Islam is the Religion of all the Prophets of Allah starting with Adam and ending with Muhammad. In Arabic Islam means submission. To believe in the heart and declare with the tongue: “No one is God except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah“ is how one becomes Muslim. Utterance with the Two Professions (ashShahadatan) is required of the person who is not already a Muslim. A Muslim is a believer and a follower of Islam.
The First Profession (ash-Shahadah), i.e., “No one is God except Allah“ means nothing deserves to be worshipped except Allah. “Allah” is the name of the Creator in Arabic which means “The One Who has the Godhood which is the power to create the entities.”
The second Profession, i.e., “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah“ includes believing Muhammad was the last of the prophets, he was truthful in all he told about and conveyed from Allah (as were all the prophets before him), and the Creator gave us prophets and messengers (A ‘prophet’ is a man who receives the Revelation from Allah and conveys it to the people. A ‘messenger’ is a prophet who comes with some new laws. The prophet who is not a messenger follows the laws of the messenger who came before him. Every messenger is a prophet, but not every prophet is a messenger.) to guide us to worship Him correctly. A Muslim must believe in all the prophets and messengers.
The Two Professions are the essentials of belief in Islam; they are the foundation of the faith. The analogy of constructing a building is useful in explaining the importance of this basic belief. There will be no building without a concrete foundation. Likewise, there will be no benefit and fruitful results in the Hereafter without having the correct belief first.
This analogy illustrates the need to start from the beginning and build upward; before one can remain steadfast in the Religion one must have the proper belief. Muslims firmly believe only one Creator exists, His name is Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet and Messenger. Knowledge and belief in this are the foundation of the faith, and all Muslims are united by this basic belief. The Muslim uses the mind as a guide because the mind and faith go hand-in-hand. Knowledge is essential since learning gives one strength and purpose.
The sound intellect and the explicit statements revealed to Prophet Muhammad affirm the belief in God, His existence, and His attributes. One must understand that Allah is not His attributes nor is He other than them. For example: One can say: “Allah has the attribute of power” but one cannot say: “Allah is power.” God has no faults or weaknesses. He, the Exalted, is flawless. His attributes are without flaw and are unchanging. God does not resemble any of His (Note: The word ‘He’ or ‘His’ when used in reference to Allah must not be understood to represent gender. Allah created male and female, and He does not resemble any of His creation.) creation. Intellectively, if Allah resembled any of His creation, He would be susceptible to the same things the creation are susceptible. If He were susceptible, as the creations are, He would be weak and created–as they are–and this is impossible. Allah is without shape, without form, and without limitations. He does not resemble anything man sees in the universe or anything he can imagine–since imagination is part of the creation.
Allah exists. Without comparing Allah to the creation one can use mental evidences to prove the existence of the Creator. When one sees a building, one knows there is a builder; when one sees a painting, one knows there is a painter; when one sees the creation, one knows there is a Creator. Allah is the Creator. Allah exists without a place because He always existed and He created all the places. Allah existed eternally and place did not, and Allah exists now as He has been, i.e., without residing in a place, whether this place is skies, Earth, Paradise, Hell, or any other place in the six directions. Allah does not change. Change is a sign of need and need is non-befitting to attribute to God. Allah is perfect. If something changes for the bad, it is no longer perfect, and if it changes for the good, it was not perfect to begin with. Therefore, Allah does not change. He is not in Heaven. He is not in everyone. He is not everywhere. He does not occupy a space now, He never did, and He never will. Allah exists without a place.
Allah is one; He is indivisible, i.e., He is not a body. Allah has no partner, no counterpart, no wife, no son. Intellectively, this is understood because if there were two partners and one partner willed for one thing to be and the other partner willed the opposite thing–we know opposites do not happen simultaneously–so the one who willed what did not occur is weak. Weakness is non-befitting to attribute to God; therefore, there is only one God. For the same reason, the Devil does not have control over God and evil occurs because Allah willed it. There is a wisdom behind everything–even if we do not know the wisdom–Allah knows.
Allah has no beginning to His existence. Anything that has a beginning is creation. Allah created every creation, every movement, every rest, every thought, every intention. To have a beginning is a sign of need, and Allah is not in need. Allah has no end to His existence. To have an end is weakness; the Creator is not weak.
Allah does not need any of His creation. To need something means to be unable to perform without it, and this is weakness. The Creator is not weak–it is impossible to be among His attributes. Allah has the attribute of power by which He affects the creation. He makes them exist and He annihilates them.
Allah has the attribute of Will. Whatever Allah willed to be shall be and whatever Allah did not will to be shall not be. Both good and evil happen according to God’s will.
Allah has the attribute of knowledge. Allah knows everything: what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
Allah hears all hearable things and Allah sees all seeable things without organs and without limitations. Man needs ears and air to transfer sound in order to hear and light in order to see. Allah does not need any of the creation. Allah, with His eternal kalam, orders the obligations, forbids the prohibitions, promises the reward of Paradise, and threatens the punishment of Hellfire without instruments, letters, languages, or sounds.
Allah has the attribute of life because he who is dead cannot be attributed with knowledge, will, power, and consequently, cannot create. Allah’s life is not like ours. We need flesh, bones, blood, and spirit. Allah created all these; His life is not in need of any of them.
Allah created all the creation, and this includes the Religion of Islam–which is the only valid and true Religion. Islam began among humans with the first man, Adam, who was the first prophet and messenger, and Islam continued through many prophets, some of which were also messengers. All the prophets and messengers taught “No one is God except Allah” and to believe in and follow the prophet and messenger of their time. All the Prophets taught there is only one God, the aforementioned attributes of Allah, and the attributes of the prophets. They called the people to Islam, taught them how to worship Allah properly, and conveyed what Allah ordered and what Allah forbid. The prophets had miracles to support their claim of Prophethood and to prove to the people what they were teaching was the truth. Some of the rules changed from one messenger to another but the belief remained the same. The messengers came with new laws. For example: at the time of Adam, Muslims used to pray once per day. They were ordered to pray twice per day at the time of Prophet ^Isa. Now, according to the rules of the last Messenger–Prophet Muhammad–Muslims pray five times per day. In previous laws of the messengers, Muslims were ordered to pray in specific places. Now, in the rules revealed to Prophet Muhammad, Muslims are not required to pray in specific places.
Allah blessed the people with the prophets and messengers to guide them to obedience and warn them from disobedience. Muslims must believe in all the prophets and messengers because Allah blessed them all with Revelation and they conveyed this to their people, but now Muslims must follow the rules of the last Prophet and Messenger, Prophet Muhammad.
Allah ordered the Messengers to convey the laws, and they did. They taught by words and example. The prophets were attributed with truthfulness, trustworthiness, and intelligence. Consequently, lying, dishonesty, vileness, stupidity, and dullness were impossible to be among their attributes. They were also attributed with impeccability of blasphemy (Blasphemy includes any belief, action, or saying which belittles Allah, His Books, His Messengers, His Angels, His Rites, the Ma^alim of His Religion, His Rules, His Promise, or His Threat.), the great sins (such as drinking alcohol and unjustful killing), and abject small sins (such as stealing one grape).
Prophet Muhammad taught his Companions and those Companions taught their followers and so on until the knowledge of Islam reached the Muslims of the present day. The beliefs and teachings were passed from trustworthy Muslim(‘Trustworthy’ as defined by Islam means the Muslim who does not commit great sins, small sins in a way that they will be more than this good deeds, and does not behave in violation of the behavior of those who have his status.) to trustworthy Muslim with a chain of reliable relators back to the Prophet. In Islam it is a great sin to judge without knowledge. If a Muslim does not know an answer to an Islamic inquiry he must not give his opinion or what he thinks the answer might be. Instead, he seeks the answer from someone more knowledgeable in the Religion who attained the knowledge in the aforementioned manner.
Since Allah created Adam, the first man, from soil of different colors and different textures, and all people are the descendants of Adam, this accounts for the various races and temperaments of people. Muslim men and women around the world of all ages, races, colors, nationalities, social backgrounds, economic status’, languages, and political affiliations are united by their belief that there is only one God, His name is Allah, and Muhammad is His last Prophet and Messenger and by practicing the same rules of the Religion.
Islam is a belief system as well as a way of life. Only the Creator knows the limits, the weakness, and the vulnerability of all His creation, and He has provided rules for them that are fair and just. Allah knows what is good for His creation as well as what is harmful; He knows what is beneficial and what is detrimental.
The foundation of Islam is based upon five matters:
- Professing and believing no one is God except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah;
- The belief in the truth of Islam is the same despite the color of the skin, whether one is a man or a woman, how much wealth one might or might not have accumulated, where one lives, and who one’s family and/or friends are.
- Prayer, five times each day, is required by all Muslim mukallaf (Mukallaf in this context means sane and pubescent.).
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan is an obligation on all Muslims who have reached puberty and who are physically able to fast. This helps the Muslim to feel what the poor feel, and in this way one remembers to care for those less fortunate than oneself. Fasting also disciplines the Muslim and brings Muslims together–uniting them by a common, shared experience.
- The Hajj, pilgrimage as defined by Islam, is the journey to the Ka^bah to perform, at a specific period of the year, certain actions in Makkah and its vicinity. It is required at least once during the lifetime of each Muslim mukallaf if he is able. During Hajj, all Muslims leave their worldly possessions and perform the same religious obligations in the same way as those Muslims with them and those Muslims who performed Hajj before them.
- Zakah is paying a certain portion of one’s money (Money in this context includes property, possessions, and wealth.) to specific types of people with certain conditions. This provides for the poor Muslims and those whose needs are not being met within the Muslim community.
Islam also requires a Muslim to be humble and to care about and to respect one’s brother and sister Muslim. It is not acceptable Islamic behavior to talk about other Muslims or to cause problems amongst them.
Learning the Obligatory Knowledge of the Religion puts the Muslim on the road for excellence and self-betterment. With knowledge, the Muslim differentiates between what is lawful and what is not, and what is an acceptable, valid worship and what is not. What differentiates one Muslim from another is the amount of Islamic knowledge one attains and applies within one’s own life. “The Essentials of Belief” is an insight into the Religion of Islam. Believing and uttering ‘No one is God except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’ is the most important thing any person can do and it is a condition for the acceptance of the good deeds. The one who becomes Muslim and stays Muslim will have the enjoyment of Paradise without end in the Hereafter and the one who rejects Islam will suffer the torture of Hellfire without end in the Hereafter. It is certain that death will come to all of us. The one who is prepared for the Day of Judgment is the one who knows, accepts, and applies the essentials of belief, and implements the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, in all sincerity to Allah, the Exalted.
The truth of Islam must be accepted and the Obligatory Knowledge of Islam must be acquired and taken if it is from reliable, trustworthy, Islamic sources–regardless of whether the teacher is young or old, male or female, rich or poor, black or white, Arab or American or African or Indian or Chinese or Spanish or of any other origin.
Allah knows best.