What are the Fundamental Beliefs?
The fundamental principles of Al-Islam are the most important things in a Muslim’s life. We are not to look for ways to modify the principles of Al-Islam to justify unlawful and unnatural practices. We are to alter our attitudes and practices to conform to Islamic principles. As Muslims, we have six fundamental beliefs, referred to as the Articles of Faith.
They are: Belief in the Oneness of Allah; Belief in His Prophets; Belief in His Books; Belief in His Angels; Belief in the Day of Resurrection (the Judgment Day); Belief in the Divine Ordinance: that the power to do anything proceeds from Allah for all good purposes, and that we are responsible for our actions. (Hence, there are good and bad consequences for everything, but Allah intends only good for His Servants.)
Belief in Allah
In observing the first Article of Faith we must bear witness, “There is no god except Allah.” What better object could we have to shape our discipline than the Most Supreme of all concepts? What could be more enlightening than to use our will completely in the service of Allah? Allah says in His Holy Qur’an, “I have only created Jinns and people that they may worship [render complete devotion to] Me and serve Me.”
Belief in the Prophets
The second Article of Faith is belief in all of the Prophets of Allah. If we study and acknowledge the substance of what the prophets taught, we will see that the truth is universal. When we understand the messages of the prophets, Muslims, Jews and Christians will feel akin to one another because we will discover that the river of truth flows through all three religions.
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah tells the Muslims, “Say, ‘We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and the Tribes, and in the Books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord. We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will in Al-Islam.” When we study the prophets we find that they all lived as one brotherhood. No prophet condemned another. When Jesus came he did not condemn Moses, he verified Moses. When Prophet Muhammad came he did not condemn Jesus, he verified Jesus. From this we learn that the prophets were not separated. Why shouldn’t we who follow them live as brothers? We shouldn’t be enemies to one another; we have been brought into truth to be one family.
Belief in Revealed Books
The third Article of Faith is belief in the Books that Allah has revealed to His Prophets. The Holy Qur’an says, “0 you who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the Scripture which He has revealed unto His Messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieves in Allah, and His angels, and His Scriptures, and His Messengers and the Last Day, he verily has wandered far astray (4:136).” We must not deny the previous Sacred Scriptures or we will cut off a part of our Spiritual View. Every prophet inherited the Revealed Scriptures of those who came before him. The prophets who came after Abraham and Moses inherited what they had received.
Prophet Muhammad came after Jesus and inherited not only the message that he received, but also the messages received by the prophets who preceded Jesus. Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” After Allah took Jesus out of the world, the world came under darkness, but Allah did not let it remain that way. He sent another comforter as Jesus had promised. Jesus told his followers, “And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” Allah then sent Prophet Muhammad, and lit the world with the light of knowledge once again. Prophet Muhammad didn’t claim to come with all “Muhammad’s light.” Allah told him, “And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you.
Belief in Angels
The fourth Article of Faith is belief in Allah’s Angels. Angels are mediums in creation which Allah created from light to carry out His Commands without a capacity for disobedience. The angel’s nature is not like that of the human being. Angels are beyond the grasp of ordinary human comprehension. They do not have a male or female nature. They are not tested by frustrations, or by the temptations of sexual appetites, food or the desire to fix things without knowing what they are doing. Their only function is to execute Allah’s Will. They have no free will of their own.
Angels worship Allah alone, and they are not subject to influences other than Him. Although most of us cannot see Allah’s Angels, we believe in the seen and the unseen, and we are aware that they uphold the forces of nature throughout creation by Allah’s Leave. Allah has given man a limited free will to exercise his own personal judgment by Allah’s Permission. Accordingly, man will be judged and, rewarded or punished for his use of this free will. Man must use his judgment to follow Allah’s Guidance even though he is tempted to disobey. Man is not an angel. He has good and bad inclinations and he must use his judgment to determine which inclination to follow. He must say, “0 Allah, I don’t want to use my independent judgment, which I use by Your Permission, to do anything which displeases You. You have given me this power, now I submit it to You, so guide me on the straight path.”
Belief in the Last Day
The fifth Article of Faith is belief in the Day of Resurrection, or the Life after Death. Allah reveals that those who do not believe in a life after death are perverted. The Holy Qur’an says, “By the Glorious Qur’an you are Allah’s Messenger. But they wonder that there has come to them a warner from among themselves. So the unbelievers say: “ This is an amazing thing! What! When we die and become dust shall we live again ?” Because of their wicked deeds and intentions, they do not want to accept the reality that they will be judged. In denying that there is a new life they try to free their minds and consciences from expecting a judgment to come upon them.
Do not think that Allah will let anyone pass through this life without knowing his sins, confessing them to Allah and asking for His Forgiveness. Everyone will have to receive justice, and justice cannot come until a person realizes he is being judged. If we have good intentions, they should produce good deeds. When we sincerely believe Judgment Day is coming, and that we will have to answer for all our actions, we will become more conscious of obeying Allah and of doing good from charitable motives. Knowledge and faith are insufficient by themselves if they are not put into practice. When we put our absolute trust and faith in Allah alone, in order to please Him, we are free of all other servitude, fears and possibilities of failure. We should say, “no” to all apparent evils, and “yes” to all that is good. That alone is salvation. Nothing should stop the right actions in our lives.
At every instance we should feel Allah’s presence looking at us, watching us and witnessing us. Obedience to Allah is our only protection from all that displeases Him. Prophet Muhammad said, in effect, that a Muslim should live as though Judgment is tomorrow, and as though death will never come. If we keep this attitude in mind, we will always give our best efforts, and we will be most likely to be productive every day of our lives. Life after death in Al-Islam does not mean a return to this life on earth. Although there is a first and second awakening into life, Allah will begin to reward or punish us during this life. Once our physical life ends we enter a new creation, a new form of existence in which we receive further rewards or punishment. Our life in this world is a test which cannot be completed without another stage. Allah has determined that all our works will be judged before we enter the next life.
Allah says in His Holy Qur’an, “With the Name Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Compassionate. When the earth is shaken to her utmost convulsion. And the earth throws up her burden [from within]. And man cries [distressed], ‘What is the matter with her?’ On that Day will she declare her tidings, for that your Lord will have given her inspiration. On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they [had done]. Then anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it. “
Belief in the Divine Ordinance
The sixth Article of Faith is belief in the Divine Ordinance: that the power to do anything proceeds from Allah, but that we are responsible for our actions. We must believe that Allah is the Absolute Sovereign and Sustainer of the entire universe, and that He is Omniscient (All-Knowing) and aware of everything that takes place in the heavens and the earth. Having a belief in Divine Ordinance does not contradict man’s limited free will of consciousness and actions. Allah has foreseen whatever is going to take place, but He has also given us permission and the ability to choose between good and evil.
The limited free will which Allah has given man has its own nature. Allah gave man free will knowing that man’s love for Him is naturally stronger than the spirit to disobey Him. But when man exercises the freedom of his will to disobey Allah to such an extent that everything fails him [works his destruction], man’s free will then returns to its original nature because of its love for Allah. Allah has established a law in His Creation that rewards those who do good and punishes those who do evil, and He has applied it to all. Over and over again the Holy Qur’an reminds us that we are to practice only good deeds and shun corrupt ones. Allah tells us that good has the effect of suppressing evil, and that evil has the effect of eradicating good. However, good is stronger than evil. The Holy Qur’an says, “He that does good shall have ten times as much to his credit. He that does evil shall only be recompensed according to his evil. . .”
Allah has made human beings free to shape their own futures, but there are laws which we must respect. The ‘Qadar’ of Allah is the law which defines the nature of His Creation. In translation, the word ‘qadar’ means ordinance, measurement or premeasurement. If we abuse what He has given us, we will suffer. If we use it correctly, we will enjoy great benefits. Think of how great the position of man is. Allah made him custodian over his own free will, and responsible custodian in the created environment.
Before going any further, let us briefly sum up our Articles of Faith. Faith in Allah means that we believe in Him and trust in Him over everything else. Belief in Allah’s Prophets means that we accept all of His Prophets, as well as the fact that Prophet Muhammad , the most noble and honorable of all creatures, is Allah’s Last Prophet, and our leader and example, whom we obey and follow. Belief in the Books that the prophets brought means that we are to question all books under the light of what is revealed in the Holy Qur’an. Belief in Allah’s Angels means that we must seek to understand the phenomena operating between our vision of reality and the truth that Allah has revealed. Belief in the Divine Ordinance means we believe that Allah has a law operating throughout creation, and in every phase of our lives, to give us the benefits of our good deeds and the consequences of our bad ones. It means we believe that we cannot escape the Justice of Allah. Belief in the Day of Resurrection (Judgment Day) means we believe that this scheme of creation is on time and for a purpose.
It is a training ground, a testing place where we prove ourselves worthy of reaching a higher stage in the fulfillment of our aspirations. We believe that Allah will provide a new creation where we will have an opportunity to realize the fullness of our good aspirations. Because of this we should always have hope, and we should never despair.