What Do Muslims Believe?

March 12, 2008 § 13 Comments

I have noticed an increase in readership from either people considering Islam or non-Muslims who are curious and would like to know more about Muslims. There are also those from WordPress.com who are wondering why-in-heck is a guy wearing a bright green turban; talking about tea and geishas on the front page of WordPress.com?

This blog is merely a journal and I’m using it to record my experiences as a Muslim. So what does that mean, “experiences as a Muslim”? Well, it means that I am writing about my life, thoughts, concerns and interests as they play out holding certain beliefs, Islamic beliefs. So the next logical questions for all those curious people should be,

“Well… what do Muslims believe?”

The answer to this is simple. So I’ll explain it as if we were talking and see how that works: When people convert to Islam they do so under the pretense of their own convictions and of their own mind. This is accomplished by understanding the basics of Islam at the very least.

When someone is ready to begin ordering their life to the commands of Allah Almighty and measuring their lifestyle within the framework of His Last and Final Messenger, Sayyidina Mevlana Muhammad’s tradition or Sunnah (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) 1, 2, they do so by declaring and pronouncing aloud the kalima tawhid or the kalima shahada. This is sufficient to enter Islam, whether one does it in front of witnesses or on one’s own because the general belief (al-iman al-ijmali) is embodied in the kalima tawhid and the kalima shahada. (temporary links)

However, the detailed belief (al-iman al-tafsili) should be learned, studied and understood thereafter. The Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) articulated the detailed belief in a statement most commonly known as ‘Amantu‘.

Transliteration:

Amantu billah wa malaikatihi wa kutubihi wa rsulihi wal yamil akhiri wa bil qadari khayrihi wa sharrihi min allahi te’ala wa ba’thu ba’dal mawti. Ashhadu an-la ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa Rasuluh.

Translation:

I believe in God, in His angels, in His books, in His Prophets, in the Day of Judgment, and that everything good or bad is decided by God the Almighty, and in the life-after-death (the resurrection). I bear witness that their is no deity but Allah (the God) and Muhammad is His servant and His apostle.

From the Holy Prophet’s statement (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) the Articles of Faith are derived identifying,

  • Belief in God
  • Belief in God’s Angels
  • Belief in God’s Books
  • Belief in God’s Prophets
  • Belief in Life after Death
  • Belief in Fate (qadarAllah); the good and the bad are decided by God alone.

To doubt any one of these articles is disbelief. Disbelief in anyone of these articles eventually leads to unbelief (kufr). And where there is unbelief, no faith, there is no Islam. This is because belief, faith (iman), is the ideological base of Islam.

Note:
A post on kalima tawhid and kalima shahada will be coming soon inshaAllah.

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§ 13 Responses to What Do Muslims Believe?

  • dawudwalid says:

    As-Salaamu `Alaykum,

    I’m glad that you addressed this from the most important, base beliefs of Muslims.

    When I discuss Islam with non-Muslims, I mention these corners of faith, but I’m also very clear to mention that outside of these, beliefs among Muslims are far from being monolithic.

    I agree with the opinion of Dr. Jackson that we Muslims at times set up false universals that do not exist.

    JazakALLAHU khayran and may ALLAH bless you during this auspicious month.

    Wassalaam.

  • James says:

    Great Post, thanks for spelling it out.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    wa ‘alaikum as-salaam. alhamdulillah! Thank you dawudwalid for your comments, you wrote,

    “I mention these corners of faith, but I’m also very clear to mention that outside of these, beliefs among Muslims are far from being monolithic.”

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim… I think I understand what you mean here and I think this statement is a little misleading especially for new Muslims, if I understand you correctly. Often we “religious people” become apologetic when discussing our religion to others, perhaps in order to be more inviting. I have witnessed this with both Muslims and Christians. I think for Muslims this is not the right direction. Because, the apologies will be never-ending in this environment.

    However, I do think it is necessary to speak to non-Muslims and people in general according to what they understand, perhaps this is more what you meant. This is different than apologetics. And lets face it, anyone speaking, or writing for that matter, should be able to determine, at some degree, what limitations are present when they are speaking to a single person or a group. Otherwise confusion is certain to occur.

    The madhhahib (orthodoxy) are complete and leave little untouched. Especially for a new Muslim, all the “universals” are contained within them and I think that perhaps Muslims speak on “universals” from their particular station within the framework of their madhhab (school of orthodoxy), which I do not find terribly wrong but what I do find disturbing is the position that seeks to undermine the madhahib by cherry-picking, short-cutting and modifying traditional positions based on convenience and preferences. But what can we do… but hold on tightly to “the rope”. (By madhhahib I mean Ahl as-Sunnat wal Jama’ah: Hanafiyyah, Shafi’iyyah, Hanbaliyyah and Malikiyyah)

    Thank you again for this comment dawudwalid. Rabi’ al-Awwal mubarak, O Allah, make firm our hearts in Islam! Make our faith true and deep, and bestow upon us real love for Your Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him)! amin.

    -Saifuddin

  • Asadiq says:

    Asalamualaikum Warahmahtu ‘llah,

    Brother, i just wanted to applaud you for taking the initiative of explain just a few fundamental points of the Islamic faith. Many people criticize Muslims because of what we are, for the simple fact that they dont know or are misinformed. May Allah bless you for what you’re doing.

  • timbob says:

    I’m curious; and in asking this, I’m striving to not come across as being contentius or argumentive. To get into long unprofitable dialogs is not my nature; nor do we have time for such. What are your thoughts on Jesus Christ? You probably know mine as I am one who confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord, but I’m curious as to your thoughts and the reasoning behind those thoughts.

    I’ll stop by later when time permits.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh Asadiq and timbob. Welcome to you! timbob you wrote,

    “I’m curious; and in asking this, I’m striving to not come across as being contentius or argumentive. To get into long unprofitable dialogs is not my nature; nor do we have time for such.”

    You have shown a great deal of manners here, mashaAllah! In these times manners are really our only means toward progress. You also asked,

    “What are your thoughts on Jesus Christ?”

    Thank you for asking this important question. I will answer according to what I understand, and what has been shown to me from our shaykh, Abdul Kerim Hazretleri.

    We believe that the Prophet Adam (a.s.) had no mother and no father, a miracle. We believe that God Almighty created him from clay/earth and blew His Holy Breath into him giving the Prophet Adam (a.s.) a spirit and life.

    We believe that Jesus (a.s.), or ‘Isa (a.s.) in the Arabic language, had a mother and no father, likewise a miracle. We believe that God Almighty chose the best woman among His creation (mankind), Maryam, as the mother of His Holy Messenger and Messi (Messiah), the Prophet Jesus (a.s.).

    Shaykh Abdul Kerim Efendi is saying,

    “If Allah is Powerful enough to make Adam (a.s.) without a father and mother, what is so confusing about Allah making ‘Isa (a.s.) without a father?”

    We believe that Jesus (a.s.) was not murdered on a cross, astaghfirullah (may Allah forgive us), but was ascended or elevated physically and spiritually to Heaven. We believe Jesus (a.s.) will one day return to earth to establish a “Kingdom”. We believe that when Jesus (a.s.) descends from Heaven he will once again call Believers to follow the orders of Allah Almighty, the Lord of the Heavens and Earth, the Master of the Day of Judgment.

    I pray this has been helpful and beneficial for you timbo. And if there is any good coming of this, it is not from me but coming from my shaykh and any mistakes that I am making here are my own, as-salaamu ‘alaikum.

    -Saifuddin

  • stushie says:

    You obviously believe in the Gnostic Gospels then, and not the one of the Bible. In my own study of Islam, I’ve concluded that your Prophet was erroneously influenced by Gnosticism and, unfortunately, took on their false understanding of Christ’s Crucifixion.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    stushie welcome, you wrote,

    “I’ve concluded that your Prophet was erroneously influenced by Gnosticism and, unfortunately, took on their false understanding of Christ’s Crucifixion.”

    You have your way and I have mine, wa Allahu a’alam (and God Almighty knows best).

    -Saifuddin

  • stushie says:

    Amen, Saifuddin, which was why He rejected Gnosticism and their false gospels about His Holy Son Jesus.

  • Dong says:

    Peace and Blessing to all
    stushie, whether Muhammad (as) accepted or rejected Gnosticism is meaningless because Jesus was not a historical figure but rather a symbolic representation of the spiritual path of Love. There are and never were any contemporary records of a Jesus of Nazareth written during his supposed time. The only available account would be the New Testament of the bible and the Qu’raan is some 500 years after Jesus’ supposed time. There were in fact quite a few writings of his supposed time written by his contemporaries, however none of them even mention such a man. So I agree with Saifuddin when he says He has his way and you have yours because you are choosing to believe one way of looking at a symbol as opposed to another. The gnostic gospels are not false they represent a different understanding of the infractions of Immaculate concepts. In that sense they are just as Valid as any of the doctored Synoptic Gospels.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. stushie and Dong thank you both for your comments. Dong you wrote,

    “So I agree with Saifuddin when he says He has his way and you have yours because you are choosing to believe one way of looking at a symbol as opposed to another.”

    By my “way” I mean, Islam: The Qur’an al-kerim and the tradition of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and his inheritors (may Allah be pleased with them) thats all.

    -Saifuddin

  • Dong says:

    Peace and Blessings to All…
    Saifuddin thank you for your response and time.

    Whether it is a mask of your truth or a genuine expression matters to you alone. Islam is a word that appeases the conceptual mind but it is not the reality itself. There are as many Islams as there are hues of consciousness.

    Just as there are as many Christianities and Judaisms contingent upon the individuals projection and perception of his/her own beliefs. In so saying Islam is no “way” and neither is Chritianity or Hinduism etc… but rather You yourself are the way and it must be so simply because you’re neither born nor die with any other way but yourself. How you live it is a matter of interpretation, either your own or someone elses and that’s based on what you consciously or unconsciously project onto the mirror of existence.

    To “Be still and Know that I am God” is the only “way.” Any other way beyond that is for the occupation of the lower energy frequencies of mind.

    Thank you again,
    Ya Hayyu Ya Kayyum

    Dong

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    Dong. You seem to be referring to a certain knowledge, however as I have said in the comment #3,

    “[…]I do think it is necessary to speak to non-Muslims and people in general according to what they understand, […] And lets face it, anyone speaking, or writing for that matter, should be able to determine, at some degree, what limitations are present when they are speaking to a single person or a group. Otherwise confusion is certain to occur.

    Tasawwuf or Sufism is the acclimation of excellence in intention; worship and deeds. Our shaykh, Abdul Kerim Efendi is saying,

    “Under the guidance of a Sheykh of the Tarikat, sufism is the way of purifying oneself from bad manners and characteristics in preparation for passing clean to the afterlife. Sufism is the spirituality in Islam.”

    He is also saying that Sufism is learning to control one’s ego. This is important because it presents a choice a choice to indulge the ego or subdue the ego.

    The description you have given has some spiritual context but when brought down to a discussion panel on a website takes on a completely different context. And as a result becomes heresy, so you have to ask yourself,

    “Is this benefiting anyone or is this only causing confusion?”

    And the answer should be simple. Some realities do not have a written context because once spoken their context changes. This is why art is useful because it penetrates layers of reality that the written form cannot. And sohbet is an even better example of this.

    For instance, consider how the Qur’an al-kerim and Sunnat ash-sharif of the Holy Prophet came to be. Firstly, the Qur’an was revealed to and spoken by the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him), it did not fall out of the sky as a book. Secondly, his tradition, his sunnat was developed by listening and observing him as he lived what was revealed, likewise it is not a book.

    So it is in the best interest of Muslims interested in tasawwuf to follow a living representative of that tradition and not a book. Otherwise we will make the mistake of putting spiritual realities into written context and improper protocol resulting in confusions. Confusions that we are responsible for on the Day of Judgment. May Allah Almighty protect us from that fate, amin.

    -Saifuddin

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