Islam
 

Introduction To Islam - Part I

WHAT IS FAITH?

Entering into Islam is only possible with faith. It is not possible to consider someone a “Muslim” if that person does not believe in the principles that are brought by the Qur’an.

In Islam, faith is innate. God created each person with a potential that is to be fulfilled through full belief in the Supreme Might. When belief fully in a supreme being cannot be reached, the person is left with a void, a sense of emptiness. Historically, people and civilizations have always been in search of something to believe in, and when that something could not be found, they produce false gods, knowingly or unknowingly. Today, it simply contradicts with their indulgences, thus they have turned their backs on true belief. (See also various New Age movements).

With regard to reaching faith, abstract thinking, whether developed or not, is an important factor. Perhaps because of this reason, according to Islam, faith is a degree that can only be reached by rational people. In the Qur’an, the people who do not believe are always invited to use their minds, and generally disbelief is considered a consequence of one’s inability to use his mind properly. “Ulul al-bab” (The owners of secrets), which is found in the Qur’an as the “owners of the mind” does not quite have the same connotation as the positivist mind-frame that is generally accepted. The word “Lubb” (Lobe) has the meaning of mind, which is mentioned quite often in psychology today. The mind and heart are found within the concept of “Lubb.” A faith that remains in the mind alone and is not felt in theheart is a faith that cannot be turned into practice.

Historically, people and civilizations have always been in search of something to believe in, and when that something could not be found, they produce false gods, knowingly or unknowingly.

WHAT ARE THE ARTICLES OF FAITH (‘AQIDAH) and DOGMATIC THEOLOGY (KALAM)?

‘Aqidahis the Arabic word for articles of faith, particularly the Islamic faith. ‘Aqidah states clearly what a Muslim should believe in. ‘Aqaid is the plural form of ‘aqidah, which literally means to bind or tie; thus, ‘aqidah is the articles of faith to which Muslims must absolutely be binded to. 

Kalam(dogmatic theology) is the branch of Islamic Studies that thoroughly discusses the articles of faith in Islam and supports these principles through various comparative studies. It seeks to prove the articles of faith.

The difference between Kalam and ‘Aqidah is the following: ‘Aqidah defines what a Muslim believes in, whereas the main objective of Kalam is to defend ‘Aqidah. Throughout the history of Islam, Kalam has always emerged whenever cultural conflicts have arisen.

Kalam, however is not what’s responsible for making a person believe; it is through one’s heart that faith is derived.Kalam simply tries to iron out whatever suspicions might arise in one’s mind.

Kalamdiffers from Islamic Philosophy in that the verses of the Qur’an are taken as the basis for belief. The struggle is simply in the mind’s efforts to understand these verses. In Islamic Philosophy, however, the basis for belief is reason and logic, and revelation is somehow fitted into this. Because of this, Islamic theologians have condemned some Islamic philosophers and called them disbelievers.

The road to submission may be different for each person. There may be a conflict in the mind between conviction and intelligence (the fact that whether it is possible or not is argued separately). If a person selects conviction, he has indeed surrendered by choosing the road of ‘Aqidah and Kalam. On the other hand, if one prefers using his intellect over conviction, but does not reject conviction (if he does, then he is considered a disbeliever), then he has obviously chosen to submit himself to Islam through philosophy; philosophy becomes more prominent than resignation for that person. (Here, it is obvious that what the majority of people refer to as intelligence is not pure intellect, it is in fact the way of thinking of their particular era.) 

All the principles of faith and practice in Islam depend on the information that Allah conveyed to us through his prophets.

THE PRINCIPLES OF FAITH (IMAN)

The three fundamental principles of faith, upon which the religion was established, are belief in Allah, the Afterlife, and His Messenger.

There is no judicial opinion in the topics of belief and worship (here, judicial opinion refers to reasoning and establishing rules according to that). In other words, do people decide that angels must exist through reasoning? Did Allah send prophets and through those prophets did He announce His own existence, the existence of the Angels, the Afterlife and Hell?  

All the principles of faith and practice in Islam depend on the information that Allah conveyed to us through his prophets.The existence of Allah, the order He established, His creation of all things, the existence of the Afterlife, resurrection, and all other similar topics are brought to us through conviction. We are informed as to how we shall serve Allah through conviction as well. Whether we are going to choose how we are going to serve Allah or Allah is going to declare that, is a significantly important parting of the ways. Every human being is obliged to answer the following questions honestly and precisely:

Does Allah exist?

Yes there is a God, but can we say that I do not need His mercy and contentment?

Are we going to achieve his mercy by behaving according to our own will or by taking what he demands from us into consideration?

The fact that the first Muslims believed before the Qur’an before it had even been inscribed, simply as a result of their trust in Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) should never be forgotten.

RESIGNATION

Neither our Prophet (pbuh), nor his companions argued about any information that came to them from the level of Haqq. I believe that we need to return to this. There is resignation. You only present, you do not argue. In the sense of the individual, there is resignation while in terms of declaration, there is presentation. Who is making the presentation is as important as what is told in that presentation. The fact that the first Muslims believed before the Qur’an before it had even been inscribed, simply as a result of their trust in Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) should never be forgotten.

Abu Bakr believed in our Prophet without any hesitation. With regard to him becoming a Muslim, our Prophet said “Everyone wanted to think when I told them about the revelation; only Abu Bakr accepted it as soon as I told him.” This resignation of Abu Bakr was continuous. After the Miraj (Night Journey), there were people who abandoned the religion. However, Abu Bakr said “I believe that every day an angel comes to him from above, why shouldn’t I believe that one day he would go up to the sky? If he said it, then it must be true.” This is a great resignation resulting from the trust he felt in Prophet Muhammad. If Abu Bakr only believed things that Prophet Muhammad claimed which made sense rationally, then he might not have believed that the Miraj took place. However, his trust in the Prophet (pbuh) is the faith he had in his morality, character and statements of truth. Today, in order to solve the problems we have with Islam and reach the level of resignation which Abu Bakr possessed, we need to know Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) very well.    

Today, we are reading a Book called the Qur’an. Who said that it was the Qur’an? Who said claimed that it was Allah’s revelation? Prophet Muhammad did, didn’t he? Did we hear Gabriel telling him these? We believe in the Qur’an because we trust him. Some scholars (Orientalists) who carry out studies about Eastern disciplines establish institutes to find faults in the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad. Their intention is clear; if they can break the trust that Muslims have in their blessed Prophet, then they have won the battle and penetrated the Islamic world.

Thus, knowledge of Simyah (Appearance) and the Sirah (biography of Prophet Muhammad) is critical. The first priority in Islamic education should be to read the sirah of the Prophet, because everything else will be built upon this knowledge. In doing so, there will not be room for hesitation in regards to the Prophet in our minds, and the acquired knowledge about him as a person and a prophet can be conveyed to others.

Some scholars (Orientalists) who carry out studies about Eastern disciplines establish institutes to find faults in the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad.

QUR’AN AND SUNNAH

What are the positions of the Qur’an and Sunnah, apart from each other? In the Qur’an, we have the basic principles of Islam, both regarding worship and in morality. Whereas in the Sunnah, we are told how such principles will be practiced in everyday life.

In fact, the Sunnah can establish principles as well. If there exists a hadith from our blessed Prophet about a matter that is not mentioned in the Qur’an, then it becomes a source for us. With the authority given by Allah, the blessed Prophet of Islam was a law maker as well. Because, in tens of verses of the Qur’an, Allah states that he has given the Prophet such authority by saying that believers should do what the Prophet orders them to do.

 

Fatma Bayram is a Turkish writer and Islamic educator based in Istanbul.

Introduction to Islam Part II
Introduction to Islam Part III
Introduction to Islam Part IV

 

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