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Islamic theology (Arabic: عقيدة, ʿAqīdah, plural Arabic: عقائد, ʿaqāʾid) is a branch of Islamic studies describing the beliefs of the Islamic faith. Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of ʿaqīdah. However, this term has taken a significant technical usage in Islamic history and theology, denoting those matters over which Muslims hold conviction. Literally, the word ʿaqīdah is derived from the triconsonantal root ʿqd (ʿaqada), which means "to tie" or "knot".
Muslims enumerate their creed to include the Six articles of belief (called arkān al-īmān). There is a consensus on the elements of this creed across all spectrums as they are clearly articulated in the Qurʾān. While some Muslim groups may hold different beliefs regarding the attributes of God or the purpose of angels, there are no disputes concerning the existence of God, that he has sent his revelation via messengers, and that man will be held to account and rewarded or punished in the afterlife.
- 1 Six articles of belief
- 2 Types of theology
- 3 Views specific to other Muslim schools
- 4 Literature pertaining to creed
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Six articles of belief
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In the Hadith of Gabriel, the Islamic prophet Muḥammad explains, "Faith is to affirm your faith in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Last Day, and to believe in the Divine Destiny whether it be good or bad."
The six Sunni articles of belief are:
- Belief in God (Allāh), the one and only one worthy of all worship (tawhid).
- Belief in the Angels (malāʾika).
- Belief in the Books (kutub) sent by Allah (including the Qurʾān, Gospel and Torah/Tanakh).
- Belief in all the Messengers (rusul) sent by Allah (including Muḥammad, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Adam)
- Belief in the Day of Judgment (yawm al-qiyāmah) and in the Resurrection (life after death).
- Belief in Destiny (Fate) (qadar).
The first five are based on several Qurʾānic creeds including but not limited to the following the verse
"O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray. "
The sixth point made it into the creed because of the first theological controversy in Islām. Although not connected with the Sunni—Shiʿi controversy about the succession, the majority of Twelver Shiʿites do not stress God's limitless power (qadar), but rather his boundless justice ʿadl as the sixth point of belief. This does not mean either that Sunnis deny his justice or that Shiʿites negate his power; it simply reflects a difference in emphasis.
In both the Sunni and the Shiʿi view, having īmān literally means to have belief in the six articles of faith. However, the importance of īmān relies heavily upon reasons. Islam explicitly asserts that belief should be maintained in that which can be proven using faculties of perception and conception.
There is a well-known short formula of creed which summarises the articles of faith, called the Āmantu (“I believe”, cf. Credo). The text (in one of the slightly differing versions), followed by the shahada is:
"I believe in (the One) God (Allāh), His angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Last Day, and in the Destiny, from God, whether it be good or bad; and the Resurrection after death is true. I bear witness that there is no god but God (Allāh), and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger."
آمَنْتُ بِاللهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَاْليَوْمِ اْلآخِرِ وَبِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ مِنَ اللهِ تَعَالَى وَاْلبَعْثُ بَعْدَ اْلمَوْتِ حَقٌّ اَشْهَدُ اَنْ لا اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اَللهُ وَ اَشْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَ رَسُولُه
Arabic: Āmantu bi-llāhi wa-malā’ikatihī wa-kutubihī wa-rusulihī wal-l-yawmi l-ākhiri wa-bi-l-qadari khayrihī wa-sharrihī mina-llāhi ta‘ālā, wa-l-ba‘thu ba‘da l-mawti haqq. Ash'hadu an lā ilāha illā-llāh wa-ash'hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhū wa-rasūluh.
The Āmantu formula is sometimes written in the calligraphic shape of a "ship of salvation" (safīnat an-najāt), or Âmentü gemisi, the "Āmantu ship," in Turkish.
Types of theology
Muslim theology is the theology that derived from the Qur'an and Hadith. The contents of Muslim theology can be divided into theology proper such as theodicy, eschatology, anthropology, apophatic theology, and comparative religion.
Textualistic approach according to the Athari Aqeedah
The central aspect of Athari theology is its definition of Tawhid, meaning literally unification or asserting the oneness of Allah (to be the only God who deserves to be worshiped in truth and confirming all attributes with which He has qualified Himself or that are attributed to Him by His Messenger), whereby it is divided into three tenets of theology;
- Tawhid al Rubu`biya - meaning Belief in the Oneness of the Lordship of Allah, where it is to believe that there is only one Lord for all the universe, its Creator, Organizer, Planner, Sustainer, and the Giver of security and so on that is Allah. In addition to declaring Allah to be One and Unique in His work being creation, sustenance, bringing to life and causing death and so on.
- Tawhid al `Uluhiyya - meaning Belief in the Oneness of the Worship of Allah, where it is to believe in total obedience to Allah, that none has the right to be worshiped (praying, invoking, asking for help (from the unseen), swearing, slaughtering sacrifices, giving charity, fasting, pilgrimage and so on) except Allah. In addition to declaring Allah as the Only God to whom all acts of worship must be dedicated, such as salat (prayers), Zakah, Saum (fasting), supplications, vowing and so on. This also includes emotions like love, trust, and fear all of which have degrees which should only be directed to Allah.
- Tawheed-al-Asma was-Sifaat - meaning Belief in the Oneness of the Names and the Attributes of Allah, being affirmation of all the Divine Names and Attributes of Allah in a manner that suits His Majesty, as mentioned in the Qu’ran and the Sunnah. This tenet is further divided into four aspects regarding the affirmation that it is without tashbih (establishing likeness), takyeef (speculating as to "how" they are manifested in the divine), ta'teel (negating/denying their apparent meaning) and ta'weel (giving it secondary/symbolic meaning which is different from the apparent meaning).
The Textualistists by reason of their conception of the divine Attributes, came to represent the divinity as a complex of names and qualifications alongside the divine essence itself. The Athari methodology of textual interpretation is to avoid delving into extensive theological speculation. With regard to their belief in Tawheed-al-Asma was-Sifaat, or Belief in the Oneness of the Names and the Attributes of Allah, they take a stance of affirmation of all the Divine Names and Attributes of Allah in a manner that suits His Majesty, as mentioned in the Qu’ran and the Sunnah. This tenet is further divided into four aspects regarding the affirmation that it is without tashbih (establishing likeness), takyeef (speculating as to "how" they are manifested in the divine), ta'teel (negating/denying their apparent meaning) and ta'weel (giving it secondary/symbolic meaning which is different from the apparent meaning). This is strongly opposed to the extremes of either speculative philosophy as was warned against by the Imams of the Salaf, chiefly Imam Al-Shafi'i and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, or of anthropomorphism which was strongly refuted by Ibn Taymiyyah in his monumental Al-Aqidah Al-Waasitiyyah who defined the aqeedah or 'creed' of the Salaf to be the balanced middle path far from the extremities of the various sects prevalent in the Muslim world.
Kalām is the Islamic philosophy of seeking theological principles through dialectic. In Arabic, the word literally means "speech/words". A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallimūn).
Eschatology is literally understood as the last things or ultimate things and in Muslim theology, eschatology refers to the end of this world and what will happen in the next world or hereafter. Eschatology covers the death of human beings, their souls after their bodily death, the total destruction of this world, the resurrection of human souls, the final judgment of human deeds by Allāh after the resurrection, and the rewards and punishments for the believers and non-believers respectively. The places for the believers in the hereafter are known as Paradise and for the non-believers as Hell.
Comparative religion in Muslim theology is about the differences and similarities between Muslim theology and other theologies such as Christian, Jewish theologies as explained in the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions.
Views specific to other Muslim schools
In the history of Muslim theology, there have been theological schools among Muslims displaying both similarities and differences with each other in regard to beliefs.
Shiʿi beliefs and practices
Shiʿi Muslims hold that there are five articles of belief. Similar to the Sunnis, the Shiʿis do not believe in complete predestination, or complete free will. They believe that in human life there is a both free will and predestination.
Twelver's Roots of Religion (Uṣūl ad-Dīn)
- Tawhīd (Oneness): The Oneness of Allah.
- Adalah (Justice): The Justice of Allah.
- Nubuwwah (Prophethood): Allah has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (i.e. a perfect system on how to live in "peace".)
- Imamah (Leadership): God has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise.
- Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment): Allah will raise mankind for Judgment
The branch of Islam known as the Ismāʿīlīs is the second largest Shiʿi community. They observe the following pillars of Islam:
Literature pertaining to creed
Many Muslim scholars have attempted to explain Islamic creed in general, or specific aspects of aqidah. The following list contains some of the most well-known literature.
- al-ʿAqīdah aṭ-Ṭaḥāwiyya or "The Fundamentals of Islamic Creed by the Imām aṭ-Ṭaḥāwī. This has been accepted by almost all Sunnī Muslims (Atharis, Ashʿarīs, Māturīdīs). Several mainstream Sunni scholars have written about the Tahawiyya creed, including Ibn Abī 'l-ʿIzz and that by the late Saudi Mufti ʿAbdullāh Ibn Bāz.
- al-ʿAqīdah al-Wāsiṭiyyah or "The Fundamentals of Islamic Creed as given to the people of Wāsiṭ, Iraq" by Ibn Taymiya.
- Sharh as Sunnah or the Explanation of the Sunna by Al-Barbahaaree. Lists approximately 170 points pertaining to the fundamentals of Aqidah.
- Khalq Af'aal al-Ibad (The Creation of the acts of Servants) by Bukhari. It shows the opinion of early scholars (Salaf) but it does not cover all topics.
- Lum'at-ul-'Itiqaad by Ibn Qudamah. Details the creed of the early Imams of the Sunni Muslims and one of the key works in Athari creed.
- al-Uloow by al-Dhahabī. Details the opinions of early scholars on matters of creed.
- Ibaanah by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari. Accepted by Atharis and early Ash'aris.
- Tahāfut al-Falāsifah or "The Incoherence of the Philosophers" by Imam al-Ghazali. An Ash'ari refutation of Greek philosophy.
- "Sa'd al-Din al-Taftazani on the Creed of Najm al-Din al-Nasafi
- Shiʿite Islam Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-Ṭabāṭabāʾī: translated by Hossein Nasr; (also reprinted under the title Shi'a.)"
- Root and Branches of Faith by Maqbul Hussein Rahim
- Shi'ism Doctrines, Thought and Spirituality by Hossein Nasr
- Quran 4:136
- Âmentü in Turkish, see the article "Âmentü" in Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi, vol. III, p. 28, and İttihad İlmî Araştırma Heyeti (eds.), İlmi Felsefi Yeni İslam Prensipleri Ansiklopedisi, Istanbul 2006, vol, I, p. 129. The Ottoman-Turkish lexicon Osmanlıca-Türkçe Ansiklopedik Büyük Lûgat by Abdullah Yeğin et al. (Istanbul 1985) defines Amentü as follows: "Meaning “I believe”, this is the special term for the wording that summarizes the faith of those who follow the Sunni school" (p. 52).
- See the text in Münif Çelebi, Kur’an Dili Alfabesi ve Okuma Kaideleri Tecvid ve Namaz, Ankara 1976, p. 60: Âmentü duası; ʿAksī Ashrafī Namāz-i kāmil mutarjam, Naī Dihlī, p. 3; Muḥammad Kifāyatullāh, Taʿlīmu-l-islām, kāmil, pehlā ḥiṣṣa, p. 2, dūsrā ḥiṣṣa, p. 3 (Urdu). This creed is also called īmān mufassal, i.e. "faith expressed in detail", cf. ʿAksī Ashrafī Namāz-i kāmil mutarǧam, p. 3; Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen, Büyük İslam İlmihâli, Istanbul: Bilmen Basım ve Yayınevi, 1964, p. 9.
- Cf. a calligraphic representation of the Āmantu ship on  Āmentü gemisi.
- Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah (1991). Tariq al-hijratayn wa-bab al-sa'adatayn. Dar al-Hadith (1991). p. 30.
- al-Hanafi, Imam Ibn Abil-'Izz. Sharh At Tahawiyya. p. 76.
- al-Safarayni, Muhamad bin Ahmad. Lawami' al-anwar al-Bahiyah. Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah. p. 1/128.
- Abd al-Wahhab, ibn Abd Allah, Ibn, Sulayman (1999). Taysir al-'Aziz al-Hamid fi sharh kitab al-Tawhid. 'Alam al-Kutub. pp. 17–19.
- Corbin (1993), p. 115
- Ibn Abil-'Izz. Sharh al 'Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah of Ibn Abil-'Izz, (p. 75); Sharhus-Sunnah (1/218) of Imaam al-Baghawee. "My ruling regarding the people of kalam is that they should be beaten with palm leaves and shoes and be paraded amongst the kinsfolk and the tribes with it being announced; This is the reward of the one who abandons the Book (Qur'aan) and the Sunnah and turns to theological rhetoric (kalaam)."
- Ibn Taymiyyah. Sharh-Al-Aqeedat-Il-Wasitiyah. Dar us Salam Publications. "The followers of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah occupy a moderate position between the Ahlut Ta'teel (Jahmiyyah) and Ahlut Tamtheel (Mushabbiha), and are moderate between the Jabariyah sect and the Qadariyah sect regarding the Acts of Allah, and are moderate about the Promises of Allah between the Murji'ah and the Wa'eediyah sects among Qadariyah and are moderate on matters of the Faith and names of the religion between the Harooriyah and Mu'tazilah, and between the Murji'ah and Jahmiyah and are moderate regarding the Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, between the Raafidah and the Khawarij."
- Nader El-Bizri, ‘God: essence and attributes’, in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic theology, ed. Tim Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 121-140
- "Islamic Belief (Al-'Aqida)". Islamicweb.com. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- "Aqeedatul-Waasitiyyah – The Text". Salafi Publications. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- Six Articles of Islamic Faith A description of the Six Articles of Islamic faith.
- Exhaustive Books & Articles on Aqeedah