There are certain things that every Muslim must believe. A person who doubts any of these things cannot be considered a Muslim. These articles of faith are:
- Belief in God
- Belief in His Angels
- Belief in His Books
- Belief in His Prophets and Messengers
- Belief in the Day of Judgment
- Belief in God’s Divine Decree
1) Belief in God
Islam emphasizes that God is One, The Creator of all that exists, and He is Unique in every way. Only God Has the right to be worshipped.
God is beyond the human attribute of gender. Here we have used the pronoun “He” only because there is no gender-neutral pronoun in Semitic languages, and it follows the conventions of English usage. When the royal “We” is used in the Quran to refer to God, it is for respect and in no way implies plurality.
2) Belief in His angels
The angels are creations of God. God Created them from light. They are powerful and always do precisely as they are Commanded by God. God has Revealed to us the names and the duties of some of the angels. A Muslim must believe in the existence of angels. Gabriel and Michael are among the angels mentioned in the Quran. For instance, it is Gabriel’s duty to take God’s Revelation to the Prophets and Messengers.
3) Belief in His books
Muslims believe in all of the original scriptures Revealed by God to His different Messengers. A Muslim must believe in every scripture Mentioned by God in the Quran. God Revealed them, and they are the actual Word of God. The scriptures that God Mentions in the Quran are as follows:
- The original Scrolls as revealed to Abraham
- The original Torah as revealed to Moses
- The original Psalms as revealed to David
- The original Gospel as revealed to Jesus
- The Quran as revealed to Muhammad (which is still available in its original form).
Muslims and most Christians today do not consider the Bible that is presently in circulation in various editions and versions to be an accurate representation of the older scriptures that were revealed before the Quran.
According to the Quran, people have distorted these scriptures for their own worldly gain. What remains of them is a mixture of original divine text, man-made interpretation, and contamination (falsehood). Although Muslims believe in all the previous books, they only live and are guided by the Quran and the authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.
4) Belief in His prophets and messengers
The Prophets and Messengers were individuals who received Revelation from God and conveyed it to mankind. They were Sent to humanity to return people to monotheism and to guide them to the path of salvation. None of the Prophets and Messengers share in any part of God’s Divinity. They were merely human beings. It is forbidden for a Muslim to worship them or to use them as a conduit to God.
A Muslim should never invoke them, make supplications to them, or seek God’s Mercy and Forgiveness through them. All such acts are polytheistic, and anyone who engages in them is outside the fold of Islam as taught by every single Messenger. Throughout the ages, God Sent Prophets to nations all over the world. A Muslim must believe in all of the Prophets and Messengers Sent by God. God has Mentioned some of them in the Quran. Among those who have been mentioned by name are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.
– The different gospels in today’s Bible were written after the time of Jesus by other authors. The Gospel mentioned in the Quran refers only to the revelations which came through Jesus, son of Mary.
– The Prophets mentioned in the Quran are: Elisha, Job, David, Dhul-Kifl, Aaron, Hood, Abraham, Idris, Elias, Jesus, Isaac, Ishmael, Lot, Moses, Noah, Saleh, Shuaib, Solomon, Ezra, Jacob, John, Jonah, Joseph, Zechariah, and Muhammad. Peace be upon them all.
All the Prophets and Messengers of God brought the teachings of Islam. Throughout history, all monotheistic people who submitted to the Will of God and followed the revealed teachings of the Prophets and Messengers of God, would be considered Muslims. For example, when Moses came and proclaimed his Prophethood, anyone who truly followed him in monotheism was Muslim.
Likewise, when Jesus came and declared his Prophethood with clear signs and miracles, it was obligatory for everyone to accept him unconditionally if they were to be considered Muslims. All those who rejected him became disbelievers by that rejection. The rejection of any of God’s Messengers disqualifies one as Muslim. All the Prophets and Messengers called upon humanity to worship The Creator alone without ascribing to Him any partner, and they all submitted completely to God, which is Islam.
The Prophets, from Adam to Muhammad, were all brothers in faith. They all called people to the same truth. Different Messengers came with different sets of laws that God Sent through them to guide and govern the people, but the essence of their teachings was the same. They all called people away from the worship of created things to the worship of The Creator.
Muslims are required to love and respect all of the Prophets and Messengers of God. If a person rejects or dislikes any one of them, that person is not a believer.
In Islam, Muhammad has the distinction of being God’s final Messenger and the seal of the Prophets. This is because God Completed His Revelations to mankind and Perfectly Preserved them forever in the Quran, and because His final Prophet and Messenger was able to lead an exemplary life for the twenty-three years of his Prophethood and set clear guidelines for all the generations to follow. God Says in the Quran that no Prophet or Messenger will come after him. This is the reason Muhammad is known as the seal of the Prophets. This means that the manifestation of the Divine law that is embodied in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad is for all of humanity until the Day of Resurrection (Day of Judgment).
To be a believer, it is obligatory to believe in Muhammad and the laws that have been revealed through him, as well as in all the Prophets and Messengers of God who came before. Muhammad and the Prophets and Messengers before him also had to believe in and obey Almighty God. Although Muslims believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of God, they are to follow and emulate only the lifestyle of Muhammad, the final Prophet and Messenger.
5) Belief in the Day of Judgment
All Muslims must believe, without doubt, in the Day of Judgment and the physical resurrection when the body will be recreated and the soul will be reunited with the body by God’s Unlimited and Amazing Power. Just as God Created us the first time, He is surely Able to Bring us forth from death to stand in Perfect Judgment before Him. From the Day of Judgment, death will be no longer; our existence will be forever. The Day of Judgment is when each and every individual will stand before The Creator and be Questioned about his or her deeds. On that climactic day, we will each see in detail the results of even the smallest good and the smallest evil we have set forth in this life. On this day, lying and deception will be impossible. The ultimate reward is Paradise and the penalty is Hell. Heaven and Hell are literal places of existence, not a figment of imagination.
God Describes Paradise as a fantastic place of pleasure, filled with amazing eternal gardens with rivers flowing beneath. No hot or cold, no disease or fatigue, no evil will exist. God Will Remove disease from the heart and body of mankind, and everything one wishes for will be Granted. It will be said to those who enter Paradise, “This Paradise you have inherited as a result of God’s Mercy and your good deeds.”
God Describes Hell as an eternally horrible place, beyond imagination, a fire whose fuel is men and stone. When stern angels place people in Hell, they will say, “Taste of that which you used to deny.” (Being a Muslim does not assure Paradise unless he or she dies in a state of Islam – submission.) We believe God is Most Compassionate, Most Merciful; however, He is Severe in His Punishment.
God’s Infinite Justice is Absolute and Perfect. On the Day of Judgment, all deeds will be revealed, and everyone will be justly treated. We will not enter Paradise because of our deeds alone, but by God’s Majesty and Unlimited Grace.
6) Belief in divine decree
God in His Timelessness, Knows everything that goes on in His creation and when it occurs. From the perspective of temporal beings like us, this means that God Knows everything that happened in the past through His All-Encompassing Knowledge, everything that is now taking place by His Supreme Power, and everything that will happen in the future by His Infinite Wisdom. God’s Divine Knowledge is Perfect. He Knows all, and all that He Knows will come to pass.
God Has Absolute Sovereignty over His creation. Everything that exists within His creation and every event that occurs is a direct result of His Creating it. Nothing happens in creation except by His Power, His Will, and His Knowledge.
Women and men are equal before God. They are both accountable before God. They equally receive their reward in the hereafter for their faith and good deeds. Islam sees every woman, married or unmarried, as an individual in her own right. She has the same right to own property, earn wealth, and spend it as a man has. Her wealth does not become the property of her husband after marriage. A woman has the right to choose whom she marries and, when married, does not change her last name out of respect for her lineage. A woman can seek divorce if her marriage does not work out.
Economically, each man and woman is an independent legal entity. Men and women have the right to own their individual property, engage in business, and inherit from others. Both have the equal right to receive an education and enter into gainful employment, as long as the guidelines of Islam are followed.
Seeking knowledge is the obligation of every Muslim, male or female. The type of knowledge that is most emphasized is religious knowledge. It is also required within a society to have professionals of both genders available for the benefit of the public. For example, society requires doctors, teachers, counsellors, social workers, and many other important vocations. When there is a shortage of qualified personnel, it may become obligatory for women or men to gain expertise in these fields to fulfil the needs of the Muslim community. In this situation, the guidelines of Islam must be upheld.
Women are encouraged to seek Islamic knowledge, pursue their academic endeavours within the framework of Islam, and strive to fulfil their intellectual curiosity. To prevent anyone from getting an education is contrary to the teachings of Islam.
Men are responsible for maintaining and protecting the family, and providing the basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter for their wife, children, and if needed, other female relatives in the household. Women are not primarily responsible for this, even if married.
Male chauvinism and the Muslim world
Many people perceive Islam as a chauvinistic religion that belittles women. They cite the condition of women in some “Muslim countries” to prove their point. Their mistake is that they fail to separate the culture of a given people from the true teachings of the religion that they may profess. It is appalling that today the oppression of women still exists in many cultures around the world. Women in many Third World countries live horrible lives. They are dominated by men and denied many of their basic human rights. This does not apply to Muslim countries alone, nor does it apply to all Muslim countries. Islam clearly condemns this oppression. It is a tragic injustice to blame these cultural practices on religious beliefs when the teachings of the religion do not call for such behaviour. The teachings of Islam clearly forbid the oppression of women.
– Unfortunately, an “Islamic country,” does not necessarily mean that the country’s government or the people are following Islamic Law (Sharia).
Oppressive practices against women that exist in certain parts of the world have, unfortunately and mistakenly, been associated by some people with Islam. One of these is the ancient pagan custom of female genital mutilation, sometimes mistakenly called “female circumcision,” which originated and is still practiced in the Nile River Valley and surrounding areas. It is practiced there by a number of ethnic groups of a wide variety of faiths. Many women in Africa are victims of this horrible, dismembering, barbaric custom. In Kenya, for example, one group of people who do not practice female genital mutilation are the Muslims.
Female genital mutilation is an abomination and is absolutely forbidden in Islam. It is most unfortunate that, even though Islam forbids it, certain ethnic groups have perpetuated this practice even after their conversion to Islam, leading some to think that it is a part of Islam. Today, as these people become more knowledgeable about Islam, they are abandoning this cruel pagan practice.
Male circumcision is an Islamic practice and in fact was taught by God’s Prophets and Messengers including the Prophet Abraham. Another horrible practice is that of honour killing, where a man kills a female relative in his family because he feels disgraced by her behaviour. We hear of cases where a brother has killed his sister simply because she refused to marry the person that her family arranged for her. This is outright murder in Islam. It is not permissible for a person to kill anyone out of some notion of “honour.” This conduct, though not common, is practiced by certain groups of people in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and other places. It is by no means exclusive to “Islamic countries,” and it violates Islamic law.
Unfortunately, forced marriage is practiced in many traditional societies. It is another practice that is forbidden in Islam. Some fathers had forced their daughters into marriage at the time of the Prophet Muhammad. When the women complained to him of this, he nullified their marriages or gave them the option of ending the marriage even if it had already been consummated, establishing the clear precedent for Islamic law concerning freedom of choice about marriage and putting an end to this oppressive practice. Sadly, this still goes on in many parts of the world today, including a number of “Islamic countries.” Though the practice is illegal in almost all countries, many women in traditional societies either do not know their rights or are too afraid to demand them.
All of these practices are against Islamic law, and it is the responsibility of all Muslims to eradicate them in their societies. Yes, Islam is tolerant of cultural diversity and does not believe in eradicating the ways of life for different people, nor does it force people to give up their cultural identity when they embrace Islam. However, when the cultural practices of a people contravene the laws of Islam and deprive people of their God-Given, inalienable rights and freedom of choice, it becomes a religious obligation to abandon them.
The free will of the human being
An important aspect of Islam is that every human being has the free will to choose between right and wrong. God has honoured humanity with this great gift. It carries grave responsibility, and, on the Day of Judgment, we will be accountable for our use of this gift.
Human free will does not in any way contradict the fact that God knows every- thing that will ever occur in creation. Someone might ask: “If God Knows that I am going to commit a sin tomorrow, then it is unavoidable that I do so because God’s knowledge is Infallible and what God knows will come to pass.” God’s knowledge of this person’s decision does not mean that he or she is being forced to make that decision.
Human free will does not in any way contradict God’s absolute sovereignty over everything in creation. Nor does it contradict the fact that nothing happens in creation except what God wills. Some might say, “Therefore, I have no free will. My free will is but an illusion.” God created within each of us the ability to formulate an intention. God wants us to be able to make our own choices. When a person makes a choice, God, by His divine will, creates the actions and circumstances that allow the person’s intention to be carried out.
It is God’s will that human beings have free will. God is not always pleased with the decisions people make, but He wants them to be able to make these decisions from their own free choice. An example is a person’s will to do a good deed. The good deed may never be carried out, but God may reward the person for his or her intention to do a good deed. If the good deed comes to pass, God’s will allowed it to take place and God will reward for both intent and action. God may reward you for good deeds willed but not carried out; He does not punish for bad intent not acted upon. God allows us choice (which we often squander).
There is no compulsion in religion
It follows from this emphasis on free will that Islam can only be accepted by free choice. The purpose of human life is to worship God of one’s own free will. Therefore, matters of faith only have value if they are accepted on the basis of choice. If a person is coerced into accepting any religion, that acceptance is false and has no value. God says:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”