I just want you to give me a simple explanation of the basic beliefs that a Muslim should hold regarding Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and other matters. I sometimes get confused by the various different groups (Sunni, Shi’a, Salafi, Deobandi, Barelwi, etc) saying different things. I just need a simple yet comprehensive explanation, without detailed proofs, in regards to what is sufficient for a Muslim for salvation in the hereafter. Jazakum Allah.
Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Before listing some of the basic tenets of faith, which a Muslim must believe in, it is important to understand that not everything described ‘as being part of Creed’ (aqida) is of primary nature and necessary to know in order to be a Muslim. Many matters of belief – that people often debate and argue about – are considered ‘secondary’ and not part of the fundamental and decisive beliefs of Islam. As such, if a Muslim does not know of them, there is no defect in his or her faith. Some issues are not even considered as part of Creed such as supplicating Allah through an intermediary (tawassul) and celebrating the birth of Allah’s Messenger (mawlid), peace and blessings be upon him.
Secondly, all the various issues of belief are not of the same level; rather, some are established by decisive (qat’i) texts of the Qur’an and Sunna, some are established by probable (zanni) texts, and some others are established by the statements of the great early scholars who used sound analogical deduction from the sacred texts. As such, they are not all at the same level; rather, their levels differ according to how they are established, and due to the difference in their levels, their rulings also differ.
Denying a matter established by a decisive text is considered disbelief, for example the finality of Prophethood; denying a matter established by a non-decisive/probable text is not declared as disbelief but rather deviation, such as completely denying the life of Prophets after their passing. At times, it is merely considered as departing from the correct methodology followed by mainstream Muslims such as not following one of the four schools of Islamic law for a non-Mujtahid, and so on and so forth. As such, it is important not to place all the aqida related matters into one category.
Keeping the above two points in mind, here is a list of basic matters of belief. I have endeavoured to keep them as concise and simple as possible, without delving into the details. The idea is to present a set of beliefs for the average Muslim who does not want to get embroiled into polemical debate and inter-Muslim disagreements.
1) Allah Most High is the One and Only God – without any partner, equal, parent, child, aide, assistant or advisor. He is One in His self/essence (dhat), attributes (sifat) and actions (af’al).
2) Allah alone is the Lord responsible for everything such as creating, controlling, managing, sustaining, benefitting, harming, curing, and He alone is worthy of our worship, supplications and prayers.
3) Allah Most High – with all His attributes – is Beginning-less and Eternal, i.e. there is no beginning and end to His existence.
4) Allah Most High is characterized with all attributes (sifat) of perfection, and is absolutely free from all attributes of imperfection.
5) Allah Most High does not resemble His creation in any way, and nothing from His creation bears any similarity to Him.
6) Allah Most High is independent and not in need of anyone or anything, and everyone and everything is dependent on Him. This includes time and space, since He is not in need of them or confined to them.
7) No creation – be it a Prophet, angel, saint or anyone else – is even close to being equal to Allah Most High in any of His attributes. He has more power, control and knowledge than any of His creation.
8)All the Prophets and Messengers sent by Allah – the 25 mentioned in the Qur’an, as well as others besides them – are righteous men and servants of Allah and were sent to guide mankind.
9) All the Prophets and Messengers are infallible/sinless (ma’sum), truthful, blessed with good judgement, and duly conveyed the message they were sent with by Allah Most High.
10) Our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace) is the master and leader (sayyid) of all the other Prophets, and the best of creation bar none. Despite this lofty position, he remains a slave (abd) of Allah Almighty.
11) Our Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) was given the most knowledge, more than anyone else including the other Prophets. Allah granted him knowledge regarding many matters of the unseen – such as the occurrences of the hereafter – but his knowledge is not even close to being equal to Allah’s knowledge.
12) Our Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is the final Prophet sent by Allah (khatam al-anbiya); there is no prophet – in any way, shape or form – to come after him. Any claim to prophethood after him is to be rejected, and anyone who refuses to accept him as the final Prophet leaves the fold of Islam completely. It is disbelief (kufr) to believe that a new Prophet can come after Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace) – whether a law-bearing Prophet or non-law-bearing Prophet.
13) The Prophets of Allah possess a type of life after their passing from this world, meaning the connection of their souls to their bodies is stronger than the connection of normal people’s souls to their bodies. However, the exact details of this ‘life’ and ‘connection of the soul to the body’ is only known by Allah Most High.
14) The angels are noble beings created by Allah from light (nur). They are constantly in the worship of Allah, and have been given various tasks such as coming with revelation, taking away souls, recording deeds, and much more. They do not sin, and have the ability to take various forms and accomplish difficult tasks. They are not to be described with masculinity or femininity.
15) All the books and scriptures (suhuf) revealed to the various Prophets, in their original forms, are true. This includes the four primary books: Zabur, Tawrat, Injil/Bible, and the Noble Qur’an.
16) The entire Qur’an revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace) is the true word/speech of Allah Most High. Rejecting or denying even one verse, word or letter of the Qur’an constitutes disbelief (kufr).
17) There is resurrection/life after death, recompense of deeds on the Day of Judgement, and reckoning in the Hereafter – and Paradise and Hellfire have been created.
18) Allah Most High has predetermined everything, and everything – be it good or evil – occurs by His Will. At the same time, we have free-will, and are accountable for our actions.
19) All the Companions (sahaba) of Allah’s Messenger (Allah be pleased with them) – which includes members of his family – are the most noble of people after the Prophets. They are all forgiven by Allah for any mistake they may have committed; and Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allah. Loving them is part of faith, and hating them is transgression against faith.
20) All the pious servants of Allah, saints, scholars of hadith and jurists are to be respected and loved for the sake of Allah.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam