The Six Beliefs of Islam-Sunni Islam
- Tawhid-the belief in the oneness of Allah: Islam is monotheistic-only one God.
- Malaikah-the belief in angels: Muslims accept the existence of angles who are obedient to Allah' commands. It is through them messages are given to prophets.
- Authority of Kutub-holy books: Qu-ran, Sahifah (the scrolls of Abraham and Moses), the Tawrat (Torah), Zabur (Psalms) and Injil (the Gospel).
- Nubuwwah (prophethood)-following the prophets of Allah: Muslims recognise prophets or messengers of Allah, e.g. Adam, Muhammad, Ibrahim, Isa...
- Belief in al-Qadr: Muslims believe that Allah knows everything, and although humans have free will, Allah knows what will happen.
- Akhirah-teaching about life after death: Muslims believe that there is an afterlife after death. They accept a Day of Judgement when every human will be judged by Allah on their actions on Earth.
Purpose and importance: 1. to unite all Sunni Muslims. 2. To help Sunni Muslims understand their faith religion better. 3. to support Sunni Muslims in how they should live their lives. 4. To support what beliefs they should have.
How the six beliefs of Islam are expressed today:
- Muslims will recite the belief in the oneness of Allah in their prayers each day
- Look to the Qu'ran for advice to help them understand their faith better and follow Allah
- They will live their lives always aware of Allah and the fact that Islam teaches that he will judge them on their actions after death. This makes them more aware of their behaviour.
The five roots of 'Usul ad-Din'-Shi'a Islam
- Tawhid-the oneness of Allah: The idea of one God called Allah
- Adl-divine justice: Allah is understood to be fair and just in the way he treats everything.
- Nubuwwah-prophethood: The belief that Allah appointed prophets or messengers to pass on his message to humanity.
- Imamah-successors to Muhammad: The belief that Allah appointed Imams or leaders to guide humanity and be a source of authority. (Twelvers or Seveners).
- Mi'ad-the Day of Judgement and the Resurrection: The belief that humans will be judged by Allah on their actions after death.
The Five Roots are all based on the central idea- Tawhid, the oneness of Allah. This is explained in the Qu'ran: "He is Allah...Nor is there to Him any equivalent."
The nature of Allah
Allah is given 99 names to help Muslims understand what he is like because they believe he is transcendent (above human experience). "The most beautiful names belong to Allah, so call on him by them."
The eight characteristics of Allah shown in the Qu'ran:
- Tawhid: Word used to describe the idea that Muslims only accept one God. The most fundamental belief of the religion.
- Immanence: The idea that Allah is close and involved in the world.
- Transcendence: The idea Allah is above and beyond human understanding.
- Omnipotence: The idea that Allah is more powerful than anything in existence.
- Omnibenevolence: The idea that Allah is all-loving and loves all of his creations.
- Mercy: The idea that Allah forgives people for the wrong things they do.
- Fairness and justice: The idea that Allah is fair and just and will judge humans after death in this way.
- Adalat: Allah is equitable and just. He created the world in a fair way and will judge human in this way too. (Shi'a only)
Importance of the characteristics-Muslims believe by knowing what Allah is like they can:
- understand him better
- follow the way he wants them to live their lives
- strengthen their relationship with Allah
- encourage Muslims to strive to be better as this is what they believe Allah wants.
Prophets: Islam teaches that there have been many prophets who have acted as messengers of Allah. Prophets whose message has been written down are called rasuls. Prophets=important as they enable Allah to communicate with mankind.
- Adam-he was the first prophet and human to be created. His task was to look after the world (to be a Khalifah), which teaches Muslims today that they too should look after and care for Allah's creation.
- Ibrahim-is mentioned many times in the Qu'ran. It is believed he tried to encourage the worship of Allah. The story of Ibrahim having his faith tested by Allah by being willing to sacrifice his son teaches Muslims to submit to Allah in their lives. His message was written down in the Sahifah.
- Isma'il-is the son of Ibrahim and was associated with the construction of the Ka'bah in Makkah. He is praised for characteristics such as patience and kindness, showing Muslims they too should develop these characteristics.
- Musa-The Qu'ran states that Musa was sent by Allah to the Pharaoh of Egypt and the Israelites for guidance and warning. His presence is also seen to confirm the message and authority of the prophets before him. (Message-Tawrat)
- Dawud-is recognised by Muslims as being a lawgiver of Allah and the King or Israel, as well as a prophet. He is best known for defeating Goliath. (Message-Zabur)
- Isa-More often associated with Christianity as Jesus but is recognised in Islam as the messenger of Allah and who received the Injil (Gospel). Muslims do not accept his resurrection or that he was the Son of God.
- Muhammad- "the Seal of the Prophets"-he was the last prophet and received the final message from Allah-the Qu'ran. Muslims are taught from a young age that they should follow the examples set by Muhammad. He is very important as Muslims believe he brought the final and perfect message from Allah.
Muslim holy books
Muslims accept five holy books (kutub). Although the Qu'ran is given the most importance, Muslims are commanded in the Qu'ran to believe in the books also revealed to Christians and Jews.
The Qu'ran: "It is not but a revelation revealed, Taught to him by one intense in strength."
- Muslims believe that the Qu'ran was revealed to Muhammad over a period of 23 years.
- The Qu'ran is written in Arabic.
- Qu'ran means 'recitation' because when it was revealed to Muhammad it was spoken- Muhammad was illiterate.
- The Qu'ran is divided into the Surah (chapters) and Ayats (verses).
- Muslims believe the holy Qu'ran came from Allah.
- Muslims use the Qu'ran in prayer and to help them when they need guidance in their lives.
- The Qu'ran
- Salifah (Scrolls)- An early scripture believed to have been revealed to Ibrahim. The scrolls are believed to be lost.
- Injil (Gospel)- The Gospel of Isa believed to have been revealed by Allah, contained in the books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
- Zabur (Psalms)- The holy book of Dawud, which some Muslims today believe is still relevant.
- Tawrat (Torah)- Holy book was given by Allah to Musa. Tawrat means instruction and Muslims recognise there are important laws contained within it.
Muslims believe angels act as messengers between Allah and humans. They are taught not to have free will or physical bodies but can take on human shape if and when needed. Belief in angels is contained in the Six beliefs of Islam for Sunni Muslims.
- Jibril- is an important angel as it was through him that Allah revealed the Qu'ran to Muhammad over 23 years. It is believed that Jibril also taught Muhammad how to pray. "We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects." Without Jibril, the message of the Qu'ran would not have been received. This teaches Muslims to live around the teachings of the holy book, often reading it every day to understand how they should their lives.
- Izra'il- is the Angel of Death and is responsible for signalling the coming of the Day of Judgement by blowing a trumpet. It is believed he will return human souls to Allah. " The angel of death will take you...Then to your Lord, you will be returned." Izra'il is important in helping Muslims to understand that they need to live their lives how Allah wants them to, following his rules, so that they may be rewarded and not punished in the afterlife. This teaches Muslims to live their lives in the knowledge that they will one day be judged by Allah on their actions on Earth.
- Mika'il- is often understood to be the Angel of Mercy or Sustenance, given the role of rewarding those who have led good lives. He is believed to bring rain and thunder to Earth. "Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel-for he brings down the revelation to thy heart by Allah's will". Mika'il is important because Muslims wish to be rewarded in the afterlife and not punished, so the teaching of Mika'il reassures them that it is possible.
Al-Qadr=predestination. This is the concept of fate or destiny-the idea that Allah is able to know and control everything that happens. Sunni Muslims recognise this as one of the Six Beliefs, although Shi'a Muslims do not fully accept al-Qadr.
Day of Judgement:
Muslims believe that on the Day of Judgement Allah will judge them on how they lived their life and behaved. There is a direct link between al-Qadr and the Day of Judgement as Muslims believe that once this day comes, it is too late to beg forgiveness for wrong-doing. Al-Qadr teaches Muslims that everything is the will of Allah, and although Muslims may not understand it, the important thing is how they react to it. Reacting the right way will mean a reward on the Day of Judgement. Sahih al Bukhari describes how people are responsible for their own sins, as they have decided what action to take and will be judged on this.
Implications of al-Qadr:
- Muslims will want to live their lives according to the beliefs of the Day of Judgement and al-Qadr to ensure they gain reward in the afterlife.
- They will be constantly aware of their thoughts, beliefs and actions in order to ensure they behave how Allah wants them to-they will try to follow the duties given to them by Allah, (e.g. the Five Pillars).
- They will try to help others, as they believe this is what the Qu'ran and Muhammad teach them.
Akhirah-life after death
Muslim beliefs about Akhirah:
- After death, the angel of death will take a person's soul to barzakh (the stage between when a person dies and when they face judgement).
- Allah will judge each individual by the way they lived their life.
- On the Day of Judgement, the body will be resurrected.
- Two angels will open the book that contains the record of what a person has done in their lifetime.
- If their name is recorded on the right-hand side of the book, they will be sent to al-Jannah (paradise). "The gardens of perpetual bliss."
- If their name is recorded on the left-hand side of the book, they will be sent to Jahannam (hell). It is a place where the unbelievers are and face dreadful torments such as fire of hell. "And fear the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers."
Divergent ways that life after death affects Muslims today:
- Makes them more aware that Allah is always watching.
- Makes them realise the importance of asking for forgiveness.
- They view every action they perform as a way of worshipping Allah.
- They try to live life as good Muslims: read the Qu'ran; perform the Five Pillar; go to the mosque; help others etc.