Question: Could you explain briefly Islam’s basic tenets of belief that every Muslim has to know?
Islam’s basic tenets of belief to be known are the fundamentals of iman and Islam. We have gathered them briefly below. For detailed information, you can refer to the section concerning the fundamentals of Amantu.
The fundamentals of iman are as follows:
1. Belief in Allah
Allahu ta’ala is the Wajib al-wujud [the Necessary Existence] and the Real Ma’bud [the One worshipped] and the Creator of all things. There is no god (being to be worshipped) except Him. He is not with time or with place. He does not resemble anything.
As-Sifat [Attributes] adh-Dhatiyya of Allahu ta’ala are six:
Qiyamu bi nafsihi
[Wujud: existence; Qidam: being without beginning and eternal in the past; Baqa’: being without end and eternal in the future; Wahdaniyya: having no partner or match; Mukhalafatun li-l-hawadith: being dissimilar to every creature in every respect; al-Qiyamu bi nafsihi: self-existence, being unneedy of anything for His existence.]
The Sifat [Attributes] ath-Thubutiyya of Allahu ta’ala are eight:
[Hayat: Life, Ever-Living; ‘Ilm: Omniscience; Sam’: Hearing; Basar: Seeing; Qudrat: Omnipotence; Irada: Will; Kalam: Speech, Word; Takwin: 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 nurani [luminous, spiritual] creatures that have reason [‘aql]. They are beloved and dear slaves of Allahu ta’ala. 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 Kiraman Katibin. The questioning angels are called Munkar and Nakir. The most superior angels are the four archangels, namely, Jabra’il, Israfil, Mika’il and ‘Azra’il.
3. Belief in Books
Allahu ta’ala sent many Books. However, only 104 of them are mentioned in our Islamic books. 100 of them are little Books called suhuf [pl. of sahifa].
These 100 suhuf were revealed to the following prophets:
10 suhuf to Adam (‘alaihis-salam),
50 suhuf to Shit (‘alaihis-salam),
30 suhuf to Idris (‘alaihis-salam),
10 suhuf to Ibrahim (Abraham ‘alaihis-salam).
The other four big Books were revealed to the following prophets:
The Tawrat (Torah) to Musa (Moses ‘alaihis-salam),
The Zabur to Dawud (‘alaihis-salam),
The Injîl to ‘Isa (Jesus ‘alaihis-salam),
The Qur’an al-karim to our Master the Prophet Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam).
4. Belief in prophets
The first of the prophets is Adam (‘alaihis-salam) and the last one is Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam). 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 ta’ala. One who does not believe in even one of them regarded as not believing in any.
All prophets, from Adam (‘alaihis-salam) to Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam), communicated the same iman and ordered their ummats to believe in the same things. Jews believe in Musa (Moses ‘alaihis-salam) but do not believe in ‘Isa (‘alaihis-salam) and Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam). Christians believe in ‘Isa (‘alaihis-salam) but do not believe in Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam). 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],
‘Ismat [they never commit sins],
Fatana [super intelligence],
Amn al-‘azl [security against dismissal from prophethood].
Just from the time of Adam (‘alaihis-salam), the first human being created and the first prophet, Allahu ta’ala sent mankind a religion by means of a messenger (rasul) 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 rasul. Rasuls who have a higher degree than the others are called Ulu’l-‘azm. They are Adam, Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), ‘Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad (‘alaihimus-salatu wa’s-salam).
A prophet who did not bring a new religion but invited people to the previous religion is called a nabi.
Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam) is the Last Prophet; that is, no prophet will succeed him.
The Qur’an al-karim says (what means):
(Muhammad [‘alaihis-salam] is the Messenger of Allah and the final of the prophets.) [Surat-ul-Ahzab, 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-Mahdi will come; ‘Isa (‘alaihis-salam) will descend from the sky; ad-Dajjal (who is called Antichrist by Christians) will appear; people called Ya’juj and Ma’juj 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 ta’ala
Good and evil, advantage and harm coming upon human beings are all by Allahu ta’ala’s Will.
Qadar means Allahu ta’ala’s knowing (with His Eternal Knowledge) and willing all deeds of human beings and of other creatures that they will do. Qada’ means the [instance] creation of anything just compatibly with qadar. Both are termed qada’ and qadar.
Though everything, good or evil deeds of human beings, are created by Allahu ta’ala, He has bestowed irada-i juz’iyya [partial will] upon people. If one, using this partial will, wants a good deed to be created, then one gains thawab. But if one wants an evil deed to be created, then one has committed a sin. If people commit sins, they will be meted out punishments. On the other hand, if they earn thawab, then they will be awarded in the Hereafter. In other words, Allahu ta’ala does not compel humans to commit sins.
The fundamentals of Islam
1. Saying the Kalima-i shahadat
It means to say “Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill-Allah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ’abduhu wa rasuluh.”
It means (I bear witness [that is, I know and confirm by word of mouth as if I saw] that there is no god save Allah and again I bear witness that Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam) 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 salat
It is fard [obligatory] on every Muslim who is sane and has reached the age of puberty to perform the five daily salats. Salat is the pillar of the religion and not to perform it is one of the grave sins. If people do not perform salats, it is very difficult for them to keep their credal state at their last breath. It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(A person who performs salat will be saved in the Hereafter, but a person who does not perform it will be in a miserable state.) [Tabarani]
3. Giving the zakat of one’s property
For a person who has money or commercial property at a certain amount termed nisab—that is, after one has subtracted one’s debts from the total of what one has of gold or commercial property, if the remainder, including one’s dues that are to be received, is the amount of or equal to 96 g—it is fard to give one-fortieth of it as zakat. It is also fard to give one-tenth of the crop harvested from one’s land to the poor. This one-tenth of zakat is termed ‘ushr.
(Allahu ta’ala curses a person who does not give the zakat of his property.) [Nasai]
It is fard to fast every day of the month of Ramadan. It is a grave sin to omit it.
5. Performing the hajj
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 one’s family one leaves behind until one comes back, it is fard to perform tawaf around the Ka’ba and to perform waqfa on the plain of ’Arafat.
Does it suffice to say “I believe”?
Question: It is declared in hadith-i sharifs that every person who says the Kalima-i shahadat becomes a Muslim. If a person says the Kalima-i shahadat without believing in it or if a person believes it without having belief in the fundamental principles of the Amantu, is such a person still a Muslim?
Iman is defined as certifying with the heart and confirming by word of mouth. One is not a Muslim unless one certifies it in one’s heart.
The Kalima-i shahadat necessitates believing in Allahu ta’ala’s existence, His Oneness and there being no god other than He, also believing that Muhammad (‘alaihis-salam) 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 iman. Iman must be as follows: “I believe and like that exalted Prophet and all of what he communicated. All of them is true.” As is seen, one has to believe in all the six tenets of belief in the Amantu. One is not a Muslim unless one believes in them; what is more, one still isn’t a Muslim if one does not like them after believing. Likewise, one who does not accept any of the six fundamentals of iman or who does not accept and like any of the commonly-known fards, sunnats, or harams 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 hadith-i sharifs, 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 hadith-i sharif in light of the foregoing:
(He who believes in Allahu ta’ala 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-salam, 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, Nasai]
Believing, loving, and liking
Question: If one believes in the six pillars of faith and affirms this belief by one’s tongue but if one does not love some Muslims but loves some non-Muslims or if one accepts Islamic commandments but does not like them, will it harm one’s faith?
A Muslim who commits these acts becomes a disbeliever. For example, saying “I know that covering certain parts of the body is Allah’s commandment, but it was valid during past centuries. It is not necessary today” or “The rule that Christians are disbelievers was valid then, so today’s Christians are not disbelievers” or “I do not like Hadrat Uthman, but even though Abu Lahab was a disbeliever, I like him because he was the uncle of our Master the Prophet” is a word of blasphemy each because the basis of faith is to love Allah’s friends [Muslims] and to dislike His enemies [disbelievers]. Our Master the Prophet says, “The basis of faith is to love Allah’s friends and to dislike His enemies” [Imam-i Ahmad].
One who does the opposite of what was stated in the hadith-i sharif, that is, loving Abu Lahab and disliking Hadrat Uthman, has torpedoed the basis of faith and demolished the building of Islam.
Though Allahu ta’ala states that there is nothing missing in our religion and the rules in the Qur’an al-karim are valid until Doomsday, saying that covering certain parts of the body was for past people or that Christians of past centuries were disbelievers but today’s Christians are Muslim means disliking Allah’s commandments, which causes disbelief.
Prophets are superior
Question: In Islamic books that explain faith, belief in angels precedes belief in prophets. Does it mean that angels are superior to prophets?
No, it does not. Since angels were created before all living beings, belief in angels was ordered before the other pillars of faith. Belief in books has been stated before belief in prophets, too. The pillars of faith have been mentioned in this order in the Qur’an al-karim as well.
Prophets are superior to angels. A Muslim who obeys Islam rises and becomes superior to angels. Whoever follows the nafs and evil friends and so is away from Islam, he/she degrades himself/herself and becomes lower than animals. (Islam Ahlaqi)
In the Qur’anic verse below, belief in angels is mentioned before belief in books and prophets:
(True goodness is to believe in Allah, Last Day, angels, books, prophets ...) [Baqarah 177]
The first thing necessary for everyone is...
The first thing necessary for everyone is to say Kalima-i tawhid and to believe in its meaning. The Kalima-i tawhid is La ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah, which means “Allah exists and is one, and Muhammad alaihissalam is His prophet.” Believing in it means having iman and becoming a Muslim. Iman has to be constant; therefore, one has to refrain from saying, doing, or using things that cause blasphemy (kufr).
The Qur’an al-karim is the word of Allah. Allahu ta’ala has sent it to Muhammad alaihis-salam through Angel Jabrail alaihissalam. The words of the Qur’an al-karim are in the Arabic language, but it is Allahu ta’ala who aligned these words side by side. The Arabic words in the Qur’an al-karim were sent as letters and words in the form of verses aligned by Allahu ta’ala. The meaning of these letters and words carry the Divine Word. These letters and words are called the Qur’an. The meanings that show the Divine Word are also the Qur’an. This Qur’an as the Divine Word is not something created. It is eternal like Allahu ta’ala’s other attributes. Jabrail alaihissalam would come once a year and recited the Qur’an al-karim that was delivered until then in the order existing in Lawh-il mahfuz. Our Master the Prophet would repeat it. In the year before his death, he came twice and they together recited it completely.
Our Master the Prophet and the majority of the companions memorized the Qur’an al-karim completely. Hadrat Abu Baqr gathered those who had memorized it and made them bring the materials on which it was written. He made a delegation write the whole Qur’an al-karim, so a book called mushaf emerged. A total of 33.000 companions unanimously agreed that each letter of this mushaf was in the right place.
The statements of Muhammad alaihissalam are called hadith-i sharifs. That hadith-i sharif in which the meaning is revealed by Allahu ta’ala but the phrasing is formulated by Muhammad alaihissalam is called hadith-i qudsi.
Of the commandments of Allahu ta’ala, those that have to be believed in are termed iman and those that have to be performed are termed fard. Those that have to be refrained from are termed haram. Fards and harams are termed ahqam-i islamiyya. One who disbelieves any of them is called a kafir.
The second thing necessary for everyone is to purify qalb. Qalb, which is also called ghonul, exists in the physical heart. The place for Islamic knowledge is the qalb. It is the qalb that believes or disbelieves. The qalb that believes is pure, and the qalb that disbelieves is impure and dead. It is our first duty to endeavor to purify the qalb. Performing acts of worship especially salat and seeking forgiveness (istighfar) purifies the qalb. Doing prohibited acts spoils the qalb.
Question: Is performing salat five times a day included in the pillars of faith?
Performing salat is not one of the pillars of faith, but believing that salat is fard is a pillar of faith.
Iman has a surat and a haqiqat
Question: Is the iman of every Believer the same? If it is the same, then why isn’t every Believer a perfect Muslim? What is the reason for this?
Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani says the following about this matter in his Maktubat:
Islam has an outward appearance and a haqiqat, i.e. true, inner essence. Islam’s outward appearance (surat) is to have belief in Allahu ta’ala and in His Rasul (Messenger) and in the things that this Rasul has brought from Him, and to adapt oneself to the rules and principles of Islam. Islam means (a system of) rules, principles, commandments, and prohibitions. To adapt oneself to those principles and rules means to perform the commandments and avoid the prohibitions. The human nafs refuses to have iman (belief) and to adapt itself to the surat of Islam. This refusal is inherent in its creation. Therefore the iman (belief) of people who have adapted themselves to the surat (outward appearance) of Islam is the surat (outward appearance) of iman. In other words, it is iman in appearance. The acts of worship that they perform, such as salat, fasting, and all the others, are the surat of the (true) acts of worship. That is, they are worship in appearance. For, when the word ‘man’ is used ‘man’s nafs’ is meant. When one says, “I,” one means one’s nafs. As a person performs an act of worship, the nafs is in a state of kufr (denial of Islam). The nafs denies the fact that what he/she is doing is a proper act. Can such a person have true and proper iman and perform acts of worship properly? Allahu ta’ala, being so merciful and compassionate, kindly accepts the surats, appearances of iman and worship as if they were true iman and proper worship. He promises and gives the glad tidings that He will put such slaves of His into Paradise. Allahu ta’ala loves Paradise and His slaves who are in Paradise. He is pleased with them. Because Allahu ta’ala has endless kindness, He has accepted only the heart’s confirmation and belief as iman. He has not enjoined that the nafs also should understand and have iman. Be that as it may, Paradise also has an outer appearance as well as a haqiqat (true inner essence). Those who have attained only the surat of Islam in the world will attain and enjoy only the surat of Paradise in the Hereafter. People who have attained the haqiqat of Islam in the world will also attain the haqiqat of Paradise in the Hereafter.
People who attain only the surat and (those who attain) only the haqiqat of Paradise will be relishing different flavours although they will be eating the same fruit in it. Rasulullah’s blessed wives are Believers’ mothers and they will be with Rasulullah; yet the flavours and tastes they will be enjoying will differ. If the flavour they will be relishing were the same, they would necessarily be higher than all other people. Likewise, wife of every person who is higher would be higher as well. For, wives and husbands will be together in Paradise. Those who have adapted themselves to the surat of Islam will be safe against torment and attain eternal happiness in the Hereafter.