Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Horn Of Satan

Narrated ibn 'Umar as recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari:
The Prophet said,
"O Allah! Bestow Your Blessings on our Syria! O Allah! Bestow Your Blessings on our Yemen."
The people cried, "And also on our Najd."
The Prophet repeated,
"O Allah! Bestow Your Blessings on our Syria! O Allah! Bestow Your Blessings on our Yemen."
The people cried again, "O Allah's Apostle! And also on our Najd."
Then, the Prophet said,
"There is the place of earthquakes and afflictions; from there comes out the Horn of Satan."

The accursed Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab an-Najdi is credited with founding the Salafi/Wahhabi movement whose pact with Muhammad ibn Sa'ud helped to establish the first Saudi state and began a dynastic alliance and power-sharing arrangement between their families which continues to the present day. The descendants of the heretic, the Ahl ash-Shaykh, have historically dominated the state's clerical institutions.

ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab is generally acknowledged to have been born in 1703 into the Arab tribe of Banu Tamim in 'Uyayna, a village in the Najd region of the Saudi Arabia, the very land of fitnah, the Prophet warned against.

He was thought to have started studying Islam at an early age, primarily with his father, Sheikh ‘Abdul-Wahhab as his family was from a line of Hanbali scholars. ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab was educated in Najd, Basra and Damascus.

Although, his brothers and parents were of the ‘aqidah of the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah, through reading selected works of Sheikh ibn Taymiyyah, he chose to differ in belief with the rest of his family, who were not pleased with him. His brother, Sheikh Sulayman wrote a book against him called ‘Sawa’iq al-Ilahiya’, the Divine Thunderbolts, in which he refuted all his brother’s innovations and heresy.

In Mecca, the Hanbali mufti, Sheikh ibn Humaydi, noted ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab to be a poor student, and arrogant and defiant with his teachers. He was infamously known to be lacking in adab. This upset his father greatly. Consequently, ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab did not complete his studies. It was likely he was expelled or dropped out. In Medina, he studied under Sheikh Mohammad Hayya as-Sindi. His heresies were formulated in Basra. He returned to 'Uyayna in 1740.

After his return home, ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab began to attract and rally up followers, including the ruler of 'Uyayna, 'Uthman ibn Mu'ammar. With ibn Mu'ammar's support, ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab began to implement some of his heresy. First, citing Islamic teachings forbidding grave worship, he persuaded Uthman ibn Mu'ammar to level the maqam of Zayd ibn al-Khattab. Secondly, he ordered that all adulterers be stoned to death, a practice that had become uncommon in the area. He personally organized the stoning of a woman who confessed that she had committed adultery. This is not in line with the teachings of the Prophet.

Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab considered his movement an effort to purify Islam by returning Muslims to what he believed were the original principles of the religion, as typified by the Salaf, rejecting what he regarded as corruptions introduced by bida' and shirk. In this, he was the originator of the greatest bida’, the Salafi movement.

ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab was criticized for disregarding Islamic history, monuments, traditions and the sanctity of human life. His father disowned him. His own brother, Sheikh Sulayman ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab, was particularly critical of him, claiming he was ill-educated and intolerant, classing ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab's views as fringe, extreme and fanatical. Sheikh Sulayman rightly pointed out that his brother was selective with the juristic predecessors, to the point of being ignorantly dismissive towards some and treating others as divinely infallible. Sheikh Sulayman and ibn Humaydi, both, showed that ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab was even selective with the works of Sheikh ibn Taymiyyah, whose views otherwise closely influenced the Salafi.

The Wahhabi sect is named after Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab. It is often believed, that ibn 'Abdul-Wahhab started the Wahhabi movement. He merely began its latest incarnation. In reality, it began in the time of Imam ‘Ali. Throughout history there have been different names for this sect, but in the eighth century, one of their leaders used to call himself Salafi. Today, this sect has many names and incarnations all over the world.

Where once they were called the Khawarij, now, they know themselves as the Salafi, the Wahhabi, the Najdi, Muhammadiyyah, the Ghayr Muqallidin and even Ahl-e-Hadith. They are not the followers of the Salaf of Muhammad since they follow a different ‘aqidah. An explanation on the differences of the ‘aqidah of the Wahhabi heresy and the ‘aqidah of the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah would take an entire article or a book. It is interesting to note that the deceiving false prophet, Musaylima al-Kadhab was also born in Najd.

Hafiz ibn Kathir writes in Tarik ibn Kathir, when the kuffar of Mecca had a meeting concerning the Prophet, Satan came in the form of a Najdi elder. The old man came claiming,
“I am a Najdi. Whatever you want to know, I will be helpful.”
This Najdi sheikh then gave his view against the Prophet, throughout the meeting.

It is recorded by Imam Bukhari in Kitab al-Fitnah, the Prophet stated,
“I fear from the Najdi.”
Imam Bukhari also recorded that the Prophet stated,
“Tribulation will emerge from the east.”

The brother of the heretic, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab an-Najdi, Sheikh Sulayman ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab, said about his brother,
“The Horn of Satan which the Prophet referred to is you.”
This was recorded in Sawa’iq al-Ilahiya.

Muhammad Hasni wrote in Tarik Ahlus-Sa'ud, that ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab said,
“When I went to study in Basra, mushrikin would ask me questions and I would leave them very surprised with my answers.”
Sheikh Juri stated,
“Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab an-Najdi called the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah kafir and mushrik apart from himself and his blind followers.”
The proof for this is he himself said that about the ‘mushrikin’ in Basra asked him questions. These people were Muslims and thus ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab is guilty of takfir. It is the disease of the entire movement until today.

ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab was quoted in Kashf ash-Shubhat that people who ask for intercession from the Prophet and make du’a through the wasila of awliya’ to get closer to Allah are guilty of shirk. Thus, it is permitted to kill them and to take their possessions. Sheikh Attar wrote that the Najdi heretic said,
“I declare war on these people as the Prophet declared war on the kuffar of Mecca, against those people with corrupt beliefs.”
This is found in ‘Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab’, page 55.

Just like the Khawarij, he considered all other Muslims to be kafir. The Khawarij were people who considered all other Muslims to be kafir. They believed any person who has committed a major sin was a non-believer. They called the Sahabah kafir and killed or tried to kill them, as they did with ‘Uthman, Talah, Muaviye and Zubayr. They killed ‘Ali. The Khawarij only took the literal meaning, zahir, of the Qur’an. This is also the trait of the Wahhabi.

The greatest crime of the Wahhabi ilk is their attack on the Prophet Muhammad in their supposed defense of Islam. The following is adapted from Khulasah al-Kalam fi Bayan al-Umara w'al-Balad al-Haram, by Imam Ahmad ibn Zayni ad-Dahlan al-Makki ash-Shafi’i. The sheikh passed away on 1304 AH / 1886 CE.
ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab used to insult the Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa in various ways because he believed that this was the best method to safeguard his flawed interpretation of tawhid. The following are a few examples of his appalling disrespect and insolence towards the exalted personhood of the Holy Prophet: 
He referred to the Holy Prophet as ‘tarish’, which in Najdi speech means a lowly messenger boy or a mere postman. 
He used to say that the incident at Hudaybiyyah is full of lies and rejected the bay’ah. Hence, when his followers and acolytes used to speak against the incident, he felt pleased with them. 
One of his blind followers once remarked in his presence that his walking stick is better than Muhammad because his stick can still be used for killing a snake or such reptiles whereas Muhammad is not in any way beneficial anymore. He was just a postman who is dead.
That follower is blind in dunya and akhirah.
ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab hated the recitation of salawat upon the Prophet. He also felt upset to hear the salawat recited in the mosques. The followers of the heretic are resentful of the recitation by visitors to Jannat al-Baqi in Medina even today. He also opposed the recitation of salawat on Friday eve and especially from the minarets of the mosques. If he found someone reciting it loudly and publicly, he used to punish him. 
He used to often say that recitation of salawat from the minarets of the mosques is by far a graver sin than a prostitute playing musical instruments in her brothel. He used to tell his followers that this will protect monotheism. Clearly this was a man who did not love the Prophet and worshiped his nafs. 
He destroyed the Dala'ilul-Khayrat and many other valuable books of salawat by setting them ablaze. His followers trampled the unburnt portions underfoot, notwithstanding the fact they held the Names of Allah and His Messenger. 
He also destroyed the books of fiqh, ahadith and tafsir penned by renowned and authentic Muslim scholars of the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah. These included the works of eminent theologians such as the likes of Imam Ghazali and Sheikh ‘Abdul-Qadir Jilani among many others. 
He allowed his companions to interpret the verses of Qur'an as per their whims and fancies always taking the literal approach, going so far as to ascribe anthropomorphic qualities to Allah. 
He used to ascribe to Muslims Verses of the Qur’an revealed about the munafiqin and the mushrikin. The Khawarij also followed the same modus operandi. In effect, they were the Khawarij reborn. 
ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab used to instruct his officers to do ijtihad in matters of religion and issue the ahkam of sharia according to their personal opinion without regard to the precedence of the pious predecessors. He also stopped them from referring to religious books saying that these contain mixtures of right and wrong both. As a matter of fact, all his officers were absolutely ignorant of religious laws. The ignorance of the inner dimensions of Islam is the hallmark of the movement.

Those scholars and pious people who did not embrace his newly-innovated religion were immediately put to sword. He is a brutal murderer and a thief, desecrator of the maqam of the sahabah and awliya’. His followers attacked Mecca and Medina and almost burnt the Kaaba. They killed hundreds of pilgrims and desecrated Masjid an-Nabawi. Whatever booty he recovered after looting Muslims was distributed as zakat to his followers.
The followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab do not follow any of the madhahib of fiqh or ‘aqidah. They pride themselves in being called as Ghayr Muqallidin. To deceive foolish Muslims, they claim to follow the Hanbali madhhab.
He used to instruct people against supplications after salah, justifying it by asking,
“Do you expect wages of worship from Allah?”
This, from a man who knows nothing of Allah!
In short, he is the enemy of Allah and His Messenger. Were it not for the fact that his followers control the Haramayn, they would be considered apostates of Islam. As it is, they have declared war on the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah and the awliya’.
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet relayed in a hadith qudsi that Allah said,
Whoever harms any of My Deputies, I shall declare war on him.
The striving of My servant to please Me does not receive any Reward greater than that of fulfilling what I have commanded him to do. My servant volunteers in his perseverance, offering supererogatory devotion to please Me and to earn My Love.
Once I cast over My Divine Love upon the servant, I become the very hearing with which he hears, sight with which he sees, hand with which he exacts justice, and feet that carries him.
Should My servant pray for something he needs, I will answer his prayers and should he seek refuge in Me, I will protect him.
Indeed, there is nothing that I have decreed, which I hesitate to do for the sake of a believer except causing him to experience death. He dislikes it, and I hate to displease him, but I have thus ordained.

— Sidi Terence Helikaon Nunis of A Muslim Convert Once More

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Refutation Of The Testimony Of Mario Josef

Recently I have come across a video floating around the internet of a man converting from Islam to Christianity with an absolutely farcical testimony. The entire premise of his argument was a comparison between the Christ Jesus and Muhammad on the basis of the Quran. Firstly, the whole notion of pitting Jesus against Muhammad for a Muslim is utterly stupid to begin with. Muslims believe Jesus and Muhammad came with the very same message that there is no deity but God, the One True God of Abraham. There is to be utterly no competition between the two.

Say, "We have believed in God and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants, and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we submit only to Him."
[Quran 3:84]
The video begins with the man, supposedly an ex-preacher, being asked by someone from a crowd, "Who is Jesus?" In order to answer this, the man says that he reads the entire Quran again. Honestly, did he do this in the presence of the crowd because that's a lot of reading to do in a day, I am guessing with an entire horde of people before him? The man must read at the speed of Flash.

Also, he says there are 6,666 Verses in the Quran. This is a myth created to scare off Christians with 666 being the Number of the Beast and all. The Quran, in reality, has 6,236 Verses in general barring the opening incantation of Bismillah for every chapter except for Surah at-Taubah for which we do not recite it. Counting the opening incantation there are 6,349 Verses. Still not 6,666. This really makes me doubt his status as an ex-Muslim.

Moving on. The response to the question would have been simple for any learned Muslim. Jesus Christ is a Prophet, a human being inspired with the Revelation of the Gospel and the Wisdom of the Torah embedded in his heart from birth. He is also the Messiah, the Anointed King from the bloodline of David born to return before End Times to slay the Antichrist and establish God's Righteous Dominion on Earth.

This easy response does not quite come to him when asked so he needs to read all one-hundred and fourteen chapters of the Quran once again. What does he find? He finds that the name of Jesus is mentioned twenty-five times in the Book whereas the name of Muhammad is mentioned only four times. This makes him confused. Why?

The Quran, as we believe as Muslims, is God speaking to Muhammad in direct speech addressing all of us, his followers, and relating to us, and him, the stories of the Prophets before him. If I were to be talking to Person A and relaying the biography of Person B to him, would not I mention the latter more than the former? Easier example, if I were to be narrating the story of Abraham Lincoln to my grandchildren would not the name of Abraham Lincoln be mentioned more in my speech to them than their own names?

The argument that the name of Jesus is mentioned more times in the Quran than the name of Muhammad is asinine since it is God telling Muhammad the stories of Jesus and Moses and Abraham and a myriad of other prophets. Heck, the Pharaoh is mentioned more times in the Quran than Muhammad and Jesus combined.

Let us do a count survey and address this more completely. Jesus is mentioned in the Quran twenty-five times, same as Adam. Muhammad is mentioned four times. Add those two together. Actually, add all three and you have Jesus, Adam and Muhammad mentioned a total of fifty-four times. The Pharaoh is mentioned seventy-four times. More than the names of three Archprophets of Islam.

Does the above mean anything at all? Did this man just count the number of times people were mentioned in the Quran or did he actually read what the Quran had to say about them those number of times they were mentioned? Did he actually read what the Quran had to say about Jesus the twenty-five times his name was mentioned? Did he take note of the Verses saying explicitly that Jesus Christ is no more than an inspired human being?

The name of Moses is mentioned one-hundred and thirty-six times in the Quran. Does this mean Moses is God? Thirty seconds into the video and this man has already made a staggering mountain of a mistake.

Next, he mentions that the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran is Mary. This is true. Though she is not the only woman mentioned in the Quran but she is the only one mentioned by name. Mary is, of course, no doubt, a special figure in the theology of Islam. However, this importance is explained by Islam itself that her significance is by virtue of her mother's supplications and her own piety and pureness. It does not anyhow prove that Jesus is God.

Also, he mentions that the name of the third chapter of the Quran is "Family of Maryam." False. The name of the third chapter of the Quran is "Family of Amram," Amram, or Imran as he is called in Arabic, being the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, ancestor of the bloodline of Joachim, the husband of Anne and father of Mary.

Around the one-minute and thirteen-second mark of the video, he mentions that Mary was born without Original Sin. Islam does not believe in the concept of Original Sin, hence all creatures, inherently, are born, in Islam, without Original Sin. Where he gets the idea of Original Sin in Islam from is beyond me.

At around the one-minute and nineteen-second mark, he says that Chapter 50, Verse 23 of the Quran states Mary went to Heaven with her physical body thus providing evidence of the Assumption of Mary. Ahem,

And his companion will say, "This is what is with me, prepared."
This is Verse 23 of the fiftieth chapter of the Quran. Does not sound like the Assumption to me. Does it to you?

Next, the man goes on to cite titles of Jesus mentioned in the Quran. Firstly, the Quran calls him the Word of God. Yes, this is true. The Quran asserts that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. However, this does not mean Jesus, himself, is the Eternal Word of God. Rather, there are two ways to interpret this, both of which, the supposed preacher, conveniently misses out on.

First, Jesus is the Word made flesh and the Word is "Be!" This means that unlike the natural cause-and-effect birth of regular human beings, Jesus is not born of an ovum and sperm coming together. Rather, his creation is the result of God's Command "Be!" He is born out of nothingness, created from a fragment of a spirit breathed unto Mary and commanded to be, and the Word in question is "Be!"

"Surely the likeness of Jesus is with Allah as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was"
[Quran 3:59]
"Be!" is the Eternal Word of God through which he commands the spirit of God to become flesh and thus he is incarnated materially as the result of the Pronunciation of the Word. Thus, he is referred to as the Word made flesh.

Another interpretation is that all the prophets were infallible manifestations of their message from God. Regarding this, Aisha tells us that the Prophet Muhammad was the walking Quran, the Quran being the Word of God and thus Muhammad being the Word in flesh. Similarly, Jesus, too, came with a Message that was the Word of God, a Spiritual Path and a Law, and he followed It to the letter thus himself being the Word made flesh. Neither interpretations prove that Jesus is God.

Moving forward, the next thing the Quran says about Jesus is that he is the Spirit of God. This does not mean that he was God's Spirit but rather a Spirit made by God. The Quran mentions the same about Adam. If I were to paint a picture people would say that it is Fahim's painting but it does not mean that the painting is physically part of my body. God says in the Quran that,

O People of the Book! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was a Messenger of Allah and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a spirit created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: "Three!" Cease! It is better for you. For God is the only deity, glory be to Him. Far Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the Heavens and all that is in the Earth. And God is All-Sufficient, Omnipotent.
Finally, he mentions that the Quran calls Jesus the Messiah. Yes, of course. Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah but not the Messiah as defined by Christianity but rather that defined by Judaism.

Following these, the man goes on to describe the miracles of Jesus such as Jesus bringing to life clay birds. Let us see what the Quran says about this,

O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My Favor on you and on your mother, when I strengthened you I with the Holy Spirit, you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity, and when I taught you the Book and the Wisdom of the Torah and the Gospel; and when you determined out of clay a thing like the form of a bird, by My Permission, then you breathed into it and it became a bird, by My Permission, and you healed the blind and the leprous, by My Permission; and when you brought forth the dead, by My Permission; and when I withheld the Children of Israel from you when you came to them with clear arguments, but those who disbelieved among them said: This is nothing but clear enchantment.
[Quran 5:110]
All of this is self-explanatory. Jesus, according to the Quran, did not do miracles of his own accord but by the Favor that God bestowed upon him that allowed him to do all these. The man mentions that the Quran does not speak of any miracle by Muhammad. This is, once again, because the Quran is God talking to Muhammad so obviously God is not going to be telling him about himself when he has already witnessed the miracles that God has allowed him to do. This argument is ridiculous.

Ultimately, the man says he goes to his Arabic teacher and asks him if the Word of God is Creator or Creation. It is neither. The Word of God is Eternal as is God Himself but God is the Creator and God created the universe as well as Jesus through the Word and all we see around us is the manifestation of God's Word, "Be!"

The man, in merely three minutes, has fallen into multitudes of errors in his understanding of the Quran and the Islamic personhood of Jesus. His testimony is thoroughly misguided and he must admit his ignorance and seek better comprehension of his beliefs. May God, Exalted is He, bless us all and protect us from misgivings. Ameen.

— Fahim Ferdous Promi

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creed Of The Shi'at-e-Ali w'al-Ahlul-Bayt

Previously, we covered the Creed of Sunni Islam. In this article, we will briefly be covering the Creed of the Shiites, more specifically, that of the Twelvers, Ithna Ash'ari. The Creed of the Ithna Ash'ari is divided into two sections based on faith and practice. The section covering the former is called the Foundations of the Religion, Usul ad-Din. This is the section we will be focusing on. The latter, known as the Furu'd-Din, that is, the Ancillaries of the Religion, are the practices akin to the five pillars of Sunni Islam. We will only be listing those here without going into details.

The Foundations of Shiite Islam are five, in contrast to six of the Sunnis. These are:
  1. Tawhid-e-Ilahi
  2. 'Adalah-e-Allah
  3. Nabuwwat
  4. Imamat
  5. Yawm al-Qiyamah
The Ancillaries, that is, the Practices of Shiite Islam are ten, in contrast to five of the Sunnis. These are:
  1. Salat, that is, establishment of Ritual Prayer
  2. Sawm, that is, establishment of Fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan
  3. Hajj, the Pilgrimage to Mecca
  4. Zakat, that is, mandatory charity to the poor
  5. Khumms, that is, mandatory tax paid to the Imam
  6. Jihad, the struggle in the Cause of Allah
  7. Amr bil-Ma'ruf, enjoining good deeds upon society
  8. Nahi ana'l-Munkar, forbidding others from deeds that are evil
  9. Tawalla, professing love towards God and the People of Muhammad's Household
  10. Tabarra, expressing dissociation from the enemies of God and those who hate and oppress the members of the Prophetic Household
The Ten Ancillaries of the Religion in Shiite Islam are derived off the first five Principles which are key to the Creed. Among these, Salat, Zakat, Sawm and Hajj are shared practices between Shiites and Sunnis. Jihad is another commonality, though, it is an optional sixth pillar in Sunni Islam and not a core tenet.

Regarding the concepts of Amr bil-Ma'ruf nahi ana'l-Munkar, these are derived off the second Principle of Religion, 'Adalah-e-Allah, that is, what roughly translates to the Divine Justice of God. This is the belief that deeds are inherently good and evil, and what is good is to be encouraged and what is evil is to be avoided. Sunnis do not believe that any work is innately good or evil but something is good by virtue of being commanded by Allah and something is evil by virtue of being forbidden by Him.

As for Tawalla and Tabarra, this is where controversy arises between Shiites and Sunnis, particularly with the latter concept that demands absolute divorce of the Shiite Muslim from all those perceived to be enemies of the people of Muhammad's Household, Ahlul-Bayt. The Shiite interpretation of history portrays the first three caliphs of Sunnism, Abu Bakr, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab and 'Uthman ibn 'Affan as usurpers to the rightful Imamate of 'Ali and his bloodline.

In short, without getting into the many nuances, the Shiite narration of the tale unfolds in Ghadeer-e-Khum on the 18th of Dhul-Hijjah of the year 10 AH, which would be 10th March, 632 CE of the Gregorian calendar. On this momentous occasion, on the way from the Final Pilgrimage in Mecca back to Medina, the Holy Prophet Muhammad stops at the Oasis of Khum, the following Verse is revealed to him,
O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don't do it, you have not delivered His Message; and Allah will protect you from the people ...
[Quran 5:67]
Upon receiving this Revelation, Muhammad stops the caravan of pilgrims and waits for everyone to gather at the spot. Then he delivers a long sermon lasting over three hours. A crucial excerpt of the sermon is presented below,
It seems the time approaches when I shall be called away and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two weighty things and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, the People of my House. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool of Paradise.

Following this, the Prophet asks,
Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves? 
The people cry and answer,
Yes, O Messenger of God!
 Then the Prophet declares, raising the hand of Hazrat 'Ali Murtaza,
Whosoever I am his Leader, 'Ali is his Leader.
By God, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him.

This is the basis for the concepts of Tawalla and Tabarra. Following the declaration, the Prophet received Revelation,
On this day, I have perfected your religion and completed my favor upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion.
[Quran 5:3]
And upon the Revelation of this Verse, Shiites have consolidated it to be a core matter of their 'Aqeedah to believe in the Imamate of 'Ali and his household as Allah mentioned the perfection of His religion after the declaration of 'Ali as the leader of the Muslim Ummah. Therefore, without the belief in 'Ali as the rightful successor after Muhammad as Amirul Mumineen, one's Islam is concluded to be imperfect and incomplete.

The Shiites believe that after the death of the Prophet, while Hazrat 'Ali and Fatima were busy with the funeral rites, Abu Bakr and 'Umar conspired at Saqifa to usurp power from 'Ali who was to be the rightful successor. Enraged that the decision was made without their consent, the supporters of 'Ali then went to Fatima's house to mobilize a revolt but 'Umar arrived there just in the nick of time with the threat to burn down the house of Fatima for it had become a place of fitna. After this, 'Ali, for the sake of unity, performs taqiya and does not claim his right to be the leader allowing Abu Bakr, then 'Umar, then 'Uthman to take up his position as Amirul Mumineen.

This is an extremely abridged summary of the Shiite historical narration but the gist of the matter is that the Imamate of 'Ali is a Godsent Revelation unto Muhammad following the declaration of which Allah stated that the religion is perfected and thus for one's Islam to be accepted as whole it is absolutely fundamental to believe in the Right of Hazrat 'Ali to be the Imam. Denial of this right makes Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman have their religion rendered defective and drag them into the position of those against whom a believer in God is to perform Tabarra.

Unfortunately, the length of this article does not permit us to go into the depths of these matters. It is a historical debate and multitudes of opinions against even among the Shiites. In brief, the Shiites, due to their such beliefs, are often called the Rafidah, meaning "the Rejectors," because they rejected the legitimacy of the Caliphate. A historian with expertise in this field will be able to provide better elucidation of these things. For now, it would be better to divulge the Usul ad-Din as intended at the beginning of this text.

The first of the five Usul ad-Din of Shiite Islam is belief in the Oneness of God. This is very simple and a shared foundation between Shiites and Sunnis. The concept is basic. There is no deity but God, the One God of Abraham. He is Allah. He has no beginning nor end. He is Eternal, Ever-living, Creator of all that exists, seen and unseen.

Akin to Sunnis, Shiites believe God is Omniscient, Omnipotent and His Essence is Immanent throughout all of creation. He is the Lord of all things and His Power is what sustains the Heavens and the Earth and everything in between and beyond. In order to have a more thorough understanding of God in Shiite Islam I suggest readers to look into this book by Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari.

It is the belief that Sovereignty belongs only to God that supports the legitimacy of the Imamate over the Caliphate, since the Imam was chosen by Allah and this decision was revealed to Muhammad to be declared to the Ummah at Ghadeer-e-Khum and the Sole Authority of God over all things deems it impossible for any to reverse this decision and claim the right for themselves in place of 'Ali.

Next, we have the belief in 'Adalah, that is Divine Justice. Shiites believe that there is intrinsic good or evil in things, and that God commands them to do the good things and shun the evil. They believe that God acts according to a purpose or design, and human reason cannot comprehend this design or purpose in its entirety, though man must always strive to understand as much as he can.

The Sunnis do not consider Justice of God as part of the fundamentals of their creed. It subscribes to the view that nothing is good or evil on its own, and that whatever God has commanded people to do became good by the virtue of His Command, and whatever He has forbidden has become evil.

Third comes the belief in Prophethood, that is, Nabuwwat. This is the belief that God has sent forward His Message unto mankind through the vessel of divinely appointed Prophets, infallible and sinless, sound of mind and body, devoted to the propagation of God's Sacred Plan.

This is also another belief that Shiites and Sunnis share. The Prophets are empowered by eloquence in words and miracles in deeds to help the facilitation of their Message. However, one key area where the Shiites and Sunnis differ is in the discussion on how the Message and its interpretation is preserved. Sunnis believe that the proper interpretation of the Prophetic Message is protected by the 'ijma of the Muslim community as the Prophet has said,
Allah will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance and incorrect beliefs. Allah’s mercy, blessings and protection are with the largest group of Muslims. And he who deviates from this largest group of Muslims will be thrown into Hell.
[Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Volume 2 Page 39]
Stick to the greater crowd of believers because Allah will never gather my community upon misguidance.
[Mu’jam al-Kabir at-Tabarani, Volume 17, Page 240]
'Ijma is the consensus of the larger number of scholars within the Muslim community and whenever a dispute arises as to the correct interpretation of a Quranic Verse, Sunnis adhere to the opinion of the majority to base their understanding upon. This is covered in great detail in my previous article on Knowledge and Guidance.

In contrast, Shiites do not believe in such a democratic system when interpreting the Prophetic Message, namely the Quran and Sunnah. Rather, the Shiite belief is that such a process would lead to utter chaos and God would instead have His Message preserved via the Divine Appointment of Rightful Leaders from the Family of Muhammad, the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt, who are infallible like the Prophets and protected from error in reason and judgment. Therefore, their interpretation of the Message from God is considered most correct and authentic. This leads us to the fourth fundamental of Shiite creed, the belief in the Imamate.

Belief in the Imamate is the belief that God has appointed successive leaders following Muhammad to interpret his Message correctly for the benefit of mankind, to guide humanity towards the truth, enjoin good and forbid evil. These Imams are believed to be from the bloodline of the Prophet through his daughter Fatima and the union between her and Hazrat 'Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Apostle.

The belief is that there shall come Twelve Imams from this bloodline, the descendants from the Tribe of Quraysh. This is supported by the following Hadith,
Islam shall neither pass away nor be deviated while there are my twelve successors from my nation in it; all of them will be from Quraysh. When the last of them passes away, the Hour will be established and the Earth will be destroyed with all its inhabitants.
This narration can be found in over a hundred ahadith, with at least thirty-seven chains of narrators for each of them, in both Shiite and Sunni sources. The interpretation of the hadith varies between the two sects.

Shiites believe eleven of the twelve successors have already come and gone, all of them assassinated via the administration of poison by their enemies except for Imam Husayn who was martyred in the Battle of Kerbala at the hands of Shimr ibn Dhi'l-Jawshan, commander of the army of Yazid ibn Muaviye ibn Abu Sufyan, the tyrannical Ummayad Caliph of infamy whose reign is marred by oppression and injustice.

The Twelfth Imam, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi, is believed to be in Occultation, raised unto Divine Protection following the death of his father, Imam Hasan al-Askari. It is said that the Hidden Imam shall return during the period before the End Times to fight alongside Jesus Christ and slay the Antichrist.

The names of the Twelve Imams in chronological order of their reigns are:

'Ali ibn Abi Talib al-Murtaza
Hassan ibn 'Ali al-Mujtaba
Husayn ibn 'Ali Sayed ash-Shuhada
'Ali ibn Husayn as-Sajjad Zayn al-Abedin
Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Baqir al-'Ulum
Ja'far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq
Musa ibn Ja'far al-Kazim
'Ali ibn Musa ar-Reza
Muhammad ibn 'Ali at-Taqi al-Jawad
'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Hadi an-Naqi
Hassan ibn 'Ali al-Askari
Muhammad ibn Hassan al-Hujjah al-Mahdi

For more information on the concept of the Imamate and the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt, please make sure to check out this book by Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari and this series of lectures by Sayyid Ammar Nakshawani.

Finally, we have the belief in Yawm al-Qiyamah, that is, belief in the Day of Judgment, the Day when all souls shall be resurrected once more from the dead and their eternal fates decided based on their worldly deeds. Knowledge about the Hour of this Day is known to none but Allah alone. Sunnis and Shiites share similar beliefs regarding the establishment of this Day except for the difference of opinion regarding the person of the Mahdi. On this Day, all truth shall be revealed and all Judgment be made. May Allah subhana wa ta'ala protect us. Ameen.

— Fahim Ferdous Promi

Thursday, August 21, 2014

12 Differences Between The Asha'ris And The Maturidis

Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Asha‘ri is the Imam of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah and at their forefront, followed by Imam Abu al-Mansur al-Maturidi. Some of the shuyukh have mentioned that the companions of Imam ash-Shafi‘i and his followers follow Imam al-Asha’ri in matters of doctrine and follow Imam ash-Shafi‘i in matters of law whereas the companions of Imam Abu Hanifa follow Imam al-Maturidi in doctrine and follow Imam Abu Hanifa in law.

There is no contention between the two scholars and their followers except in twelve issues. Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah wrote in Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf bayn al-Asha‘ira wa al-Maturidiyya,
It is not hidden to the reader that the scholars mentioned more than this number of issues over which there is disagreement. It seems, however, that the author chose to limit them to this number due to their obvious nature.

Firstly, Imam al-Maturidi said that takwin, creation, is an Eternal Attribute that subsists with Allah’s Being, as do all of His Attributes, and that it is distinct from that which is brought into existence, mukawwan, and that it is linked with that which is brought into existence in the world and every part of it from the time of its inception. Just as Allah’s Will is Eternal and linked with that which is willed at the time of its existence, so too is His Omnipotence Eternal and linked with that which is decreed.

Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah wrote in Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf,
In other words, takwin is a Pre-Eternal Attribute that subsists with Allah and has a contingently effective lineage with that which is brought into existence at the time it is brought into being. 
For this reason, the scholars say that takwin is different from that which is brought into existence, mukawwan, because takwin is a Pre-Eternal Attribute and that which is brought into existence is contingent. 
For this reason, the claim of some of the Rashawi that the Maturidis agree with them that contingents subsist within Allah’s Entity is incorrect. This is fallacious because according to the Maturidis, takwin is Pre-Eternal and not contingent. It is not to be called an Attribute in an unrestricted manner; rather it is an Attribute from which actions issue forth.

Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is a contingent Attribute that does not subsist with Allah’s Being and according to him, it is from the Attributes of Action and not from the Eternal Attributes. As he saw it, the Attributes of Action are all contingent, such as takwin and bringing into existence and the emergence of the world with the Statement, “Be.” Therefore, according to Imam al-Asha‘ri, Takwin is a description for the self-same effective linkage of power by taking note of its effect, whereas according to Imam al-Maturidi, it is the Pre-Eternal Attribute from which the creation and that which is brought into existence come.

Secondly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the Speech of Allah, the Exalted, is not heard. rather, what is heard is that which points to it. Imam al-Maturidi said that which is heard, masmu‘, only applies to that which connects with the sense of hearing. According to him, that which connects with it are the sounds that points and indicates towards the Pre-Eternal Attribute. As for the actual Pre-Eternal Attribute, both Imam al-Maturidi and Imam al-Asha‘ri held that it has no connection with the senses and that the senses have no connection with it. The disagreement is regarding whether a Pre-Eternal Attribute being heard or not. For Imam al-Maturidi, hearing is conditioned upon the connection of the senses, and for that reason he denied that Inner Speech, kalam nafsi, can be heard.

Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is heard – as is well known in the story of Moses. Sheikh ibn Furak said,
Two things are heard during the recitation of the reader: the voice of the reader who is reciting and the Speech of Allah the Exalted.
Qadhi Abu Bakr al-Baqillani said, “Allah’s Speech is not heard in the conventional sense; rather, it is possible for Allah to allow any of His creation that He wills to hear it, contrary to customary means and contrary to it being with the medium of letters and sound.”

Imam Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini and those who follow him said, “Allah’s Speech is not heard at all.” This was the chosen view of Imam Abu al-Manswur al-Maturidi as found in al-Bidayah.

Thirdly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the Creator of the Universe is described with wisdom, hikmah, whether that wisdom takes the meaning of knowledge. ‘ilm, or the meaning of perfection or mastery, ihkam. The Imam said that Allah is described with wisdom and that wisdom is a description of Allah’s Entity. This refers either to the knowledge of the precise or perfected actions or it refers back to the Pre-Eternal Attribute of Takwin that he affirmed. This means that mastery and precision are from the implications of Takwin.

Imam al-Asha‘ri said that if wisdom takes the meaning of knowledge then it is an Eternal Attribute that subsists with Allah’s Entity, and if it takes the meaning of perfection or mastery, then it is a contingent quality akin to Takwin, and the Entity of the Creator is not described with it.

Fourthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that Allah wills obedience or disobedience for all beings, be they essences or accidents; however, obedience occurs by Allah’s Will and Decree and His Pre-Ordainment and Predestination, Pleasure, Love and Command whereas disobedience occurs by Allah’s Will and Decree and His Predestination and Pre-Ordainment but not with His Pleasure, Love or Command. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that Allah’s Love and Pleasure are inclusive of all things just as His Will.

Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah wrote in Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf,
As for Imam al-Asha‘ri, the Ustadh reported that he believed Allah’s Love is inclusive of every accident, be it an act of obedience or an act of disobedience. This general statement suggests that Allah the Exalted loves disobedience. The correct view is that this is not the doctrine of al-Asha‘ri. 
On the contrary, he said that Allah loves disobedience insomuch as He punishes on account of it, just as He loves obedience insomuch as He Rewards on account of it. There is a distinction between this and what Ustadh ibn Kamal Basha and others mentioned and ascribed to al-Asha‘ri.

Fifthly, according to Imam al-Maturidi, being legally ordered with that in which there is no capacity to endure is impermissible, whereas being burdened with that which cannot be borne is permissible. Imam al-Maturidi distinguished between being legally ordered and being burdened. According to Imam al-Asha‘ri both are permissible.

Sixthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that some of the rulings that relate to legal responsibility, taklif, are known by the intellect, because the intellect is a tool by which the goodness and evil of some things can be comprehended, and it is a tool by which the obligation of faith is comprehended, as well as the obligation of gratitude to the Giver of Bounties. The One Who makes this known and obligatory is Allah the Exalted; however, it is through the medium of the intellect, just as the Apostle made the obligations known and the One Who made things obligatory in reality is Allah the Exalted, but it was through the medium of the Prophet. Imam al-Maturidi said,
No one is excused by ignorance of his Creator due to whatever that he sees in the design and creation of the Heavens and the Earth.
He also said,
Had Allah not sent a Messenger, still it would have been obligatory for creation to know Him through their intellects.
Imam al-Asha‘ri said that nothing is made an obligation or a prohibition except by the Sacred Law – not the intellect, even if the intellect is able to comprehend the goodness and evil of some things. According to Imam al-Ash‘ari, all of the rulings that relate to legal responsibility are taken from Revelation.

Seventhly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the wretched person could become felicitous and the felicitous person could become wretched. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that there is no consideration given to either felicity or wretchedness except during the End, Death, and Requital.

According to Imam al-Maturidi, felicity is defined as Islam and wretchedness is defined as disbelief.
According to Imam al-Asha‘ri, felicity is dying upon Islam and wretchedness is dying upon disbelief.

Eighthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that it is rationally impermissible for disbelief to be pardoned. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is rationally permissible but textually impermissible. Imam al-Ash‘ari’s view is based upon a rational judgement alone, whereas Imam al-Maturidi’s view is based on observation of Allah’s Will.

Ninthly, Imam al-Maturidi said it is rationally and textually impermissible for the believers to abide eternally in the Hellfire and for the disbelievers to abide in Paradise. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is rationally quite permissible, but textually impermissible.

Tenthly, some of the Maturidis say that the name and the thing named, al-ism wa al-musamma, are one and same. Imam al-Asha‘ri believed that there is a distinction between the two and the “act of naming,” tasmiya. Some of them divided a name into three categories: itself, other than itself, and a third category that is neither itself nor other than itself. There is agreement that the act of naming, tasmiya, is other than them, the name and the thing named, and it is what is established with the one named. This is taken from Bidayah al-Kalam.

Eleventhly, Imam al-Maturidi said that being male is a condition for Prophethood, and consequently, he said, it is absolutely impermissible for a woman to be a prophetess. Imam al-Ash‘ari said that being male is not a condition for it, and that being female does not negate it. This is taken from Bidayah al-Kalam.

Twelfthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the action of the servant is called an acquisition and not creation, and that the Action of the Real is called creation and not acquisition – and both are inclusive of action. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that “action” denotes the Real bringing into existence and the acquisition of the servant is called “action” only figuratively. It has been said, “That which is permissible for the Almighty to be singularly is called creation, and that which is impermissible for the Almighty to be described with is acquisition.”

The gist of this disagreement is that Imam al-Asha‘ri held that the word “action” is literal when applied to Allah since He is the Doer, and is figurative when applied to the servant. Imam al-Maturidi on the other hand, held that the word “action” is also literal when applied to the servants.

— Imam Shamsuddin Ahmed ibn Sulayman ibn Kamal Pasha, The Disagreements Between Asha'ris and Maturidis, exegesis by Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah from Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf bayn al-Asha‘ira wa al-Maturidiyya, transmitted via Sidi Terence Helikaon Nunis of A Muslim Convert Once More

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Creed Of The Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama'ah

The word for creed in Arabic is ‘aqidah. Linguistically, it means to bind a knot firmly and tightly. And in the terminology of the sciences, it is a belief held strongly and with conviction in the hearts of humans, whether it be true or false. This strong belief is a motivator to action, such as is the case with the belief of a Muslim in the absolute necessary existence of Allah subhana wa ta'ala and the veracity of the Prophet sallallahu wa alayhisalam.

History attests to the fact that all peoples at all times have had an ideology or religious creed to which they assent, which moves them to action and which has an impact on their behavior and conduct. The Islamic creed consists of a firm belief that Allah, Lord of the Worlds, is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth; that there is only one Allah Who can be characterized by all perfections, Who Transcends all deficiencies, and Who is unlike any other being; that Muhammad is His Prophet and Messenger to the Worlds, and that he fulfilled this mission in the most perfect and complete manner; that the Qur’an is His Book, truthful and untouched by any falsity; and that what it conveys of matters unseen – for example, Angels, other Prophets, Paradise, and Hell – is all true.

The Messenger believeth in what hath been Revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His Messengers: "We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers." And they say: "We hear and we obey; We seek Thy Forgiveness, Our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys." 
On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. Pray: "Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins and grant us Forgiveness, and have Mercy on us, Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith."
[Quran 2:285-286]
This set of beliefs moves he who possesses them to hold fast to the rules of the shari’ah and the commands and prohibitions of the Qur’an and the sunnah.

The first tenet of belief is the belief in tawhid, that is, to believe in the Oneness of Allah, worshiping Him alone, and affirming this belief of His Essence, His Qualities and His Actions. It is also to affirm that there is no entity which resembles His Indivisible Essence; that there are no qualities which resemble the Divine Qualities, in which plurality is not possible such that one can say Allah has two Wills or two independent sets of Knowledge, for example; and that His Actions do not admit of any association – there is, that is to say, no action other than His, and any action of another is to be regarded as acquisitive, kasb.

What has been said by the theologians with regards to monotheism can be simplified as follows: It is the belief that Allah is other than anything that can be conceived by the imagination; it is the belief that His Essence in no way resembles other entities, nor does It compromise His Qualities; tawhid is, in fact, a developed science derived from certain and definitive proofs since it enables one to establish religious beliefs via argumentation and repelling doubts; and it is concerned with the Essence of Allah, and what is necessary, impossible, or permissible to affirm of It. It is also concerned with the Messengers, what they brought affirming the existence of a Creator. Finally, it treats Revelatory Data, and the necessity to believe in it.

The benefit of the science of tawhid is that it leads to knowledge of Allah through definitive proofs, and the attainment of eternal happiness as a result. Because it is connected to the knowledge of Allah and His Prophets, it is the most noble of sciences. As the Arabic saying goes: Things are ennobled by that which they are connected to.

Learning this science is an individual obligation for every person, male or female, as established by the verse which directs all to:

Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah... [Quran 47:19]
Technically, the obligation is to know the creed in a general way, i.e. it is wajib 'ayni; while a knowledge of the particulars and details is a communal obligation, i.e. it is wajib kifa'i.

The science of tawhid discusses three matters:
  1. Divinity – that which has to do with Allah,
  2. Prophecy – that which has to do with Prophets and Messengers, and,
  3. Revelation – that which treats matters which cannot be proven except through revelatory reports.

Regarding proofs, these are of two types: purely rational, such as that which establishes the Existence of a Creator through the Creation of the Heavens, the Earth and ourselves; and the Revelatory, which is in fact a combination of rational and revelatory premises, because the veracity of a report can be established only by reason. These proofs may establish definitive certainty in shari’ah matters when they are mass-transmitted or accompanied by empirical evidence. However, in cases where they do not accord with a reason-based proof, the latter is given priority, for to disregard reason would be to disregard both types of proofs since the latter is a hybrid.

Let us first look at the argument from epistemology and ontology. The philosophers say that that which may be known are either non-existent, existent in the mind, or existent in the world. And that which has extra-mental, worldly existence is either necessarily existent, i.e. it is impossible that it not exist, or it is contingently existent.

The theologians say that the existent is that which has a reality in the world, and it is either Eternal or it is Created. The Created is further divided into two: the Substance and the Accident. The contingent, al-mumkin, is that which is necessarily in need of a cause. It may be either existent or non-existent, in equal probability. The contingent is always Created, never Eternal.

The Essentially Necessary is Allah, Who is Simple, not compound. This is because to be compound means to be contingent, created and admitting divisibility. This also means He does not admit association because that would entail being compound. Allah transcends all and every similitude. His Qualities include Life, Knowledge, and Power. These Qualities are Eternal, and do not compromise His Necessity of Being, nor do they render Him needy of anything, for His Qualities are not other than Him.

To be created means to be preceded by non-existence. The world is everything other than Allah the Exalted. The world is made of substances and accidents. Substances are entities that are independent of place. Accidents are qualities that are connected to substance, such as color, taste, smell, life, death, will, power, and knowledge.

The Createdness of the World is proven as follows: All of existence can be classified as either Eternal or Created. The Eternal is that which is preceded by nothing else. It is necessary of existence. It is impossible for the eternal to not be, for eternality contradicts non-existence. The Created is that existent which is preceded by another. It may both exist and not exist. So, when it is distinguished by existence rather than non-existence, it is in need of something that performs that distinguishing for it. This Entity is a Creator characterized by Volition and Power.

All that is not void of created entities is Created. Nobody in the world is void of Created accidents and changeable states. The qualities of the bodies change, and they move from one state to another. The reality of changeable entities is that in fact one state is annihilated and another is created. This is known in the case of the new state by observation, and in the case of the old state because, if it were eternal it would not have become non-existent.

Therefore, it is necessary to believe firmly that the world, all its bodies, including all sorts of vegetation and animals; all actions; all utterances; and all beliefs are Created. They came to exist after non-existence.

Belief in the Existence of the Creator is the first pillar of Islamic doctrine. All other doctrinal principles are built upon it. And believing in this existence is the only path to attaining a correct understanding of Creation, and the meaning of existence in this world.

The world that we see is contingently existent which means that the mind precludes neither its existence nor non-existence. Therefore, there must be some external cause which made it existent, and distanced it from non-existence. In its default mode, the world and its entities are possible of both states. And the Cause that made it existent and not non-existent is what we call Allah, the Exalted.

Every rational person, through observation, has the ability to know necessarily that Creation came into existence after non-existence, i.e. it was Created. That which is Created is in need of a Creator. An infinite regression of such creators is impossible, as all rational people agree. Infinite regression means that a created entity has a creator, and that creator has its own creator, and on and on with no end. This infinite regression, on whose impossibility all rational people agree, cannot be avoided except by positing an Eternal Creator, Who is in need of no other, Whose Existence needs no Originator. This is Allah, the Necessarily Existent, Who is not a compound being nor multiple. He is One.

If all existences were simply contingent, and none of them were necessary, this set of contingently existent entities – which encompasses all existent entities – would be in need of an Originator. This is because the set is itself contingent, a compound entity made of a set of contingent entities. However, the Necessary of Existence is Independent in His Existence. He does not need any other entity for His Existence. And He is outside of this set. Therefore, He is the Creator.

Contemplating and knowing Allah is an obligation by consensus, whether it is by Revelatory means as the Ash’ariyyah say, or by rational ones as the Mu’taziliyyah say. The primary obligation is to know Allah, and the means to achieving it is speculation so it is also an obligation. However, speculation is not possible without an intent to engage in it. Therefore, the intention is also an obligation, indeed the first obligation. By contemplation it is meant as the tools and methodologies through which knowledge is organized so as to lead from one piece of information to another. Alternatively, it is defined as abstracting the mind away from insignificant matters and orienting it to the objects of reason. When this is done properly, what results is necessary knowledge.

This is an obligation, because in matters of doctrine, following another based on his or her authority is a sin for someone who is capable of engaging in theoretical and rational thought. If he is not capable of this, it is not a sin. Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi says,
"Our companions agree that the masses are believers and knowers of Allah, and they will populate Heaven, as we are informed in reports and as is agreed upon by scholars. For their natural state leads them to Monotheism and belief in the Creator’s Eternality and the Createdness of all else, even if they are unable to articulate this in the terminology of the theologians."
Imam Saifuddin al-Amidhi reported agreement that those who attest to the correct doctrine based on authority are not disbelievers.

The difference of opinion obtains when we turn to the judgement in the Hereafter. In matters of this world, there is no disagreement that we are to judge based on apparent attestations alone. So, he who attests to the doctrine of Islam is to be treated as a Muslim, and not pronounced a disbeliever. So, he may marry other Muslims; he may lead the prayer; his slaughtered meat may be consumed; Muslims may inherit from him, and he from them; and he is to be buried in their cemeteries.

Now let us move on to the subject of belief, Imaan, which is to attest to all that is brought by the Prophets and is known necessarily to be of the religion, both in generalities and particulars, everything brought forth by Muhammad constitutes submission to Allah, Islam, outside of which there is no Salvation. As Allah says in the Qur'an:

Say: "Truly, my prayer and my sacrifice, my life and my death are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds: No partner hath He: this am I Commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His Will."
[Quran 6:162-163]

It is necessary that one submit to this, for there is no salvation in the eyes of Allah except by entering into Islam:

Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been Revealed to us and what was Revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, 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 Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)." If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah) never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost.
[Quran 3:84-85]

Islam is the Religion of Allah with which all other Messengers had been sent:

Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian, but he was true in faith and submitted his will to and joined not gods with Him. [Quran 3:67]
The formula of testimony is:
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah;
And I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

For one who is capable of uttering it, it is obligatory for the validity of his faith. It may be uttered in a language other than Arabic, though it is better to use the Arabic wording. Simply uttering the words is not sufficient if the speaker does not understand the meaning of what he is reciting.

Articulating the formula of testimony is a condition of one being considered a Muslim in legal matters, such as inheritance, marriage, leading prayer, being eligible for the funeral prayer, burial in Muslim cemeteries, and being subject to the demand to pray and pay the zakat. This is because silent affirmation in one’s heart, though it constitutes belief, is hidden, and we are in need of a visible sign of one’s Islam.

He who attests with his tongue, but not his heart, is a hypocrite. Though he is not a Muslim in the eyes of Allah, he is to be regarded as a Muslim in this world, provided he does not betray any visible indication of his disbelief, such as prostrating to an idol or abusing a copy of the Qur’an.

The rejecter is one who refuses to utter the formula of testimony. He is a disbeliever both in the eyes of Allah and in the consideration of people in this world. An affirmation of the heart is of no consequence. He who is confronted by doubts must seek to dispel them either through rational speculation or by asking someone of knowledge. He who is confronted by temptations should seek refuge in Allah, and say “I believe in Allah and His Messenger.” Concerning the children of Muslims are considered believers, and are to be treated as such in this world even if they never articulate the formula of testimony their whole lives.

Regarding the Nature and Attributes of Allah, there are some things that cannot be affirmed of Allah. In short, He is Transcendent, and free of anything that indicates createdness or deficiency of any sort. Therefore, one may not attribute to Him accidental attributes like taste, color, smell, or pain. Nor is He restricted to directionality. Nor can we ascribe to him adjacency, for He is not bound by area. Neither the Earth nor the Heavens surround Him. He has neither limits nor measure.

Anything that is distinguished by directionality is restricted to a space, and therefore is capable of being joined to substances and separate from them. Anything that admits such a joining and separation with substance is connected to substance, and not void of it. Anything that is not void of substance is created like the substance it is connected to. In contrast, Allah transcends space, and connection to bodies.

We believe that the Creator of the world cannot be restricted by space, nor can He have an end. For a thing may not be so restricted except by something else, nor can he have an endpoint except by imposing a limitation on him by another entity. But the Creator is neither created, nor restricted, nor limited in any way. As Allah says:

Seest thou not that Allah doth Know (all) that is in the Heavens and on Earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among― them nor between five but he is the sixth nor between fewer nor more, but He is with them, wheresoever they be: in the end will He tell them the truth of their conduct, on the Day of Judgment. For Allah has Full Knowledge of all things.
[Quran 58:7]
It is impermissible to attribute to Allah movement or rest, going and coming, being in a place, connectedness and disconnectedness, physical proximity and distance, size, body, form, measure, directions, or sides.

There are the Attributes which Subsist in the Divine Essence. They number seven or eight, the difference in number being due to scholarly disagreement. These attributes are eternal like His Names. If they had been created, this would mean affirming something created of the Divine Essence. It would also mean that Allah was once without them. Finally, it would indicate the need for something to endow the Divine Essence with this quality, which contradicts His Absolute Self-Sufficiency, His lack of need of anything other than Him. These are in contrast to the attributes of action which are not eternal according to the Ash’ariyyah.

The Attributes of the Divine Essence are of neither the essence, nor of other than it. The former is obvious, for it is well known that the Reality of the Essence is not the same as that of its Attributes, otherwise they would be identical. As for the latter, what is meant is that They are not of a separable other. For these Attributes are not separable from the essence, even though Their Reality is not that of the essence itself.

Whoever directs his worship to the Attributes alone has committed disbelief. And whoever connects his worship to the Essence alone has sinned. The correct path is to worship the Divine Essence characterized by Its Attributes.

These Attributes are,
  1. Existence: This means the Existence of His Essence, uncaused by any other. It is impossible that He did not Exist. This sort of Perfect Existence is affirmed only of Allah. All others partake in a subordinate mode of existence, both preceded and succeeded by non-existence. This is an Affirmative Attribute, affirmed of the Essence Itself.
  2. Eternality: This is a Negative Attribute, which is to say that it negates that which is not worthy of Allah – in this case, createdness, and so previous non-existence. What is meant is the Eternality of the Essence – that It never came into existence. For if It were not Eternal, It would be created, and thus in need of a creator, which creator would itself be in need of a creator. This would regress infinitely. As such, He must be Eternal. We believe that Allah has always been. A report in the Sahih of Imam Muhammad ibn Hibban has it that, "There was Allah, and there was none other than Him."
  3. Everlastingness: This is also a Negative Attribute intended to exclude non-existence from His Essence. Just as we may not contemplate a cause for the generation of the Necessary Existent, we may not admit a cause for Its destruction. If we were to admit such a cause, there would be no Necessary Existent. The proof that Allah’s Existence has no end is that It would then not be Eternal, because Eternality contradicts non-existence. The existence of all other creation has both a beginning and end, except for Paradise and Hell, which had a beginning but no end. We know this through revelation and not reason.
  4. Absolute Uniqueness: This is also a Negative Attribute indicating a lack of resemblance between Allah and Creation, for He is neither a body nor an accident, neither a universal nor a particular. He similarly transcends all states and attributions that, for example, can be said of humans and other entities, such as sleep, heedlessness, hunger, thirst, and need. The proof of this Attribute is that if Allah were not opposed to all created things in all qualities, He would resemble them in their createdness, or they would resemble Him in His Eternality. That is impossible.
    We believe that Allah cannot be characterized by those qualities which characterize creation. These latter are the essence of createdness, such as being restricted to a place or time, having bodily or mental needs, or weakness or incapacity. Allah is completely Transcendent. Nothing even remotely resembles him. He has neither ancestors nor descendants. Nor does he have friends and enemies in the manner commonly spoken of, though we may use these words to mean sincere devotees, on the one hand, and those who transgress his commands, on the other.
    However, it is true that we may describe humanity by some qualities we attribute to Allah, such as Knowledge, Power, Will, and Perception. However, we distinguish by stating that these attributes are Essential Attributes of Allah, but not essential attributes of humans. In the case of the latter, they are bestowed unto us as Blessings.
  5. Subsistence in Himself: This means that He has no need for any other. We believe that Allah subsists in Himself. He has no need for an entity to generate Him, nor for a space to encompass him. He has been Allah since before the generation of anything else, and before the generation of time and space itself. Nor does He have directionality, though some anthropomorphists have said that He is characterized by "aboveness." This is invalid. As Qadhi 'Iyadh has said, "There is no disagreement among the Muslim jurists, ahadith scholars, theologians, thinkers, and lay people that the apparent meaning of verses that mention Allah being in the Heavens, such as ‘Do ye feel secure that He Who is in Heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the Earth when it trembles?’ are not to be taken literally, but rather are to be interpreted."
  6. Oneness: This is also a Negative Attribute in that it denies something that is not appropriate to Attribute to Allah, that is, multiplicity or quantity. Allah is neither composed of parts, nor made up of particulars subsumed under a Universal. He does not have two sets of Knowledge or two Wills that complement one another, nor does He have a Knowledge or Will that partakes in the knowledge or will of others.
  7. Power: This is an Eternal Attribute of the Divine Essence through which all things come to be and come to an end in accordance with His Will. What is necessary for every Muslim to know and believe is that Allah is capable of all things. The proof that Allah is characterized by power is that if He were not Omnipotent, He would be characterized by incapacity. This is impossible.
  8. Will: This is also an Eternal Attribute of the Divine Essence which has to do with realizing some of the potentialities of contingent beings. Allah’s Will is One. It originates and annihilates some things.
There are also other attributes. These include Knowledge, Life, Speech, Hearing, and Sight.

Regarding the Beautiful Names of Allah, He Himself says:

The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them...
[Quran 8:180]
The Names of Allah are Eternal like His Essential Attributes. This Eternality is taken to mean that either that they were suitable of Allah from pre-eternality, or that they always indicated the meaning of those names. Some like Sheikh ibn ‘Arabi took them to be equal in that they all pertain to One Essence, Allah, even though they may differ in the world. Others took them to be of varying degrees of importance.

"Allah" is itself the Greatest Name, above all others. Ninety-nine of these Names have been enumerated in a hadith in Imam at-Tirmidhi’s book on the authority of Hazrat Abu Hurairah, but Imam an-Nawawi has said that the scholars have agreed the Names and Attributes that are listed there do not exhaust the Names and Attributes of Allah. The position of the Ahlus Sunnah w'al Jama'ah is that His Names and Attributes are taught to us, for this is what indicates Allah’s Permission. This may take the form of either being in the Qur’an and sunnah, or it may be established by consensus of prevalent use, such as the Existent, the Necessary and the Eternal.

Now let us turn towards the subject of Prophecy. In Arabic, the word "prophet," "nabi," is taken from the word for "news" or "report," for the Prophet reports about Allah. The Prophet is also the one who is reported to, in the first instance, since Gabriel brings him news.

Terminologically, the word "prophet" refers to a pure human who is inspired by a Revelatory Code of Conduct on which he himself acts, even though he may not be called on to propagate it. If he is in fact called upon to propagate, he is a "messenger" or "rasul."  All Messengers are Prophets, but not all Prophets are Messengers.

The Sending of Messengers is a Great Bounty from our Lord because the phenomenon is a rational possibility, but He is under no obligation to send Messengers.

Allah has named twenty-five Prophets in the Qur’an. Their Prophethood must be believed in. It is not permissible for a Muslim to be ignorant of them. There are yet others not mentioned by name or in detail in the Qur’an. We know of them only generally, and so must believe in them in that general manner. That is to say, we must believe that Allah sent many Prophets and Messengers to every nation and group in a variety of places and times. It is ignorant to think that Allah specified only the Arabian peninsula and its surrounding areas for Prophecy.

There are five necessary requirements for Prophethood:
  1. Prophets only arise among humans, not among jinn or angels.
  2. Prophets must be characterized by trustworthiness and honesty, and innocence from sin.
    This is so that their testimony may be believed, and held to a high standard.
  3. Prophets must be characterized by a perfect rationality, precision, and uprightness.
  4. Prophets must have propagated to the people everything they had been ordered to propagate.
  5. Prophets must have not concealed anything.

There is disagreement on whether a prophet must be male. Those who said he must be a male rely on the verse:

Before thee, also the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted Inspiration: if ye know this not, ask of those who possess the Message. [Quran 21:7]
Those who say it is not a condition that a prophet must be a male point to verses which say that the mother of Moses was inspired as well:

"So We sent this Inspiration to the mother of Moses…" [Quran 28:7]
And that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was listed in a context where many other Prophets were listed:

Those were some of the Prophets on whom Allah did bestow His Grace ― of the posterity of Adam, and of those whom We carried in the Ark with Noah, and of the posterity of Abraham and Israel ― of those whom We Guided and Chose...
[Quran 19:58]
The greatest of Prophets is the Final Prophet, Muhammad. Muslims are duty bound to love him, as we learn from numerous of ahadith.

Regarding miracles, these are the Actions of Allah in which the conventional laws of nature are broken at the hands of His Messengers so that the Messenger’s truthfulness and the veracity of his Message may be affirmed. It may be speech, like the Qur’an, or an action, such as the gushing forth of water between Muhammad's fingers, or an absence, such as the inability of the fire to burn Abraham.

The conditions for a miracle are that it be from Allah Himself, it be a breaking of the conventional laws of nature, it be inexplicable, it be at the hands of someone who claims prophecy so that his Prophethood may be established, it be in accordance with what is being claimed and what is claimed not be disproven by the miracle itself, and it not precede the claim but be made in conjunction with it.

Therefore, Prophet Jesus’ speech in his infancy, wet dates falling on Lady Mary from a dry palm tree, cutting the chest of Prophet Muhammad and washing his heart, clouds forming a shadow over him to protect him from the sun along with the peace greetings that he used to hear from stones before his prophecy are considered miracles.

The Prophet's greatest miracle was the Qur’an itself. He also had material sensible miracles, such as the splitting of the moon, the greetings offered to him by stones, trees speaking to him, the gushing forth of water between his fingers, and others.

It is obligatory for a Muslim to believe firmly that there is no Cause in the world other than Allah, and that all the apparent causes we see in the world of phenomena are deputized by Allah Himself. There is however no harm in using language that indicates causality of things other than Allah if one's beliefs are sound on this matter. For example, one might say, "This medicine was of benefit to me," or "This doctor cured me," or "The rain this year caused there to be a good crop" without any harm of falling into disbelief.

This is why there is no harm in a Muslim seeking intercession with Allah via the Relics of Prophets, as long as he believes that the only Cause is Allah. This fits with the language used with respect to the apparent causality of the world. The most obvious instance of such is the Qur’anic verse:

We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures. [Quran 21:107]
If Allah has said of the Prophet that he is the cause of mercy to His servants, there is no harm in invoking this honor He has granted the Prophet.

There is also no difference between invoking him during his life and after his death. This is because his bodily life was never the reason for invoking him in this manner, such that we may say this is no longer possible.

Regarding belief in Revelation, the word used for this, sam’iyyat, refers to all that which can be known only through reports that partake in certainty. One may not be a believer in Allah in his heart, mind and soul without believing in both the seen and the unseen. The unseen we believe in is that which is not visible, which may not be perceived purely through rationality.

Believing in the unseen is the first pillar of piety. This means believing in
  1. Allah,
  2. the Reality of the Angels of Allah,
  3. the Authority of the Divine Scriptures inspired by Allah
  4. the Messengers of Allah,
  5. the Reality of the Last Day and that it will undoubtedly come,
  6. Fate, good or bad, and that there is nothing in the world except it was willed by Allah.

Believing in the unseen includes also believing in the existence of the Jinn whose existence is proven by definitive texts. Allah says in the Qur’an,

And He created the jinn from smokeless fire. [Quran 55:15]
So the jinn are created from fire and are asked to worship Allah Almighty and follow the Prophets and Messengers as Allah says:

I have only created the Jinn and Man so that they may serve Me. [Quran 51:56]
Also the jinn are divided into believers and disbelievers recorded in the Quran,

"Amongst us are some that submit their wills to Allah and some that swerve from justice."
Now those who submit their wills― they have sought out the Path of Righteousness.
[Quran 72:14]

Satan is one of the jinn but was expelled away from Allah’s Mercy and earned Allah’s Wrath on himself because of his disobedience towards Allah’s Direct Command to prostrate to Adam as was narrated in the Qur’an:

Behold! We said to the angels "Bow down to Adam": they bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the jinn, and he broke the Command of his Lord… [Quran 18:50]
Allah’s Eternal Wrath on Satan deems him to enter Hellfire but his Punishment is postponed until Judgment Day where he will be sentenced to excruciating pain along with those who were seduced by Satan and followed his path of evil. The jinn are inhabitants of Earth and are able to see humans unlike humans who are unable to see jinn as Allah explained in the Qur’an saying:

… for he and his tribe watch you from a position where ye cannot see them... [Quran 7:27]

Regarding the Throne, we believe it is the greatest of creation, and it is where Allah will present Himself on the Judgment Day. This Throne will be carried by eight angels on that Day but we are unable to attribute any sort of a defined or detailed description of this Throne due to a lack of knowledge about it.

We also believe in the Divine Footstool but similarly we have no available data describing it. What we know for sure though is that neither the Throne nor the Footstool are dwellings of Allah. In other words, Allah did not create the Throne out of need for elevation or superiority and did not create the Footstool out of a need for sitting down.

We also believe in the Divine Tablets, al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, and this is the first of creation. It is preserved well within the Bayt al-Ma'mur directly underneath the Divine Throne. Its length is of one-hundred years. Before creating anything else Allah ordered the Pen, the second creation of all, to write. It asked what it was to write. It was told,
“All that is going to be.”

Akin to the Throne and the Divine Footstool, the same goes for creating the Pen; it was not created for writing previously unknown knowledge nor angels asked to record the deeds of humans out of fear of forgetfulness.

Regarding belief in Paradise and Hell, these are two created entities, the first an Eternal Abode of Reward, and the latter an Eternal abode of Punishment and Fire, of levels and each person will occupy the level in accordance with his deeds. Some people might assume that the Eternality of Heaven and Hell comes in opposition to Allah’s saying in the Qur’an:

…everything will perish except His Own Face. To Him Belongs the Command, and to Him will ye all be brought back. [Quran 28:88]
But the correct interpretation of this verse is that everything in its own right amounts to nothingness because of its inability of independent self existence.

We also believe in the Reservoir from which the Prophet will serve the believers of his nation in the hereafter and we believe that whoever drinks from it shall never be subjected to thirst.

Regarding the Hour and its signs we believe there are some obvious signs like the appearance of Gog and Magog, the Emergence of the Beast, the rising of the sun from the west and the appearance of smoke. These Signs, specially the ones that are backed by definitive proofs from the Qur’an, are absolute tenets of belief and whoever denies their veracity is deemed to be a liar and a disbeliever. These Signs are part of Revelation which the mind does not have much say in as they are believed in through revelatory reports. For example, Allah says in the Qur’an:

Until the People of Gog and Magog are let through, and they swiftly swarm from every hill.
[Quran 21:96]

The questioning in the grave is authenticated by numerous prophetic reports. It is believed that the soul returns back to the body with all its five senses intact and its intellectual ability persevered to be questioned in the grave and receives its due punishment or enjoy its grace. After the burial of the dead and the dismissal of people attending his or her funeral, two angels called Munkar and Nakir are responsible for asking the deceased three questions in the language that is understood by the deceased.

The angels ask the dead about the two parts of the testimony of faith namely the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of Muhammad. Prophets and Saints are exempted from these questions as well as Martyrs who died for the Sake of Allah along with children because they were not eligible to understand Commands and Prohibitions ordained by Allah.

Allah Almighty has the Power to gather back the scattered particles and atoms of the body resided in a grave or spread in a desert or kept in the belly of an animal and form the human body again to be asked about his or her life on Earth. The scholars of the Ash’ariyyah theology reached a consensus that both the body and the soul combined either suffer from the ailments or enjoy the grace in the grave.

The return of the body to the spirit on the Day of Judgment is believed in as all the particles of the body is gathered again to return it to its original state to form the full human body. Allah Almighty possesses the Ability to reorganize these particles because of His Unlimited Power and Divine Knowledge.

We also believe in the Resurrection of the dead and taking them out of their graves for the Reckoning. In this day all human beings, jinn,and angels shall be resurrected along with beasts and animals.

Regarding the belief in Intercession of the Prophet on this day, it is obligatory and this noble status of wasilah is the supplication or prayer which the Prophet saved for his people until Doomsday. The meaning of intercession entails forgiveness for whoever attested to the Oneness of Allah and the Prophecy of Muhammad even if this person committed the gravest of sins.

All the other prophets also have the Right of Intercession in the Day of Judgement along with the angels, the gnostics and the martyrs. The first intercessor among all these is Prophet Muhammad. As for the intercession of others, it occurs only after reckoning and punishment over small and grave sins which were not forgiven by Allah. The importance of intercession lies in honoring the intercessor in this day and showing his great position in the sight of Allah. Therefore, the Forgiveness of sins other than polytheism is possible both through logic and revelation as intercession deems forgiveness possible. As for polytheism, it is deemed impossible through Revelation for a polytheist to be forgiven.

The Ash’ariyyah creed refuses to make a judgement of disbelief on any sinful believer in this world and it is similarly impermissible to pass a verdict of his or her eternal stay in Hellfire for sins whether minor or major. The correct approach is to delegate the whole issue to Allah.

Regarding the belief in the crossing of the Path that stretches over Hell, all will have to pass over it as a test and among the passers are the prophets, the gnostics and those who enter paradise without previous subjection to reckoning and judgement over their deeds. The description of the path is that it is thinner than a hair and sharper than a blade. Whoever is deemed to enter Paradise will succeed in crossing his way over to Heaven and whoever is deemed to enter Hell will fall over the bridge straight down to Hell.

— Mufti 'Ali Goma'ah, transmitted via Sidi Terence Helikaon Nunis of A Muslim Convert Once More