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An Introduction to the Foundations of Islaam


A By Shaykh Muhammad Saalih Ibnul-'Uthaymeen
An overview of the five pillars of Islaam and the six articles of faith.

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

Verily the praise is for Allaah, we praise Him, and we ask for His Help, and His Forgiveness, and we repent to Him. We seek refuge in Allaah from the evils of our own selves, and from the sins of our actions. Whoever is guided by Allaah, 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 Allaah alone, without any partners. I testify that Muhammad is His slave and His messenger. May Allaah 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 tawheed [the oneness of Allaah] is the noblest of sciences, and the greatest in rank, and most obligatory to be studied because it is the knowledge of Allaah the Exalted, and His Names, and His Attributes, and His Rights upon His slaves.

Likewise, it is the key to the path to Allaah the Exalted, and the foundation of His Laws [sharee'ah]. So the messengers were united upon calling to it. Allaah 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." [Sooratul Anbiyaa 21:25]

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

"Allaah 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." [Sooratul Aali 'Imraan 3:18]

Since this is the nature of tawheed, it is binding 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 ISLAAM

The Religion of Islaam is the religion which Allaah sent Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) with. Allaah 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. Allaah the Exalted said:

"Muhammad is not a father from any of your men, rather he is the Messenger of Allaah, and the last of the prophets." [Sooratul Ahzaab 33:40]

And Allaah the Exalted said,

"Today I have perfected for you your Religion, and completed for you My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as a religion." [Sooratul Maa'idah 3:5]

And Allaah the Exalted said:

"Verily the religion with Allaah is Islaam." [Soorah Aali 'Imraan 3:19]

And Allaah the Exalted said,

"And whoever takes other than Islaam as a religion, it will never be accepted from him, and he will be in the Hereafter - from the losers." [Soorah Aali 'Imraan 3:85]

Indeed Allaah made obligatory upon all the people to specify worship for Him. So He said in speaking to the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam):

"Say: 'O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allaah 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 Allaah and His messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believes in Allaah and His Words, and follow Him so that you may be guided." [Sooratul A'araaf 7:158]

In Saheeh Muslim from Abee Hurayrah (radiyallaahu 'anhu), from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) that he said: "By Him in whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, 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 Islaam means to believe in what he (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) brought with approval and submission, not mere belief. Consequently, Abu Taalib was not a believer in the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), along with what he came with, even though he testified that it was the best of religions.

The religion of Islaam 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. Allaah the Exalted says in speaking to His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam):

"And We revealed to you the Book in truth, affirming what preceded it from the books, and a supervisor over them." [Sooratul Maa'idah 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 means that it is subject to every time place or people as some of the people think.

The religion of Islaam is the true religion through which Allaah guarantees the one who adheres to it with His Help, and He will render him victorious over all others. Allaah 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." [Sooratus Saff 61:9]

Allaah the Exalted says:

"Allaah 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." [Sooratun Noor 24:55]

The religion of Islaam is a creed and a law, so it is perfect in its belief and law:
1.

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

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 Islaam 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. Allaah the Exalted said:

"Verily Allaah 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." [Sooratun Nahl 16:90] [4]

THE PILLARS OF ISLAAM

The Pillars of Islaam are the foundations upon which it is built, and they are five. It is mentioned in what is related from Ibn 'Umar (radiyallaahu 'anhu), from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), that he said: "Islaam is built upon five, that you single out Allaah in worship [and in a narration regarding the five:], to testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, and to establish prayer, and to give charity (zakaat), and to fast in the month of Ramadhaan, and to perform pilgrimage (hajj)." So a man said: 'Pilgrimage and fasting in Ramadhaan.' He said: 'No. fasting in Ramadhaan and pilgrimage. This is how I heard it from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi 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 Allaah, and that Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alayhi 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 (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam)conveyed from Allaah the Exalted, so testifying to his slavehood, and messengership is from the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah. 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 Allaah the Exalted, and in conformity to the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). So the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah is confirmed by sincerity, and the testification that Muhammad 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 Allaah 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 (zakaat), then it is to worship Allaah the Exalted by spending what one is capable of to purify ones wealth. From its fruits is that it purifies the soul from despicability and greed, and it fulfills the need of Islaam and the Muslims.

4.

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

5.

As for pilgrimage to the House, then it is to worship Allaah 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 ones wealth and body in obedience to Allaah the Exalted. Consequently, pilgrimage is a type of jihaad in the Path of Allaah the Exalted.


So the fruits we have mentioned for these foundations - and whatever we have not mentioned - make the nation a purified and cleansed Islaamic nation, specifying Allaah for worship upon the True Religion, and performing good deeds with justice and truthfulness. So everything else from the laws of Islaam 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 Allaah the Exalted:

"And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allaah, 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 Allaah? But none feels secure from the Plan of Allaah except the losing people." [Sooratul A'araaf 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 Allaah is the Supporter. [6]

THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE ISLAAMIC CREED

The religion of Islaam - 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 Islaamic creed, then its foundations are belief in Allaah, 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 Allaah and the sunnah of His messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). So in His Book,

Allaah 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 Allaah, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the books, and the prophets." [Sooratul Baqarah 2:177]

Also, He said regarding Pre-Decree:

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

As for the sunnah of the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), the Prophet said in reply to Jibreel when he asked about faith: "Faith is that you believe in Allaah, 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 ISLAAMIC CREED

The objectives of the Islaamic 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 Allaah 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 Islaam, such that he does not seek a substitute for it.

4.

The intention and the action become secured from deviation in the worship of Allaah 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." [Sooratul An'aam 6:132] Indeed the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) incited towards this aim in his statement: "The strong believer is good, and he is more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, and there is good in both of them. Strive upon what benefits you, and seek help from Allaah, and do not weaken. If a calamity befalls you, then do not say: 'If only I had done such and such.' Rather say: 'Allaah has decreed, and He does what he wishes.' So verily 'if' opens the work of shaytaan." 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. Allaah the Exalted said about this: "The believers are only those who have believed in Allaah and His messenger, and they doubt not but they strive in their wealth and their persons in the Path of Allaah. It is these who are the truthful." [Sooratul Hujuraat 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. Allaah 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." [Sooratun Nahl 16:97]

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

Footnotes:

[1] This was taken from the book, 'Sharh Usoolul Eemaan' (p. 3-4) of shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al 'Uthaymeen.

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

[3] Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-'Uthaymeen 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 Islaam is a religion of absolute equality.' However, equality between different things is oppression. Islaam did not come with this, nor does it praise the one who does it."

[4] This section was taken from 'Sharh Usoolul Eemaan' (p. 5-8)

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

[6] This section was taken from 'Sharh Usoolul Eemaan' (p. 9-11)

[7] This is reported in Saheeh Muslim (1/1-3), see Mukhtasar Saheeh Muslim with the checking of shaykh al-Albaanee (no. 1) For an explanation of this lengthy hadeeth, see 'Majmoo'ul Fataawaa war Rasaa'il' (3/143) of shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen.

[8] This section was taken from 'Sharh Usoolul Eemaan' (p. 13)

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

[10] This section was taken from 'Sharh Usoolul Eemaan' (p. 58-60)

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