not create this without some purpose behind it. Thus, Allah says, “Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying), ‘Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire’” (3:190-191). Allah also says, “Do they not think deeply (in their own selves) about themselves? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord” (30:8). Again, Allah says, “Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” (23:115).

The Quranic argument is that it is not logically possible to come to any other conclusion. Indeed, if a person believes in God as the Creator, by definition it is unbecoming of such a noble and great Creator to create all of this order and beauty and yet have no purpose behind that creation. A person who believes in a creator yet believes that this creator had no purpose or thought behind his creation is describing a creator that is childlike and unintelligent. It is hard to believe that a creator like that could possibly come up with a crea 101 1430 2009 tion like the one that everyone witnesses today. No, indeed, the creation points to certain attributes of the Creator and it points to there being an important and great purpose behind this entire creation. The whole nature of the existence points to the Creator being one of very special character who would not create anything of this nature simply in sport or jest. That Creator could only be Allah with His perfect and sublime attributes—that is, this creation needs Allah and it could not be just and proper except under the control of Allah, exactly as Allah is. Thus, Allah says in the Quran, “Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) gods besides Allah, then verily they both124 would have been ruined. Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, (High is He) above what they attribute to Him” (21:22).

A second very important conclusion that one can derive by simply pondering over this creation is that the one who created this from nothing can easily recreate it. If He has the ability to recreate things even after their demise, this also means that He has the ability to resurrect them and bring them all in front of Him. This thought, obviously, has very ominous repercussions for humans and their behavior in this world. Thus, Allah points out this fact and reminds humans of its meaning throughout the Quran.

For example, Allah says, “See they not that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, is Able to create the like of them. And He has decreed for them an appointed term, whereof there is no doubt. But the wrong-doers refuse [the truth and accept nothing] but disbelief” (17:99). Another set of verses state, “And he [the human] puts forth for Us a parable, and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who will give life to these bones when they have rotted away and became dust?’ Say (to them O Muhammad), ‘He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All-Knower of every creation! He, Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold, You kindle therewith. Is not He, Who created the heavens and the earth Able to create the like of them? Yes, indeed! He is the All-Knowing Supreme Creator. Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is! So Glorified is He and Exalted above all that they associate with Him, and in Whose Hands is the dominion of all things, and to Him you shall be returned” (36:78-83).

The one who negates the resurrection is expecting that Allah will treat the wrongdoers like the pious people. This is an unbecoming expectation of Allah. Allah makes it clear that such will never be the case, highlighting that such thoughts can only come from those who disbelieve in God. Allah says, “And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose! That is the consideration of those who disbelieve! Then woe to those who disbelieve from the Fire! Shall We treat those who believe and do righteous good deeds, as the evildoers on earth? Or shall We treat the pious as the wicked?” (38:27-28).

Although it is beyond the scope of this work, the Islamic beliefs in the Quran and the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are also based on clear and direct evidence. The belief in the Quran as being a revelation from God is not a blind belief but is directly related to the miraculous nature and extreme beauty of this book itself. Similarly, believing in the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is also supported by signs pointing to his coming in earlier revelations, the Prophet’s own noble character, the victory that God bestowed upon him, the change that was brought about in an entire generation and afterwards under his guidance and so forth.

The point is that the Islamic beliefs in God as the only creator and lord, the belief in a purpose of life, the belief in a resurrection, the belief in the Quran and the belief in the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are all based on knowledge and an understanding that is consistent with one’s human nature. In fact, because they are knowledge-based, any increase in one’s knowledge related to these beliefs leads to an increase in one’s faith. Thus, knowledge and faith are never battling against each other in Islam. Again, this is because there are no mysteries or absurdities that one is demanded to believe in. Mysteries and absurdities require “leaps of faith” and they are completely absent and alien from Islamic beliefs.125

124 Meaning both the heavens and the earth.

125 It is true that there may be many things beyond the realm of human experience and direct comprehension. However, even the belief in those matters is based on the beliefs that are justifiable and understandable. For example, some people may not be able to accept the fact that some form of punishment occurs to a person while he is in the grave. He may argue that he sees dead people rotted away in the graves and there is no sign that they are suffering any punishment.

The Articles of Faith

The “articles of faith,” or what general categories a Muslims is supposed to be believe in, have been delineated by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in a famous hadith known as the “Hadith of the Angel Gabriel.” In that hadith, the Angel asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “What is imaan (belief)?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied by saying, “It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day and to believe in the divine decree, [both] the good and the evil thereof.”126

It is important that every Muslim, including every convert, have at least a basic understanding of each of these articles of faith. Thus, each article shall be discussed separately here.

126 Recorded by Muslim.

(A) The Belief in Allah

The Islamic belief in God revolves around a pure, unadulterated monotheism, commonly referred to in Arabic as tauheed.127 In order to clarify matters, the scholars divided the discussion of tauheed into different branches, each branch covering or explaining one aspect of the complete and correct belief in Allah. These branches are clearly and directly indicated by the Quran and Sunnah.

A popular way of discussing tauheed is to divide it into three categories.128 These three categories are tauheed al-ruboobiyah, tauheed aluloohiyah129 and tauheed al-asma wa al-sifaat.

(1) Tauheed al-Ruboobiyah: In essence, this is belief in the uniqueness of Allah with respect to His actions. This is the belief in the Oneness of Allah with respect to His Lordship. He alone is the Lord (al-Rabb).130 He is One without Partner in His Dominion and His Actions. He is the Only Creator, Owner, Nourisher, Maintainer131 and Sustainer of this creation. All creation has been created by Him and Him alone.

According to ibn Uthaimeen, all of mankind except the most arrogant and haughty accepts and recognizes this aspect of tauheed, namely, that there is no Lord and Creator but the One Lord and Creator.132 This is so because this belief is ingrained in the nature of mankind. Mankind recognizes and realizes that this creation must have had a Creator. Mankind also realizes that this Creator must only be One. It is clear from numerous verses of the Quran that even the polytheistic Arabs knew and recognized that the true and only Creator was above and beyond the idols that they used to worship. For example, Allah says in the Quran, “Say: ‘Whose is the earth and whosoever is therein? If you know!’ They will say: ‘It is Allah’s!’ Say: ‘Will you not then remember?’Say: ‘Who is (the) Lord of the seven heavens, and (the) Lord of the Great Throne?’ They will say: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘Will you not then fear Allah (believe in His oneness, obey Him, believe in the Resurrection and Recompense for every good or bad deed)?’ Say: ‘In Whose Hand is the sovereignty of everything (i.e. treasures of each and everything)? And He protects (all), while against Whom there is no protector, if you know?’ They will say: ‘(All that belongs) to Allah.’ Say: ‘How then are you deceived and turn away from the truth?” (23:84-89).

However, this belief concerning Allah also necessitates or implies the following aspects: Everything that occurs in this creation is by the Decree, Permission and Will of Allah. Sustenance and provisions are from Allah and Allah alone. Life and death are in the Hand of Allah alone. All blessings come from Allah. Guidance and misguidance are by the Will and Permission of Allah. Legislation or prescribing a way of life is the right of Allah alone. Allah alone has knowledge of the unseen. No one has any rights over Allah unless Allah Himself has laid down such upon Himself.

(2) Tauheed al-Uloohiyah: This is the oneness of Allah with respect to Him being the only one who is an ilaah (God, object of adoration and worship).

This is the actualization of tauheed as found in the actions of the humans or servants of Allah. This is the meaning of the testimony of faith, “There is none worthy of worship except Allah.” This is the reason for which the messengers were sent and the books were revealed. This is the “trial” or test that mankind is facing in this world. Allah has said, “I have not created jinn and mankind except that they should worship and serve Me” (51:56). Allah also says, “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him” (17:23).

This branch of tauheed is the real goal or essence of the teachings of all of the messengers and prophets. The first type of tauheed, tauheed alruboobiyah, is necessary and essential. In reality, there has been very little dispute or controversy over that first type of tauheed. Many people would accept the basic concept that the Lord and Creator is One Lord and Creator only. However, this belief must lead to this second form of tauheed wherein one directs all of his acts of worship towards Allah and Allah alone. This is why so many Messengers are quoted in the Quran as telling their people, “O my people, worship Allah as you have no other God besides Him” (7:59, 65, 85; 11:50, 61, 84; 23:23 and 32).

Many authors have given definitions for this type of tauheed .Al-Qaisi, for example, defined it in the following manner,

This is the knowledge, belief and recognition that Allah has the position of God over all of His creation. This category of tauheed— which is called tauheed al-uloohiyah or tauheed al-’ibaada—requires that one single out Allah alone for all acts of worship. It is the singling out of Allah and the specifying of Him as the object of all acts of worship, external and internal, statements and actions. It is the denial of the worship of anything other than Allah, whatever that other thing or being might be. It is the negation of any partner with Allah in any form whatsoever and refusal to turn any act of worship to anyone other than Him.

The concept of worship which must be devoted solely to Allah covers everything that is beloved and pleasing to Allah, whether it be acts or statements, both inward or outward, including purity of intention, love, fear, hope, awe, turning to [Him alone], putting one’s trust [only in Allah], seeking aid and assistance, seeking a means of approach...133

He goes on to mention many acts of worship, including the obvious ones, such as prayer, prostration, fasting, animal sacrifice, pilgrimage and so forth.

All of these must be done solely for the sake of Allah. They must also be done in the manner that is prescribed by Allah and that is pleasing to Him. To perform any of these acts for anyone other than Allah negates and destroys one’s fulfillment and implementation of tauheed.

Al-Saadi’s definition sheds some further light on this concept. He wrote that tauheed al-uloohiya

Is to know and recognize with knowledge and certainty that Allah is the only God and the only one truly deserving of worship. [It is also to verify that] the attributes of Godhood and its meaning are not found in any of [Allah’s] creatures. No one is then deserving of worship except Allah. If the person recognizes that and recognizes it correctly, he will reserve all of his external and internal acts of servitude and worship for Allah alone. He will fulfill the external acts of Islam, such as prayer,… Jihad, ordering good and eradicating evil, being dutiful to parents, keeping the ties of kinship, fulfilling the rights of Allah and the rights of His creatures… He will not have any goal in life other than pleasing His Lord and attaining His rewards. In his affairs, he will be following the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). His beliefs will be whatever is proven in the Quran and Sunnah. His deeds and actions will be what Allah and His Messenger legislated. His character and manners will be in imitation of His prophet, in his guidance, behavior and all of his affairs.134

This aspect of tauheed comprises both the actions of the heart as well as the deeds of the physical body. There are two aspects in particular that must be combined in the worship of Allah. Al-Saadi stated,

The spirit and actuality of worship is by the realization of love and submission to Allah. Complete love and full submission to Allah is the reality of worship. If the act of worship is missing both or one of those components, it is not truly an act of worship. For the reality of worship is found in submission and yielding to Allah. And that will only occur if there is complete and full love [for Allah] which dominates all other expressions of love.135

Jaafar Shaikh Idris has aptly described the process that should come about through the correct belief in Allah and how that should lead to the acts of the heart which are essential aspects of tauheed. Idris wrote,

When faith enters a person’s heart, it causes therein certain mental states, which result in certain apparent actions, both of which are the proof of true faith. Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of Ibadah (worshipping or serving God).

This feeling of gratitude is so important that a nonbeliever is called kaafir which means, “one who denies a truth” and also “one who is ungrateful”. One can understand why this is so when one reads in the Quran that the main motive for denying the existence of God is that of unjustified pride. Such a proud person feels that it does not become him to be created or governed by a being whom he must thus acknowledge to be greater than himself and to whom he must be grateful. “Those who dispute concerning the signs of God without any authority come to them, in their hearts is only pride that they shall never attain” (Ghaafir :56).

With the feeling of gratitude goes that of love: “There are some people who take to themselves [for worship] others apart from God loving them as 2009 they should love God; But those who believe love God more ardently than they love anything else” (al-Baqara : 165).

A believer loves and is grateful to God for His bounties, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favors, he is always anxious lest because of his sins God should withhold from him some of these favors or punish him in the Hereafter. He therefore fears Him, surrenders himself to Him, and serves Him with great humility.136

There is thus no real worship unless the heart is filled with the feeling of love and glorification for Allah. Along with this flows the other necessity components of having hope in Allah and fear of Allah in the heart. Fear of Allah comes about when one truly glorifies and exalts Allah.137 Hope in Allah flows from a complete and true love of Allah. All of these components must be present and in a proper balance. If they are not present at all or if they are not properly balanced, one’s worship becomes distorted and incorrect.138

Allah says about some of His true and pious servants, “Verily, they used to hasten to do good deeds. They used to call upon Us with hope and fear. They also would humble themselves before us” (21:90). In reference to the pious and devoted servants Jesus, Uzair and the angels, Allah has said, “They hope for His mercy and fear His torment” (17:57)139

This category of tauheed is the key to a “real life”, a life that is sound and proper. Ibn Taimiyyah wrote,

You must know that a human’s140 need for Allah that he worship Him and not associate any partner with Him is a need concerning which there is no comparison that one can make an analogy to. In some matters, it resembles the need of the body for food and drink. However, there are many differences between the two.

The reality of a human being is in his heart and soul. These cannot be prosperous except through [their relation] with Allah, concerning whom there is no other god. There is, [for example,] no tranquility in this world except in His remembrance. Verily, man is heading toward his Lord and he shall meet Him. He must definitely meet Him. There is no true goodness for him except in meeting Him.141 If the human experiences any pleasure or happiness other than in Allah, that joy and happiness will not endure. It will move from one nature to another or from one person to another. The person will enjoy it at one time or only some of the time. In fact, sometimes the thing he enjoys and gets pleasure from does not bring him pleasure or enjoyment. Sometimes it even hurts him when it comes to him. And he is even more harmed by that. But his God is definitely always with him under every circumstance and at all times. Wherever he is, He is with him [by His knowledge and aid]…

If someone worships anything other than Allah even if he loves it and attains some love in this world and some form of pleasure from that[that false worship] will destroy the person in a way greater than the harmful displeasure that comes to a person who ate poison…

You must know that if anyone loves something other than for the sake of Allah, then that beloved thing will definitely be a cause of harm and punishment… If somebody loves something other than for the sake of Allah, that thing will harm him whether it is with him or he is without it…142

In order for any deed to be accepted by Allah, it must be done in accordance with this aspect of tauheed. In other words, if a person is fulfilling and understanding this form of tauheed properly, this, by necessity, implies that he is accepting and applying the other forms of tauheed. Therefore, his deeds may then be accepted by Allah.143 Allah says, “So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and not associate anyone [with Allah] in the worship of his Lord” (18:110).

One of the acts that must be done solely towards Allah is prayer or supplication. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “Supplication is the [essence of] worship."144 When a person prays or supplicates to another, he is showing his trust and reliance in that other. He is demonstrating his need for the one he is praying to. He is demonstrating his trust in that person or being’s ability to know, understand and fulfill his need. This kind of feeling in the heart that is reflected in supplication must be directed towards Allah only. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) called supplication the essence of worship. Hence, anyone who prays or supplicates to anyone other than Allah is associating partners with Allah or, in other words, committing shirk. This is the antithesis of Imaan and tauheed.

This type of tauheed is actually a necessary consequence or result of the correct belief in tauheed al-ruboobiyah. If one realizes that there is no rabb (Lord) except Allah, then one will realize that none is worthy or deserving of worship except Allah. If none other than Allah is worthy of worship, then why would anyone worship somebody or something other than Allah?

On this aspect of tauheed, ibn Abu al-Izz al-Hanafi wrote,

The Quran abounds with statements and parables concerning this type of tawhid. It first affirms the tawhid al-ruboobiyah, that there is no Creator other than Allah. This conviction necessitates that no one should be worshiped except Allah. It takes the first proposition [that Allah is lord] as evidence for the second proposition [that Allah is the only one worthy of worship].

The Arabs believed in the first proposition and disputed the second.

Allah then made it clear to them: Since you know that there is no Creator except Allah, and that He is the One who can give a person what benefits him or keep away from him what harms him, and He has no partner in those acts, then how can you worship others besides Him and associate partners with Him in His Godhead? For example, Allah says in the Quran, “Say: Praise be to Allah and peace on His servants whom He has chosen [for His message]. Who is better: God or the false gods they associate with Him? Or who has created the heavens and the earth, and who sends you down rain from the sky with which He brings forth beautiful gardens? It is not in your power to cause the growth of the trees in them. Can there be another god besides Allah? Yet they are a people who assign equals [to Him]” (al-Naml 59-60). At the end of other similar verses, Allah states, “Can there be another god besides Allah?” (al-Naml 61, 62, 63 and 64). This is a question with a clearly implied negative answer. They accepted the notion that no one but Allah does such things. Allah used that as a proof against them. It does not mean to ask if there is another god besides Allah, as some have claimed. Such a meaning is inconsistent with the context of the verses and the fact that the people actually used to take other gods alongside Allah. As Allah says, “Can you possibly bear witness that besides Allah there is another god? Say: I witness it not” (al-Anaam 19). And they used to say [about the Prophet], “Does he make all the gods one? That it is truly a strange thing” (Saad: 5). But they would never say that there was another god [with Allah] that would “make the earth a fixed abode, place rivers in its fold, and place firm hills therein” (al-Naml 61). They accepted the fact that only Allah did all of those things. Therefore Allah says, “O people, adore your Guardian- Lord who created you and those who went before you that you may learn to be righteous” (al-Baqara 21) and “Say: Think, if Allah took away your hearing and your sight and sealed up your hearts, who, a god other than Allah, could restore them to you” (al-Anaam 46). And there are other similar verses.145

(3) Tauheed al-Asma wa al-Sifaat: The third aspect of tauheed, in this way of viewing tauheed, is recognizing and affirming the Oneness of Allah with respect to His names and attributes. One must affirm that these attributes are perfect and complete in Allah alone. These attributes are unique to Allah. No one else can attain any of these attributes.

Throughout the history of Islam, this is another aspect of tauheed concerning which many sects deviated. Shuaib al-Arnaut describes the different views that developed in the following passage,

There is no doubt that the topic of Allah’s attributes must be considered as one of the greatest and most important topics of the foundations of faith. The views of the Islamicists have differed on this issue. Some of them followed the approach of complete denial of the attributes. Others accepted Allah’s names in general but denied the attributes. Some of them accepted both the names and attributes but, at the same time, rejected or gave interpretations for some of them, turning away from their apparent meanings [of the texts found in the Quran and Sunnah]. Some of them took the approach that it is obligatory to believe in all of the names and attributes that are mentioned in the Book of Allah and the authentic Sunnah. They took them and passed them on according to their plain, apparent meaning. They deny any understanding of their modality (kaifiyah) and deny any kind of similarity [of those attributes to any other than Allah]. The people of this last opinion are those who are called the salaf [pious predecessors] and ahl al-Sunnah.146

The correct belief concerning this topic that has been passed on from the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions was aptly summarized by al-Saadi when he wrote,

As for belief in Allah, it includes: belief in whatever attributes Allah has described Himself with in His book and whatever attributes His Messenger (peace be upon him) has attributed to Him. [The belief in those attributes are] without any distortion or negation, and without stating how or what manner the attributes are. In fact, the belief is that there is nothing similar to Allah and, at the same time, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. Therefore, what He has attributed to Himself is not denied nor are such descriptions distorted from their proper meanings. In addition, the names of Allah are neither denied, nor is their manner described, nor are they depicted in a way that makes His attributes similar to the attributes of any of His creation. This is because there is no one and nothing similar or comparable to Him. He has no associate or partner. One cannot make an analogy between Him and His creation, glorified and most High be He.

With respect to belief in what Allah has been attributed with of attributes and names, there must be a combination of affirmation and negation. The ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah do not allow any straying from what the Messengers preached, as that is the Straight Path. Included in this very important principle are all the statements from the Quran and the Sunnah detailing Allah’s names, attributes, actions and what should be negated of Him. Included among this is the belief in Allah’s settling Himself over the Throne147, His descending to the lowest heaven, the believers seeing Him in the Hereafter— as the confirmed, continuous reports have stated. Also included under this principle is that Allah is close and responds to the supplications. What is mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah concerning His closeness and “being with” the believers does not contradict what is stated concerning His transcendence and His being above the Creation. For, Glory be to Him, there is nothing at all similar to Him with respect to any of His characteristics.148

In one verse, Allah has pointed out that both nothing is similar to Him whatsoever and, at the same time, He has attributes, such as hearing and seeing. Allah has stated, “There is nothing similar to Him and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing” (42:11). Hence, there is a complete denial of anthropomorphism while affirming Allah’s attributes of hearing and seeing.149

This aspect of tauheed is very important and should not be underestimated. As Ahmad Salaam points out, the people before the coming of the Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted the idea of Allah alone being the only Creator of the Universe. However, they associated partners with Allah in different forms of worship. Therefore, Islam came to purify this concept of Allah being the Lord or Rabb and gave it its proper understanding. By doing so, then they would worship Allah alone properly. But the way to achieve that, or the beginning point, is to have the knowledge and correct understanding of Allah’s names and attributes. If one has knowledge of and a correct understanding of Allah’s names and attributes, then one would never turn to anyone else or direct any form of worship to anyone other than Allah.

Hence, a correct and detailed understanding of Allah’s names and attributes is truly the foundation for the correct fulfillment of the other types of tauheed.150 He further states that tauheed al-ruboobiyah is like a tree. Its root, then, is tauheed al-asma wa al-sifaat. In other words, tauheed alruboobiyah stands on a foundation, which is tauheed al-asma wa al-sifaat. If that root or foundation is not found, the tree itself may be diseased and weak.151

However, given that parable, the real fruit of tauheed al-asma wa alsifaat, once again, is tauheed al-uloohiyah. The more that one knows about Allah and His attributes, the more one will love Allah, fear Allah and have hope in Allah. Definitely, the more one knows about Allah, the more one will love Allah and desire to please Allah and have Allah pleased with him. Hence, the correct understanding of the names and attributes of Allah is very important and very beneficial. Those people who stray on this issue have harmed themselves greatly and lost a great fortune.

127 The term tauheed, meaning “making something one,” or “asserting oneness”, is not a term from the Quran or Sunnah. However, it became the main term used to cover the aspects of belief in Allah, dating back to the time of the Companion of the Prophet ibn Abbaas.

128 The dividing of tauheed into three categories may be found in a number of works in English. Perhaps, the best discussion is Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Riyadh: Tawheed Publications, 1990), pp. 1-42. In this work, an a empt will be made to emphasize some points that are not found or discussed in detail in the available English literature.

129 In particular, this category is sometimes given a slightly different name, such as tauheed alibaada.

130 “Lord” is actually not a decent translation for the word rabb but will be used here for the lack of a better, more comprehensive word in English.

131 It is true that there can be other creators, owners and maintainers in this world. However, their abilities to create, own and maintain are limited and not absolute. Absoluteness in these realms belongs only to Allah. Cf., ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Hadith, pp. 11-14.

132 Muhammad ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan (Fairfax, VA: Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, 1410 A.H.), p. 19.

133 Marwaan al-Qaisi, Maalim al-Tauheed (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1990), pp. 61-62.

134 Abdul Rahman Al-Saadi, Al-Fatawa al-Saa’diyah (Riyadh: Manshooraat al-Mu’assasat al- Sa’eediyah, n.d), pp. 10-11. The definition al-Saadi gave highlights the fact that tauheed aluloohiyah is composed of tauheed al-ikhlaas (where one acts solely and purely for Allah’s pleasure), tauheed al-sidq (where one acts sincerely and honestly according to this belief) and tauheed al-tareeq (where the path that one follows is one, that established by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)). For more on these concepts, see Muhammad al-Hammad, Tauheed al- Uloohiyah (Dar ibn Khuzaima, 1414 A.H.), pp. 22-24.

135 Quoted in al-Hammad, p. 26.

136 Jaafar Sheikh Idris, The Pillars of Faith (Riyadh: Presidency of Islamic Research, Ifta and Propagaon, 1984), pp. 9-10.

137 Sometimes a person or object is feared but that fear is not combined with complete love.
Hence, that fear does not constitute a false form of worship.

138 There are numerous statements from early scholars stressing the proper balance of the different components of imaan in the heart. For example, it is said about fear and hope, "They are like two wings of a bird. The believer flies towards Allah by his two wings of hope and fear. If they are balanced, he flies properly. If one of them is missing, he has a shortcoming. If they are both missing, the bird is on the edge of death." (Quoted in al-Hammad, p. 41.)

139 Cf., al-Hammad, pp. 34-41.

140 The word ibn Taimiya used was abd (servant or slave); however, its inference is every human being.

141 This is because the soul, by its ingrained nature, yearns for its meeting with its Creator.

142 Ibn Taimiya, Majmoo, vol. 1, pp. 24-29.

143 Cf., al-Hammad, Tauheed al-Uloohiyah, p. 18.

144 Recorded by Abu Dawud, al-Nasaa’i, al-Tirmidhi and others. Graded sahih by al-Albani. Al- Albani, Sahih al-Jami al-Sagheer, vol. 1, p. 641.

145 Ibn Abu al-Izz, vol. 1, pp. 37-38.

146 Shuaib al-Arnaut, introduction to Zain al-Din al-Maqdisi, Aqaweel al-Thiqaat fi Ta’weel al-Asma wa al-Sifaat wa al-Ayaat al-Muhkamaat wa al-Mushtabihaat (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 1985), p. 6. One of the earliest examples of a person asking about these a ributes and seeking an explanation for them comes from the time of Malik. A man came to him and said, “O Abu Abdullah [Imam Malik], [about the verse,] ‘The Most Gracious rose over the Throne,’ how is this rising?” Malik’s reply was, “The modality of His act is not known. But His rising over the Throne is not unknown. Belief in it is obligatory. Asking about it is an innovation. And I suspect that you are a heretic.” This narration from Malik, with various wordings, can be found in numerous works. For a discussion of its chains and meanings, see Jamaal Baadi, Al-Athaar al-Waarida an ‘Aimmat al- Sunnah fi Abwaab al-Itiqaad (Riyadh: Dar al-Watan, 1416 A.H.), vol. 1, pp. 226-231.

147 As al-Baihaqi pointed out, this belief, which is clearly and plainly indicated in the Quran and Sunnah refutes the Jahmiyah view that Allah is everywhere and in everything. See Abu Bakr al- Baihaqi, al-Itiqaad ala Madhhab al-Salaf Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al- Arabi, 1984), p. 55.

148 Quoted from Abdullah al-Jarullah, Bahjah al-Naadhireen fima Yuslih al-Dunya wa al-Deen (1984), pp. 7-8.

149 Ibn Taimiyyah (as well as his student ibn al-Qayyim) was a staunch opponent of anthropomorphism.
His writings clearly state that Allah’s attributes are unique to Him and are not the same as the attributes of humans. However, some people have actually accused him of anthropomorphism. These accusations are based on blatantly false reports concerning ibn Taimiyyah, extreme ignorance or a biased hatred for this scholar who opposed many heresies. For more on this point and a refutation of such accusations, see Salaah Ahmad, Dawah Shaikh al-Islaam ibn Taimiya wa Atharuhaa ala al-Harakaat al-Islaamiyah al-Mu’asirah (Kuwait: Dar ibn al-Atheer, 1996), vol. 2, pp.

150 Ahmad Salaam, Muqaddimah fi Fiqh Usool al-Dawah (Beirut: Dar ibn Hazm, 1990), p. 97.

151 Salaam, p. 100.

(B) Belief in the Angels

The second article of faith mentioned by the Prophet (peace be upon him) was belief in the angels. Angels are a type of creation of Allah that is, in general, unseen by man. They have been created from light but they do have forms and bodies. They are servants of Allah and have no aspect of divinity to them whatsoever. They submit to His command completely and never stray from fulfilling His orders.

Salaam points out that if a person does not believe in angels, he then cannot believe in the coming of revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is because it was an angel, Gabriel, that brought the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Therefore, belief in the Quran cannot be confirmed unless one believes in the angels, as a class, and the Angel Gabriel, in particular, who brought that revelation to the Prophet (peace be upon him).152

According to ibn Uthaimeen, proper belief in the angels comprises four matters:153

First, one must believe in their existence.

Second, one must believe in them in general but also one must believe in their names that have been explicitly stated in either the Quran or authentic Sunnah. For example, one of the angels is named Jibreel (Gabriel). He was the angel who brought the revelation to the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Third, one must believe in their attributes as stated in the Quran or Sunnah. For example, it is stated in a hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw the Angel Gabriel covering the horizon and he had six hundred wings. This shows that this species of creation is a truly great and marvelous creation of Allah. It is also demonstrated, such as in this hadith currently being discussed, that an angel can appear in different forms, such as in the form of a human. This also demonstrates Allah’s great power and ability to do whatever He wills.

Fourth, one must believe in the actions that they perform as mentioned in the Quran or authentic hadith. It is stated in the Quran that they worship Allah and glorify Him. It is also indicated that specific angels have been given specific responsibilities. Jibreel is in charge of the “life of the heart” which is a reference to the revelation that has come from Allah. Israafeel is responsible for blowing the trumpet that will resurrect the bodies on the Day of Judgment. Hence, he is related to the reviving of life on the Day of Resurrection. Mikaaeel is responsible for the rain and vegetation. These are the “sources” of life on earth. Ibn Uthaimeen points out that it is perhaps the relationship between these three angels and their “life-giving” responsibilities that led the Prophet (peace be upon him) to open his late-night prayers with the following supplication, “O Allah, Lord of Jibreel, Mikaaeel and Israafeel, the Originator of the Heavens and the Earth, the Knower of the Unseen and Witnessed, You judge between Your slaves in that wherein they differ, guide me to the truth in the matters concerning which they have differed, by Your Leave. You guide whom You will to the Straight Path.”154

A fifth matter that one must fulfill in his belief in the angels is to have a strong love for them due to their obedience and worship of Allah. Furthermore, they declare the Oneness of Allah and fulfill His commands. They also have strong love and loyalty for the true believers in Allah. They pray to Allah on behalf of the believers and ask Allah to forgive them. They support them in both this life and the Hereafter.

An important aspect related to belief in the angels is that everyone must believe that he has with him at all times two angels that are recording his deeds. The following verses are in reference to those angels: “[Remember] that the two receivers [recording angels] receive [him], one sitting on the right and one on the left. Not a word does he utter, but there is a watcher by him ready [to record it]” (50:17-18).

There are many beneficial results that flow from a proper belief in angels. For example, knowing about the angels allows one to recognize the greatness of Allah and His Power. This great creation known as angels is an indication of the greatness of their Creator. Additionally, one should thank Allah for His extreme care and concern for humans. He has created these creatures to support the believers, protect them, record their deeds and other aspects which are beneficial to the believers.

However, a believer’s belief in the angels goes much beyond that. The believer knows that the angels are noble creatures who support and aid whatever is true and just. Therefore, whenever the believer decides to perform a good deed, stand up for the truth and sacrifice for what is right, he knows that there are creatures in this world who are going to support him and help him in his cause, like the angels supported and helped the believers in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In fact, such is promised from Allah, as the following verses from soorah ali-Imraan indicate: “Allah had helped you at Badr, when you were a contemptible little force; then fear Allah. Thus may you show your gratitude. Remember when you said to the believers, ‘Is it not enough for you that Allah should help you with three thousand angels (specially) sent down? Indeed, if ye remain firm, and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste, your Lord would help you with five thousand angels making a terrific onslaught’ (3:123-125).

The angels even ask for the believer’s forgiveness and pray on behalf of the believer. Allah says in the Quran, “He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of darkness into light: and He is full of mercy to the believers” (33: 43).

152 Salaam, p. 104.

153 Cf., Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 27-28. “Cf.,” is used implying that the points are from ibn Uthaimeen but the discussion and explanation is not necessarily from his writing.

154 Muhammad ibn Uthaimeen, Majmuat Fatawa wa Rasaa’il Fadeelat al-Shaikh Muhammad ibn Salih al-Uthaimeen (Riyadh: Dar al-Watan, 1413 A.H.), vol. 3, pp. 160-161.

(C) Belief in Allah’s Books

Belief in Allah’s books is the third article of faith mentioned in this hadith. It refers to the revelations that Allah sent down to His messengers as a mercy and guidance to lead mankind to success in this life and happiness in the Hereafter. In particular, the Quran is the final revelation. It is the uncreated speech of Allah.

Ibn Uthaimeen points out that the belief in Allah’s books comprises four aspects:155

First, one must believe that those books were truly revealed from Allah.

Second, one must specifically believe in the books mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. They are the Quran revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Taurah revealed to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), the Injeel revealed to the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and the Zaboor revealed to the Prophet David (peace be upon him). There is also reference in the Quran to the “pages” of Abraham and Moses. The books that the Jews and Christians possess today, which they call the Torah, Gospel and Psalms, may contain some of those original revelations but there is no question that they have been distorted. Hence, to believe in the Torah of Moses, for example, does not mean that a Muslim believes in the first five books of the Old Testament. The two are different books although the latter may possess some of what was in the original Taurah.

Third, one must also believe in everything that Allah has revealed, whether it be in the Quran or in the previous books. That is, for example, if the Quran states something, then the Muslim must believe in it. He has no choice in this matter. If he rejects any statement in it, he has negated his beliefs in the Books of Allah. Allah says, “Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and you reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world. And on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do” (2:85).

Fourth, one must act in accord with the unabrogated revelation, which is the Quran. One must be pleased with it and submit to it completely. This is so even if the person does not completely grasp the wisdom behind the command or statement.

All of the previous revelations of Allah have been abrogated by the final revelation, the Quran. There is no need for any Muslim to turn to the remnants of any of the earlier scriptures. Everything that he needs for his guidance is contained in the Quran and what it points to, such as the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah has stated in the Quran, “And to you We have revealed the Scripture in truth, confirming whatever Scripture that came before it, and a watcher and judge over it” (5:48). Commenting on this verse, ibn Uthaimeen says, “It is a ruler over the previous scriptures. Hence, it is not allowed to act in accord with any ruling of the rulings from the previous scriptures unless it is verified and accepted by the Quran.”156

It is one of the greatest blessings of Allah that He sent revelations for mankind. These revelations guide man to the purpose for which he was created. This is one of the many aspects of this creation that helps a human being see and recognize the truth. Commenting on this point, Idris wrote,

God created men so that they may serve Him. His being a servant of God constitutes the essence of man. Man cannot therefore attain to his true humanity and acquire peace of mind unless he realizes this aim for which he was created. But how can he do this? God, being merciful and just, has helped him in many ways. He granted him… an originally good nature that is inclined to know and serve its true Lord. He granted him a mind that possesses a moral sense and the ability to reason. He made the whole universe a natural book full of signs that lead a thinking person to God. But to make things more specific and to give him more detailed knowledge of his Lord, and to show him in a more detailed manner how to serve Him, God has been sending down verbal messages through His prophets chosen from among men, ever since the creation of man. Hence, the description of these messages in the Quran as guidance, light, signs, reminders, etc.157

In fact, not only did He send revelations for mankind but He also sent specific and different revelations according to the needs and circumstances of different people over time. This is another expression of Allah’s great mercy for mankind. This process continued until the Quran was revealed, containing all the guidance that mankind needs from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) until the Day of Judgment. Since it is meant to be a guidance for all times until the Day of Resurrection, as opposed to the earlier scriptures, Allah has protected the Quran from any tampering, mistakes or distortions. Allah has said, “Verily, it is We who have sent down the Reminder [the Quran] and surely We will guard it [from corruption]” (15:9).

155 Cf., Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 32-33.

156 Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 32-33.

157 Idris, pp. 18-19.

(D) Belief in the Messengers

The next article of faith is belief in Allah’s Messengers. A messenger is any human who was chosen by Allah to receive revelation from Him and who was commanded to pass that revelation on. The first of the messengers was Noah (Nooh).158 Every people was sent messengers and these messengers came with the same fundamental teaching:

“And verily, We have sent among every nation a Messenger proclaiming, ‘Worship Allah [alone] and avoid all false deities’” (16:36). The final messenger and prophet is the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah has said, “Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets” (33:40).

It is important to note that all of these messengers and prophets were simply human beings. They did not have any divine status or attribute.159 They had no knowledge of the unseen except for that which Allah revealed to them. Their loftiest attribute is that of being a servant of Allah. Such is Allah’s description of them in the Quran. Indeed, with respect to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in reference to three of the greatest events in his life, Allah refers to him as His servant.160

Correct belief in the messengers comprises four aspects161:

First, one must believe that the message of all of them is the truth from Allah. If a person today denies any single one of them who is confirmed in the Quran or authentic hadith, then he is in fact denying all of them. Allah says about the people of Noah, “The people of Noah belied the messengers” (26:105). However, Noah was the first messenger. This implies that, in essence, if a person denies one messenger, he is in fact denying all of them since their message is essentially one and consistent. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “By the One in whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, there will be no Jew or Christian of this nation162 who hears of me and then dies without believing in that with which I have been sent except that he will be one of the inhabitants of the Hell-fire.”163

This is one of the aspects that distinguishes Muslims from the earlier peoples. Muslims believe in all of the prophets. However, the others refused some— whether it be the Jews rejecting Jesus (peace be upon him) or the Jews and Christians rejecting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)— although, in reality, they had no grounds whatsoever to refuse the later prophet. Each messenger came with clear signs and evidence. Their rejection by the people could only be based on arrogance, ignorance or hostility to the truth.

Second, one must believe in all of the Messengers mentioned by name in the Quran or Sunnah. As for those not mentioned, one must believe in them at a general level164, knowing that Allah has sent many messengers although not all of them are mentioned by name in the Quran or hadith. Allah has stated in the Quran, “And indeed We have sent messengers before you. Of them, some We have related to you their story and some We have not related to you their story” (40:78).

Third, one must believe in everything that they stated. They communicated their messages from Allah completely and properly. They exerted themselves to propagate Allah’s message. They strove for the sake of Allah in the most complete manner. They were most knowledgeable of Allah and the best worshippers and servants of Allah.165 The messengers “have been protected from attributing to Allah something of their own invention, judging according to their own desires, falling into major sins, and adding to or diminishing from the religion.”166

Fourth, one must submit to, accept and act in accord with the law of the messenger who has been sent for his guidance. Allah says in the Quran, “We sent no messenger but to be obeyed by Allah’s leave” (4:64). With respect to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Allah says in the verse after the verse quoted above, “But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept them with full submission” (4:65).

The believer should realize that the sending of messengers for the benefit and guidance of humankind is a great blessing from Allah. The knowledge that they conveyed is knowledge that is beyond the grasp of the human intellect by itself since it deals with matters of the unseen. Indeed, humankind is in more need of their guidance than they are in need of food and drink. If they are void of food and drink for any period of time, they will die, implying loss of this life. But if they are refusing Allah’s guidance through the messengers, they will lose the everlasting bounties of the Hereafter.

158 As for Adam, he was a prophet and not a messenger. Every messenger was a prophet but not vice-versa. For the differences between a prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasool), see the author’s “Questions and Answers,” Al-Basheer (Vol. 2, No. 1,May-June 1988), pp. 5-7.

159 This is obviously one of the ways by which the Christians strayed. They raised their Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to a divine status while it is clear from their own book that he was simply a human being who prayed and beseeched God on a number of occasions.

160 See 25:1, 17:1 and 72:19.

161 Cf., ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 36-38.

162 Meaning everyone from the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) until the Day of Judgment. They are all the Prophet’s Nation because they are all obliged to believe in him and follow him.

163 Recorded by Muslim.

164 At the same time, no one can claim that a person, for example, Buddha, was a prophet because there is no evidence from the Quran and Sunnah to affirm such a claim.

165 Abdullah al-Muslih and Salaah al-Saawi, Ma La Yasa’ al-Muslim Jahluhu (Islamic Foundation of America, 1995), p. 59.

166 Abdur-Rahmaan Abdul-Khaliq, The General Prescripts of Belief in the Quran and Sunnah (The Majliss of al-Haqq Publica on Society, 1986), p. 18.

(E) Belief in the Last Day and the Hereafter

“The Last Day” is called such because there will be no new day after it, as the people of Paradise shall be in their abode as will the people of Hell. Among its other names are “The Day of Resurrection,” “The Reality,” “The Event,” “The Day of Judgment,” and “The Overwhelming.” This is the greatest day that mankind shall pass through. Indeed, it will be the gravest and most fearful day. A person’s new life will be decided on that day. It will mark a new beginning for each and every soul. This new step may lead to eternal bliss or eternal damnation.167

Belief in the Last Day implies belief in everything that the Quran or the Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated about the events of that Day and thereafter. There are some general aspects (resurrection, judgment and reward, Paradise and Hell) that every Muslim should be aware of and believe in with certainty. There are also more detailed aspects that the Quran or the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mentioned. The more one has knowledge of that Day and its surrounding events, the greater the effect this belief will have on him. Hence, it is highly recommended for each individual Muslim to learn about the events that occur prior to and on the Day of Resurrection.

As recorded in Sahih Muslim, before the Day of Judgment and the destruction of this earth, Allah will send a wind softer than silk, coming from Yemen, that will take the souls of every individual who has even the slightest amount of faith in his heart. Therefore, the events of the end of the earth will only be lived through by the worst of people, those with no faith whatsoever.

One of the first events to occur is the sun rising from the West. At that time, all those people will declare their faith but it will be of no avail to them. Then the Horn shall be blown and all on this earth shall die. Allah says, “And the trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will swoon away, except him whom Allah wills” (39:68). This earth and heaven shall then be destroyed. After a period of forty— it is not known whether it is forty hours, days or years— a second Horn will be blown and the people will be resurrected: “And the Trumpet will be blown [the second blowing] and, behold, from the graves they will come out quickly to their Lord. They will say, ‘Woe to us! Who has raised us up from our place of sleep?’ [It will be said to them,] ‘This is what the Most Beneficent [Allah] has promised, and the Messengers spoke the truth’” (36:51-52).

According to ibn Uthaimeen,168 belief in the last day encompasses three aspects. First is belief in the Resurrection: after the Second Blowing of the Horn, the people will be resurrected in front of Allah. They shall be naked, barefoot and uncircumcised.169 Allah says, “As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. [It is] a promise binding on Us. Truly,We shall do it” (21:104).

The resurrection is going to be in the same body that the person had in this worldly life. Ibn Uthaimeen has pointed out the wisdom and importance of 2009 this: “If it were a new creation, it would mean that the body that performed the sins in this world would be safe from any punishment. To come with a new body and have that body punished goes against what is just. Hence, the texts and rational argument indicate that the [person] resurrected is not a new [creation] but a return [of the old creation].”170 He also points out that Allah has the ability to recreate the bodies even after they have disintegrated. Humans may not be able to understand how exactly that is possible— like so many other aspects that humans cannot fathom— but Allah has stated it and a believer knows full well that it is true and well within Allah’s ability to do so.

The second aspect is belief in the accounting or reckoning of the deeds and the reward/punishment for those deeds. This aspect is mentioned and stressed in numerous places in the Quran. Here are a couple of examples: “Verily, to Us will be their return. Then, verily, upon Us will be their reckoning” (88:25-26); “And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And sufficient are We as reckoners” (21:47).

Allah has made it clear that all deeds will be weighed on the Day of Judgment. Allah says, “And the weighing on that Day will be the true weighing.

So as for those whose scale [of good deeds] will be heavy, they will be the successful. And as for those whose scale will be light, those are they who will lose their ownselves because they denied and rejected Our Signs” (7:8-9).

One should always recall that the reward Allah gives to His servants is an act of His mercy as He rewards them more than what their deeds entail. However, Allah’s punishment is out of His justice and He does not punish anyone more than what he deserves.

The third essential aspect of belief in the Last Day is belief in Heaven and Hell. Heaven is the eternal abode or reward for the believers. Hell is the eternal abode of punishment for the disbelievers. The stronger opinion is that they both are in existence at this present time and they both shall exist forever.

They are not simply states of mind as some non-Muslims and a few heretical Muslims believe. Allah and His Messenger made mention of them and have described them clearly and in unequivocal terms. There is absolutely no room for any Muslim to deny their existence or their descriptions.

About Heaven, for example, Allah has said,

“Verily, those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward with their Lord is gardens of eternity, underneath which rivers flow, they will abide therein forever. Allah being well-pleased with them and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord” (98:7-8); “No person knows what joy is kept hidden for him as a reward for what they used to do” (32:17).

Concerning Hell, for example, Allah has said, “Verily, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose walls will be surrounding them. And if they ask for relief, they will be granted water like boiling oil that will scald their faces. Terrible the drink and evil a resting place” (18:29); “Verily, Allah has cursed the disbelievers and has prepared for them a flaming Fire. They will abide therein forever and they will find neither a protector or a helper. On the Day when their faces would be turned and rolled in all sides of the Fire, they will say, ‘Oh, would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger’” (33:64-66).

Ibn Taimiyyah points out that belief in the Last Day also includes belief in everything that shall occur to a person after his death and before the Day of Resurrection.171 This includes the trial in the grave and the pleasure or punishment in the grave. The trial in the grave is mentioned in an authentic hadith recorded by al-Tirmidhi. It states that two angels, al-Munkar and al- Nakeer, come to the person and ask him: What did you use to say about this man [meaning the Prophet (peace be upon him)]? Other narrations mention two angels coming and asking three questions: Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is your prophet?172

There are additional detailed aspects related to the Hereafter that a believer should learn about and believe in. Due to space limitations, they cannot be discussed in detail here.173 These matters include:

(1) The Fount or Cistern of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)174;
(2) The different intercessions175;
(3) The distribution of the books of deeds;
(4) Passing over the siraat (bridge) over Hell176; and
(5) The entrance into Paradise and Hell with all of its related aspects.

The belief in and knowledge of the great events of the Last Day and the Hereafter should have some very profound effects on the individual— if he takes the time to remember and seriously think about that Day.

First, it should make the believer rush to perform good deeds, knowing the reward that may be in store for them. The bounties of Paradise are greater than what any eye has seen or even what any mind could imagine. First and foremost, this great reward includes the pleasure of Allah and the opportunity to see Him in the Hereafter. If a person could possibly be conscious of this aspect at every moment of his life, he would be anxiously seeking and searching for any good deed he could perform.

Second, the threat of punishment should sway the person from committing any sin, no matter how “light”. No sin performed in this world could be worth the punishment it could bring about in the Hereafter. Furthermore, by committing sins, the person may also be earning the displeasure of Allah, his Lord, Creator and Beloved.

Third, according to ibn Uthaimeen, the reckoning and justice of the Day of Judgment should bring comfort and solace to the heart of the believer. It is normal for humans to have a hatred for injustice. In this world, it appears to occur often. Those who cheat and who are unethical many times get ahead in this world without ever suffering for what they have done. However, that is only because, on a grand scale, this world is not the final place for judgment, reward and punishment. They will not escape the evil that they are doing. The good deeds of a person will also not be in vain, as they sometimes seem to be in this world. The time will come for all those matters to be settled and to be settled in a just manner. And that time is the Day of Judgment.177

167 For Quranic/rational arguments for the existence of the Herea er, see Idris, pp. 11-16.

168 Cf., Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 40-41.

169 As the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated in a hadith recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

170 Ibn Uthaimeen, Majmu, vol. 3, p. 174.

171 Quoted in ibn Uthaimeen, Majmu, vol. 3, p. 169.

172 For the texts of these hadith, see al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami al-Sagheer, vol. 1, p. 186 and vol. 1, p.

173 Although not used as a reference here due to its detail, Salaam (pp. 120-145) has provided an excellent yet concise discussion of many of the aspects of the Hereafter.

174 For a discussion in English on this topic, see Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Barbahaaree, Explanation of the Creed (Birmingham, UK: Al-Haneef Publica ons, 1995), p. 36.

175 See al-Barbahaaree, p. 37.

176 See al-Barbahaaree, p. 38.

177 Ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, p. 46.

(F) The Belief in Divine Decree

The next and final article of faith mentioned by the Prophet (peace be upon him) is belief in “divine decree” or al-Qadar. Idris discusses the meaning of this word and states,

The original meaning of the word Qadar is specified measure or amount, whether of quantities or qualities. It has many other usages which branch out from this core. Thus yuqad-dir means, among other things, to measure or decide the quantity, quality, position, etc., of something before you actually make it. And it is this latter sense which interests us here.178

It is obligatory upon every Muslim to believe in the concept of Qadar or Divine Decree, as it is clearly referred to in numerous authentic hadith.

Ibn al-Qayyim shows that there are four “levels” or aspects of belief in Qadar. If one does not believe in these four aspects, he does not have the correct or proper belief in Allah.179

The first level is belief in Allah’s knowledge of everything, both of universals and particulars, before its existence. This is related to both, what is sometimes referred to as, the actions of Allah, such as producing rain, giving life and so forth, as well as the actions of human beings. Allah has foreknowledge of all of the deeds of the creation according to His ever-existing knowledge that He is described as having eternally. This includes His knowledge of all their affairs with respect to obedience, disobedience, sustenance and life-spans.

This aspect can be concluded from many Quranic verses, including: “And with Him are the keys of the Unseen. None knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record” (6:59).

The second level of belief in Qadar is belief in Allah’s recording of all things before He created the heavens and the earth. Hence, Allah not only knew and knows what will happen, but Allah has also recorded this information in the Preserved Table (al-Lauh al-Mahfoodh). Such an act is not difficult for Allah whatsoever. Allah says, “Don’t you know that Allah knows all that is in heaven and on earth? Verily, it is all in the Book. Verily, that is easy for Allah” (22:70). Allah also says, “No calamity occurs on the earth or among yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book [of Decrees] before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah” (57:22).

The third level is to believe in Allah’s decreeing of everything that is in existence, and if He does not will something, it can never come into existence.

Once again, this also refers to all things. It refers to Allah’s actions of giving life, sustenance and so forth; and it also includes all of the acts performed by human beings. Nothing can be done unless Allah decrees it and allows it to occur. A person may intend or try, for example, to shoot and kill another person but such can only occur if Allah decrees it. The person may take all the necessary steps but if Allah does not will it to occur, it will not occur. In the case just mentioned, Allah may will the gun to jam or the shooter’s hand to flinch and miss his target and so forth.

This aspect of Qadar may also be concluded from numerous pieces of evidence. For example, Allah says, “If Allah had willed, succeeding generations would not have fought against each other, after clear verses of Allah had come to them. But they differed, some of them believing and others disbelieving. If Allah had willed, they would not have fought against one another, but Allah does what He likes” (2:253). Allah also says, “Verily, this [the Quran] is no less than a Reminder to (all) the ‘Alamin (mankind and jinn).To whomsoever among you who wills to walk straight. And you cannot will unless (it be) that Allah wills the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)” (81:27- 29).

Ibn Uthaimeen also offers a rational argument for this aspect of belief in Qadar. He says that it must be accepted that Allah is the Owner, Master and Controller of this creation. Hence, it cannot be the case, as long as everything is under His Control and part of His Dominion, that something occurs in His Dominion that He does not want to happen. Therefore, everything that occurs in His creation is by His Will. Nothing could ever occur unless He willed it. Otherwise, His control and mastery over His dominion would be deficient and lacking, as things would be occurring in His dominion that either He did not will to occur or they occurred without His knowledge. These hypotheses are unacceptable.180

The fourth level of belief in Qadar is the belief in Allah’s creating of everything, bringing of everything into existence and making everything be. This aspect is also demonstrated by numerous verses in the Quran, including: “Blessed be He who sent down the Criterion to His slave [Muhammad] that he may be a warner to the Worlds. He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and who has begotten no offspring and for whom there is no partner in the dominion. He has created everything, and has measured it exactly according to its due measurements” (25:1-2). Also, “Allah has created everything” (39:62). Another verse states, “Verily, We created all things with Divine Pre-ordainment” (54:49).

Ibn Uthaimeen has explained this point by saying,

Everything is a creation of Allah. Even the deeds of mankind are creations of Allah. Although they are by [man’s] free choice and will, they are creations of Allah. This is because every act of a human is the result of two aspects: a definitive will [to do the act] and the complete ability [to do the act]. For example, suppose that in front of you is a stone weighing twenty pounds. I say to you, “Lift this stone,” and you say, “I don’t want to lift it.” In this case, your lack of will has prevented you from lifting the stone. If I said a second time to you, “Lift that stone,” and you said, “Yes, I will listen and do what you have said.” In this case, if you wanted to lift it but you were not capable of lifting it, you would not have lifted it because you did not have the capability to do so. If I said to you a third time, “Lift that stone,” and you complied and lifted it above your head, that was because you had the ability and the will to do it.

All of our deeds that we perform181, therefore, are the result of a definitive will and complete ability. The one who created that ability and will is Allah. If Allah had made you paralyzed, you would not have the ability. If you turned your attention to some other deed, you would not have done it...

Therefore, we say: All of the actions of humans are created by Allah. This is because they are the result of definitive will and complete ability. The one who created that will and ability is Allah. The way in which Allah is the creator of that will and capability is that the will and ability are two characteristics of the one who wants something and the one who has ability but the one who created that person with that ability was Allah. The One who created the person who has specific characteristics is also the one who created those characteristics. This makes the matter clear and shows that the actions of human beings are the creation of Allah.182

Actually, there are a number of questions and misconceptions that have arisen surrounding the concept of Qadar. Due to space limitations, they cannot be dealt with in detail here. However, in a not-too-lengthy passage, Jaafar Sheikh Idris has adequately dealt with a number of such issues. He wrote,

God decided to create man as a free agent, but He knows (and how can He not know?) before creating every man how he is going to use his free will; what, for example, his reaction would be when a Prophet clarifies God’s message to him... “But if we are free to use our will,” a Qadari183 might say, “we may use it in ways that contradict God’s will, and in that case we would not be right in claiming that everything is willed or decreed by God.” The Quran answers this question by reminding us that it was God who willed that we shall be willful, and it is He who allows us to use our will. [He then quotes surah al- Insaan 29-30.] “If so,” says a Qadari, “He could have prevented us from doing evil.” Yes, indeed he could, “Had God willed, He would have brought them all together to the guidance” (6:35) And Allah says “if thy Lord had willed whoever is in the earth would have believed, all of them, all together” [10:99]... But He had willed that men shall be free especially in regard to matters of belief and disbelief. “Say: ‘The truth is from your Lord; so let whosoever will believe, and let whosoever will disbelieve” [18:29]...

“If our actions are willed by God,” someone might say, “then they are in fact His actions.” This objection is based on a confusion. God wills what we will in the sense of granting us the will to choose and enabling us to execute that will, i.e., He creates all that makes it possible for us to do it. He does not will it in the sense of doing it, otherwise it would be quite in order to say, when we drink or eat or sleep for instance, that God performed these actions. God creates them, He does not do or perform them. Another objection, based on another confusion, is that if God allows us to do evil, then He approves of it and likes it. But to will something in the sense of allowing a person to do it is one thing; and to approve of his action and commend it is quite another...184

In the Hadith of the Angel Gabriel, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explicitly stated that one must believe in divine decree, “[both] the good and the evil thereof.” Ibn al-Qayyim points out that what is meant by “evil” is with respect to the human beings and not with respect to Allah. The “evil” is the result of the human’s act of ignorance, wrong, oppression and sin. However, it was allowed and brought into being by Allah. But no evil is to be attributed to Allah because, with respect to Allah, the act is good and full of wisdom, as it must be a result of Allah’s knowledge and wisdom. Any act of that nature must, in its essence, be good and cannot be pure evil. This is supported by the Prophet’s hadith, “Evil is not to be attributed to You.”185 That is because every act that occurs is the result of some wisdom and goodness and can never be pure evil. The individual himself may think it otherwise, but in reality there is wisdom and good in everything that occurs in Allah’s creation.186

Ibn Uthaimeen gives an example illustrating this point. Allah says in the Quran, “Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return [by repenting]” (30:41). In this verse, Allah states the evil (fasaad) that has appeared, the cause for it and its result. The evil (fasaad) and the cause of it are both evil (sharr). However, the goal of it is good: that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return [by repenting]. Hence, there is a wisdom and a goal behind that fasaad. This goal and wisdom makes the entire action something good and not a pure evil.187

Pure evil, on the other hand, would be one in which there was no benefit or positive result related to it. Allah’s wisdom and knowledge preclude the existence of acts of that nature.188

The Fruits of Proper Belief in Divine Decree189

(1) When a person realizes that all things are under the control and decree of Allah, he is freeing his belief from any form of shirk or associating partners with Allah in His Lordship. There is truly only One Creator and Master of this creation. Nothing occurs except by His will and permission. When this is firmly in the heart of the person, he then also realizes that there is none worthy of praying to, seeking assistance from, relying upon, and so forth, except that one Lord. Hence, he directs all of his acts of worship toward that One who has decreed and determined all matters. Thus, both tauheed al-ruboobiyah and tauheed al-uloohiyah are correctly and completely fulfilled with the proper belief in al-Qadar.

(2) A person will put one’s reliance upon Allah. A person should follow the outward “causes and effects” that one sees in this world. However, he must realize that those “causes and effects” will not bring about any ends unless Allah so wills them to do so. Hence, a believer never puts his complete trust and reliance upon his own actions or the worldly aspects that he might have some control over. Instead, he follows whatever causes he may know of which lead to a desired end and then he puts his trust in Allah to bring about that desired end.190

(3) Ibn Uthaimeen argues that with proper belief in al-Qadar, one does not become arrogant and boastful. If he achieves any goal that he desired, he knows that such goal only came about because Allah, in His mercy, had decreed it for him. If Allah had so wished, He could have put many obstacles in his way and prevented him from reaching his goal. Therefore, instead of becoming full of himself and arrogant upon reaching his goal, the person who truly believes in al-Qadar becomes very thankful to Allah for bringing about that blessing.191

(4) The proper belief in al-Qadar brings about tranquility and peace of mind. The person realizes that everything that occurs is according to Allah’s Divine Decree. Furthermore, there is a wisdom behind everything Allah does. Hence, if the person loses a beloved or something of this world, he does not go insane, despair or give up hope. Instead, he realizes that such was the will of Allah that he must accept. He must also realize that such has occurred for a purpose. It did not occur haphazardly or accidentally, without any reason behind it. Allah has said, “No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book [of Decrees] before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah. In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to achieve, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters” (57:22-23).192

(5) Belief in al-Qadar gives a person strength and courage. He knows that Allah has recorded his life and his sustenance for him. Such comes only from Allah and is already decreed. Hence, he need not fear struggling and fighting for the sake of Allah as the time of his death is already recorded. He need not fear anyone when it comes to his sustenance and provision as such come only from Allah and have been already recorded for him. No human can cut off his sustenance and livelihood if Allah has decreed that he shall continue to receive provisions and sustenance from some source.193

178 Idris, p. 24.
179 See Muhammad ibn al-Qayyim, Shifa al-Aleel fi Masa`il al-Qada wa al-Qadar wa al-Hikma wa al-Ta’leel (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, n.d.), pp. 29-65.

180 Ibn Uthaimeen, Majmuat, vol. 3, p. 195.
181 This should probably say, “All of our voluntary deeds…” because there are some deeds that humans perform involuntarily and without a definitive will.
182 Ibn Uthaimeen, Majmuat, vol. 3, pp. 196-197.
183 A Qadari is one who denies the concept of al-Qadar altogether.
184 Idris, pp. 25-27.
185 Recorded by Muslim.
186 See Abdul Aziz al-Rasheed, al-Tanbeehaat al-Sanniyah ala al-Aqeeda al-Waasitiyah (Dar al- Rasheed li-l-Nashr wa al-Tauzee’), p. 263.
187 Muhammad ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh al-Aqeedah al-Waasitiyah (al-Damaam, Saudi Arabia: Dar ibn al-Jauzi, 1415 A.H.), vol. 1, pp. 191-192. Also see, in the same work, vol. 1, pp. 70-72.
188 Even the creation of Satan is not a pure evil. See Umar al-Ashqar, “The Wisdom behind the Creation of Satan,” al-Basheer (Vol. 2, No. 3, Sept.-Oct. 1988), pp. 13-22.
189 In his work on al-Qadar, al-Hammad (pp. 31-44) men ons twenty-five benefits or fruits of the belief in al-Qadar. Here, just a few examples shall be given from a number of different sources.
190 Cf., ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, p. 58.
191 Cf., ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, p. 58.
192 Cf., ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, p. 58.
193 Cf., Salaam, p. 173.


This chapter has provided a brief synopsis of the basic beliefs of a Muslim. Every Muslim must know what he is supposed to be believe in, at least at an elementary level. However, as his knowledge of the articles of faith increases, his faith itself will become stronger and greater.

For more details about the articles of faith, the author would like to recommend Umar al-Ashqar’s eight part series that touch upon the various aspects of faith, such as belief in Allah, the angels and so forth. These books are published by the International Islamic Publishing House in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and are easily available via the internet. The books of Bilal Philips and Muhammad Jibaly on aspects of belief are also well worth reading for the new Muslim.