What are the fundamental beliefs in Islaam?

Usool-e-Deen

(Articles of Faith)

1. Unity of God


The Islamic creed is that THERE IS NO GOD SAVE ALLAH AND THAT MUHAMMAD IS HIS PROPHET. (LA ILAAHA ILLA-ALLAH MUHAMMADUR- RASOOLILLAH).

Muslims believe that Allah is ONE. He was neither begotten nor does He beget. He has no Partner. He is the Beginning and He is the End. He is Omniscient and Omnipresent.

The Quraan says that He is closer to man than his jugular vein yet He cannot be encompassed by human intellect.

See the following verses of the Quraan:

    II:115  II:163  II:255  VI:101  VII:7  XXIII:91-92
    XXXVII:4-5  XXXVIII:65-68  
    CXII:1-4

Imam Ali says in a supplication:

    "Oh God, verily I ask Thee by Thy Name, in the name of Allah, the All-merciful, the All-compassionate, O the Possessor of Majesty and Splendour, the Living, the Self-subsistent, the Eternal, there is no God other than Thou, Oh He of Whom no one knows what He is, or how He is, or Where He is, or in respect of what He is, And yet, we know that He is."

2. Justice of God


Allah is Just. In XCV:8, the Quraan says "Is not Allah the most conclusive of all judges?"

Again in XXI:47 "And we have provided a Just balance for the Day of Judgement. No soul shall be dealt with unjustly in any way. (Any good deed or evil deed) though it be as small as a grain of the mustard seed, will be brought forth by Us (in testimony). We suffice as the best of reckoners."

The Sunni School of thought subscribes to the view that nothing is good or evil per se. What God commanded us to do became good by virtue of His command. What he forbade became evil.

The Shias believe that there is intrinsic good or evil in things. God commanded us to do the good things and forbade the evil. God acts according to a purpose or design. Human reason cannot comprehend this design or purpose in its entirety though man must always strive to understand as much as he can.

Compulsion or Freedom?
The various schools of thought are divided.

   1. Mutazzilas believe that man is totally free and God exercises no power over his action. Those who subscribe to this view are also known as Qadariyyas.

   2. Mujabbira school of thought believe that man has no freedom and is only a tool in the hands of God.

   3. The Asharia school of thought to which most Sunnis subscribe believe that though man has no free will, he will earn the reward of his good deeds. The Sunni scholar Al-Ghazzalli sums up this doctrine as follows: "No act of any individual, even though it be done purely for his benefit, is independent of the will of Allah for its existence. There does not occur in either the physical or the extra-terrestrial world the twinkle of an eye, the hint of a thought, or the most sudden glance except by the Decree of Allah, of His Power, Desire, and Will. This includes evil and good, benefit and harm, success and failures, sin and righteousness, obedience and disobedience, polytheism and true belief."

   4. The Shias believe that there is neither total compulsion nor total freedom. The true position is the one in-between. They maintain that Allah has fore-knowledge of human action but does not compel man to any particular course of action.

See Quraan:

    II:284  IV:79  VI:17  IX:51  X:107  XI:6
    XI:56  XXVII:62  XXX:60  XXXIX:52-54   XLII:30

3. Prophethood


God created mankind to serve Him (LI:56). He endowed man with faculties and freedom of action and out of His Grace (LUTF) and Justice sent Prophets to instruct and guide mankind. No nation or community was left without such guidance. (X:47 and XVI:36).

Some of these prophets were sent with Divine Revelation, scripture and miracles. The first Prophet was Adam and the last was Muhammad, the Seal of Prophets (XXX:40).

While Quraan mentions only twenty-five most prominent of the prophets it also states that there were many more whose names have not been revealed in the Quraan. (XL:78). Muslims believe that there have been 124,000 prophets. Amongst those specifically mentioned are Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, Ezekiel, David, Solomon, Jonah, Zachariah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Muhammad.

Five of these prophets brought new codes of law. These were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. These are called the "ulu l-azm" prophets meaning those of great constancy.

Quraan mentions five divine books.

   1. The Book of Abraham, sometimes referred as the Booklet (LXXXVII:19).

   2. The Psalms given to David (IV:63 and XVII:55).

   3. The Torah granted to Moses (II:87, III:3 & 4, VI:91 & 154).

   4. The Evangel or the Gospel revealed to Jesus (V:46).

   5. The Quraan revealed to Muhammad.

A Muslim must believe in all the Holy Books. (II:4 & 285). He must also believe in all the prophets. (IV:152).

The Shiahs also believe that all the prophets were infallible and sinless. Not all the Sunnis subscribe to this belief.

4. Resurrection


The world will come to an end on the Day of the Rising (Qiyamah), the day of final human accountability. All men will be resurrected and presented before God Who will decide their fate according to their deeds. The good will be rewarded with paradise (jannah) and the evil will be punished with hell (jahannam). (XXII:6-9 & 1-2; III:185; VI:62). The dominant factor in the administration of His Justice by Allah will be His Mercy (VI:12).

5. Imaamah


Only the Shiahs believe in the institution of Imaamah. Literally "imaam" means a leader. In Shiah belief an Imaam is the person appointed by God and introduced by the Prophet and then by each preceding Imaam by explicit designation (nass) to lead the Muslim community, interpret and protect the religion and the law (shariah), and guide the community in all affairs.

An Imaam is first and foremost the Representative of God and the successor of the Prophet. He must be sinless and possess divine knowledge of both the exoteric and the esoteric meaning of the verses of the Quraan.

There are many Shiah sects e.g. the Zaidis, the Ismailis etc. The principal sect is the Twelvers (Ithnasharis).

(NOTE: In these Notes, unless specifically stated otherwise, references to the Shiahs and Shiah beliefs, should be construed as references to the Shiah Ithnasheriyya school of thought.)

The Twelvers believe that the Prophet was succeeded by twelve Imaams. These are:

    1. Ali ibne Abu TalibDied 40 A.H./659 A.D
    He was the Prophet`s son-in-law, having married his daughter Fatimah.
    2. Hassan ibne Ali  Died 50 A.H./669 A.D.
    3. Hussain ibne Ali  Died 61 A.H./680 A.D.
    4. Ali ibne Hussain  Died 95 A.H./712 A.D.
    5. Muhammad ibne Ali  Died 114 A.H./732 A.D.
    6. Ja'far ibne Muhammad  Died 148 A.H./765 A.D.
    7. Musa ibne Ja'far  Died 183 A.H./799 A.D.
    8. Ali ibne Musa  Died 203 A.H./817 A.D.
    9. Muhammad ibne Ali  Died 220 A.H./835 A.D.
    10. Ali ibne Muhammad  Died 254 A.H./868 A.D.
    11. Hassan ibne Ali  Died 260 A.H./872 A.D.
    12. Muhammad ibne Hassan  Born 256 A.H./868 A.D.

On the death of his father in 260 A.H. the twelfth Imam went into occultation (Gaybah), appearing only to a few leading Shiahs. Until 329 A.H./939 A.D. he performed the functions of the Imaam through representatives appointed by himself. He then went into major occultation which will continue until the day God grants him permission to manifest himself.

The Sunni View
The Sunnis use the term Imaam synonymously with the term khalifah. A khalifah may be elected, or nominated by his predecessor, or selected by a committee, or may acquire power through military force. A khalifah need not be sinless. It is lawful for a person of inferior qualities to be made a khalifah while persons of superior qualities are present.

 

Featured Views

Jared Diamond on Islam

Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1998.

      "Medieval Islam was technologically advanced and open to innovation. It achieved far higher literacy rates than in contemporary Europe; it assimilated the legacy of classical Greek civilization to such a degree that many classical books are now known to us only through Arabic copies.  It invented windmills, trigonometry, lateen sails and made major advances in metallurgy, mechanical and chemical engineering and irrigation methods. In the middle-ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe rather from Europe to Islam. Only after the 1500's did the net direction of flow begin to reverse."

[Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies, 1997, p. 253]