To Be A Muslim
I. THE CREED (Aqidah)
The first requirement for a person who has accepted Islam as his way of life is to understand and accept certain teachings or elements of knowledge that one can know only from revelation. These are called the creed or Aqidah. The correct Aqidah has been revealed by all the Prophets, but most precisely in the Qura’n and sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). One learns the Aqidah as taught by the early generations of Muslims and by the great scholars who demonstrated their piety and true understanding about Islam.
The Aqidah of a Muslim may be differentiated into the following five beliefs: belief in Allah; the final judgement; revelation through angels, books and messengers; charity; and prayer, as described in Surah al-Baqarah, verse 177:
It is not piety that you turn your faces towards East or West --
But truly pious is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; and spend of his substance, out of love for Him, upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and those who ask, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is steadfast in prayer, and gives regular charity; and (truly pious are) they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and in times of peril. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.
*The small letter (s) used in this book after the Prophet’s name stands for sall-allahu alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings be upon him).
1) The Creator of the universe is Allah, the All-knowing, the Almighty, and the One who needs no help. This is also demonstrated by the beauty and complexity of this universe. The parts of the universe each need one another in order to ensure their existence and stability. A single part cannot exist without the others.
Such a beautiful universe cannot come into existence without the design and sustenance of Allah the Almighty. Allah the Almighty has said:
If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory be to Allah, the Lord of the Throne; (Far Exalted is He) above what they attribute to Him. [Qur’an 21:22]
2) Allah created this world with a purpose, and everything in it has its own divinely ordained purpose. Allah has the attribute of completeness, so everything he does has purpose and coherence. Allah’s purpose and goals for creating this world can be known only through His messengers or Words. Allah the Almighty has said:
Did you then think that We had created you in jest, and that you would not be brought back to us (for account)? Therefore exalted be Allah, the King, the Reality: There is no god but He, the Lord of the Throne of Honour! [Qur’an 23:115-116]
3) The purpose of life in this world is to know, serve and worship Allah. Allah the Almighty has said:
I have created jinns and men, that they may serve Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me. For Allah is He who gives (all) sustenance, the Lord of Power, Steadfast (forever). [Qur’an 51:56-58]
4) The attributes of Allah are unlimited. The Qur’an mentions 99 attributes and many verses show the completeness of His uluhiyyah (godliness or worthiness to be worshipped). Among these attributes al-qayyum (the self-subsisting), almuqaddam (the promoter. and albaqi (the eternal, as distinct from makhluk, or His creation. He has no son, no father, and no comparison. He does not need help from His creatures but His creatures do need help from Him. He is unique (al abid) in His being, attributes, work, and leadership. He is al ‘alim (all-knowing), al hayy (the living), at wasi’ (the all-embracing), and has many other attributes unknown to us).
1) Paradise is the reward for the obedient mumin (believer) and hell-fire is the punishment for disbelievers. Allah the Almighty has said:
(When) some will be in the Paradise, and some in the blazing fire.’[Qur’an 42:7]
2) All members of mankind are able to do good and avoid evil through their effort and will, but one cannot do good without help and good fortune (taufiq) from Allah. Allah the Almighty has said:
By the soul and the proportion and order given to it, and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right - truly he succeeds who purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it.[Qur’an 7-10]
Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds.[Qur’an 74:38]
3) One should remain close to Allah whether alone or not. Allah, the Almighty has said:
Do you not see that Allah knows (all) that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret consultation among three persons but He is the fourth among them nor between five but He is the sixth - nor between fewer nor more but He is in their midst, wheresoever they be, in the end will He tell the truth of their conduct, on the Day of Judgement. For Allah has full knowledge of all things.[Qur’an 58:7]
1) Allah has sent His messengers with the Books of revelation so that all of mankind may know Allah, their purpose in this world, and their final destination.
Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is the final prophet among the prophets that Allah has sent. He was helped and strengthened by Allah with the Qur’an, the only miracle that lasts forever.
2) Allah alone has the right to make laws. The Shari’ah or law of Allah cannot be overruled. A Muslim is limited to ijtehad or intellectual effort in deriving laws from the shari’ah Allah the Almighty has said:
Whatever it be wherein you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah: Such is Allah my Lord: in Him I trust, and to Him I turn? [Qur’an 42:10]
3) Human traditions and the opinion of the earlier generations of Muslim scholars in ta’wil (interpretation of the Qur’an and hadith) are important. The ta’wil made by the scholars of the later generations should not cause bitter arguments between traditionalist and modernist groups.
One should love Allah so much that one’s heart is always looking for Him. This love for Allah will impel one to good deeds, sacrifice, and struggle for His sake, so much so that one’s attachment to this temporary world and to one’s family cannot stop one from doing good deeds. He has said:
Say, if your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred, and nation or the wealth that you have gained, or the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the dwellings in which you delight - are dearer to you than Allah or His messenger and the striving in His cause - then wait until Allah brings about His decision; and [know that Allah] does not guide the rebellious. [Qur’an 9:24]
One should sacrifice in the cause of Allah because one likes to taste the sweetness of faith. The Prophet said (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him):
Those who have three things will taste the sweetness of faith, namely, a love for Allah and His Messenger greater than for anything else, a love for another only because of Allah, and hatred of returning to kufr (unbelief) as strong as one’s hatred of being thrown into hell-fire. [Bukhari]
1) One must serve Allah alone, and not admit any rivals to Him or partners. A Muslim worships Allah because Allah has ordered him through His Messenger to do so. Allah the Almighty has said:
For We assuredly sent amongst every people a messenger (with the command) serve Allah and avoid evil. [Qur’an 16:36]
2) Every Muslim should learn and try to understand the names or attributes of Allah. Abu Hurairah narrated a hadith that the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
Allah has 99 names, a hundred less one; everyone of you who memorizes them will be in Paradise. Allah is odd (not even) and Allah loves odd things. [Bukhari]
3) Allah should be remembered by reciting His names. Such dhikr or remembrance of Allah is the best medicine to cure the soul. It is also the most effective weapon to fight against problems of the world. Allah the Almighty told the Prophet to say:
He (Allah) guides to Himself all who turn to Him - those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah - for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah human hearts find satisfaction. [Qur’an 13:28]
Allah, the Almighty has said:
If anyone withdraws himself from remembrance of Allah Most Gracious, We appoint for him an evil one to be his intimate companion. [Qur’an 43.36]
4) Man should ponder the creation of Allah, not his dhat or person. The Prophet said in one hadith:
Ponder the creation of Allah and not about the person of Allah, because you will not be able to comprehend it. [This hadith has been narrated by Abu Nuiam in al-Hilyah, and also by al-Asfihani in at-Targhib uia-tarhib.]
5) One must fear only Allah. Such awe of Allah and fear of separation from Him strengthens one to abstain from all that is forbidden. Allah the Almighty has said:
And for those who fear their Lord unseen, for them is forgiveness and a great reward. [Qur’an 67:12]
Such as obey Allah and His messenger and fear Allah and do right will win (in the end). [Qur’an 24:7]
6) One should depend on Allah in every matter and make tawakul (trust in Allah). This generates such strength of commitment that one will feel at ease in everything one does. Allah the Almighty has said:
And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. [Qur’an 65:3]
The Prophet (s) said:
Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the nations were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried. [Tirmidhi]
7) One should thank Allah for His mercy and unlimited gifts. Thankfulness is part of virtue. Allah, the Almighty has said:
And Allah has brought you forth from your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing but He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections so that you might have cause to be grateful. [Qur’an 16:78]
A sign for them is the earth that is dead. We give it life and produce from it grain which you eat. And we produce orchards in it with date-palms and vines, and We cause springs to gush forth from it, so that they may enjoy the fruits of this (artistry). It was not their hands that made this. Will they not then give thanks? [Qur’an 36:33-35]
Allah has promised to increase His mercy for those who thank Him, and to punish those who are ungrateful. Allah the Almighty has said:
And remember when your Lord made [this promise] known: "If you are grateful [to me], I shall most certainly give you more and more, but if you show ingratitude, truly My punishment is severe indeed." [Qur’an 14:7]
8) One must repent to Allah and make istighfar (a statement of repentance). This act of repentance purifies one’s contrition and faith and instills a feeling of tranquility and peace in one’s heart. Allah the Almighty has said:
If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. [Qur’an 4:110]
And those who, when they have done something to be ashamed of or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind and ask forgiveness for their sins.- and who can forgive sins except Allah - and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done; for such the reward is forgiveness from Allah. [Qur’an 3:135-6]