BASIC BELIEFS OF A MUSLIM
Along with a brief description of each of the basic beliefs, verses from the Qur'an that mention the basic beliefs, are included.
Tawhid is the belief in the Oneness of Allah (God). No partners are associated with Him.
The most fundamental teaching of Islam is to believe in the Oneness of God. It is important to understand the distinction of “Oneness of Allah” according to Islam. Other religions say that there is only one God, however they associate others within that oneness, or call on others in prayer other than Allah alone. Allah is the only Creator, the Creator of all that is in the Heavens and the Earth. The Creator of all of mankind and all living creatures. The Creator of all. He has no partners. Therefore, one must acknowledge the fact that it is God alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstain from worshipping any other thing or being. Likewise, Muslims believe that God has no father or mother, no son or daughter. None is equal to Him.
“Say, He is Allah, the One. Allah is Eternal and Absolute. The Self-Sufficient Master (Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (Qur’an, 112)
2. The Angels of Allah:
Angels are a creation of Allah (SWT), which have no free will. They perform special duties and always obey Allah (SWT). They are always in praise and glorification of Allah. Angels also aid us in our use of our free will. All of us are attended by two angels who record our deeds, both good and bad, right up until our death.
“But verily, over you are appointed protectors (angels), kind and honorable, writing down your deeds. They know all that you do.” (82: 10-12)
“ He sends down His angels with the Ruh (Revelation) of His command to such of His servants as He pleases, (saying) “Warn (man) that none has the right to be worshipped but I, so do your duty to Me.” (16:2).
One of the most honord angel, Jibreel (Gabriel), brought the revelation of the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
3. The Books of Allah.
The revealed scriptures. Muslims believe in all of the original scriptures that Allah sent to prophets at different times in history (the Book of Abraham, the Torah (Taurat) to Moses, the Psalms (Zabur) to David and the Gospel (Injeel) to Jesus). Believing in all four books is an essential part of the Islamic creed.
The Quran affirms the core message present in the former books. It verifies that each contained divine guidance and elaborates upon their beliefs. At the same time, it points out the modifications and reinforces the correct message. Hence, the Quran, the final revelation for all of humankind until Judgment Day, was sent to confirm, explain, and to an extent, correct the books that already existed.
The Qur’an is the only divine book that remains unchanged, and will remain unchanged, in its original form. The message of the Qur’an is for all of mankind, and for all times. The Qur'an remains the only scripture that was compiled during the lifetime of a prophet who had received it directly from the divine source. The Qur’an, a Miracle from Allah (SWT), the Word of Allah, is the final book of Guidance.
“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt. In it is guidance for the God-conscious, who believe in the Unseen, and are steadfast in prayer, and spend in charity out of what We have provided for them; and those who believe in what was revealed to thee (Muhammad) and in what was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. These are on the true way of guidance from their Lord, and these are they who will be successful.” (2:2-5)
4. The Messengers of Allah.
On their own, human beings cannot be fully guided, understand God, the hereafter, or the purpose of life. Accordingly, God communicated to mankind by selecting prophets who would deliver his message to the rest of humanity. To convey the purpose of existence to humans, God sent clear and practical instructions through prophets. Muslims believe that a prophet was selected for every nation at some point in its history. These prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Muslims believe there were about 124,000 prophets in all, of whom only 25 are mentioned by name in the Quran, the holy book of Islam.
Each Prophet Conveyed the Same Message
The religion that God established for all mankind is Islam, which means to submit or surrender. Islam is not limited to the revelation that was sent to the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but was also the message of previous prophets. Therefore, the Qurʾān teaches that previous religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, in their authentic and original forms were based on the Oneness of God.
Each prophet conveyed the consistent divine message of worshiping one God and living a morally upright life. However, the message of these prophets was lost, abandoned, or changed over time, and only parts of the original message remained intact. God sent Muhammad, peace be upon him, as the final prophet to all of humanity in the 7th century C.E. to restore the divine message of all prophets. Muhammad did not bring a new message, but conveyed the same message as previous prophets. In the chapter of the Qurʾān titled “The Prophets” (Al-Anbiyā’) it states:
We did not send any messenger before you except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.” (Qurʾān 21:25).
In this same chapter, we also find God describing all prophets as belonging to the same religion Indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me (Qurʾān 21:92).
Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and all other prophets are considered to be one family. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said: “I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary both in this world and the hereafter. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.” (Bukhari) This spiritual connection of brotherhood between prophets is due to the fact that all prophets delivered the same message, but at different times to different people. Muslim scholars have stated that the above quoted tradition, prophets are described as having different mothers because their laws and practices were different. However, they are paternal brothers because their creed was the same. In other words, prophets may have had different laws concerning prayer, marriage, charity, and purification, but their beliefs concerning God, the hereafter, scripture, and morals were the same.
Islam, Judaism and Christianity share the core concept that God sent prophets to guide their fellow people. However, Islam also differs from these two faiths on important aspects related to prophethood. For instance, Islam teaches that all prophets of God were of high moral character and did not succumb to the sins their people committed. For example, the Qurʾān exonerates Aaron even though the Old Testament depicts him as someone who worshipped the golden calf. Additionally, Islam strongly rejects deification of prophets, so Jesus is revered as a prophet of God, but not God or the son of God. At the same time, Islam recognizes that prophets were capable of human errors of judgment, but these unintended mistakes did not diminish their superior integrity.
Muslims are obligated to believe in and honor all the prophets, and to testify that prophethood has been completed with the coming of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
“Say, ‘We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him.’” (Quran, 2:136)
The Qur’an states that Allah (SWT) sent a warner and a guide to every people. The first Prophet was Adam (AS). Other messengers include Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim, Ishmael, Isaac, Yaqoob, Yusuf, Musa, Dawud, and Isa (May Allah be pleased with them all).
“Say (O Muslims): ‘We believe in God and in what is revealed to us, and in what was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes (of Israel), and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and in what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them (in believing them all to be God’s messengers), and to Him do we submit ourselves.” (2:136, 3:84-85).
Muhammad (SAW) is the final Messenger of Allah (SWT). He left behind the Qur’an and his Sunnah (teachings and ways) for all of mankind.
5. The Day of Judgment (The day of Recompense).
On this day, all of mankind will be accountable for their deeds. This day will come.
“Then how can you disbelieve in Allah? seeing that you were without life and He gave you life. Then He will cause you to die and will bring you to life again (on the day of Resurrection), and then unto Him you will return.” (2:28)
“O mankind! If you are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then, verily, We created you from dust, then from a drop, then form a clot, then from a lump of flesh, both shaped and shapeless, that We may make it clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterwards, We bring you forth as infants; then you attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dies (young) and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life so that, after knowledge, he knows nothing. And thou seest the earth barren, but when We send down water on it, it thrills and swells and puts for the every lovely kind of growth. That is because God is the Reality, and it is HE Who gives lift to the dead, and it is He Who has power over al things, and because the Hour of Judgment will come concerning which there is no doubt, and because God will raise those who are in the graves.” (22:5-7)
6. Divine Decree, Destiny and Free Will.
Everything is governed by Allah’s (SWT) will. Nothing takes place, not even a fallen leaf, without His permission.
To understand the Islamic perspective on destiny and free will, we first need to know a few basic facts which form the foundation of faith for Muslims
1. God is the Only Sustainer of the whole universe and He is the Most Merciful. The Quran begins with, “Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy…” (1:1-2)
2. God has created humans in the finest state. God mentions in the Quran: “We have certainly created man in the best of stature.” (95:4)
3, The primary objective of human life is to worship God. “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Quran, 51:56). It must be noted that the Islamic concept of worship encompasses all human endeavors that are pursued for just ends, and in accordance with God’s commandments.
4. Our life is a test and we’ll be judged for our actions in the hereafter. God says in the Quran, “Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power; He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (67:1-2).
5. He’s All Wise, and He tests us according to our strength. The Quran cites: “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad.” (2:286)
6. God is Omniscient and Omnipresent – i.e., he is fully aware of His creation and is always present. He is also All Powerful, so whatever He decrees takes place, and whatever He does not will does not happen. God – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (2:255)
In other words, humans are God’s best creation who have a special purpose in life, i.e., to worship Him. Islam teaches that in order for us to freely perform in the test of life, He has given us free will to lead our lives as we wish, but the outcome of each of our actions is governed by the will of God. If God does not will for something to take place, it will not happen no matter how hard we try. And if He wills for something to occur, it will transpire no matter what we do to stop it.
One may say then, “What’s the use of striving in this life if we will get what is already decreed by God?” This seems logical, but it is, of course, a misconception. In fact, Islam places great emphasis on making efforts towards a desired end. In the Quran, God says, “And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives And that his effort is going to be seen – Then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense And that to your Lord is the finality”(53:39-42).
Again, making an effort is part of the power we have in the form of free will – if we waste it away with a complacent attitude, then we’re being ungrateful for the blessing we have. We must do everything within our power to optimize our lives – at the same time, we must recognize that God’s power and domain are far greater. He is not thinking only about us, but for the entire humanity, the whole world, nay, the universe itself! He is the One who, through destiny, balances the lives of humans, animals, plants, while at the same time harmonizing planets and other celestial bodies.
Many people protest that if God controls everything, why does He allow massacres of innocent people, torture, disease and the worst forms of evil to exist? Indeed, Islam does not ascribe evil to God. God allows tragedy and misery to take place in this world for reasons which often escape humans; it could be a test for those people, a form of purification, or warning for the rest of us to rehabilitate our lives. The Ultimate Truth is known only to God and our conviction is that God is Just and Good, even in those matters where we do not understand His Will. The Quran gives us a glimpse of this in the interaction between Moses and a learned man in Chapter 18, verses 60 through 82.
In addition, God has ordained accountability for humans on the Day of Judgment, when He will reward us for obeying Him and acting righteously in this world or punish us for transgressing His limits and living a whimsical existence. This further proves the importance of free will in our lives. God will judge us according to the choices we make in this life, not based on the destiny He has decreed for us. The Quran confirms this as: “Whoever does righteousness – it is for his [own] soul; and whoever does evil [does so] against it. And your Lord is not ever unjust to [His] servants.” (41:46).
“The Prophet believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the Believers. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures, and His messengers, making no distinction among His Prophets. And they say, “We hear and we obey. Grant us Thy forgiveness, or Lord, and unto You is the return (of all).” (2:285)
7. Life after Death, The Hereafter.
The abode of Jannah (Paradise)
“Those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Paradise beneath which rivers flow. They will dwell there in forever, God well pleased with them and they with Him. This is for those who hold their Lord in awe.” (98:7-8)
Or the abode of Jahannam (The Hellfire)
“And on the Day those who disbelieve will be placed before the Fire, (they will be asked), Is not this real? They will say, Yes, by Our Lord. “ He will say, “Then taste the punishment because you disbelieved.” (46:34).