Islamic Aqeedah (Creed)
(Most of this speech is from the book Belief in Allaah by Sh. Umar Al-Ashqar)
Meaning of Aqeedah:
What dose aqeedah mean in Arabic? What is the concept of aqeedah in Islaam?
Aqeedah is the things, which people’s hearts affirms and believe in, the things that they accept (as true). These are matters, which are held as certain beliefs, with no taint of doubt. According to Muslim scholars the word aqeedah includes all of what every Muslims must believe in and there is no mention of the word aqeedah in the Nobel Qur'aan and the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).
In Islaam, aqeedah (belief) is the counterpart of sharee'ah, because Islaam is composed of both aqeedah and sharee'ah. Sharee'ah means the practical duties enjoined by Islaam, concerning acts of worship and dealings with others.
Aqeedah is the matter of knowledge in the heart
Aqeedah is not a practical matter, but the matter of knowledge, which the Muslim is obliged to believe in his heart, because Allaah has told him about these matters in His Book or through the Revelation to His Messenger Muhammad (S.A.W.).
The basic principles of the aqeedah Allaah commands us to believe in are mentioned in the verse what can be translated as, “The Messenger [Muhammad] believes in what has been sent down to him from His Lord, and [so do] the believers. Each one believes in Allaah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers.” [Qur'aan 2: 285]
The Prophet (S.A.W.) defined this belief in the famous hadeeth of Jibreel in which he said: “It (Imaan) is to believe in Allaah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and to believe in divine destiny (qadar), both the good and the evil thereof.”
So aqeedah in Islaam refers to those matters of knowledge which have been transmitted in authentic reports from Allaah and His Messenger, and which the Muslim must believe in with all his heart, believing in what Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad say.
Aqeedah means certain belief, with no room for doubt
In order for these principles to form aqeedah, we must believe in them firmly, with no room for doubt. If there is any element of doubt, then they are merely speculation, not aqeedah (belief) said: “Aqeedah means a belief in which the one who holds that belief will not entertain any doubt whatsoever." If the aqeedah included any amount of doubt, it will not be accepted. The evidence for that are found in the verses of the Qur'aan: what can be translated as, “Only those are the believers who have believed in Allaah and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not...” [Qur'aan 49: 15]
The issues of Aqeedah are invisible
It may be noted that the issues, which we are required to believe in are unseen matters, not visible, tangible things. This is what Allaah referred to when He praised the believers: what can be translated as, “Who believe in the Ghayb (unseen).” [Qur'aan 2: 3] Allaah is unseen, as are His angels and the Last Day. With regard to His Books and Messengers, one might think that they are visible, but what is referred to here is the belief that they come from Allaah, i.e., that the Messengers were sent by Allaah and that the Books were revealed by Allaah, which is the matter of the unseen.
Correct Aqeedah and false Aqeedah
Aqeedah (belief) is not exclusive to Islaam. The adherents of religions and schools of thought inevitably have beliefs according to which they run their lives. This applies to individuals just as it applies to societies. From the beginning of the creation until the Day of Judgment. Beliefs are divided into two kinds:
(a) The correct aqeedah: It is composed of the set of beliefs brought by the noble Messengers. This is the one aqeedah that have never been changed, because it was sent down by the All-Knowing, All-Aware (Allaah); it cannot be imagined that it differs from one Messenger to another or from one time to another. Aqeedah is in reality includes facts; these facts will never differs from time to another time. For example, when Allaah told about Him self He is One, has no father, son, nor wife. It’s impossible for the one who tells the truth (Allaah) to tell about the same facts in two different contradictory information and this applies to all parts of the aqeedah.
(b) False beliefs: They are very many indeed. Their falseness stems from the fact that they are the product of human thought and intellect. No matter how great mankind may become, their knowledge is (and will remain) limited and is (and will continue to be influenced by the customs, traditions and thoughts that surround them. For example, those people who worship the sun, moon, stars, fire, satin, etc.
There are also false beliefs, which are the result of distortion, changes and alteration, as is the case with the Judaism and Christianity beliefs at the present time. They were distorted a long time ago, and were corrupted as a result of this distortion, even though each of them was originally a sound aqeedah.
Where is the true Aqeedah today?
The true aqeedah today is not found anywhere except in the religion of Islaam, because this is the protected religion which Allaah, has guaranteed to protect it. Allaah says what can be translated as, “Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr [i.e. the Qur'aan] and surely, We will guard it [from corruption].” [Qur'aan 5: 9] The beliefs of other religions, even though they may contain some grains of truth here and there, do not present a clear image of the truth.
Whoever wants to know the true, correct aqeedah will not find it in Judaism or in Christianity, or in the words of the philosophers. He will only find it in Islam, in the original sources of the faith: the Qur'aan and Sunnah, pure and clear and shining, which convince man's mind with evidence and proof, and fill the heart with Imaan, certainty, light and life.
The importance and necessity of Islamic Aqeedah
The Islamic aqeedah is as essential for man as water and air. Without this aqeedah he is lost and confused. The Islamic aqeedah is the only one which can answer the questions that have always preoccupied man and which still preoccupy human thought and cause frustration: where did I come from? Where did the universe come from? Who is the Creator? What are His attributes and names? Why did He create the universe and us? What is our role in this universe? What is our relationship to the Creator who created us? Are there other, invisible worlds beyond the world that we can see? Are there other intelligent beings apart from man? Is there another life after this life? If the answer is positive, what is that other life like?
There is no other belief today, apart from the aqeedah of Islaam that can answer these questions in a true and convincing way. And we will find details of all part of the Islamic aqeedah in the divined sources.
We Muslims should study the Islamic aqeedah and we should teach it to the Muslims around us, and also should show it to the Non-Muslim, so that it can be a guide for them to the straight path.
The relationship between 'aqeedah and Imaan
In the Noble Qur'aan, Allaah (S.W.T.) praises Imaan (faith) and the people of Iman. He says what can be translated as, “Successful indeed are the believers.” [Qur’aan23: 1]
And Allaah (S.W.T.) promised them Paradise in the Hereafter. He says what can be translated as, “These are indeed the inheritors, who shall inherit the Firaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.” [Qur’aan23: 10-11]
The Imaan (faith) for which Allaah praised people was not only (belief). Aqeedah formed the foundation and basis of (firm belief). So Imaan is the aqeedah, which is established firmly in the heart, clings to it and never departs from it. It is verbally declared and pronounced by the believer in whose heart this aqeedah takes firm roots. His belief and declaration are confirmed by his actions conforming to the dictates of that aqeedah.
Belief that takes roots in the heart but has no visible manifestation is an empty and cold belief that does not deserve to be called aqeedah. We see many people who know the truth, but they do not abide by it or live their lives in accordance with it. They may even resist the truth, which they believe to be true. Iblees (Satan) knows the great universal truths with certainty, he knows Allaah, and the truth, the Messengers and Books, but he devoted himself to opposing the truth even after full knowledge.
And also Pharaoh was certain that the miracles brought by Moosa (S.A.W.) were indeed from Allaah, but he denied them out of stubborn pride and arrogance, as Allaah (S.W.T.) tells us about him and his people what can be translated as, “And they belied them [those Ayaat] wrongfully and arrogantly, though their own selves were convinced thereof...” [Qur'aan 27: 14]
The People of the Book know that Muhammad (S.A.W.) is a Messenger sent by His Lord: Allaah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “Those to whom We gave the Scripture [Jews and Christians] recognize him [Muhammad] as they recognize their sons.” [Qur'aan 2:146] but they do not admit that.
Listen to what Abu Taalib said to the Messenger (S.A.W.) as his excuse for not believing: "I know that the religion of Muhammad is one of the best religions in the world, were it not for the fear of blame and slander from my people, you would see me acknowledging that openly."
So Imaan (faith) does not mean only acknowledging that Allaah exists, or knowledge that a person admits not because of superiority complex, or refuses to abide by its rulings. Imaan means aqeedah (belief) that a person accepts in his heart and affirms by his tongue, and he accepts and always adheres to the way lay down by Allaah.
Hence the scholars of the salaf (Pious Predecessors) said: "Imaan means belief in the heart, words on the tongue (declaration) and striving to implement its pillars."
The relationship between aqeedah and sharee'ah
As we have mentioned above, there are two conditions of faith:
aqeedah which is deeply rooted in the heart, and deeds which manifest themselves in a person's actions. If either of these two essential components is missing, Imaan is lost or becomes weak. Hence the connection between these two elements is very important.
In the Noble Qur’aan Allaah (S.W.T.) sets forth a parable about the relationship between aqeedah and sharee'ah, what can be translated as, “See you not how Allaah sets forth a parable? A goodly Word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high). It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. So Allaah sets forth parables for mankind, in order that they may receive admonition.” [Qur'aan 14:24-25]
Imaan is like a good, strong tree that is firmly rooted in good soil with its branches reaching up into the sky, bearing abundant fruit, and producing its fruit for everyone by the grace of its Lord. Thus Imaan is the tree; its roots are aqeedah, which is rooted deeply in the heart, and its trunk, branches and fruits are deeds and actions.
Undoubtedly if the roots are removed or turn rotten or dried up, they will no longer exist. Similarly, Imaan will no longer exist if aqeedah is taken away. If the trunk or branches are cut off, or some of them are cut off, the tree will weaken, and may die altogether, because the presence of branches and leaves are essential to the tree's continued existence. Similarly, if deeds are neglected, in part or in whole, then Imaan will be reduced or destroyed.
Paying attention to deeds.
Hence it is incumbent on us to pay attention to the deeds that Allaah (S.W.T.) has enjoined upon us as obligatory duties, or that He has encouraged us to do, and to abstain from the deeds that He has forbidden us to do, because this is a part of Imaan. Doing the deeds that are forbidden - even if it is only a little -detracts from Imaan proportionately.
Hence those who undermine the importance of implementing and adhering to the Sunnah of the Prophet should beware of their dangerous attitude. Some of them may overstep the mark and describe some issues of Sunnah or Islamic maters as unimportant or insignificant. We ask Allaah to forgive these people, for all of the maters of Deen are important and nothing in it is insignificant, although matters may vary in their degree of importance.
What we say should not be taken as meaning that we do not pay attention to the priorities in knowledge, actions and calling people to Allaah (S.W.T.). This is a matter, which should be well known and established. But what we are denouncing here is negligence of minor issues and condemnation of those who pay attention to both minor and major issues in Islaam and the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A.W.).
Ruling on rejection of aqeedah
Everyone who rejects aqeedah altogether, such as the atheist who deny the existence of Allaah (S.W.T.), rejects the Messengers and the Books, and do not believe in the Hereafter and reward and punishment, or who deny part of the aqeedah, is a kaafir (disbeliever) and is not a Muslim. Because the Islamic aqeedah can never be accepted in part, and the whole is so strongly interconnected.
Belief in Allaah (S.W.T.) requires that one believe also in the Angels, the Books, the Messengers and the Last Day. Belief in the Books requires that one believe in all the other basic principles of faith (usool al-imaan). Belief in the Messenger (S.A.W.) means that one believes and accepts all that he brought... Hence Allaah (S.W.T.) counts one who believes in one principle and denies another as being a kaafir (disbeliever). Allaah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “Verily, those who disbelieve in Allaah and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allaah and His Messengers [by believing in Allaah and disbelieving in His Messengers] saying, "We believe in some but reject others," and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers..” [Qur'aan 4:150] And denying some of the minor issues of aqeedah which have been proven definitively in the Qur'aan or Sunnah is also counted as kufr (disbelieve).
Actions and words, which are counted as kufr (disbelief)
Kufr does not consist only of denying basic principles of aqeedah. There are certain actions, which, if done, are also kufr. They may be summed up in one phrase: “worshipping others besides Allaah.” Worship is the right of Allaah alone, and directing worship to anyone or anything other than Allaah is shirk (polytheism), such as praying to anything other than Allaah, offering sacrifice to anything other than Allaah, calling upon anything or anyone other than Allaah etc.
A person may become a kaafir (disbeliever) by uttering words which insult the Creator (S.W.T.), or Islaam, or the Prophet, or words which make fun of Islaam, or which give preference to misguided principles, as deviant religions such as Judaism or Christianity over Islaam, or which accuse Islaam of being imperfect, backward and reactionary.
Attitude towards the kuffaar (disbelievers)
The Muslim should reject and hate the kufr (disbelief), but should not hate the kuffaar as persons. Muslim should oppose the falsehood and its followers by speaking out clearly, and by calling them to the truth. He should explain to them their misguided state, and show them the truth, by explaining it to them clearly. Because we want them to be guided and we hope that they will be.
There are rulings concerning the Non Muslim, For example, we do not let them marry Muslim women, we do not marry any of their women except women from the People of the Book, and we do not wash their dead or pray for them.
The kaafir before Allaah
The kaafir is a person who knowingly rejects Islaam once it has been revealed to him in complete clarity and correctness. The evidences for Islam were all given to him with clarity. He knew the truth, but still arrogantly rejected. He is named Kaafir because he covered the truth knowingly. The word Kufr linguistically means to cover. This person will abide in the Hell-Fire forever, for he will have no excuse on the Day of Resurrection.
But for those people the message of Islaam has not reached correctly in a complete form for whatever reason. This includes many people in this society, those who live in remote areas, and for those who are disabled of their hearing or sight, or those who are too old to understand Islaam properly. Due to the absolute justice of Allaah those mentioned above will not be punished on the Day of Resurrection until they have been tried and tested, because the truth did not reach them. Allaah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “..And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger [to give warning].” [Qur'aan 17:15]
The evidence that they will be tested is from the hadeeth, from what the Messenger (S.A.W.) said: "There are four who will be tested on the Day of Resurrection: the deaf man who could not hear anything; the imbecile; the senile old man; and the man who died during the fatrah (interval between two Prophets, when no Message reached him). The deaf man will say, "0 Lord, Islaam came and I did not hear anything." The imbecile will say, "0 Lord, Islaam came but the young boys were pelting me with camel dung." The senile old man will say, "0 Lord, Islaam came and I did not hear anything." The man who died during the fatrah will say, "0 Lord, no Messenger came to me." Then Allaah will take their pledge to obey Him, and He will send word to them to enter the fire. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe, for them.”[An authentic hadeeth reported by Imaams Ahmad and Al-Bayhaqi]
Neglecting obligatory duties and committing prohibited actions
The attitude of the salaf towards those who commit major sins
Undoubtedly, if a person neglects the duties that Allaah (S.W.T.) has enjoined upon him, such as paying zakaah, fasting, performing hajj and honoring one's parents, or does forbidden things such as committing adultery (zinaa), engaging in usury or interest (ribaa) or consuming orphans' properly, his faith is distorted and is lacking in proportion to the duties as neglected or sins he committed. But is he to be regarded as a kaafir - disbeliever- simply because he has neglected those duties or committed those forbidden actions, so long as he does not deny the former or claim that the latter is lawful.
The texts that we have before us teach us that the Muslim does not become a kaafir by committing sins or by neglecting obligatory duties, but this does detract from his faith and his case rests with Allaah (S.W.T.), if He wills, He will forgive him, and if He wills, He will punish him. Among the texts, which state that clearly is the aayah what can be translated as, “Verily, Allaah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him [in worship], but He forgives except that [anything else] to whom He wills.” [Qur'aan 4: 48] The only sin that He will not forgive is shirk. In the case of every lesser sin, it is up to Allaah (S.W.T.): if He wills, He will forgive, and if He wills, He will punish.
There are also many ahaadeeth which clearly state the same thing that is indicated in this aayah.
According to a qudsi hadeeth: "O son of Adam, if you were to come to me with an earthful of sin, then you were to meet Me not associating anything in worship with Me, I would come to you with an earthful of forgiveness." [An authentic hadeeth reported by Imaam At-Trmidhi]
According to another qudsi hadeeth: "Whoever meets Me with an earthful of sin, but does not associate anyone in worship with Me, I will meet him with forgiveness equal to it.” [Reported by Imaam Muslim]
In another hadeeth the Messenger (S.A.W.) said: “Allah has forbidden for the Fire all those who say Lao'ilaaha,ell Allaah seeking thereby the Face of Allaah."' It was reported from Jaabir that the Messenger of Allaah (S.A.W.) said: "Whoever dies not associating anything with Allaah will enter Paradise.” [Reported by Imaam Muslim]
In the hadeeth about intercession, it is reported that Allaah (S.W.T.) said: "By My Glory, My Majesty, My Pride and My Might, I will bring forth from it (Hell) those who say Laa ilaaha iIa Allaah.” [Reported by Imaam Bukhaari]
In another hadeeth the Messenger (S.A.W.) said: "The people of Paradise will enter Paradise, and the people of Hell will enter Hell, then Allaah the Exalted, will say: 'Bring forth everyone in whose heart was faith the weight of a grain of mustard seed.” [Reported by Imaam Bukhaari]
These texts led the prominent scholars among the salaf of this ummah to say of the one who commits sins and neglects obligatory duties: "He is a believer because of his faith and a faasiq (sinner) because of his sin." They attributed faith to him, but it was not the perfect faith that is the rightful attribute of those who do acts of obedience and refrain from committing sin. His faith is impaired because of his wrongs (fisq) and because of the sin that he has committed.