The Six Pillars of Faith (Eemaan)
The Meaning of Belief in Allah I
This means firm belief that Allah exists, resolutely affirming His Lordship, Godship and Names and Attributes.
We will now discuss these four issues at length as follows:
- Belief in the Existence of Allah
The Innate Disposition to Believe in Allah (Fitrah)
Affirming the existence of Allah is something that is innate in human beings and does not require anything to prove it. Indeed, it is for this reason that most people acknowledge God’s existence despite their different religious beliefs We know in our heart of hearts that Allah exists because we always seek His assistance and support in times of hardship or when a calamity strikes because of the innate inclination to believe in Him and worship Him (fitrah) which He has instilled into us even though some people attempt to obliterate it or ignore it. The numerous incidents we have heard or seen about people having their prayers answered, their wishes granted and their distress relieved proves beyond any shadow of doubt that Allah does exist.
Proofs for Allah’s Existence are Clear and Countless
Man himself is one of the major signs which testify to Allah’s existence. We only need to reflect on the blessings of reason, the senses and the well-proportioned and perfectly designed bodies with which Allah I has endowed us, as the Qur’an states, “There are certainly signs [of Allah’s existence] in yourselves as well. Do you not then see?” (Soorat Add-Dhaariyaat, 51:21)
- Everybody inherently acknowledges the laws of causality, that is, everything has a determinate cause. The numerous creatures we see around us must have a causative agent, that is undoubtedly Allah, for it is impossible for anything to be created without a creator, just as it is impossible for it to create itself, as the verse states, “Or were they created out of nothing, or are they the creators?”(Soorat At-Toor, 52:35) This verse simply means that people were not created without a Creator, nor could they have created themselves, which obviously means that it was Allah I who created them.
- The superbly flawless plan in the universe, including its most subtle elements, its heaven, earth, constellations and trees, among numerous other great marvels and impressive wonders, prove without a doubt that it has one Creator who is Allah, as the verse states, “This is the handiwork of Allah who has perfected all things.” (Soorat An-Naml, 27:88) All the stars and planets, for instance, consistently orbit around their respective common centre of mass.
- Belief in Allah’s Lordship
The Meaning of Belief in Allah’s Lordship
This means to firmly believe that Allah is the Lord, the Creator, the Sustainer and the provider of everything; that He is the one who gives life and causes death; that He is the only one who can do harm and good; that all power of decision rests with Him; that in His hand is all good; that He has power over everything; and that He has no partner whatsoever in doing all this.
Belief in Allah’s Lordship therefore requires a Muslim to believe that:
Allah is the only creator of everything in the universe, as the Qur’an states, “Allah is the Creator of everything.” (Soorat Az-Zumar, 39:62) Man’s creativity merely involves such processes as transforming something from one state into another, assembling and building; it does not involve originating creation, creating something out of nothing or bringing it to life after death
He is the only One who provides sustenance to His creation and no one else can do so, as the Qur’an states, “There is no creature on the earth which is not dependent upon Allah for its provision.” (Soorat Hood, 11:6)
He is the master and owner of everything “The kingdom of the heavens and the earth and everything in them belongs to Allah.” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:120)
He is the sole ruler who regulates all affairs of the universe: “He directs the whole affair from heaven to earth.” (Soorat As-Sajdah, 32:5) Man’s management of his worldly affairs is rather limited and depends on whatever material is at his disposal. Besides, in so doing, he can either meet with success or experience failure. However, Allah’s regulation of the affairs of the universe is comprehensive and is bound to be effectual, for there is nothing that would otherwise thwart it in any way, as the Qur’an states, “Both creation and command belong to Him. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:54
The Arab Polytheists at the Time of the Prophet r Believed in Allah’s Lordship
The Arab polytheists at the time of the Prophet r affirmed Allah’s Lordship; they believed that He is the creator, the master and disposer of all affairs, but such affirmation alone was not sufficient for them to be admitted into the fold of Islam. As the Qur’an states, “If you asked them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth?’ they would say, ‘Allah!’ Say: ‘Praise be to Allah!’ But most of them do not know.” (Soorat Luqmaan, 31:25)
Indeed, affirmation that Allah is the Lord of all the worlds, that He is the master and sustainer entails that all acts of worship must be directed to Him alone, without taking any partners whatsoever with Him in worship.
It would be ludicrous to affirm that Allah is the creator of everything, the disposal of all affairs and the one who gives life and causes death and then we direct an act of worship to other than Him. Indeed, doing so is a tremendous wrong and the worst of all sins, as the Qur’an states, “When Luqmaan said to his son, counselling him, ‘My son, do not associate anything with Allah. Associating others with Him is a terrible wrong.’” (Soorat Luqmaan, 31:13)
When the Prophet r was asked about the greatest sin in the sight of Allah, he replied, “To set up a rival to Allah in worship though He alone created you.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 4207; Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 86)
Belief in Allah’s Lordship sets the heart at rest .
Belief in Allah’s Lordship Sets the Heart at Rest
When one firmly acknowledges that none of Allah’s creation can challenge His decree, being the creator and king of all mankind who decrees whatever He deems wise for them, who is their only creator, sustainer and disposer of all affairs, whom nothing as small as an atom moves or settles except with His decree, one’s heart becomes attached to Almighty Allah, asking none but Him, relying on Him in all worldly matters and dealing with all the ups and downs of life calmly and confidently, with determination and perseverance. For once we have done what we can possibly do to achieve a worldly goal and have prayed to Allah for assistance, we have actually done our duty. In this way, we become contented, as we do not covet what others may have, fully aware that all power of decision rests with Allah who creates whatever He wills and chooses for mankind whatever is best for them.
- The Belief that only Allah is Worthy of Worship
Declaring Allah’s oneness and directing all acts of worship to Him alone is the actual realisation of the meaning of the statement Laa ilaaha illallaah.
What Does this Mean?
This means firm belief that Allah is the only true god who deserves to be worshipped. This entails that all the apparent and hidden acts of worship, such as invocation, fear, reliance, the prayer, the obligatory charity (zakaat), fasting and seeking assistance, must be directed to Him alone, as the Qur’an states, “Your God is One God. There is no god but Him, the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:163) This verse makes it abundantly clear that Allah is only one God, which means that He alone deserves to be worshipped and that no one else must be worshipped besides or instead of Him.
Importance of the Belief that Allah is the Only God Worthy of Worship
The importance of the belief that Allah is the only God who deserves to be worshipped is apparent in a number of aspects:
- Worshipping Allah is the ultimate purpose of human and jinn existence, as the Qur’an states, “I have only created the jinn and man to worship Me.” (Soorat Adh-Dhaariyaat, 51:56)
- Worshipping Allah is also the reason behind Allah’s sending messengers and revealing divine books to affirm that Allah is the only God worthy of worship and to reject false deities worshipped besides or along with Him, as the Qur’an states, “We sent a messenger among every people saying: ‘Worship Allah and keep clear of all false gods.’” (Soorat An-Nahl, 16:36)
- Worshipping Allah is the first duty of man towards his creator. Giving instructions and orders to Mu‛aadh ibn Jabal t upon sending him to Yemen, the Prophet r said to him, “You are going to a people from among the People of the Book. Let the first thing you call them to be to testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 1389; Saheeh Muslim: 19) That is, let them direct all acts of worship to Him alone.
- The belief that Allah is the only God worthy of worship is the actual realisation of the meaning of the statement Laa ilaaha illallaah. The Arabic word ilaah (generally translated ‘God’) refers to any being that is worshipped. Therefore, there is no God who truly deserves to be worshipped except Allah, and thus no act of worship must be dedicated except to Him alone.
- The belief that Allah is the only God worthy of worship is the logical outcome of the belief that He is the creator, the master and the disposer of all affairs.
The Meaning of Worship (‛Ibaadah)
The Arabic term ‛ibaadah comprises all the words and deeds which Allah loves and approves of and which He has commanded or recommended, whether such words and deeds are apparent, such as the prayer, zakaat or pilgrimage; or hidden, such as love for Allah and His Messenger r, fear of Allah, reliance upon Him and seeking His assistance.
Worship Encompasses all Aspects of Life
All the good acts that are done with good intentions are considered acts of worship for which man will be rewarded.
Worship (‛ibaadah) embraces all the believer’s acts if he intends to do them with the intention of getting closer to Allah . Therefore, the concept of worship in Islam is not confined to the common rituals, such as the prayer and fasting; rather, it includes all beneficial acts that are done with good intentions. In this way, all the good acts a Muslim does are considered acts of worship for which he will be rewarded in the hereafter. If he eats, drinks or sleeps, for instance, with the intention of getting strength to be able to obey Allah, he will be rewarded for this intention. A Muslim, therefore, lives all his life for Allah. His eating to get strength to obey Allah, his marriage to keep away from unlawful sexual acts, seeking knowledge, getting a university degree, making discoveries, and a woman’s care for her husband, children and home are all acts of worship as long as they are coupled with a good intention.
The Reason behind the Creation of the Jinn and Mankind
Allah says, “I have only created the jinn and man to worship Me. I do not require any provision from them and I do not require them to nourish Me. Truly, Allah is the Provider, the Lord of Power, the Ever Mighty.” (Soorat Adh-Dhaariyaat, 51:56-8)
Allah informs us in this verse that the reason behind creating the jinn and mankind is to worship Him. In fact, He is not in need of their worship; rather, it is they who need to worship Him because of their total dependence upon Him.
Allah informs us in this verse that the reason behind creating the jinn and mankind is to worship Him. In fact, He is not in need of their worship; rather, it is they who need to worship Him because of their total dependence upon Him. If man neglects a duty towards his creator and gives free rein to the worldly pleasures without contemplating the divine reason behind his existence, he becomes just like any other creature without any privileges whatsoever over other creatures. Animals, too, eat and enjoy themselves but they will not be brought into account on the Day of Judgement, as man will be: “Those who reject Allah will enjoy this world and eat as cattle eat; and the Fire will be their abode.” (Soorat Muhammad, 47:12) By neglecting their duty towards their Lord, they are just like animals, but contrary to animals, they will be punished for their disobedience because, unlike animals, they have been endowed with the faculty of reason.
Pillars of Worship
For worship, or ‛ibaadah, to be valid and accepted, it has to be directed sincerely to Allah alone and done in conformity with His Messenger’s Sunnah.
The kind of worship Allah has legislated is based on two important pillars: The First Pillar: Total humility and fear The Second Pillar: Complete love for Allah I Therefore, worship (‛ibaadah), which Allah has commanded His slaves to observe must be accompanied with (1) total submission to, and humility before Allah while fearing Him, and (2) complete love for Him, asking, invoking and imploring none but Him. Love that is not accompanied with fear and humility, such as love for food and wealth, cannot be considered worship. By the same token, fear that is not accompanied with love, such as fear of a ferocious beast or a tyrant ruler, cannot be considered worship. For worship to be realised when doing an act, both love and fear must be realised, and this can only be directed to Allah alone. .
Conditions of Worship
For worship, or ‛ibaadah, to be valid and accepted, two conditions must be met:
Following the guidance of Allah’s Messenger r.
Sincerity: It has to be directed sincerely to Allah alone.
Highlighting this point, the Qur’an states, “Indeed, those who submit themselves to Allah and act righteously will be rewarded by their Lord: They will have no fear, nor will they grieve.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:112)
The clause ‘those who submit themselves to Allah’ means that they realise the essence of monotheism by sincerely worshipping Allah alone.
The words ‘act righteously’ means that they follow Allah’s law and the guidance (Sunnah) of Allah’s Messenger r.
It is worth noting here, however, that following the Prophet’s guidance relates only to pure acts of worship, such as the prayer, fasting and remembrance of Allah; it does not relate to those acts which fall under the general meaning of worship (‛ibaadah ), that is, those acts and practices which one does with a good intention in order to receive reward from Allah, such as exercising with the intention of getting strength to worship Allah better and engaging in trade to support one’s family. Engaging in such activities only requires avoidance of acting against the Prophet’s teachings or committing a forbidden act.
Associating Partners with Allah in Worship (Shirk)
- Shirk contradicts the belief that Allah alone is worthy of worship. While the belief that Allah alone deserves to be worshipped and that all acts of worship must be directed to Him constitutes the greatest and most important duty of a Muslim towards his Lord, shirk is considered to be the greatest sin in the sight of Allah and is the only sin which He never forgives without sincere repentance. The Qur’an says, “Allah does not forgive anything being associated with Him in worship, but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:48) When the Prophet r was asked about the greatest sin in the sight of Allah, he replied, “To set up a rival to Allah in worship though He alone created you.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 4207; Saheeh Muslim: 86)
- Indeed, shirk renders acts of worship invalid and worthless, as the Qur’an states, “If they had associated others with Him, nothing they did would have been of any use.” (Soorat Al-An‛aam, 6:88) Those who commit the unpardonable sin of shirk will be doomed to Hellfire for all eternity, as the Qur’an states, “Those who associate anything with Allah in worship, for them Allah has forbidden Paradise and their abode will be the Fire.’” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:72)
Shirk is of two Types: Major Shirk and Minor Shirk
- Major Shirk: This involves directing any act of worship to other than Allah. Therefore, directing words or deeds that Allah loves to Him alone testifies to monotheism and true faith, while directing them to other than Allah constitutes an act of unbelief and shirk.
Examples of this type of shirk include asking someone other than Allah to cure one of an illness or to increase one’s wealth, relying on other than Allah and prostrating to other than Him. Allah says, “Your Lord says, ‘Call on Me and I will answer you.” (Soorat Ghaafir, 40:60)
“Put your trust in Allah if you are indeed believers.” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:23)
“Prostrate before Allah and worship Him.” (Soorat An-Najm, 53:62)
Therefore, whoever directs any act of worship to other than Allah is, strictly speaking, an unbeliever.
- Minor Shirk: This involves those words or deeds which serve as a vehicle to commit the major shirk. Examples of this type of shirk include making one’s prayer sometimes a little longer or reciting the Qur’an a little louder for the sake of showing off. The Prophet r once observed, “The thing that I fear most for you is the minor shirk.” His Companions asked, “What is the minor shirk, Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Showing off.” (Musnad Ahmad: 23630) However, if a person performs acts of worship entirely for showing off, and were it not for the sake of people he would never offer the prayer or observe a fast, then he is definitely a hypocrite. Doing so is undoubtedly a major shirk which takes one out of the fold of Islam altogether.
Does Asking People Amount to Committing Shirk?
Islam aims to free the human mind from the shackles of superstitions and from submitting to none other than the One True God-Allah
Therefore, it is not permissible to ask the dead or inanimate beings for anything or humbly submit to them; doing so constitutes sheer superstition and is a blatant act of shirk.
It is permissible, however, to ask the living for whatever they can possibly do, such as saving us from drowning or asking them to pray to Allah for us.