The importance of creed cannot be overstated. Our Individual morals are based upon our creed. Our family lives centre about the laws emanating from the creed. Our communal affairs come from the creed and the political culture of Islam is born of the creed. Indeed it is the creed that is the key issue we are judged upon on the last day. Thus it is the creed that governs our success in this world and in the hereafter. It is paramount that each of us understands clearly why we are here, where we came from and where we are going.
So what is the creed of Islam? And why is it of such importance that it should be decisively held? The Creed (Aqeeda) is that which the heart accepts and believes in completely and confidently. It originates from the Arabic verb (Aqada) which means to bind in a knot.
“Allah does not blame you for vain talk in your faith but he censures you for what you have bound your Oath on.”
The source of the belief (E'teqad) or to have Aqeeda is the affirmation of the heart with the mind.
قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ
“The Arabs said we believed, say, no you did not believe but you surrendered (became Muslims), and faith has yet to enter your hearts.” [TMQ 49:14]
لَا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ يُوَادُّونَ مَنْ حَادَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَوْ كَانُوا آبَاءهُمْ أَوْ أَبْنَاءهُمْ أَوْ إِخْوَانَهُمْ أَوْ عَشِيرَتَهُمْ أُوْلَئِكَ كَتَبَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَأَيَّدَهُم بِرُوحٍ
“You would not find people who believe in Allah and in the last day allied to the enemies of Allah and His Messenger even if they were their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their kindred. Those are whom he inscribed faith in their hearts, and assisted them with his spirit.” [TMQ 58:22]
During dua the Prophet, May the Blessings and peace from Allah be upon him, used to say: “O Allah affirm the faith and glorify it in our hearts and make us hate disbelief (Kufr), dissolution (Fisq) and disobedience (Esian)”
The meaning of faith, is the decisive belief which agrees with reality and which is obtained through evidence. The decisive belief is that which has no doubt whatsoever, and no uncertainty.
It cannot contradict with reality. Belief must be obtained through evidences otherwise it would not be decisive. The evidences for belief can be either intellectual or transformative. The intellectual evidence is sensed, it agrees with the mind and reality. An example of this is the intellectual belief in Allah. Allah instructs in the Qur'an:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ
وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاء مِن مَّاء فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ
الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخِّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
“Verily in the creation of the heavens and earth, the differing night and day, the floating ships in the sea bringing benefit to people, and what water Allah sends down from the sky bringing life to earth after drought. And creating all kinds of animals. The directing of winds and the clouds between the sky and earth are all signs for those who have intellect.” [TMQ 2:164]
Allah is directing us to use our intellect in studying His signs, these all lead us to the irrefutable fact that all of life is created.
A transformative evidence is that which cannot be proven through the senses. An example of this is the belief in Angels, which we cannot see. The mind cannot be used to prove the existence of Angels, but the intellect can establish a definite belief in the existence of Allah, the Almighty, and we can definitely prove that the Qur’an is the word of Allah, and has been completely protected, therefore anything the Qur’an decisively tells us is a transformative evidence which we can believe in completely.
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى
“And when we said to the angels prostrate to Adam and they so did.” [TMQ 20:116]
وَمَا جَعَلْنَاأَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَائِكَةً
“And we have set none but angels as the guardians of the fire.” [TMQ 74:31]
When one’s complete and decisive belief conforms with the intellectual approval of the mind, one is said to have belief (Aqeeda). The Islamic Aqeeda is the belief in Allah, His Angels, His holy books, His messengers, the Last Day, and fate and destiny, the good and bad of which are decided by Allah, the Almighty.
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ
وَالْمَلآئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West, but it is righteousness to believe in God, and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers.” [TMQ 2:177]
And from the Hadith of Jibreel peace be with him, narrated by Omar, may Allah be pleased with him: Jibreel asked - Tell me what is belief? The Messenger replied, - “To believe in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His Messengers, the Last Day and Fate and Destiny whether good or bad.”
The Muslim is sinful if he is not fully convinced, through use of his mind in confirming his faith.
There is a difference between the creed (Aqeeda) and divine law. The divine law (Hukm Shari'ah) is defined as the speech of the legislator covering the action of individuals. All actions including: buying, selling, prayers, punishments, government, ruling and so on are all covered in Islam. Whereas the belief (creed) is taken through definite evidence which confirm that the source of all laws is true and complete i.e. belief that Allah exists and that from His book and Messenger we derive all of our laws. As the belief is the base for all actions and worships it is critical that the beliefs are 100% confirmed within us all, and that they are the most necessary ingredients in the deen (total way of life).
فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
“Know that there is no God except Allah.” [47:19]
This is a request in the singular form indicating that it is a duty for every individual (Fard Ayn) to learn his beliefs through confirmed evidences. However, the knowledge of legislative rules which are involved with actions, is considered a duty of sufficiency (Fard Kifaya). So we are obliged to know the laws which affect us.
بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“We have not sent before you but men whom we reveal to them. So ask the people of knowledge if you know not.” [TMQ 16:43]
Allah, the Almighty, asked those without knowledge to seek it from the knowledgeable. It is also permitted for the follower to switch from the opinion of one scholar to another - according to the strength of evidence. This, however, in not permitted in matters of belief (Aqeeda). Each and every one of us must come to our own conviction in our faith, and not blindly based on friends, family, our group or party or any other source. Allah, the Almighty, dispraises those who follow blindly in the footsteps of their forefathers.
إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا هَذِهِ التَّمَاثِيلُ الَّتِي أَنتُمْ لَهَا عَاكِفُونَ قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءنَا لَهَا عَابِدِينَ
“And when Abraham said to his father and his tribe: What are these idols you are addicted to? They said: We found our fathers worshipping them.” [TMQ 21:52-53]
Jamal Harwood, Khilafah.com Journal, 8 Jumaad Al-Thani 1424 Hijri / 5 August 2003