“Islam is the Qur’anically revealed name of the monotheistic religion founded in Arabia” by Prophet Muhammad who was the last prophet to be sent by God and therefore his duty was to direct all of mankind for all time since no Prophet shall follow him (Corrigan 134). A Muslim is one who accepts witness to God’s unity and the Prophethood of Muhammed. This is known as the Shahada: La illah illa Allah, Muhammed rasul Allah, which is the essential declaration of Islamic faith. Faith is belief and action. A faithful Muslim's belief is embedded in a profound assurance and sincerity towards his God (Creator) in obeying and worshiping Him and sets the route of his life, behavior and thought based on Islam. “Doctrines come under the category of faith, know in Arabic as iman” (Corrigan 134). In this essay I am going to discuss the importance of these doctrines of iman, that are counted as five: belief in the oneness of Allah, belief in angels, belief in Prophets and books of revelation , belief in the Day of Judgment and belief in Divine Decree and Predestination. The core out of which everything is derived in Islam is the unity of God, referred to as tawhid. The following short Surah (chapter) from the Qur’an expresses the divine unity: "Say (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)): He is Allah, (the) One; Allah-us-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks); He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him” (112). God is not born as well as He does not give birth. God is above all our concepts and language. God has no partners and to associate any partner with God is known as shirk; idolatry. It is in the Qur’an (the Holy Book of Islam) that Shirk is that sin that can never be forgiven. But if the person repents and does good deeds, God forgives Him, for he is “most Forgiving”. The Qur’an contains many descriptions of God’s personal nature and the way God acts such as God’s eyes: “And construct the ship under Our Eyes and with Our Inspiration” (11:37), God’s face: “And to Allâh belong the east and the west, so wherever you turn yourselves or your faces there is the Face of Allâh” (2:115) and that God sits on a throne: “…the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission?....And He is the Most High, the Most Great” (The Noble Qur’an 2:255). How can we catch any glimpses of what God is like? There are ninety-nine names by which God is called in the Qur’an and Hadith and they show many actions and attributes of God. Al-Qadir meaning “the Mighty”; God has full power over our life and death. Al-Sami’and Al-Basir meaning “The All-Hearing” and “The All Seeing One”; God knows everyone’s secrets and whatever they are doing in each moment of their life. An-Nur meaning “The Light”, which is comparing God to the most glorious element in creation. Ar-Rahman meaning “The Compassionate”, God “gives blessings and prosperity to all beings without any disparity” (Siddiqi 27). These beautiful names stress both the gentle and the terrific features of the deity. The second doctrine of faith is belief in the existence of God’s angels, who are the honored servants of God: “But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you” (The Noble Qur’an 82:10). They were created from light before humans were created. Unlike humans, they do not eat or reproduce and do what they are ask by God without questioning, cannot choose between good and evil. One can say they are like a link between God and the human world. “No precise numbers of angels is listed, but every person has two of them sitting on our right and left shoulders” (Morgan 14). They record every single thing a Muslim does, the good and the bad. Adding on to angels is the belief in jinns, which are made from fire and are found usually in unclean places. In Qur’an, one whole Surah is devoted to the worrisome spirits, the jinns. Although jinns are invisible just like the angels, they can also assume shapes of humans and other terrifying creature such as snakes. Most jinns tend to scare humans but some good ones tend to leave humans alone as if they do not exist. They also have “limited life spans and are to be judged by God like humans” (Firestone 86) What is interesting is that they can be Muslim as well as non-Muslims, being that the non-Muslim jinn “are the enemies of the righteous and cause them to follow erroneous teaching” (Braswell 48). Most people argue that Satan (devil) is a jinn because he committed evil acts such as he disobeyed God by rejecting to bow down to Adam after his creation. He did not believe that humans are superior than any of God’s creation and that jinns are superior because they are made from fire and humans are made from clay . Other believe Satan is a “fallen angel”, but since angels cannot choose good or bad, they cannot disobey God. Thus, Satan cannot be thought of as an angel. The third doctrine of faith is belief in the Prophets, that are beings ordered by Allah to transmit the divine message (belief in oneness of God, obey His laws and perform good deeds in the life to come) and warn them with this message.“They all shared the following common features: truthfulness (sidq), trustworthiness (amana), intellect (fatana), communicating the message (tabligh), infallibility (isma)” at the maximum level in their time (Eris 55). Therefore they had the ability to reform mankind because of their intellectual perfection and their righteousness. All the “twenty five” Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an called man to worship Allah. As stated in the Qur’an: “They are those whom We gave the Book, Al-Hukm (understanding of the religious laws), and Prophethood. But if these disbelieve therein (the Book, Al-Hukm and Prophethood), then, indeed We have entrusted it to a people (such as the Companions of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) who are not disbelievers therein” (6:89). They were all favored by God and received revelations from Him from which they learnt and taught others. Prophets are divided into two groups; nabis (prophets) and rasuls (messengers). A nabi is “someone to whom God has spoken and who prophesies within a specific community according to an already received message” (Corrigan 137). A rasul is someone who accepts new revelation from God to specific group of people. “Twenty five” prophets are mentioned in the Qur’an and no distinction should be made among them: Say (O Muslims), "We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat [the twelve sons of Ya'qub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and 'Iesa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam)" (The Noble Qur’an 2:136). All of them entitled the best of morals. They all confronted injustice, they all told the good news of God's rewards and warned of His punishment. They all told of the Hereafter. Hence, they all urged the same message and must all be honored and obeyed. The doctrine of Islam persuades in the belief of the Prophethood of Muhammad supported by the miracles and one of these miracles is the Qur’an that is everlasting and it can neither be challenged nor can it be changed. According to Qur’an, Muhammed was the last in long line of divinely inspired Prophets. This means that all previous messages are eliminated as and Islam is the final perfected form of worship and religion. Adding on to the belief in Prophets is the belief in books of revelation by God through his prophets. Through revealed scriptures, God exposes Himself and clarifies the purpose of human creation. Qur’an is the last book of God sent for the guidance of humanity through Prophet Muhammed. After the Quran, no more scriptures were revealed by God. God revealed Qur’an through the angel, Gabriel to Muhammed over a twenty three period . The verses in Qur’an also offer glad tidings for the good and warnings for Muslims in general. However, other prior scriptures were revealed through earlier Prophets chosen by God such as “Torah revealed to Moses, the Psalms to David, and the Gospel to Prophet Jesus” (Braswell 60). Muslims believe in these three books other than the sacred book, Qur’an. The scriptures are intended to keep the religion secure from corruption and corrosion. Today the Quran revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the only scripture to remain safe from corruption. Islam confirms that God revealed the Quran as a witness over the previous scriptures and verification of them, because God says therein: “And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad PBUH) the Book (this Qur'an) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over it (old Scriptures)” (The Noble Qur’an 5:48). So the Quran affirms anything that is true in the previous scriptures and discards any alterations and changes human hands have made to them. For Qur’an is the perfect word of God. “When a Muslim recites Qur’an, she or he participates in a heavenly discourse even while struggling with the challenges and tragedies of life” (Corrigan 57). The fourth doctrine of faith is belief in the Day of Judgment. “There is an end to the world, a day of resurrection, a time of judgment, and an assignment of one’s rewards” (Braswell 53). Seas will rise, stars will fall, skies will start to fold up and become dark, dead will arise from grave into new bodies: “To transfigure you and create you in (forms) that you know not” (The Noble Qur’an 56:61) and everyone will stand before God and wait for his or her judgment. Each person’s actions will be judged alone: “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another's burden, and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin” (The Noble Qur’an 35:18), that is no one will be held responsible for the sins of another: “(It will be) the Day when no person shall have power (to do) anything for another, and the Decision, that Day, will be (wholly) with Allah” (The Noble Qur’an 82:19). All hidden will be revealed. All will be known by God and must be acknowledged. Each person’s Record Book (written by angels) will be laid open that will include every single detail of good and bad deeds done in one’s life: “And We have fastened every man's deeds to his neck, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall bring out for him a book which he will find wide open” (The Noble Qur’an 7:13). As stated in a Hadith (sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammed): “ Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab:…Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good” (Sahih Bukhari 550). There will be hundred percent justice on this day as God knows clearly who is innocent and who is guilty. A Muslim will be sent to either of the two places: Paradise or Hell at the end of the Day of Judgment, depending on the good and bad deeds committed by them. The righteous who followed the commands and warnings laid in Qur’an and obeyed God will receive their rewards in an eternal place called Paradise, referred to as “the Garden” in Qur’an. They will be living a dream: “These! For them will be 'Adn (Eden) Paradise (everlasting Gardens); wherein rivers flow underneath them, therein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine and thick silk. They will `recline therein on raised thrones. How good is the reward, and what an excellent Murtafaqa (dwelling, resting place, etc.)!” (The Noble Qur’an 18:31). Also, “on the last day every good deed will weigh ten times more than every bad deed” (Hewer 86). So much for just obeying God’s command. However, those who commit sins will suffer in a burning and stinking place, Hell, referred to as “the Fire: in Qur’an. So much for not following the simple guidance for righteousness in Qur’an: “Verily, We have prepared for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.), a Fire whose walls will be surrounding them (disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah). And if they ask for help (relief, water, etc.) they will be granted water like boiling oil, that will scald their faces. Terrible the drink, and an evil Murtafaqa (dwelling, resting place, etc.)!” (The Noble Qur’an 18:29). However, the sinners will stay in Hell for only a specific time till they get rid of all their sins and then the Merciful God will sent them to Paradise. Only God knows when the Day of Judgment will occur, it can come at any second, minute or hour: “They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection): "When will be its appointed time?" Say: "The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (Alone). None can reveal its time but He. Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden"” (The Noble Qur’an 7:187). Belief in the Day of Judgment and in the life after death persuades a Muslim to lead a good life on earth, given that he knows the outcome that lies ahead of him if he disregards the commands and cautions laid in the Qur’an by God. The fifth and last doctrine of Islam is belief in the Divine Decree and Predestination. Divine Decree basically means everything happens for a reason, meaning everything good and bad, all moments of pain or happiness come from God. God created everything and has the eternal foreknowledge, He knows everything each human does and all that exists : “Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heavens” (The Noble Qur’an 3:5). God has recorded everything that will occur until the Day of Judgment in the Preserved Tablet (record). The life durations of all human beings are written and even the quantity of their food apportion. Everything that is created or happens in the world is according to what is recorded there: “And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record” (The Noble Qur’an 6:59). Everything occurs under God wills, “the seen and the unseen, is completely subject to the overriding power of God” (Eris 58). He may effect a happening to perceive his own outcome within his natural laws. Though, humans fate is predestined, they cannot know the future and so cannot control it (only God can). But God has given humans freedom of choice, it is up to them how to lead their life: “And say: ‘The truth is from your Lord.’ Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve. Verily, We have prepared for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.), a Fire….Verily! As for those who believe and do righteous deeds, certainly! We shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner” (The Noble Qur’an 18:29-30). God’s foreknowledge does not compromise human responsibility. It is human’s choice to submit to God’s will. But as Ali states humans do not have freedom of results. Freedom of results is “controlled by the laws of God” (Braswell 57). If Muslims do not obey the moral laws set by God, then they cannot claim any injustice if they are punished. A Muslim should think before and plan accordingly in order to make the right choices. But if sometimes things do not turn out the way he planned, he need not to lose hope as what God sets in his Decree can change if a Muslim prays to God and tries again. If in the end he still does not achieve what he wanted, he should know that he tried his best and is not responsible for the results, keeping a positive attitude. Belief in divine decree strengthens one’s belief in God. A Muslim knows the consequences of his actions as God laid out everything in the Qur’an, therefore he should just strive to achieve the best as indicated by God and leave the rest (final outcome) up to God, for God is the source of all that comes in his way. All these doctrines of faith in Islam are considered just as important as actions in the matter of escape. As a Muslim, I believe that these doctrines are simple, reasonable and obvious. They are part of the health and happiness of a Muslim. The Qur’an gives details of them which makes it very easy for a Muslim to follow them.
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[ 1 ]. Known fact.
[ 2 ]. Known fact.