The Definition of Aqeedah in Juristic Terminology:
Generally defined the creed provides a comprehensive thought about man, life and the universe, and the relationship of this life with what proceeded it and what will follow it. For the Muslim, the creed (Aqeedah) of Islam holds that man, life and the universe are created by the Creator; that this Creator is Eternal, He existed before this life of the world and He will exist after this life has come to an end. The relationship of this thought with the life of the world is that man will be held accountable on a Day of Reckoning for actions performed in this life. This is the concept of creeds generally, but specifically in relation to Islam the fundamentals of the Muslim creed are explained in the following tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family): In answer to the question what is faith, he said “It is to believe in God (Allah), His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny, both the good and the evil thereof.” [Muslim] The creed of Islam also includes belief in paradise and hell-fire, devils and jinn etc., because they are proven to be believed by definitive (qat’i) authenticity and definitive meaning.
The subject matter of the Muslim Creed can either come from the mind or the revealed text, which is definitive (qat’i) in its authenticity (thobut) and meaning (dalalah).
Belief In God (Al Imanu Billah):
The belief in the existence of a creator is derived from the intellect whose source is the mind (aql) as opposed to the texts (naql). Every human being of sound mind is capable of using his intellect to arrive at the belief in a creator from considering himself, life and the universe in which he lives. We observe that everything in the universe has a finite duration and that the universe, and all that it contains, is contingent and dependent upon something other than itself for its existence. The totallity of contingent or perishable things must depend on something that is imperishable and necessary, and which exists by its own nature and is not dependent upon something else. That which exists by its own nature and is imperishable is eternal and the creator of heaven and earth. “Say:`Shall I take for my protector any other than God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth? And He it is that feedeth but is not fed.” “Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators?”
The evidence for the belief in the angels [ malaa’eka ] is textural [ naql ], God says in the Quran: “As do the men of faith, each one of them believeth in God, His angles, His books, and His messengers.” and again in surah al-Baqarah “It is not righteous that ye turn your faces to the East and to the West; but righteous is he who believeth in God and the Last Day and the angels and the scriptures and the prophets.”. The person who denies the existence of angels is a disbeliever: “Anyone who rejects God and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day has gone very far astray.” Without reference in the texts the mind cannot be used to arrive at the belief in angels. The number of angels is unknown except to God: “None knows the hosts of your Lord except Him.” The Quran mentions by name the angels Gabriel (Jibraeel) and Michael (Mekaeel) , “Whosoever is an enemy to God and His angels and His Messengers, and Gabriel, and Michael – surely God is an enemy to the unbelievers.” .
The angels are not described on the basis of gender as male or females: “Those who do not believe in the Next World name the angels with the names of females. They do not have any knowledge of it. They only follow conjecture, and conjecture is of no avail at all against the truth.” They are capable of changing form to assume various appearances: “Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary…She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.“, “And the guests of Ibrahim were angels who appeared as human beings.”. God informs us in surah al-Fatir that they have wings: “Praise belongs to God, the bringer-into-being of the heavens and the earth, the Maker of the angels into messengers, possessing wings – two, three and four. He adds to creation in any way He wills. God has power over all things.”
The angels do not disobey God and they were created before human beings: “And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a vice-regent on earth, they said, Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy Holy (name)? He said, Surely I know that which you know not.” The angels were created for total obedience to God: “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the commands they receive from God, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.”
God has created the angels to perform certain tasks and has grouped them according to their degree of servitude: ” Not one of us (angels) but has a place appointed; And we are verily ranged in ranks (for service),”
Gabriel conveys the revelation: “The Faithful Spirit brought it down upon your heart for you to be one of the Warners in a clear Arabic tongue.” “Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart by God’s will…”
Angels are responsible for the comfort of those in Paradise: “And those who were fearful of their Lord will be driven to the Garden in companies and then, will they arrive there finding its gates open, its custodians will say to them, `Peace be upon you! You have done well so enter it timelessly forever.“.
The angels are charged with the task of inflicting punishment on those who are in Hell: “O you who believe, safeguard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, and over which are harsh, terrible angels who do not disobey God in anything He commands them and they do what they are commanded.”; the overseer of the custodians of Hell is Malik: “They will call out, `O Malik, let your Lord finish us off!’ He will say, `You will remain.'”
Angels are assigned the work of recording the deeds of man: “Or do they reckon that We do not hear their secrets and private conversation? Indeed, Our messengers are with them writing it down.”; “Yet there are over you noble watchers, writers who know whatever you do.”; “When the two angels meet together, sitting one on the right, and one on the left, not a word he utters, but by him is an observer ready at hand.”
The angels are entrusted with taking the souls of people: “How will it be when the angels take them, beating their faces and their backs.” “Say: `The Angel of Death will take you back, who has been given charge of you. Then you will be returned unto your Lord.“.
The angels pray for those who fight in God’s path and infuse courage and fortitude in the mujahid (one who figths in God’s way). They witness the dawn prayers with the believers and at the hour of departure from this life of the world they bring tidings to the believers and they reproach the disbelievers [Fussilat 41:30, an-Nisa 4:97]; and angels will carry the throne: “Upon that day eight shall bear above them the Throne of your Lord.“.
God has also informed us of another species of beings called the Jinn who, like the angels, cannot be seen by us but in whom we Must believe. God informs us the jinn were created from fire and for the reason of worshipping Him: “We created the jinn before from the fire of hot wind.” “He created the jinn from smokeless fire.”: “I only created the jinn and men to worship Me.” The jinn were created before man [15:26] and they can see us but we are unable to see them: “Surely he (Satan) sees you, he and his tribe, from where you see them not.”. They are called jinn because they cannot be seen, i.e., they are concealed (ijtinan), thus most translations of the meaning of the Quran translate the name jinn as `invisible beings’. The jinn will be held accountable for their actions like human beins and they are liable for reward or punishment and Hell will be full of both humans and jinn. God informs us in surah al-Jinn that the jinn said: “Some of us are righteous, and some of us are otherwise: we are parties differing.“, and “Some of us have surrendered and some of us have deviated. Those who have surrendered sought right guidance. As for those who have deviated, they have become firewood for Hell.“; “For such as fear the Station of his Lord, for them shall be two gardens- O which of your Lord’s bounties will you two deny.”: “The Fire will be a lodging for them.”; “I will fill Hell with jinns and men all together.” The jinn were challenged, along with human beings, to produce the like of the Quran. A group of the jinn heard the Quran and believed in it: “…a company of the jinn gave ear. They said, `We have indeed heard a wonderful Quran, guiding to right action. We believe in it, and will not associate anyone with our Lord.‘”. The jinn used to be inquisitive regarding what is happening in the heavens, they tried to pick up information through the angels, but they were prevented from doing so after the advent of Islam: “And we used to sit on places (high) therein to listen. But he who listeneth now findeth a flame in wait for him.”
The Devil (ashaytan):
We are informed in the Quran that Iblis (in English Satan or the Devil) was one of the jinn: “Iblis was one of the jinn and deviated from the command of his Lord.” However, some of the companions and scholars of Islam have held that Iblis was an angel based on God’s words: ” And when We said to the angels: `Prostrate before Adam’; so they prostrated, save Iblis; he refused and waxed proud, and so he became one of the unbelievers.”; this is the view of Ibn Abbas, Qatada, and Tabari. This verse appears to include Iblis as one of the angels. However, many other scholars have held the view that this is not a definitive proof because there is a possibility that the exception of Iblis may be disconnected from reference to the angels. Furthermore, Iblis was created from the fire of Samum and a smokeless fire, whereas the ahadith of the Prophet, (peace be upon him), state that the angels were created from light: “The angels were created from light and the jinn were created from smokless fire and Adam was created from what has been described to you.” Ibn Zaid said that Iblis is the father of the jinn, as Adam is the father of mankind. Hasan al-Basri said that God has refered to Iblis’ genealogical origins in the verse “What, and do you take him and his seed to be your friends, apart from Me, and they are an enemy to you? How evil is that exchange for the evildoers!”, in other words the jinn reproduce like mankind reproduce. Angels do not marry nor have children. Finally, God informs us in the Quran that angels do not disobey God. The most convincing point of view is that Iblis was a jinn and not an angel; but whatever the viewpoint one accepts it is not definite by text or indication and therefore not an article of faith to distinguish between the believer and infidel.
Iblis and his off-spring (devils) are the enemy of mankind. His sole aim is to lead the children of Adam to disbelief and evil acts so that they will enter the Hellfire: “Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents. That they may become companions of the Blazing Fire.” “He only commands you to evil and outrage and that you should say things against God that you do not know.”: “The Evil One threatens you with poverty and bids you to conduct unseemly.” Although the devil is a predominant source of evil influence on mankind, God has not granted him the power to cause neither good or harm; nor has God granted him such power that he cannot be suppressed: “…but he had no authority over them.” “…feeble indeed is the cunning of satan.”: “And Satan saith, when the matter hath been decided: Lo! God promised you a promise of truth; and I promised you, then failed you. And I had no power over you save that I called unto you and ye obeyed me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can ye help me.” When Iblis pleaded to his Lord to grant him respite until the Day of Resurrection, and his Lord agreed, Iblis said: “My Lord! Because Thou hast sent me astray, I verily shall adorn the path of error for them in the earth, and shall mislead them.” God said, “Over My servants no authority shall thou have, except such as put themselves in the wrong and follow thee.” Satan whispers in the breats of men: ” Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and cherisher of mankind,…from the mischief of the Whisperer (of evil), who withdraws (after his wispers), who wispers into the hearts of mankind, among jinns and among men.” and he will repudiate their service at the last. God commands every believer to seek refuge in Him from the devils: “And say `O my Lord! I seek refuge with Thee from the suggestions of the Satans (shaytans).”; and when reading the Quran: “When you recite the Quran, seek refuge from the accursed Satan. He has no power over those who believe and trust in their Lord.”
The evidence for the belief in the Quran is the mind (aql), because the Quran is a living miracle that can be sensed by the mind. The prophets proved their prophethood by producing miracles, i.e. demonstrating something the like of which no creature is able to produce. Part of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) proof for the truth of what he brought is the eloquence (bayan) of the Quran. God sent down the Quran in the Arabic language, and there is no doubt that the speech of the Arabs is like it in the sense of it being Arabic. But God vindicated His Prophet to the Arabs through the Quran, since the inability of the Arabs of time to produce a chapter (surah) from its likeness in eloquence was evident. “And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed to our servant, then produce a surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers if there are any besides God, if your doubts are true. But if ye cannot and of surety ye cannot, then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones.”
If the Quran had been the speech of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) or if he had fabricated it then surely the Arabs, if they would come together and help each other to produce the like of its surahs, would be able to do the same; especially as they would constitute a group while he was on his own. The fact that the Arabs were unable to produce the like of one surah of the Quran in eloquence is proof that neither Muhammad (peace be upon him), nor any single person could produce it. “Say: `If men and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Quran, they would never produce its like, even though they backed one another.” The miracle of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is therefore a living miracle that can be sensed by the mind.
The evidence for the belief in God’s books mentioned in the Quran that are no longer existent in their revealed form is textural (naql): “To thee We sent the scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety.” There were many books revealed to the Messengers, we do not know the number thereof; some scholars have said they number 104 but only God knows. The Quran mentions the Torah (turaah) revealed to the Prophet Moses (Musa), the Psalms (zaboor) revealed to the Prophet David (Dawood), and the Gospel (Injeel) revealed to the Prophet Jesus (Isa) (peace and blessing be upon them).
The Messengers (ar-rusul):
The evidence for the belief in the prophethood of Muhammad (saw) is the mind, i.e. aql, for the reason outlined in the preceeding paragraphs, viz, that the proof of prophethood is miracles; and the miracle of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the Quran, a living miracle that can be verified today as it was when it was sent down to Muhammad (peace be upon him). Given that no one but prophets bring miracles, Muhammad (peace be upon him), by definition must be a prophet.
The proof for the prophethood of all other prophets, i.e their miracles, is no longer with us, so we cannot verify their claim of prophethood without reference to a textural evidence. The proof for their prophethood is the Quran: “Say: `We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmail, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes and in the Books given to Moses, Jesus and the prophets from their Lord : We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will in Islam.” Twenty five prophets have been mentioned in the Quran: Adam, Idris (Enoch), Nuh (Noah), Hud, Salih, Lut (Lot), Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmal), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Shu’ayb, Harun (Aaron), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Sulayman (Soloman), Ayyub (Job), Dhul Kifl (Ezekiel), Yunus (Jonah), Ilyas (Elias), al-Yasa (Elisha), Zakariyya (Zacharias), Yahya (John), Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad (God bless them all and give them peace).
The Day of Judgement (yawmul al-qiyamah):
The evidence for the belief in the Day of Judgement is textural as opposed to the mind, because the mind cannot sense or conceive, independent of a textural authority, the Day of Judgement. The existence of a Judgement Day is taken from the Quran: “And who believe in the revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time and in their hearts have the assurance of the hereafter.”: “The trumpet shall be sounded. When behold! From the sepulchres men will rush forth to their Lord!”: “That Day shall ye be brought to judgement: not an act of yours that ye hide will be hidden.” Belief in the Day of Judgement entails belief in the Resurrection (al-Hashr), the Reckoning (al-Hisaab), the Scales of Justice (al-Meezaan), the Traverse over Hell (as-Siraat), Paradise (Jannah) Hell (Jahannam) and (Shafa’ah) the Intercession of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).
The Day of Judgement is when God will give life to dead bones and bring back bodies as they were in this life, i.e. flesh and bones. “And he makes comparisons for us, and forgets his own origin: he says `Who can give life to dry bones and decomposed ones at that?’ Say, `He will give them life who created them for the first time! For He is well-versed in every kind of creation!’“. This will occur after this life of the world: “It is He who gives life to the dead, and it is He who has power over all things. And verily the Hour will come: there can be no doubt about it or about the fact that God will raise up all who are in the graves.” On that Day of Reckoning “Whoever has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it!“: “He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit: he that doeth evil shall only be recompensed according to his evil: no wrong shall be done unto them.” The successful will be given their book of deeds in their right hand, the sinful will receive their books from behind their backs, and the disbelievers will be given their books in their left hand: “Then he who is given his record in his right hand soon his account will be taken by an easy reckoning, and he will turn to his people rejoicing! But he who is given his record behind his back, soon will he cry for perdition, and he will enter a blazing fire.” “And he that will be given his book in his left hand, will say: ‘Ah! would that my record had not been given to me!’ ” The Scales of Justice will be set up and “Those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, they will be successful. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in Hell will they abide. The fire will burn their faces, and they will therein grin, with their lips displaced.” Following the scales and the books and scrolls containing the good and evil deeds, mankind shall be driven to the Traverse over Hell “Lead them to the Traverse (sirat) of the Blaze. And stay them, for they shall be questioned.” Paradise and Hell will have a reality: with Paradise being an abode of enjoyment where the inmates will be: “On couches encrusted (with gold and precious stones), reclining on them, facing each other. Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness), with goblets, beakers, and cups (filled) out of clear-flowing fountains: no after ache will they receive therefrom, nor will they suffer intoxication: and with fruits, any that they may select; and the flesh of fowls, any that they may desire. And there will be companions with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes, – like unto pearls well-guarded. A reward for the deeds of their past (life).”: The dwellers of the Hell-Fire will be ” in the midst of a fierce Blast of Fire and in boiling water, and in the shades of Black Smoke: neither cool or refreshing.”
Imam Taqi ud-Din Subki states in his book, `al-Rasa’il al-Subkiyya’: “The faith of Muslims is that paradise and hell do not perish, Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm having transmitted scholarly consensus (ijma) on this point and on the fact that whoever denies it is an unbeliever by scholarly consensus. And there is no doubt of this, for it is necessarily known as part of the religion of Islam, and proof after proof bears it out. God Most High says: “Nay, but whoever earns a wicked deed and is encompassed by his error, those are the inhabitants of hell, abiding therein forever.“: “Verily those who disbelieve and die as unbelievers; the curse of God, the angels, and the people, one after all is upon them, abiding therein forever; the torment shall not be lightened from them, nor shall they be respited.”: “Whoever of you leaves his religion and dies as an unbeliever, those are they whose works have failed in this world and the next, and those are the inhabitants of hell, abiding therein forever.”….And there is the like of the above evidence concerning paradise, as God the Most High says: “Those who believe and do good works, they are the dwellers of paradise, abiding therein forever.” “Whoever obeys God and His messenger, He will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. That is the mighty triumph.”
Imam Abdul-Qaahir Baghdadi states in his book `Usul al-Din’: “The scholars of ahl al-Sunnah and all the previous righteous of the Muslim Community are in unanimous agreement (ijma) that paradise and hell are eternal, and the bliss of the inhabitants of paradise and the torment of unbelievers in hell will endure forever.”
Belief in the Day of Judgement is a tenet of faith, a subsidiary of it entails a belief that God will grant to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) intercession on behalf of those of his nation that have committed sins. In surah al-Isra God says to the Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon him): “Perhaps your Lord will raise you up to a praiseworthy station.” Abu Hurayra said that the Messenger of God was asked about this verse and he said it means intercession.. In a famous hadith the prophet, (peace be upon him), said: “Every Prophet has a supplication which he makes. I have reserved my supplication for intercession for my community on the Day of Rising.” Qadi ‘Iyad states in his ash-Shifa:” The general import of the different ahadith is that the intercession of the Prophet and his Praiseworty Station extends from the first intercession to the last. When the people are gathered for the Gathering, and their throats are constricted and they are sweating in the sun, standing all the while before the final reckoning, he intercedes to allow people relief from the standing. Then when the Sirat is set up and people are judged, he intercedes to hasten to the Garden those among his community who have no reckoning, then he intercedes for those who are to be punished and go to the Fire, and then he intercedes for those who say, “There is no God but Allah”. None except the Prophet, (may God bless him and grant him peace), can do this.”
Intercession will also be granted to other prophets, believers and angels. The people of the sunnah believe that no one who believes in tawhid (the unity of God), i.e. by confessing there is no god but Allah, will remain in Hell forever. Intercession is granted by God and without His permission no one can intercede. “Who is there that can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth?” “How many-so-ever be the angels in the heavens, their intercession will avail nothing except after God has given leave for whom He pleases and that he is acceptable to Him.”
These five things: the belief in God, His angels, His books, His prophets and Day of Judgement constitute the five essential pillars of the Muslim creed, they are proven by definitive authenticity (qati thobut)and defintive by meaning (qati dalalah) and contain no doubt. One cannot be a Muslim and disbelieve in any one of these articles of faith. The famous (mash-hoor) hadith of Gabriel narrated by Muslim adds to these five articles of faith “to believe in the divine destiny, the good and the evil thereof.” This hadith is a solitary tradition (hadith ahad) and the meaning of the divine destiny (al Qadr) is the knowledge of God and not `fate and destiny’. Al-Ghazali in his “Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din” states the belief entails the knowledge that God is the source of good and evil, benefit and harm, belief and unbelief, knowledge and ignorance, success and failure, obedience and disobedience. There is none that supplements His decrees. He leads astray whom He wishes and guides whom He wishes. “He shall not be asked for His doing, but they shall be asked.” There exists no definitive text which mentions `fate and destiny’. The people who coined the phrase `fate and destiny’ (qada wa qadr) were the ilm al kallam (the people of speech) who came after the pious early generations. The early Muslims (as-salaf) used to answer whoever asked about divine destiny by saying, “It is knowing that what hits you was not going to miss, and what misses you was not going to hit.”