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Harun Yahya - Basic Tenets of Islam
Basic Tenets of Islam

Mankind! The truth has come to you from your Lord. Whoever is guided is only guided for his own good. Whoever is misguided is only misguided to his detriment. I have not been set over you as a guardian.
(Sura Yunus: 108)

 



FALSE BELIEFS ABOUT GOD

The Torah and the Gospel, the earlier revelations from God, have lost their original authenticity, since the words and interpolations of man have been incorporated into them. This is one of the reasons for which the Qur'an was sent. That the holy books preceded the Qur'an were distorted by man is related by God as follows:

Woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say "This is from God" to sell it for a paltry price. Woe to them for what their hands have written! Woe to them for what they earn! (Surat Al-Baqara: 79)

Among them is a group who distort the Book with their tongues so that you think it is from the Book when it is not from the Book. They say, "It is from God," but it is not from God. They tell a lie against God and they know it. (Sura Al 'Imran: 78)

Distortion of the Torah and the New Testament led proliferation of false beliefs among their adherents. These holy books include beliefs and ideas that derive from outside of God's true religion. This manifests itself in the distortion of the true revelation, and the depiction of God as a being with weaknesses and imperfections peculiar to human beings. (Truly, God is above what they ascribe to Him).

In the corrupted Torah, for instance, a story has been fabricated in which God is depicted as a being who was defeated in wrestling bout with the Prophet Jacob (as). Similarly, in another tale, it is claimed that having created the world in six days, God became weary and rested on the seventh day. However, God, being exalted far above any imperfections, cannot become weary or in need of rest. This is related in the Qur'an as follows:

We created the heavens and the earth, and everything between them, in six days and We were not affected by fatigue. (Sura Qaf: 38)

Do they not see that God-He Who created the heavens and the earth and was not wearied by creating them-has the power to bring the dead to life? Yes indeed! He has power over all things. (Sura al-Ahqaf: 33)

This reveals that the adherents of these books have swerved from the straight path, and have not had an accurate understanding of God and His attributes.

The Qur'an, on the other hand, is under God's protection, and is the only book revealed by God to have survived intact. The Qur'an is the book of Islam, the only true religion:

It is We Who have sent down the Reminder and We Who will preserve it. (Sura al-Hijr: 9)

If anyone desires anything other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he will be among the losers. (Sura Al 'Imran: 85)

The Qur'an refers to the erroneous beliefs adopted by Christians and Jews, and makes known the correct belief. For instance, their saying, "God has a son (Jesus)," which is one of the tenets of Christianity, is said to be merely an irrational belief and a lie said against God:

They say, "God has a son." Glory be to Him! No, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him. Everything is obedient to Him, the Originator of the heavens and earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, "Be!" and it is. (Sura al-Baqara: 116-117)

Some other verses related to this matter are as follows:

People of the Book! Do not go to excess in your religion. Say nothing but the truth about God. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God and His Word, which He cast into Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers. Do not say, "Three." It is better that you stop. God is only One God. He is too Glorious to have a son! Everything in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him. God suffices as a Guardian. (Surat An-Nisa': 171)

He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He has no wife? He created all things and He has knowledge of all things. (Sura al-An'am: 101)

Christian belief maintains that God created the universe and then left it to its own. Yet, as stated earlier, God commands Will over the universe at every single moment; it is constantly within His control. Nothing can happen without His Will and control:

He Who originates creation and then regenerates it and provides for you from out of heaven and earth. Is there another god besides God? Say: "Bring your proof if you are being truthful." (Sura an-Naml: 64)

God keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth, preventing them from vanishing away. And if they vanished no one could then keep hold of them. Certainly He is Most Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving. (Sura Fatir: 41)

To counter these false notions, and many others not mentioned here, God gives His sublime attributes for us in the Qur'an. This is in order to, not only answer these erroneous claims, but also to guide those guilty of them to the true religion of God.

Everyone must acknowledge that God is One, and that nothing is comparable to Him; He is free of any weaknesses. He encompasses everything, He exercises His command over creation at every moment, He is near to man, He has the power to do anything, He is the Most Merciful, He is the Just, He is the King of the Day of Judgement, He sees and hears everything, and is the most sublime in attributes.

 

FAITH IN GOD FREE OF IDOLATRY

Have you seen him who has taken his whims and desires to be his god? Will you then be his guardian? (Sura al-Furqan: 43)

"Shirk," the word used for idolatry in Arabic means "partnership/association." In the Qur'an, it refers to ascribing associates to God, or deeming someone or something, called idols or false-gods, worthy of worship beside or in addition to God. Idolatry, though, is not limited to worshipping totems or non-living beings. Because man's responsibility is to serve his Creator, and to strive to earn His good pleasure alone, his pursuit of any other goal is to ascribe worship to something other than God. For instance, a person would be guilty of idolatry if he were to seek the pleasure of people instead of God's. Likewise, it would again be ascribing associates to God if one's purpose in life is to satisfy his whims and desires rather than to earn God's good pleasure. Many people ascribe divinity to things like money, status, wealth and so on.

The Qur'an refers to idolaters of Arab society, who set aside a portion of their crops and cattle for their idols, as follows:

They assign to God a share of the crops and livestock He has created, saying, "This is for God,"-as they allege-"and this is for our idols." Their idols' share does not reach God whereas God's share reaches their idols! What an evil judgement they make! (Sura al-An'am: 136)

As is mentioned in the verse above, idolaters assign a part of their wealth to God, and another part to their idols. This is characteristic of the delusion of idolaters.

Loving a being more than God or loving him/it as one ought to love God is again a form of idolatry. Similarly, someone who fears a being as he should fear God, idolizes it, since he assumes that that being possesses a might apart from and independent of God.

Muslims, however, firmly believe that everything is created by God, that all affairs are regulated by Him, that causes do not have any power to produce a result independently, that every event is predetermined and created by God, that God is the possessor of the ultimate will and judgement. This is the kind of belief system that God reveals to us in the Qur'an. Deviation from these tenets, believing that everything occurs spontaneously, as the result of coincidences, attributing the power to create to some other causes, are all forms of ascribing associates to God. God does not forgive idolatry:

God does not forgive anything being associated with Him but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that. Anyone who associates something with God has gone very far astray. (Sura an-Nisa': 116)

When God's Messenger (saas) was asked, "What is the biggest sin in the sight of God?", he also said, "To set up rivals unto God although He alone created you." (Al-Bukhari)

 

ASSESSING GOD WITH A JUST ASSESSMENT

They do not measure God with His true measure. God is All-Strong, Almighty. (Surat Al-Hajj: 74)

God manifests His infinite might and knowledge in everywhere. The perfection of every part of the human body, the knowledge in the design of a flower, the beauty in its colour and scent, the glory in the heavens and the universe, the order in the orbits of the planets, the fish in the depths of oceans, and the intricate design in everything you see around you, are all clear manifestations of God's infiniteness and power. Some disbelievers, despite perceiving God's existence and His infinite might, deny Him out of arrogance. They do not acknowledge God's true greatness. Because they lack wisdom, they fail to see the evident signs of God's existence and of His greatness manifested in all beings. The inattention of these people is expressed in a verse as follows:

How many Signs there are in the heavens and earth! Yet they pass them by, turning away from them. (Sura Yusuf: 105)

Only those who reflect on the purpose of the creation around them, who have a clear faculty of discernment, who apply their minds and use their conscience, can recognize the truth that which these signs imply. They are those who believe. One of the primary attributes of a believer is his ability to be perceptive. Believers, who are capable of exercising their minds, unencumbered by false motives, come to recognize God's artistry and power through His creation, and thus have a full appreciation of His greatness and glory. A verse of the Qur'an relates that those who are able to think clearly see God's signs wherever they turn:

In the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships which sail the seas to people's benefit, and the water which God sends down from the sky-by which He brings the earth to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind-and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and earth, there are Signs for people who use their intellect. (Sura al-Baqara: 164)

A person so disposed recognizes the signs of God's existence everywhere he looks, perceiving Him for His true might. Believers keep their minds continually occupied with remembrance of God, while the majority of humanity spend their lives without a thought to these facts. In a verse of the Qur'an, the ideal behaviour of a Muslim is related as follows:

...those who remember God, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Sura Al 'Imran: 191)

 

GOD'S INFINITE GREATNESS AND POWER

God created the order of the universe in superb detail to allow man to grasp His greatness. A verse referring to this order reads, "...so that you might know that God has power over all things and that God encompasses all things in His knowledge." (Sura at-Talaq: 12). Faced with the sublimity of the details of this order, man becomes in awe, recognizing that God's wisdom, knowledge and might is infinite.

So expansive is God's knowledge that what for us is "infinite" is in His sight already ended. Every event that has taken place since the creation of time, until deep into eternity, was predetermined and ended in God's sight. (See Timelessness and The Reality of Fate, by Harun Yahya) This is related in the Qur'an as follows:

We have created all things in due measure. Our command is only one word, like the blinking of an eye. We destroyed those of your kind in the past. But is there any rememberer there? Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small. (Sura al-Qamar: 49-53)

Man must seek to appreciate the extent of God's knowledge, and reflect to comprehend His greatness.

Billions of people have appeared on earth since time immemorial. Therefore, God created billions of pairs of eyes, billions of different fingerprints, billions of different eye tissues, billions of different types of humans... If He so willed, He could also create billions more. As stated in the Qur'an, "...He adds to creation in any way He wills. God has power over all things." (Sura Fatir: 1)

God also possesses the power to create many other things beyond our limited imagination. The entire extent of the treasures God has bestowed in this world for His servants is all within His sight. He sends down to us only that which He wills, all within a measure predetermined:

There is nothing that does not have its stores with Us and We only send it down in a known measure. (Sura al-Hijr: 21)

This matter, manifested everywhere in God's superb creation, holds true for both that which we know as well as that which we do not. To this, God draws attention in the verse, "...and He creates other things you do not know." (Sura an-Nahl: 8), He creates many other things of which we are entirely unaware.

God has created many worlds and beings which we cannot see. To better understand the possibility of the existence of other worlds, we should consider the following: a picture is two dimensional-width and length. The world in which we live, however, is 3 dimensional-width, length and depth-(time can be considered as the 4th dimension). The rest is beyond our comprehension. However, in the sight of God, there are other dimensions. Angels, for instance, are beings that live in another dimension. According to the Qur'an, angels can see and hear us from the dimension and space in which they exist. Furthermore, the two angels, seated on our either shoulder, each, and at every moment, is recording every word we speak and every deed we do. Yet, we do not see them. Jinn are also beings of another dimension, as we are informed by the Qur'an. They, like us human beings, are also tested, all through their lives, and will ultimately be brought before judgement by God. However, they are possessed of completely different attributes than humans; their existence is dependent upon an entirely different system of cause and effect.

These are all facts that deserve careful consideration in order to attain a better grasp of God's splendid creation. It is within God's power to create innumerable new worlds, beings and situations. Furthermore, each is He able to create with a limitless degree of differentiation. Indeed, in a nature unknown to us, God will create Paradise and Hell. While systems left to their own in this world tend to age, become corrupted, and eventually expire, in Paradise, unaffected by the passage of time, nothing will deteriorate; "rivers of milk whose taste will never change" is an example to elucidate this feature of Paradise. The human body too will not degenerate; nor will anything ever age. According to the Qur'an, everyone in Paradise will be of like age, will live together for all eternity, in the best condition, and without growing older or losing their beauty. God also informs us in the Qur'an that in it will be bursting springs for us from which to drink. Hell, on the other hand, will be utterly different; in it, God will create unimaginable torment. No one will be able to conceive the pain of such torment until he experiences it.

On everything in this world, God has placed a limit. Everything has a finite existence. This being the case, in order to comprehend "eternity," and God's infinite might, we need to exercise our minds and compare these ideas with something that is familiar. We can only come to know to the extent that God permits us. God, however, is infinite in knowledge. Let us consider the following example, God has created 7 basic colours. It is impossible for us to visualize another colour. (The case is similar to describing the colour red to someone who is blind by birth; no description would be adequate.) However, God is able to create more than these basic colours. Although, unless He so wills, we will never be able to have a grasp that which is beyond what He has willed for us to know.

All that we have just mentioned belongs to that knowledge that God has allotted us in this world. But, one point deserves particular attention; because God's power and might is infinite, anything can happen, and at any time, by His will. God's Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) also referred to the eternal power of God when he said, "The seven heavens and the seven earths are no more in God's Hand than a mustard seed in the hand of one of you." God explains the infiniteness of His knowledge in the Qur'an as follows:

If all the trees on earth were pens and all the sea, with seven more seas besides, was ink God's words still would not run dry. God is Almighty, All-Wise. (Sura Luqman: 27)

In brief, no matter how hard we strive to do so, we cannot possibly come to grasp the extent of God's knowledge, because it is unlimited. We can comprehend it only as far as God permits us to do so:

God, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Sura al-Baqara: 255)

 

LOVE OF GOD AND FEAR OF GOD

God says, "Do not take two gods. He is only One God. So dread Me alone." (Sura an-Nahl: 51)

Fear of God is one of the essential attributes of a believer. Because, it is fear of God that draws a person nearer to God, makes him attain a deeper faith, enables him to conduct himself responsibly towards God every moment of his life, and nurtures his dedication to values of the Qur'an. The fact that the good morals God expects from His servants come with the fear of God is reaffirmed by the Prophet Muhammad (saas) in these words:

Fear God wherever you are; if you follow an evil deed with a good one you will obliterate it; and deal with people with a good disposition. (At-Tirmidhi)

Failure to understand the real meaning of fear of God causes some to confuse it with other kinds of mundane fears. However, fear of God differs greatly from all other type of fear.

The Arabic word used in the original text of the Qur'an (khashyat) expresses overwhelming respect. On the other hand, the Arabic word used in the Qur'an to refer to worldly fears (hawf) expresses a simple kind of fear, as in the fear one feels when faces with a wild animal.

A consideration of the attributes of God leads to a better understanding of these two kinds of fear, both expressed by different words in Arabic. Worldly fears are usually caused by a potential threat. For example, one may fear being murdered. However, God is the All-Compassionate, the Most Merciful and the Most Just. Therefore, fear of God implies showing respect to Him, the All-Compassionate, the Most Merciful and the Most Just, and avoiding exceeding His limits, rebelling Him and being of those who deserve His punishment.

The consequences that a fear of God has on people make this difference apparent. Faced with a deadly danger, a person panics; seized with hopelessness and desperation, he fails to exercise his reason and discover a solution. Fear of God, however, actuates wisdom and adherence to one's conscience. Through fear of God, a person is motivated to avoid that which is evil, corruptive, and likely to cause either physical or mental harm to him. Fear of God fosters wisdom and insight. In a verse of the Qur'an, God informs us that it is through fear of God that wisdom and understanding is acquired:

You who believe! If you have fear of God, He will give you a criterion (by which to judge between right and wrong) and erase your bad actions from you and forgive you. God's favour is indeed immense. (Sura al-Anfal: 29)

Worldly fears cause man anxiety. Fear of God, however, not only gives rise to increased spiritual strength, but also to peace of mind.

It is through fear of God that man avoids those evil actions displeasing God. A verse of the Qur'an states, "...God does not love anyone vain or boastful." (Sura an-Nisa': 36). A God-fearing person strives diligently to abstain from boasting, and to engage rather in actions to earn God's love. For that reason, fear of God and love of God are mutually exclusive.

Fear of God, in fact, removes the obstacles to drawing nearer to God and earning His love. Foremost of these obstacles is one's lower self. From the Qur'an, we learn that there are two aspects of the soul; the one inspiring evil and mischief, and the other, guarding against every inclination to evil.

...the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity and a fear of God, he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Sura ash-Shams: 7-10)

Struggling against this evil, and not giving in it, requires spiritual strength. This strength derives from fear of God. A God-fearing person is not enslaved by the selfishness of his soul. The awe he feels for God draws him away from thoughts and deeds unworthy of His pleasure. A verse of the Qur'an informs us that only those who fear God will take heed of the warnings imparted to them:

You can only warn those who act on the Reminder and fear the All-Merciful in the Unseen. Give them the good news of forgiveness and a generous reward. (Sura Ya Sin: 11)

Man's striving must be to feel a more profound fear of God. To effect this noble sentiment, he must reflect upon God's creation and recognize the supreme artistry and power represented in its every detail. His thinking must enable him to attain a better grasp of His grandeur and add to his awe. Indeed, God commands us:

You who have fear! Have fear of God with the fear due to Him and do not die except as Muslims. (Sura Al 'Imran: 102)

So have fear of God, as much as you are able to, and listen and obey and spend for your own benefit. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Sura at-Taghabun: 16)

The more a believer fears God, the more loving he becomes. He better acknowledges the beauty of God's creation. He acquires the ability to recognize the multitude of people, nature, animals, and in everything around him, as reflections of God's sublime attributes. Consequently, he comes to feel a deeper love for such blessings, as well as for God, their Creator.

A person who grasps this secret also knows what love of God is. He loves God, over and above anything else, and understands that all beings are the work of His creation. he loves them in accordance with God's pleasure. He loves believers who are submissive to Him, but feels aversion for those who are rebellious towards Him.

The true love that makes man happy, brings him joy and peace, is love of God. Other forms of love, felt for beings other than God, are, in the words of the Qur'an, love peculiar to idolaters, and consistently leads to anguish, sorrow, melancholy and anxiety. The idolaters' love and the love believers feel for God are compared in a verse as follows:

Some people set up equals to God, loving them as they should love God. But those who believe have greater love for God... (Sura al-Baqara: 165)