The Creed is like a foundation of a building. To construct a strong building, the foundation must be strengthened because if it’s weak, construction built upon it will easily crumbled. This is the reason why we must strengthen our understanding about Islamic credos.
Etymologically, the creed originated from word “’aqd”, which means tighten, strengthen, and tie tightly. Terminologically, creed means a strong belief without any tint of doubt in it. Hence, Islamic creed means a strong belief in Allah the Exalted by performing obligations such as tawheed, obedience to Him, also believe in His angels, His Books, and His messengers, the Last Day, and believe in the divine wills, also in all valid beliefs of religion principles, the unseen things, the news mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, whether in the form of knowledge to be trusted or knowledge to be realized.
The Other Name of Islamic Creed
Among The other name of Islamic creed according to the Sunni are al i’tiqad, al ‘aqaa’id, at tawheed, sunnah, ushuluddiyaanah, al fiqhul akbar, and ash sharii’a. These are the most popular names among the sunnis. As for the naming of Islamic creed with theology, philosophy, and tasawuf, is not allowed due to evident difference of those knowledges with Islamic creed.
In philosophy for example, the main principle is not the divine decree.
Whereas in tasawuf, among the main principles is kasyf (disclosure of secrecy). As for the main principle of Islamic creed is the Qur’an, valid sunnah, and the ijma’ (agreement) of the noble predecessors (the first generation of Islam).
Beside that, if an intelligence becoming the principle to determine the creed, it will only result in zhann (guessing), which might be true or wrong due to it’s limitations that cause it unable to understand the unseen. Then what if it’s wrong?, it will be the same as saying something about Allah the Exalted without knowledge of it, and this is among the most serious of the major sins. Allah the Exalted decreed, which can be translated as,
“ and that you ascribe to Allah things of which you have no sure knowledge that they are from Him.” (QS. Al A’raaf/The Height: 33)
Hence, our principle in the matter of creed is tauqifiya (waiting for indications).
The urgency of knowing the Islamic Creed or creed of Ahlussunnah wal Jama’ah (Sunnis) In Detail
Some people claim themselves as Sunni, among the ahl sunnah wal jama’ah, but in fact, what they did were against the principles of ahl sunnah wal jama’ah, due to their lack of understanding about the sunni principles itself.
Generally, they are indeed following the guidances of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- since there are no believers but following the example set by the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- as their life guidance.
Unfortunately, they do not recognize the principles of Sunni creeds in detail, thus their practices discorded the creed of the Sunnis, which are the pious predecessors -insha Allah.
The Source of Sunni creeds
1- مصدر العقيدة هو كتاب الله وسنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وإحماع السلف الصالخ
2- كل ما صح من سنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وحب قبوله وإن كان احادا
3- المرجع في فهم الكتاب والسنة هو النصوص المبينة لها وفهم السلف الصالح ومن سار على منهجهم من الأئمة ولا يعارض ما ثبت من ذلك بمجرد احتمالات لغوية
The source of references of Islamic creeds are the Book of Allah, sunnah of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- and the agreement of the pious predecessors. Every valid thing derived from the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- must be accepted and believed by a muslim, even though it only has few narrational chains.
The reference in understanding the Qur’an and sunnah are the explaining verses, understanding of the pious predecessors, and the understanding of those who follow them among the scholars. Every established thing can not be refused by other possibilities from the language perspective (“Mujmal Ushul Ahlissunah” by Dr. Nashir Al ‘Aql).
No. 1: Indications of the Qur’an and the sunnah has already known to us, as for the indication of the agreement of the pious predecessors is the saying of Allah’s messenger -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- below: :
أُوصِيكُمْ بِتَقْوَى اللهِ، وَالسَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ، وَإِنْ كَانَ عَبْدًا حَبَشِيًّا، فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ يَعِشْ مِنْكُمْ بَعْدِي فَسَيَرَى اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرًا، فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِسُنَّتِي وَسُنَّةِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيِّينَ، تَمَسَّكُوا بِهَا، وَعَضُّوا عَلَيْهَا بِالنَّوَاجِذِ، وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَمُحْدَثَاتِ الْأُمُورِ، فَإِنَّ كُلَّ مُحْدَثَةٍ بِدْعَةٌ، وَكُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ .
““I bequeath to you to fear Allah, to hear and obey even if you’re being ruled by an ethiopian slave. Indeed, those who live after me will see a lot of strife, so stick you to my Sunnah and the straight sunnah of the guided caliphs, hold it and bite it with your molars, and stay away from the innovations (in religion), for every invented (in religion) is innovation and every innovation is misguidance.” (Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and Hakim. It is classed sahih by Sheikh Al Albani in his work, “Shahihul Jaami’ “no. 2549)
Beside that, since they lived in the time of living of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, or near that time, they certainly knew better of the life journey of him -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, and they lived under the direct teaching of him -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, hence they had pure understanding that was free from deviant beliefs and ideologies that afflicted the understanding of generations after them.
That is why the Prophet told us to refer and follow them at the time of conflicts and emergence of many cults, so that we can recognize the real guidance of the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him.
No.2: A hadith ahad (ahad means one or singular) is a term used for a hadith which doesn’t achieve the level of mutawatir (narrated from many narrational chains). The scholars divided hadith into mutawatir and ahad not to refuse one of it, but to position a hadith to be an ahad or mutawatir according to the number of it’s narrator
As for hadith ahad, if it is a valid one, then it is compulsory to accept it whether in creeds or in law matter. There are many indications that support this obligation, such as a verse below:
“Believers, when an ungodly person brings to you a piece of news, carefully ascertain its truth, lest you should hurt a people unwittingly and thereafter repent at what you did. “ (QS. Al Hujuraat/The Rooms: 6)
And Allah’s decree, in chapter At Taubah/The Repentance:122.
The above verse means that if the news comes from a fair man, then it should be accepted without further investigation. There are even more indications from the hadith, and the Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- even sent one or two of his companions to enjoin people to Islam and he felt enough with them, such as when he sent Mu’adz Ibn Jabal to Yemen. Supposed that the number was not enough, he would certainly send more delegations.
No. 3: To explain this matter, we believe that a saying of Ibn Katsir -may Allah have mercy on him- which was written in the prologue of his tafseer book, is enough:
“ If someone asked, “What is the best way to interpret (the Qur’an)?” The answer is: ‘Verily, the best way is to interpret the Qur’an with (explanation from) the Qur’an, an unclear matter in a verse may be explained in another verse, if you don’t find (the explanation in another verse), then by the sunnah, since it is the explainer of the Qur’an…and so on”.
Then Ibn Katsir continued, “If we didn’t find (the explanation) in the Qur’an and the sunnah, then we should turn to the companions’ opinion, because they were more knowledgeable about it..and so on.”
Ibn Katsir also said, “If you didn’t find it in the Qur’an, the sunnah, also from the companions, then in this case, the Imams turned to the opinion of tabe’en (students of companions)…and so on.”
4- أصول الدين كلها قد بينها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وليس لأحد أن يحدث شيئا زاعما أنه من الدين
5- التسليم لله ولرسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم ظاهرا وباطنا فلا يعارض شيئ من الكتاب أو السنة الصحيحة بقياس ولا ذوق ولا كشف ولا قول شيخ ولا إمام ونحو ذلك
6- العقل الصريح موافق للنقل الصحيح ولا يتعارض قطعيان منهما أبدا وعند توهم التعارض يقدم النقل
4. All Principles of the religion (ushuluddin) had been explained by The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. Thus it is not allowed for anyone to innovate, believing that it is a part of religion.
5. Obeying Allah and His messenger -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, outwardly and inwardly, hence one is not allowed to contradict even one part of the Qur’an, or the valid sunnah, with analogy, feeling, disclosure of the veil of secrecy), opinion of a sheikh, opinion of an imam, etc.
6. A sans mind will always be the same with the authentic indications. Both, if comes in the certainty form, will never contradict each other forever, and if it seems like contradicting, then the indications should be put first. (See: “Mujmal Ushul Ahlissunah” by Dr. Nashir Al ‘Aql).
No. 4: Imam Malik -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “Whoever made out innovation in Islam, which he perceived as a decent thing, indeed, he has assumed that Prophet Muhammad -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- had betrayed his treatise, because Allah the Exalted decreed, which can be translated as, “ This day I have perfected for you your religion”, so whatever didn’t make as the part of religion, doesn’t make the part of religion today.”
No. 5: Imam Muhammad Ibn Shihab Az Zuhri -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “Allah granted the treatise (sent the apostles), liability of the apostles is conveying the message, while our duty is subject to receiving. “ (Narrated by Bukhari)
Hence, it is not permitted to contradict the Qur’an and the sunnah with analogy, feeling, etc. Even, the analogy does not apply if there are texts. Feeling and disclosure of secrecy, as explained before, are not proper to be a reference in establishing the creeds matter; furthermore if it is used to contradict between the Qur’an and the sunnah.
Likewise, it is not permitted to contradict the Qur’an and the sunnah with the saying of certain scholars, imam, and so on. That is, if the indication is already been cleared to him, then he left it merely to obey the opinion of such scholar or imam. Imam Shafi’i -may Allah have mercy on him- said, “Muslims agree that anyone who has been clear to him the Sunnah of the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, he should not left it only for following someone. “ (See: “Book of Prophet’s Prayer -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- by Sheikh Al Albani).
No. 6: The possibility of a sane mind to contradict the indications is certainly none, and it may be evidently known after you read the following explanation:
Firstly, Allah the Holy and Exalted directed His decrees toward the people of understanding (See: chapter Shaad:43)
Secondly, Allah the Exalted denounced those who do not want to use their minds (chapter Al Mulk:10)
Thirdly, it is often mentioned in the Qur’an suggestion of thinking, as in “afalaa tatafakkaruun”/”don’t you think about it?”, “la’allakum tatafakkaruun”/”so that the’ll think over it”, and others.
Fourthly, Qur’an and the Sunnah denounced the attitude of taqlid (following something without science), since it can be limiting and disabling functions and works of a mind. (Chapter Al Baqarah/The Cow:170)
Fifthly, Allah the Exalted praised the people who use their intellect (chapter Az Zumar:17-18)
Sixthly, the limitation of scope that could be reach by the human mind (See chapter Al Israa’/The Night Journey: 85 which describes the spirit), this verse indicates that the position of human intellect is below the indications.
Are there still the possibility of conflict, when the indications explicitly glorified reason and told to think?!
The critics of Islamic Scholars towards Science of Theology or Philosophy that Speaks about Divinity
It is very sad to see that philosophy has became the reference in learning the creeds, or been taken as part of material for foundation of Islam, just as what happened in many Islamic universities. As a result, students graduated from such university have strange and deviating ideas, some even lead to kufr, when the scholars have warned us to stay away from such science.
Imam Abu Hanifa said: “I have encountered the theologians. Their hearts were hard, rude soul, no matter if they are contrary to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. They do not have wara (fear of doing something unlawful in shari’a, -ed) ‘nor piety. “
Al Qadhy (The Judge) Abu Yusuf said: “Knowing the science of theology is a folly and ignorant about the science of theology is a knowledge. “
Imam Ahmad said, “One who master the science of theology will never get any goodness, forever. The theologians are evil men.”
Regarding this science, Imam Shafi’i had made a poem:
كُلُّ الْعُلُوْمِ سِوَى الْقُرْآنِ مُشْغِلَةٌ
إِلاَّ الْحَدِيْثَ وَالْفِقْهَ فِى الدِّيْنِ
الْعِلْمُ مَا كَانَ فِيْهِ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا
وَمَاسِوَى ذَلِكَ وَسْوَاسُ الشَّيَاطِيْنِ
“All science aside from the Qur’an (such as the science of theology) will only make one busy, besides the science of hadith and steeped in religion.
Science is what is contained in it the words of, “one has told us a hadith”, whereas otherwise it is just sheer evil interference. “
And Allah knows best.
Author: Marwan Ibn Musa
- “Mujmal Ushul Ahlis sunah wal Jama’ah” by (Dr. Nashir Ibn Abdul Karim Al ‘Aql)
- “Syarah aqidah Ahlussunnah wal Jama’ah” by (Ustadz. Yazid Ibn Abdul Qadir Jawas)
- “Shifat shalatin Nabi” by (Sheikh Al Albani)
Article of www.whatisquran.com