Question: Could you explain briefly Islams basic tenets of belief that every Muslim has to know?
Islams basic tenets of belief to be known are the fundamentals of īmān and Islam. We have gathered them briefly below. For detailed information, you can refer to the section concerning the fundamentals of Āmantu.
The fundamentals of īmān are as follows:
1. Belief in Allah
Allahu taālā is the Wājib al-wujūd [the Necessary Existence] and the Real Mabūd [the One worshipped] and the Creator of all things. There is no ilāh (being to be worshipped) except Him. He is not with time or with place. He does not resemble anything.
As-Sifāt [Attributes] adh-Dhātiyya of Allahu taālā are six:
al-Qiyāmu bi nafsihī.
[al-Wujūd: existence; al-Qidam: being without beginning, and eternal in the past; al-Baqā: being without end, and eternal in the future; al-Wahdāniyya: having no partner or match; al-Mukhālafatu li-l-hawādith: being dissimilar to every creature in every respect; al-Qiyāmu bi nafsihī: self existence, being unneedy of anything for His existence.]
The Sifāt [Attributes] ath-Thubūtiyya of Allahu taālā are eight:
[Hayāt: Life, Ever-Living; Ilm: Omniscience; Sam: Hearing; Basar: Seeing; Qudrat: Omnipotence; Irāda: Will; Kalām: Speech, Word; Takwīn: Creativeness.]
These Attributes of His are eternal in the past (being without beginning).
2. Belief in His angels
Angels are alive; that is, they have life. They are nūrānī [luminous, spiritual] creatures that have reason [aql]. They are beloved and dear slaves of Allahu taālā. They are not His partners, nor are they His daughters. They obey His commands, and they never react in disobedience to the commands, nor do they commit sins. They do not engage in duties other than what they are commanded. They are neither male nor female. They do not get married, do not give birth, do not reproduce, and do not have children. They do not eat or drink. They have wings but we do not know the genuine nature of those wings.
The angels that record all actions of human beings are called Kirāman Kātibīn. The questioning angels are called Munkar and Nakīr. The most superior angels are the four archangels, namely, Jabrāīl (alaihis-salām), Isrāfīl (alaihis-salām), Mikāīl (alaihis-salām) and Azrāīl (alaihis-salām).
3. Belief in Divine Books
Allahu taālā sent many Books. However, only 104 of them are mentioned in our religious books. 100 of them are little Books called suhuf [pl. of sahīfa].
These 100 suhuf were revealed to the following Prophets:
10 suhuf to Ādam (alaihis-salām),
50 suhuf to Shīt (alaihis-salām),
30 suhuf to Idrīs (alaihis-salām),
10 suhuf to Ibrāhīm (Abraham alaihis-salām).
The other four big Books were revealed to the following Prophets:
The Tawrāt (Torah) to Mūsā (Moses alaihis-salām),
The Zabūr (the original Psalms) to Dāwud (alaihis-salām),
The Injīl (Latin Evangelium) to Īsā (Jesus alaihis-salām),
The Qurān al-karīm to our Master the Prophet Muhammad (alaihis-salām).
The Qurān al-karīm replaced all Divine Books, abolished the validity of their rules, and included all these rules in itself. Today all people have to obey the commandments of the Qurān al-karīm. Accordingly, it is declared in the Qurān al-karīm: Obey My Prophet! In this case, we have to obey the rules stated in hadīth-i sharīfs as well. At the present time there are not original copies of Tawrāt or Injīl in any country. There are defiled Injīls available. These Divine Books were distorted, that is, altered by people later on. Even if they had not been defiled, they still wouldnt have had validity because all of them were abrogated, that is, invalidated by Allahu taālā.
The revelation of the Qurān al-karīm was made verse by verse and completed in 23 years. It will remain valid up to the end of the world. It is kept secure from being invalid and distortions. One who claims that there are reductions or additions in the Qurān al-karīm has not believed in Allahu taālā.
It is purported in āyat-i karīmas:
(We have sent down the Qurān, and certainly We are its Guardian.) [Sūrat-ul-Hijr, 9]
(The Quran is a unique, unmatched Book. Falsehood [reductions or additions] cannot approach it from before or behind [in no direction, in no way] it. [Because] It is sent down by Allah Who is praised by the universe and Who is the Owner of ruling and hikmah.) [Sūrat-u Fussilat, 41-42]
4. Belief in prophets
The first of the prophets is Ādam (alaihis-salām) and the last one is Muhammad (alaihis-salām). So many prophets were sent between these two, but we do not know their exact number. It is well-known that they are more than 124,000.
Having belief in prophets means believing in the fact that all prophets, without exception, were devoted, truthful people who were selected by Allahu taālā. One who does not believe in even one of them regarded as not believing in any.
All prophets, from Ādam (alaihis-salām) to Muhammad (alaihis-salām), communicated the same īmān and ordered their ummats to believe in the same things. Jews believe in Mūsā (Moses alaihis-salām) but do not believe in Īsā (alaihis-salām) and Muhammad (alaihis-salām). Christians believe in Īsā (alaihis-salām) but do not believe in Muhammad (alaihis-salām). As for Muslims, they believe in and accept all prophets.
All prophets have these peculiarities:
Sidq [their all deeds are true; they never lie],
Tabligh [they communicate the religion precisely],
Isma [they never commit sins],
Fatāna [super intelligence],
Amn al-azl [security against dismissal from prophethood].
Just from the time of Ādam (alaihis-salām), who was the first human being created and who was the first Prophet to come, Allahu taālā sent mankind a religion by means of a prophet every thousand years. Through the medium of religions, He prescribed the way which leads people to serenity and happiness in this world and to endless bliss in the Hereafter. A prophet who brought a new religion is called a rasūl. Rasūls who have a higher degree than the others are called Ulul-azm. These are Ādam, Nūh (Noah), Ibrāhīm (Abraham), Mūsā (Moses), Īsā (Jesus), and Muhammad (alaihimus-salātu was-salām).
A prophet who did not bring a new religion but invited people to the previous religion is called a nabī.
Muhammad (alaihis-salām) is the Last Prophet; that is, no prophet will succeed him.
It is purported in the Qurān al-karīm:
(Muhammad (alaihis-salām) is the Messenger of Allah and the final of the prophets.) [Sūrat-ul-Ahzāb, 40]
5. Belief in the Last Day
After death, everybody will be resurrected and will go to Paradise or Hell after questioning and settlement of accounts on every action. Paradise and Hell exist now, and both of them are eternal. Paradise for Muslims and Hell for disbelievers will be eternal abode.
It is not made known when Doomsday will occur. Nevertheless, our Master the Prophet pointed out many of its harbingers and precedents:
Hadrat al-Mahdī will come; Īsā (alaihis-salām) will descend from the sky; ad-Dajjal (who is called Antichrist by Christians) will appear; people called Yajūj and Majūj will put the whole world into turmoil; the sun will rise in the west; violent earthquakes will occur; religious knowledge will be forgotten; vice and evil will increase.
6. Belief in qadar and that good (khair) and evil (sharr) are from Allahu taālā
Good and evil, advantage and harm coming upon human beings are all by Allahu taālās Will.
Qadar means Allahu taālās knowing (with His Eternal Knowledge) and willing all deeds of human beings and other creatures that they will do. Qadā means the [instance] creation of anything just compatibly with qadar. Both are termed qadā and qadar.
Though everything, good or evil deeds of human beings, are created by Allahu taālā, He has bestowed irāda-i juziyya [partial will] upon people. If one, using this partial will, wants a good deed to be created, then one gains thawāb. But if one wants an evil deed to be created, then one will have committed a sin. If people commit sins, they will be meted out punishments. On the other hand, if they earn thawāb, then they will be awarded in the Hereafter. In other words, Allahu taālā does not compel his born slaves to commit sins.
The fundamentals of Islam
1. Saying the Kalima-i shahādat
It means to say Ashhadu an lā ilāha ill-Allah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhū wa rasūluh.
(I bear witness [that is, I know and confirm by word of mouth as if I saw] that there is no ilāh save Allah and again I bear witness that Muhammad (alaihis-salām) is His human slave and Messenger.) [Having belief in the Messenger of Allah means accepting, believing, and liking all of what he communicated.]
2. Performing namāzes [ritual prayers]
It is fard [obligatory] for every Muslim who is sane and has reached the age of puberty to perform the five daily namāzes. Namāz is the pillar of religion and not to perform it is one of the grave sins. If people do not perform namāzes, it is very difficult for them to keep their credal state at their last breath. It is stated in a hadīth-i sharīf:
(A person who performs namāz will be saved in the Hereafter, but a person who does not perform it will be in a miserable state.) [Tabarānī]
3. Giving the zakāt of ones property
For a person who has money or commercial property at a certain amount termed nisābthat is, after one has subtracted ones debts from the total of what one has of gold or commercial property, if the remainder, including ones dues that are to be received, is the amount of or equal to 96 git is fard to give one-fortieth of it as zakāt. It is also fard to give one-tenth of the crop harvested from ones land to the poor. This one-tenth of zakāt is termed ushr.
(Allahu taālā curses a person who does not give the zakāt of his property.) [Nasāī]
It is fard to fast every day of the month of Ramadān. It is a grave sin to omit it.
5. Performing the hajj [major pilgrimage]
For an able person who has money enough to go to and come back from the city of Mecca besides the property sufficient for the subsistence of ones family one leaves behind until one comes back, it is fard to perform tawāf around the Kaba and to perform waqfa on the plain of Arafāt.
Does it suffice to say I believe?
Question: It is declared in hadīth-i sharīfs that every person who says the Kalima-i shahādat becomes a Muslim. If a person says the Kalima-i shahādat without believing in its tenets of belief or if a person believes it without having belief in the fundamental principles of Āmantu, is such a person still a Muslim?
Īmān is defined as certifying it with the heart and confirming it by word of mouth. One is not a Muslim unless one certifies it with ones heart.
The Kalima-i shahādat necessitates believing in Allahu taālās existence, His Oneness and there being no ilāh other than He, also believing that Muhammad (alaihis-salām) is His Messenger and His Last Prophet. It also necessitates believing in and liking all of what the Holy Prophet communicated. Indeed, saying There was such a Prophet, like narrating a historical event, does not constitute īmān. Īmān must be as follows: I believe and like that exalted Prophet and all of what he communicated. All of them are true. There is not even a shadow of doubt that they may be wrong. As is seen, one has to believe in all the six tenets of belief in the Āmantu. One is not a Muslim unless one believes in them; what is more, one still isnt a Muslim if one does not like them after believing. Likewise, one who does not accept one of the six fundamentals of īmān or who does not accept and like one of the commonly-known fards, sunnats, or harāms in the religion is not a Muslim. One has to accept and like Islam as a whole.
In their endeavors to understand the meanings of hadīth-i sharīfs, if people read them without taking notice of Islamic scholars explanations on them, this act of theirs will be very dangerous and may result in disbelief. For example, we should understand the meaning of the following hadīth-i sharīf in light of the foregoing:
(He who believes in Allahu taālā and is pleased with Him as his Rabb, who believes in Islam and is pleased with it as his religion, and who believes in Muhammad [alaihis-salām, all of what he communicated] and is pleased with him as his [Last] Prophet [such a person is a Muslim and if he keeps this credal state at his last breath] will be awarded Paradise.) [Muslim, Nasāī]