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Fundamentals of Islam

Roots of Religion

  • Tawheed - (Oneness of Allah)
  • 'Adl - (Justice of Allah)
  • Nubuwwat - (Prophethood)
  • Imamat - (Guidance)
  • Qiyaamat - (Resurrection)
  • Branches of Religion

    • Namaaz (Prayers)
    • Saum (Fasting)
    • Hajj (Pilgrimage)
    • Zakat (Poor Rate)
    • Khums (Wealth Tax)
    • Jehad (Striving)
    • Amr-Bil-Ma'roof (Enjoin what is good)
    • Nahi-Anil-Munkar (Forbid what is wrong)
    • Tawalla (To love and respect the Ahl-ul-Bait and their friends)
    • Tabarra (To disassociate from the enemies of the Ahl-ul-Bait)

    Tawheed

    Tawheed simply means ONE. The belief in One God is the foundation stone of Islam. Muslims believe that Allah is ONE in all respects.

    The proper name Muslims use for God is "Allah". 'Allah' means 'One who deserves to be loved' and 'Into Whom every one seeks refuge'. Grammatically speaking, the word 'Allah' is unique. It has no plural and no feminine. He has no partner, wife, children or relatives nor is He born of any parent. The name cannot be translated by the word 'God' because God can be transformed into 'Gods' and 'Goddess'.
    "Say: He is Allah, The One and Only;
    Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
    He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
    And there is none like unto Him."
    Surah 112 (Tawheed)
    Two Aspects of Tawheed.

    The two main sides of Tawheed are:-
    1. Belief in existence of Allah.
    2. Belief In Unity of Allah.

    1. Belief in existence of Allah.

    Belief in Allah is a natural,instinct. An atheist once asked Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S.) how could he convince him about the existence of God. Coming to know that the man had, gone several times on sea voyages, Imam asked him, "Have you ever been caught in a fierce storm in the middle of the sea with your sails torn away and you trying desperately to keep your boat afloat?" The answer was: 'Yes'. Then the Imam asked. "And sometimes perhaps even that leaking boat went down leaving you exhausted and helpless on the mercy of raging waves?" The answer was again: "Yes". Then the Imam asked, "Was not there in all that black despair, a glimmer of hope in your heart that some power could still save you?" When he agreed, Imam said, "That power is God." The atheist was intelligent and recognised the truth.

    For things to come into existence without a creator is not at all possible as even a small. item such as a pencil requires a worker to manufact ure it. Nothing can come into existence without a person making it. All the magnificient creations including ourselves are a proof of the presence of a creator.

    A man once came to Imam Ali (A.S.) requesting for proof on the existence of God. In response the Imam said, "The wasteballs of a camel prove its existence and the dung of a donkey proves its existence and the footprints are evidence that someone passed a certain way. So why should not this sky and earth serve as the evidence, of the existence of One most Great and All-knowing."

    In the same way in this vast universe the stars, sun, planets, animals trees and we ourselves are sign of Allah.

    2. Belief In Unity of Allah

    Our belief concerning Tawheed is that Allah is Wahid and Ahad. Wahid means Single, Sole or One with no second unlike as in the system of counting.

    Ahad means absolutely Unique in the sense that there is no likeness to him among things. Allah has knowledge but not like the limited knowledge of others. He hears but not with ears, He sees but not with eyes like those of men and so only Allah is AHAD.

    Effects of two or more Gods.

    1. If there were two gods and one of them over-rides the decision of the other, then the second one is weaker than the first and therefore is not completely strong. Therefore the stronger one would be supreme god, and if both think and act exactly on similar lines then what is the need to suppose two gods at all? One God is enough.

    2. Supposing there were several gods and each one in charge of a specific job. So a seed will not grow until all the gods from the sky to underneath the earth play their part in full co-operation. If at a given time there was no co-operation, the result would be conflict and germination of seed will not take place. But no disturbance or disorder occurs in the smallest or largest creation.

    The Holy Qur'an explains:
    If there had been in them any gods except Allah, they would both have certainly been in a state of disorder; therefore glory be to Allah, the Lord of the dominion, above what they attribute (to Him). (Quran 21:22)
    (Adapted from: God of Islam. By Seyyid Saeed Akhter Rizvi)


    'Adl

    Belief that Allah is Just. He will reward or punish any person according to his deeds and thus the notion of predestination (where all decisions are Allah's and not any one else's) in one's deeds does not exist.

    The word Adl was originally coined to convey the idea of "making two things equal," and "distributing equally."

    The same is the case with "insaaf" which literally means, "dividing in two halves."

    The idea of equal distribution naturally leads to "Equity" or "Justice." And, as a result, "Adl" came to denote "Justice," "Equity" "To be on straight path" "Straight-forwardness," "To be of exact standard neither less nor more," and "To keep everything in its proper place."

    The opposite words are "Jaur" and "Dhulm."

    "Jaur" means, "to be inclined to one side," which consequently means, "not to be impartial in Justice," "to be biased for or against one party."

    "Dhulm" means "to put a thing in a wrong place", as an unjust judge misplaces his judgement by not giving the aggrieved party his due, he is called Dhulm.

    "Adl" is one of the most important attributes of Allah, according to the Shia faith. So far as the existence and Oneness of Allah is concerned it comes under the first root of religion "Tawheed" as explained above. But the Actions of Allah come under this Second Root, i.e., "Adl".

    Allah does no wrong

    "Allah does no wrong" means that He is active and powerful but He can do no wrong. Anybody who commits wrong or injustice does so either because he does not know that it is wrong, (but Allah knows every thing) or because he needs something which cannot be obtained without wrongdoing, (but Allah has no need) or because he has been compelled by somebody else to commit that wrong, (but Allah is Omnipotent and nobody can compel Him to do anything). So logically it is impossible for Allah to do any injustice, or wrong.

    Abu Hanifa asked Imam Musa bin Jaffer: From who is the action of man? Imam replied: "there are only 3 imaginable sources.

    1) Either Allah is the doer of that action; or
    2) Both together are the companions of that action; or
    3) The man himself is the originator of his actions.

    If Allah is the doer of the actions of man, why does he inflict punishment on man for the sins? Is it not injustice? And if both man and Allah are partners in that crime, then is it not gross injustice that the powerful partners (i.e. Allah) punishes the weaker partner (i.e. man) for an action which both of them performed together? And as these two alternatives are proved to be illogical and impossible, the 3rd theory is proved to be correct that man does his actions by his own power and will."
    "Whatever benefit comes to you (O man!), it is from Allah, and whatever misfortune befalls you, it is from yourself, and We have sent you (O Prophet!), to mankind as a messenger; and Allah is sufficient as a witness." (Quran 4:79)
    Injustice And Its Negative Effects:-

    Reasons of Injustice:

    Supposing, Allah was not just and treats a creature with cruelty or commits an evil; then it must be because of one of four reasons:-

    i) He is ignorant of the action, and does not know that it is evil,
    ii) He knows what He does, but He has been compelled to do it, and is unable to desist from it;
    iii) It is necessary for him to do it, although He is aware that it is evil, but He is not compelled to do it;
    iv) He does it at his pleasure, without cause, or as an amusement although, He is neither ignorant of it, nor constrained to do it, and neither is it necessary for Him to do it.

    Each of these is an impossibility for Allah, as each one entails a deficiency in Him. But He is Absolute perfection; therefore we must say that He is glorified from oppression and from doing what is evil.

    (Adapted from: Justice of God. By Seyyid Saeed Akhter Rizvi)


    Nubuwwat

    Belief in the Prophets (PBUT) of God who excel all other persons for whom they are sent for. A Prophet is sinless (ma'soom). Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (PBUH) is the last of the prophets sent by God. The total number of prophets (PBUT) that were sent by God to mankind is 124,000 and every nation on earth was given guidance through them.

    Nabuwwat is the belief in Prophethood.

    Allah sent 124,000 prophets to guide us. The first of which was Prophet Adam (A), who was also the first man. The last of which was Prophet Muhammad (S).

    Why do we need Prophets?

    Prophets are there to show us the right way, to guide us, like teachers. They are humans like us, so that we can relate to them, and they can be an example for us.

    The Prophets are like a bridge between us and Allah.
    Allah talks to the Prophets in one of three ways:
    1. Directly, eg. Prophet Musa (A).
    2. Through a dream, eg. Prophet Ibrahim (A).
    3. Through the angel Jibrail, eg. Prophet Muhammad (S).
    The Prophets then tell us what Allah has told them.

    Prophets were sent to a tribe, a community, a family, whatever Allah commanded. But our Holy Prophet (S) was sent for the whole of mankind till the Day of Judgement.

    One of the titles of our Holy Prophet (S) is Rahmatun Lil 'Alameen which means "mercy to the universe". This is because after the coming of our Prophet (S) Allah does not instantly punish the people for their continued disobedience, the way He did in the past.
    eg. The people at Prophet Nuh's (A) time were drowned.
    The people at Prophet Hud's (A) time were destroyed.

    The Prophets have to have the following qualities:
    • be chosen by Allah,
    • be Ma'sum - not have committed any sin, not even by mistake.
    • be able to perform miracles
    • be the most perfect person at that time(In their Akhlaq and knowledge)
    The Arabic word for a Prophet is Nabi. Amongst the Nabi are a certain few who were given new commands (set of laws, Shari'ah) for the people to follow, these are called Rasul. Thus the rank of Rasul is higher than that of a Nabi.

    There are five Prophets who have an even higher rank and these are known as the Ulul Adhm Prophets (The special Prophets). These are:
    1. Prophet Nuh (A).
    2. Prophet Ibrahim (A).
    3. Prophet Musa (A).
    4. Prophet Isa (A).
    5. Prophet Muhammad (S).
    The Prophets brought the message of Allah in stages as the maturity (understanding capability) of the people developed and they were able to understand more. eg. To try to explain a car to a child, first you will say that it is something with wheels that takes you from one place to the next. As the child gets older and more mature, and can understand more, you will explain that the car runs by means of an engine which needs petrol. As the child gets older still you will explain the way the engine works and so on and so on.

    The Prophets usually had their new set of laws (Shari'ah) made into a book. These are known as Divine books.

    Prophet Nuh (A) and Prophet Ibrahim (A) each had a Divine book but not much is known about either of these books.
    The other Divine books that we know of are:-
    Taurat was revealed to Prophet Musa (A).
    Zabur was revealed to Prophet Dawud (A).
    Injil was revealed to Prophet Isa (A).
    Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (S).

    Islam is the first and final religion taught by all the Prophets, perfected and completed by the Holy Prophet, Muhammad Mustafa (S).


    Imamat

    Imamat is the belief in the need for guides after the Holy Prophet (S).There are 12 such guides (A-immah).

    A-immah is the plural of Imam. Imam means guide/leader.

    Just like the Prophets, the A-immah have to have the following qualities:
    • be chosen by Allah,
    • be Ma'sum - not commit any sin, not even by mistake.
    • be able to perform miracles
    • be the most perfect person at that time(in their Akhlaq and Knowledge)
    The A-immah (A) are 12 in number:
    1. Imam Ali (A)
    2. Imam Hasan (A)
    3. Imam Husain (A)
    4. Imam Ali Zainul Abideen (A)
    5. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A)
    6. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (A)
    7. Imam Musa al-Kadhim (A)
    8. Imam Ali ar-Ridha (A)
    9. Imam Muhammad at-Taqi (A)
    10. Imam Ali an-Naqi (A)
    11. Imam Hasan al-Askari (A)
    12. Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (A).
    The 12th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (A) is the Imam of our time and is still alive. This is why when we hear his name we should stand up and put our right hand on our head and bow our head down, to show our respect for him.

    Our Holy Prophet (S) has said that any Muslim who dies without knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of a non-believer.

    Why do we need an Imam to guide us when the Holy Prophet (S) has taught us the whole of Islam and left behind the Holy Qur'an ?

    The Imam (A) is there to help us and guide us when we do not understand something, also when we forget something, and to intervene on our behalf to Allah.

    Once in a mosque in Iraq there was a man called Amr bin Ubayd who was telling the people that he did not believe in the need of an Imam.

    Hisham, a young student of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (A) asked Amr that if he was so sure that there was no need of an Imam, could he please answer some of his questions. Amr agreed.

    Hisham asked Amr if he had eyes, to which Amr replied of course he had eyes.

    Hisham then asked Amr what was the use of his eyes, to which Amr replied they were to see with.

    Hisham then asked Amr if he had ears. Amr said he did.

    Hisham then asked what was the use of his ears. Hisham replied that they were to hear with.

    Hisham then asked Amr about his nose, then his mouth in this same way, and Amr replied him, thinking what foolish questions he was being asked.

    Hisham then asked Amr if he had a brain. Amr said he did.

    Hisham asked of what use was the brain to him, to which Amr replied that it was with the brain he was able to understand what all the other organs perceived.

    Hisham asked Amr that did that mean even if all the organs that he had (eyes, ears, nose, mouth) were healthy, still they could not work without the brain. Amr agreed.

    Hisham then continued that if Allah has made a brain to guide the organs in the body, did Amr not think that Allah would leave a guide (Imam) for man himself.

    Amr could not reply !

    Our Holy Prophet (S) has said: Those who hold on to his Ahlulbayt are like those who held onto the ark of Prophet Nuh (A), they will be saved.

    Qiyaamat

    Qiyamat means the belief in the day of Judgement.

    It is the day that we will account for all our actions in this world. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an.
    "It is He who has created death and life, that He may test which of you does the best of deeds" (Quran 67:2)
    Why does there have to be Qiyamat ?
    1. Allah did not create us without purpose, so that when we die that is the end of us. The world is not without purpose. Imagine an artist creates a painting and then destroys it.
    2. Divine Justice. Not all criminals pay in this world. Sometimes they are not caught. Similarly not all good can be repaid in this world. eg building a Mosque, teaching a child.
    How will Allah bring us back when we have turned to dust? Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:

    "Were we fatigued by the first creation? Yet that they are in doubt about the recreation." (Quran 50:15)
    The above ayat is telling us that just as Allah created us at the beginning of our life, He will again give us life. Remember that when we were first made we were made from nothing.

    The Hereafter: Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
    "None can perceive what blessings are hidden for man in that world which will delight his eye." (Quran 32:17)
    We are told here that no matter how wonderful we think Heaven is going to be, it will be better. We will never be able to imagine how wonderful it really will be.

    Similarly we cannot imagine how dreadful Hell will be. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
    "Then he shall die not therein nor shall he live (in it)" (Quran 87:13)
    Our 6th Imam, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (A) was once asked what this ayat meant.

    He replied that Allah was telling us about Hell, and how you will not die in the fire nor live in it. He carried on that as our skin and body burnt in the fire we would get a new skin and body which would again burn.

    The man asked Imam (A) how this new skin could be punished in the fire for the sins of the old skin.

    Imam (A) answered that it was a new skin yet it was the old skin. He gave the example of a brick. He told the man that if he had a brick and he broke it until it was powder, then put it together and baked it into a new brick, the brick would be a new brick yet old.

    In this same way the people in Hell will burn in the fire and when they are all burnt they will be remade to burn again until they have paid for all their sins.

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