An Introduction to the Foundations of Islām

  Shaykh Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ ibn al-ʿUthaymīn

An overview of the five pillars of Islām and the six articles of faith.

bismallah

  

  So verily the knowledge of tawḥīd [the oneness of Allāh] is the noblest of sciences, and the greatest in rank, and most obligatory to be studied because it is the knowledge of Allāh the Exalted, and His Names, and His Attributes, and His Rights upon His slaves.
Shaykh ibn al-ʿUthaymīn


Verily the praise is for Allāh, we praise Him, and we ask for His Help, and His Forgiveness, and we repent to Him. We seek refuge in Allāh from the evils of our own selves, and from the sins of our actions. Whoever is guided by Allāh, there is no misguidance for him, and whoever is misguided by Him, then there is no guide for him. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh alone, without any partners. I testify that Muḥammad is His slave and His messenger. May Allāh blessings be upon him, and upon his family, and his companions, and whoever follows them in goodness. As for what proceeds:

So verily the knowledge of tawḥīd [the oneness of Allāh] is the noblest of sciences, and the greatest in rank, and most obligatory to be studied because it is the knowledge of Allāh the Exalted, and His Names, and His Attributes, and His Rights upon His slaves.

Likewise, it is the key to the path to Allāh the Exalted, and the foundation of His Laws [Sharīʿah]. So the messengers were united upon calling to it. Allāh the Exalted says:

"And We did not send before you any messenger, except that We revealed to him that there is none worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me." [Sūrah al-Anbiyāʾ, 21:25]

Allāh Himself testifies to His Oneness, and the angels, and the people of knowledge testify to it also. Allāh the Exalted said:

"Allāh the Exalted testifies that there is none worthy of worship except Him, and so do the angels, and those of knowledge - [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice. There is none worthy of worship except Him, the Exalted, the Mighty, the Wise." [Sūrah Āli ʿImrān, 3:18]

Since this is the nature of tawḥīd, it is ibnding upon every Muslim to devote himself to learning, teaching, contemplating on, and believing in it, so that his religion may be built upon safe foundations, and so that he may be satisfied, and get the blessings of its fruits and results. [1]

THE RELIGION OF ISLĀM

The Religion of Islām is the religion which Allāh sent Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) with. Allāh abrogated with it all other religions, and perfected it for His slaves, and completed with it His favour upon them, and chose it for them as a religion. So no religion besides it will be accepted. Allāh the Exalted said:

"Muḥammad is not a father from any of your men, rather he is the Messenger of Allāh, and the last of the prophets." [Sūrah al-Aḥzāb, 33:40]

And Allāh the Exalted said,

"Today I have perfected for you your Religion, and completed for you My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islām as a religion." [Sūrah al-Māʿidah, 3:5]

And Allāh the Exalted said:

"Verily the religion with Allāh is Islām." [Sūrah Āli ʿImrān, 3:19]

And Allāh the Exalted said,

"And whoever takes other than Islām as a religion, it will never be accepted from him, and he will be in the Hereafter - from the losers." [Sūrah Āli ʿImrān, 3:85]

Indeed Allāh made obligatory upon all the people to specify worship for Him. So He said in speaking to the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam):

"Say: 'O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allāh to you all, [To Him] belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is none worthy of worship except Him; He gives life and causes death.' So believe in Allāh and His messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believes in Allāh and His Words, and follow Him so that you may be guided." [Sūrah al-Aʿarāf, 7:158]

In Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim from Abī Hurayrah (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu), from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said: "By Him in whose Hand is the soul of Muḥammad, no one is from the Jews or the Christians, and then he dies and he has not believed in that which I was sent with, except that he is from the people of the Fire." [2]

To believe in Islām means to believe in what he (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) brought with approval and submission, not mere belief. Consequently, Abū Ṭālib was not a believer in the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), along with what he came with, even though he testified that it was the best of religions.

The religion of Islām has guaranteed all the good things that were included in the previous religions. It is distinguished because its good is valid in all times and places, and peoples. Allāh the Exalted says in speaking to His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam):

"And We revealed to you the Book in truth, affirming what preceded it from the books, and a supervisor over them." [Sūrah al-Māʿidah, 5:48]

This means that its existence is good for all times places and people. Following it does not negate the benefit of a nation in any time or place, rather it benefits them. This does not mean that it is subject to every time place or people as some of the people think.

The religion of Islām is the true religion through which Allāh guarantees the one who adheres to it with His Help, and He will render him victorious over all others. Allāh the Exalted says:

"He is the one who sent His Messenger with the true Religion, to render it victorious over all other Religions, even though the idolaters may detest it." [Sūrah al-Ṣaff, 61:9]

Allāh the Exalted says:

"Allāh has promised those among you who have believed and done righteous deeds, that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them their Religion, which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security. They worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that; then they are the disobedient ones." [Sūrah al-Nūr, 24:55]

The religion of Islām is a creed and a law, so it is perfect in its belief and law:

  1. It commands the Oneness of Allāh, and it forbids from shirk [associating partners with Allāh].

  2. It commands truthfulness and forbids from lying.

  3. It commands justice, [3] and forbids from oppression.

  4. It commands truthfulness and forbids from treachery.

  5. It commands the keeping of promises and it forbids from treason.

  6. It commands righteousness towards parents and forbids from disobedience to them.

  7. It commands the keeping of the ties of kinship - and they are the family - and it forbids from cutting oneself off from them.

The comprehensive statement is that Islām commands with all virtuous characteristics, and that it forbids from every despicable characteristic. It commands every good action, and it forbids from every sinful action. Allāh the Exalted said:

"Verily Allāh commands with justice and good conduct to relatives, and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded." [Sūrah al-Naḥl, 16:90] [4]

THE PILLARS OF ISLĀM

The Pillars of Islām are the foundations upon which it is built, and they are five. It is mentioned in what is related from Ibn ʿUmar (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu), from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), that he said: "Islām is built upon five, that you single out Allāh in worship [and in a narration regarding the five:], to testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muḥammad is His slave and messenger, and to establish prayer, and to give charity (zakāt), and to fast in the month of Ramaḍān, and to perform pilgrimage (ḥajj)." So a man said: 'Pilgrimage and fasting in Ramaḍān.' He said: 'No. fasting in Ramaḍān and pilgrimage. This is how I heard it from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam).' It is agreed upon, and this wording is from Muslim. [5]

  1. As for testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) is His slave and messenger, then it is the unwavering belief affirmed by this testification, as if its definitiveness comes from this testification. Indeed this testification is only one pillar that contains a number of testifications because of the following reasons: either because the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam)conveyed from Allāh the Exalted, so testifying to his slavehood, and messengership is from the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh. Or it can be because these two testifications form the foundations for the correctness of actions and their acceptance. No action is correct or acceptable except if it is done with sincerity towards Allāh the Exalted, and in conformity to the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). So the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh is confirmed by sincerity, and the testification that Muḥammad is His slave and His messenger is confirmed by obedience. From the fruits of this great testification is the liberation of the heart and soul from being enslaved by the creation, and from the following of other than the messengers.

  2. As for establishing the prayer, then it is to worship Allāh by doing it, and to be steadfast and complete in its time and place. From its fruits is the relaxation of the heart, and the coolness of the eye, and the driving away of indecency and evil.

  3. As for charity (zakāt), then it is to worship Allāh the Exalted by spending what one is capable of to purify one's wealth. From its fruits is that it purifies the soul from despicability and greed, and it fulfills the need of Islām and the Muslims.

  4. As for fasting in Ramaḍān, then it is to worship Allāh the Exalted by staying away from eating during the days of Ramaḍān. From its fruits is the taming of the soul by leaving the things it loves for the pleasure of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic.

  5. As for pilgrimage to the House, then it is to worship Allāh the Exalted by going to the Sacred House to establish the rites of pilgrimage. From its pillars is the taming of the soul related to a struggle in one's wealth and body in obedience to Allāh the Exalted. Consequently, pilgrimage is a type of jihād in the Path of Allāh the Exalted.

So the fruits we have mentioned for these foundations - and whatever we have not mentioned - make the nation a purified and cleansed Islamic nation, specifying Allāh for worship upon the True Religion, and performing good deeds with justice and truthfulness. So everything else from the laws of Islām is rectified by the establishment of these foundations. A nation is not rectified except by rectifying the matters of its religion, and it fails to rectify its own condition as needed because it neglects the rectification of its religion.

Whoever wishes to see an illustration of this, then let him read the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

"And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allāh, We would have opened upon them blessings from the heavens and the earth; but they refused, so We seized them for what they were earning. Then did not the people of the cities feel secure from Our punishment coming to them at night while they were asleep? Or did the people of the cities feel secure from Our punishment coming to them in the morning while they were at play? Then did they feel secure from the Plan of Allāh? But none feels secure from the Plan of Allāh except the losing people." [Sūrah al-Aʿrāf, 7:96-99]

Let him look into the history, for verily in the history is a lesson for those who think, and a vision for those who have a veil in front of them. And Allāh is the Supporter. [6]

THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE ISLAMIC CREED

The religion of Islām - as has preceded - is a creed and a law. Indeed, we pointed out some things from its laws, and we mentioned what is established by the pillars of its laws.

As for the Islamic creed, then its foundations are belief in Allāh, and His angels, and His books, and His messengers, and the Last Day, and the pre-decree - the good of it, and the evil of it.

Indeed, these foundations are proven by the Book of Allāh and the sunnah of His messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). So in His Book, 

Allāh the Exalted says:

"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the east or the west. Rather the righteous person is the one believes in Allāh, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the books, and the prophets." [Sūrah al-Baqarah, 2:177]

Also, He said regarding Pre-Decree:

"Verily Allāh created everything with Pre-Decree. And Our command is but one, like the glance of an eye." [Sūrah al-Qamar, 54:49-50]

As for the sunnah of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), the Prophet said in reply to Jibrīl when he asked about faith: "Faith is that you believe in Allāh, and His angels, and His books, and His messengers, and the Last Day, and it is that you believe in Pre-Decree; the good of it, and the evil of it." This is related by Muslim. [7][8]

THE OBJECTIVES OF THE ISLAMIC CREED

The objectives of the Islamic creed and its noble aims for the one who adheres to it are of many types, from them:

  1. Purifying the intention and worship for Allāh the Exalted alone, because He is the Creator. It also means not associating anything with Him since it is obligatory to make the intention and worship for Him alone.

  2. The liberation of the intellect and thought from the chaotic disorder emanating from a heart which is devoid of this belief. Whoever has a void in his heart from this, then it is either empty of every creed and worship and susceptible only to material things, or it is immersed in misguided beliefs and superstitions.

  3. The soul and the thought are comforted so there is no anxiousness in the soul, or disturbance in the thought because this creed connects the believer directly to his Lord. So he is pleased with his Lord, Director, and Lawful Judge. So his heart becomes satisfied with His Pre-Decree, and his chest is laid open for the acceptance of Islām, such that he does not seek a substitute for it.

  4. The intention and the action become secured from deviation in the worship of Allāh the Exalted, or in the interaction with the creation because the foundation of it is faith in the messengers which guarantees the following of their path. Consequently, the intention and action are safeguarded.

  5. He has resoluteness and seriousness in all matters. He does not let any opportunity to perform a righteous action pass him by, except that he does it and hopes for the Reward. He does not see the manifestation of a sin, except that he distances himself from it, and fears punishment. This if because of the foundation of faith in the Resurrection and the Recompense upon all actions. "And from all are degrees from what they have done. And your Lord is not unaware of what they do" [Sūrah al-Anʿām, 6:132]. Indeed, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) incited towards this aim in his statement: "The strong believer is good, and he is more beloved to Allāh than the weak believer, and there is good in both of them. Strive upon what benefits you, and seek help from Allāh, and do not weaken. If a calamity befalls you, then do not say: 'If only I had done such and such.' Rather say: 'Allāh has decreed, and He does what he wishes.' So verily 'if' opens the work of shayṭān." It is related by Muslim. [9]

  6. The ummah will become strong in spending - whether it is expensive or cheap - towards the establishment of their Religion and for the reinforcement of its growth. They will not have any concern with the trials that may afflict them in that path. Allāh the Exalted said about this: "The believers are only those who have believed in Allāh and His messenger, and they doubt not but they strive in their wealth and their persons in the Path of Allāh. It is these who are the truthful" [Sūrah al-Ḥujurāt, 49:15].

  7. The achievement of prosperity in this world and in the Hereafter by reinforcing the individuals and the groups and the attainment of reward and nobility. Allāh the Exalted says: "Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, and he is a believer; We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward according to the best of what they used to do" [Sūrah al-Naḥl, 16:97].

These are some of the objectives of the Islamic creed, and we hope that Allāh the Exalted will establish us and all of the Muslims. [10]


Endnotes:

[1] This was taken from the book, 'Sharḥ Uṣūl al-Īmān' (p. 3-4) of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ṣāliḥ al ʿUthaymīn.

[2] This is reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (1/94), and Mukhtasar Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim with the checking of shaykh al-Albānī (no. 20)

[3] Shaykh Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn says: "Justice is equality between that which is the same, and division between that which is different. Justice is not absolute equality as some of the people allege when they say: 'The religion of Islām is a religion of absolute equality.' However, equality between different things is oppression. Islām did not come with this, nor does it praise the one who does it."

[4] This section was taken from 'Sharḥ Uṣūl al-Īmān' (p. 5-8).

[5] This is reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (1/34), and in Mukhtasar Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim with the checking of shaykh al-Albānī, no. 62.

[6] This section was taken from 'Sharḥ Uṣūl al-Īmān' (p. 9-11).

[7] This is reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (1/1-3), see Mukhtasar Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim with the checking of shaykh al-Albānī (no. 1) For an explanation of this lengthy ḥadīth, see 'Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá war Rasaa'il' (3/143) of shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn.

[8] This section was taken from 'Sharḥ Uṣūl al-Īmān' (p. 13).

[9] This is reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (8/56), see Mukhtasar Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim with the checking of shaykh al-Albānī (no. 1840).

[10] This section was taken from 'Sharḥ Uṣūl al-Īmān' (p. 58-60).

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