IMAN: THE ARTICLES OF FAITH
"It is to believe in Allah, His angels,
His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny,
both the good and the evil thereof."
(Saying of the Prophet, pbuh)
Iman is the state in which the heart accepts the Truth and lives by it. It is to believe in its six 'pillars' such that, the lips and tongue make the profession of the truth, and the limbs execute what is required of them by the truth. It is important to recognise that the first of the Prophet Muhammad's titles - his 'titles of Glory' - is not 'Messenger' or 'Prophet' but 'slave' (abd). For man must be a slave to the truth before he can be its messenger, and the slave is, by definition, one who submits body and soul to his master, claiming no rights, asking no questions and owning nothing that he can call his own. It is for the master, if he will, to raise him to a higher status.
A great deal of misunderstanding has surrounded these images of submission. Partly from prejudice, but partly also from the genuine difficulty that one culture has in grasping the deepest motivations of another, the West has often pictured the Muslim as cringing before a tyrant Lord and submitting as a beast submits to its incomprehensible fate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Muslim fears God because he is a realist; he knows that there are things to be feared and that all things - the bitter and the sweet - have but one Creator. He submits because he believes that there exists a divine pattern or scheme of things which is both intelligent and beautiful, and he wishes to find his place in this pattern and conform to it; he knows that he cannot do so without instructions - which must be followed meticulously in view of their sacred origin. He does not simply resign himself to the Divine Will; he seeks it eagerly and, when he finds it, delights in it.
"Say: 'He Allah, is One! Allah,
the eternally Besought! He has not begotten, nor been begotten, and equal to
Him there is none."
<Quran, Sincerity 112:1-4>
In order to have Iman the Muslim has to believe in:
1. Allah, the One and Only God
Allah, the Arabic word for the One True God, is unique in that it can have no plural or gender connotation. A Muslim believes in one, unique, incomparable God, Who has no son, nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone. God alone is the Almighty, the Most Merciful, the Creator, the Sovereign, and the Sustainer of the universe and what lies beyond it. He is the Eternal. He manages all affairs. He stands in need of none of His creation, yet all creation are in need of Him. He alone is Independent. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, and the All-Knowing. To Him alone belongs Perfection and His alone are the most Magnificent names and the perfect attributes. His knowledge encompasses all things.
2. His Angels
Muslims believe in the existence of angels created by Allah. They are created of light, created incapable of rebellion against God's will, for their purpose is to carry it out. This is why Islam sees man as potentially superior to the angels, for he may freely choose to serve God and to believe in His prophets, whereas the angels, who are at all times in the presence of God, cannot fail to obey Him and to sing His praises at all times. By the same token, man can be lower than the angels, and lower even than the animals, should they refuse to worship his Creator and thank Him for the gift of life and the blessings showered upon him in this world and, we are given to hope, the next. We are told of eight in particular: Gabriel, the Angel of Revelation; Mikael, who brings God's prosperity and bounty to man; Israfil, responsible for blowing the Last Trump signifying the impending Day of Judgement; Azreal, the Angel of Death, who takes man's soul when his lifespan ends; Malek, the Angel supervising Hell; and Radwan, who is respnsible for Paradise. The two angels we shall encounter shortly after death. These are Munkar and Nakir, who question the newly dead regarding their lives and beliefs.
"Say: [O Muslims]: 'We believe
in Allah and that which is sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham,
Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes; what was given to Moses and Jesus and
what was given to the Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between
any of them, and to Him we have surrendered ourselves.'"
<Quran The Cow 2:136>
3. His revealed books
A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God as they were revealed in their in original form. Messengers were sent to people of all ages and all walks of life. All scriptures sought to invite man back to the belief and worship of the One True God and thus to recognise the Primordial covenant. Essentially the message of all the prophets was the same, reaffirming the oneness of God.
The Quran is the last scripture of guidance revealed to man and sent down for all humanity. For the Muslim, God's Book is much more than a source of liturgical and social rules; indeed, such topics occupy less than one tenth of the Quranic text; and it is more even than a revelatory declaration of man's origin and his fate, an exposition of the truths of man's spiritual nature and of judgement. The Quran is-oft recited, at the most profound possible level, because it is of God. Its text reveals God's will for His creation, but it is also a revelation of Himself. It is uncreated, timeless, a dimension of God's pre-existent attribute of speech, communication: it is the Logos, which is the interface between the Absolute and the contingent realms. Unlike all other scriptures sent before, it is Divinely protected against corruption and is thus the only authentic and complete book of Allah which has remained unchanged since its was revelation to the Prophet (pbuh) through the angel Gabriel. It was revealed over a period of 23 years. It contains 114 Surahs (chapters) and over 6000 verses.
4. His Messengers
A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, honoured with conveying the Divine revelations to mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets but according to tradition some 124,000 prophets are believed to be sent. These include Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
"When the sun is darkened, and
when the stars fall, and when the mountains are moved... and when the records
of men's deeds are laid open, and when the sky is torn away, and when the hell
is set blazing, and when the Garden is brought near, then every soul shall know
what it has brought."
<Quran, The Darkening 81: 1-3,10-14>
5. The Day of Judgement
A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgement. This world as we know it will come to an end, and man will rise to stand for their final and fair judgement. On that day, the whole of humanity will be resurrected and await reckoning. Every action is being accounted for and kept in an accurate record by the angels and on that Day the consequences of those actions will be brought to light. They are brought up on the Day of Judgement. The people with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Allah's Heaven. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to Allah only, but they are described by Allah in man's familiar terms in the Quran.
If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgement. If some people who commit sins, neglect Allah and indulge in immoral activities, seem superficially successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgement. The time of the Day of Judgement is only known to Allah and Allah alone.
"No soul dies without the permission of Allah, and at a
term appointed. He who desires the reward of this world We shall give it to
him; and he who desires the reward of the Hereafter We shall give it to him.
We will surely reward the thankful."
<Quran The Family of 'Imran 3:145>
6. Destiny, its good and evil
A Muslim believes in al-Qadar which is predestination, believing that God has knowledge of all that has and will happen, all that has taken place and is yet to take place, and that whatever He wills, shall take place and whatever He wills not, shall not. Destiny is a title for Divine Knowledge. God's Knowledge comprehends everything within and beyond time and space. This is not to say, however, that humans do not have freewill. For all humans have the power of choice and ultimately Allah is aware of the course of action each shall follow. Man is given a free will, according to which he acts in his life. He will be held responsible on the day of judgement for whatever option, whether good or bad, that he adopted. It is a prescribed way of Allah that He makes the path of doing good easier for a person if the person opts for this path. Similarly if the man chooses the path of evil, Allah makes following this path easier for him.