Sunday, 1 May 2011

A Guide for New Believers

A[1]




Assalām ‘alaykum [Peace be upon you],

Welcome to the bliss of Islam, the religion[2] of Truth. We ask Allah to bless you in this life and the next, and to make your journey to Him easy.

Allah says in the Qurʾān:

He is the one Who sent His Messenger with Guidance and the religion of Truth to make it manifest over all other religions.” [At-Tawbah 9:33]

Whoever Allah wants to guide, He opens his heart to Islam.” [Al-Anʿām 6:125]

Whoever desires other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. [Āl-ʿImrān 3:85]

INTRODUCTION

Now that you have embraced the faith and accepted salvation, all praise be to Allah, you must have many questions, and maybe even concerns. The purpose of this guide is to make things easy and clear for you, and to put you in the right direction so that you can stand up in this world as a confident Muslim, proud of your Islam and prepared to deal with challenges that will come your way while constantly turning to your Lord for assistance, seeking His forgiveness, and asking Him to shower His mercy upon you in this life and the next.


Let us now look at the benefits of embracing Islam and accepting salvation:

* All previous sins have been wiped out and all previous good deeds have been validated and recorded.

This means that whatever good deeds you have done in your life have been recorded, and you will be rewarded for them, insha’Allah (God willing). As for all your sins, they have been wiped away. Allah has now given you the opportunity to start afresh.

* You now have a direct relationship with your Lord. Allah says:

And when my slaves ask you [Muammad a[3]] about Me, indeed I am near. I respond to the call of the caller when he calls on Me, so let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided. [Al-Baqara 2:186]

Call on Allah at any time. Ask Him to make things easy for you, to guide you, to fill your heart with love for Islam, love for Allah, and love for the final Prophet, Muḥammad a. If you have just recently said the Shahādah, it is highly recommended at this time that you make lots of supplication (duʿā) to Allah. This will help you build your relationship with Him, and you will start to feel Allah working in your life. Allah also says:

Is there doubt in Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth? He calls on you in order to forgive you your sins, and He gives you respite until an appointed time. [Ibrahim 14:10]

* You will see Allah in the Hereafter, and be admitted into Paradise.

Allah says: Faces radiant on that day, looking at their Lord. [Al-Qiyāma 75:22-23]

This is the most awesome reward, and cannot be comprehended or understood by our limited human minds. Seeing Allah in the Paradise is the exclusive reward of the believers, and cannot be compared to any pleasure that we know of or don’t know of.


THE BEGINNING

It was mentioned before that you would now notice and feel Allah working in your life. The enemy of mankind, Shayṭān [Satan], is constantly trying to divert human beings from the worship of Allah. He tries his hardest to keep people in a state of disbelief, and if they believe he tries his hardest to cause them to sin. [Read the first 30 verses of Surah Al-ʿArāf, the 7th chapter, for more details] This is part of the test that will come, but this is not to dissuade you. Allah is the Friend of those who believe, and He comes to the aid of those who call on Him. He has power over all things. It is very easy for us humans, when everything is going well, to forget Allah. However, when things go wrong we cry out for help, and Allah is remembered once again. Even the ardent atheist, if he finds himself lost in the middle of the sea or at the bottom of a well, will call out to the Lord. Make constant supplication, for the Prophet a said: ‘The duʿā is the weapon of the believer.’

It is very important that you do not rush yourself. Take your time. The last thing you want to do is wear yourself out. The Qurʾān was revealed over a period of 23 years. As new believers we develop step by step. It’s more like a marathon than a 100-yard dash.

WHO IS ALLAH?

Allah is the Lord and Creator of the universe. He is not in need of anyone or anything, but everything and everyone is in need of Him. He existed before He created time and space, and He is as He ever was. He is not in need of children, nor was He born, and there is nothing like Him whatsoever.

[It is recommended at this point to get a translation of the Qurʾān, if you don’t have one. The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall is very good, and you can read it online at www.altafsir.net. Another excellent option is The Noble Qur’an by Abdalhaqq and Aisha Bewley. You should also get a copy of A Guide to the Book of Allah, available here. It provides you with beneficial verses to help you understand the absolute basics of faith.]

Allah says: Know that there is no god but Allah, and seek forgiveness for your sins. [Muhammad a 47: 19]

Allah uses the singular command form in this verse to indicate that knowing Him is a personal obligation, due on every believer. We also have the verse where Allah says:

And I have not created the jinn (spirits) and the humans except to worship me. [Adh-Dhāriyyāt 51:56]

The commentators on this verse indicate that the believer must know Allah in order to worship Him. This leads us to the topic of creed, or belief.

For starters, you should read this text: Shahāda in Detail, by Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ.

It is also recommended that you acquire a copy of Al-ʿAqīdah At-Taḥāwiyyah by Imam Abu Jaʿfar at-Ṭaḥāwī, translated and published by the UK Islamic Academy. A copy of this translation can be downloaded from www.htspub.com from the ‘downloads’ section. It is an authentic text and the orthodox scholars of Islam have made consensus on its authenticity about fifteen times.

There is also an excellent new book available called The Creed and Way of Muslim Orthodoxy which includes three classic texts in theology in one volume. This book is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Taḥāwiyyah text will also cover issues about the Prophet Muammad a, and what we believe about him. For further reading we recommend the following:

1) The Shifāʾ of Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ, translated by Aisha Bewley. This book describes the character and the station of the Best of Creation a, and is very famous throughout the Muslim world.

2) Fiqh As-Sīrah (The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography) by Sheikh Ramaān Al-Būī, translated by Nancy Roberts and revised by Anas Ar-Rifāʿī. This is an absolutely excellent work for understanding the Prophetic Biography, and indeed Islam itself. The book is also available from www.al-haddad.co.uk.

3) Muhammad a: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings. This is a very well-written biography, but should be checked against more reliable works.

4) The Shamāʾil of Imam at-Tirmidhi, Darul Ishaat, Karachi. This is a classic work detailing the Prophet’s a character and characteristics.

5) Look out for a forthcoming translation of Imam Ibn Hishām’s As-Sīrah An-Nabawiyyah.

[All the above-mentioned books are available online or can be ordered from almost any decent Islamic bookshop.]

One can also listen to and watch a series of online lectures at http://www.seerah.co.uk/Introducing-the-Seerah.

THE PRAYER AND OTHER ACTS OF WORSHIP

Most people who are not Muslims know that Muslims pray five times a day. This is absolutely true and it is a fundamental of the faith. You must be wondering how to go about it and how to master it. As mentioned before, take your time. You should make great effort to establish the prayer regularly in your life, and you should desire to do this as soon as possible, but don’t burn yourself out. Ideally you should find a brother or a sister who can guide you through purification and prayer.

Books are also useful, and can be used as a reference if a brother or sister is not available. We recommend the following:

1) Ar-Risālah Al-Jāmiʿah - The Essentials of Islam, by Imam Ahmad bin Zayn Al-Habashi, translated by Abdul Aziz Ahmed.

2) Safīnat An-Najā - A Short Treatise on Worship based on the School of Imam Ash-Shāfiʿī, by Salim b.Abdullah b.Sa'ad b.Sumair Al-Hadrami, The Ribat Institute. You can also download an alternative translation from www.shafifiqh.com.

3) The Ultimate Conspectus, translated by Musa Furber

4) An-Nawawi’s Manual of Islam, translated by Nuh Keller.

5) Reliance of the Traveller, a translation of ʿUmdat as-Sālik by Ahmad ibn Naqib al Misri, by Nuh Keller, Amana Publications. A copy can be downloaded from here.

Prayer, along with fasting, giving charity [zakat], ajj and all other rulings regarding transactions between people are usually classed under the title fiqh, which, literally, in Arabic, means ‘understanding.’ When you hear someone mention the word ‘fiqh’, or say ‘I want to study fiqh’, it usually means that they want to know how to purify themselves, pray and so forth. It is most commonly translated as ‘jurisprudence.’

The above-mentioned books, particularly the third and fourth, deal with all aspects of fiqh, and are therefore very useful and highly recommended. The fourth book also deals with creed, purification of the heart and a whole array of other topics.

One thing you are most likely to notice about the prayer is that not everybody prays exactly the same way. This is because there are four Orthodox schools of jurisprudence. See the Appendix for more details.

PURIFICATION OF THE HEART/SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT

Once you have accepted the faith, entered into a direct relationship with your Lord, learned who your Lord is and how to worship Him, you can then focus on purifying and bettering yourself as a human being. This means improving one’s character and aiming to remove diseases from the heart, such as pride, envy, rancour and so forth. It also means to avoid sin as much as possible, and to be in a state of remembrance of Allah [dhikr] as much as possible. Your ultimate purpose is to improve your relationship with Allah, and constantly strive to draw nearer to Him. Allah says:

The Day when wealth and children will be of no benefit to anyone, except the one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” [Ash-Shuʿarāʾ 26:89]

Say: “Indeed Allah misguides whoever He wills, and guides to Himself all who turn to Him; those who believe and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace.”’ [Ar-Raʿd 13:27-28]

The true believers are only those whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when the revelations of Allah are recited to them they increase in faith, and who trust in their Lord.” [Al-Anfaal 8:2]

There are many verses like this. Purification of the heart is part of the constant development of a believer. It is recommended that each day one should spend time doing extra acts of worship, such as supplicating Allah, glorifying Allah, reading portions of His Revelation, and so on. Allah willing, these will all help you refine your character and bring your heart closer to Allah.

The following books are highly recommended:

1) A Word of Advice by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, translated by Al-Hajj Abu Ja’far Al-Hanbali, www.htspub.com

2) The Book of Assistance by Imam ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad, translated by Mostafa al-Badawi.

3) The Lives of Man by Imam ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad, translated by Mostafa al-Badawi.

4) Gifts for the Seeker by Imam ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad, translated by Mostafa al-Badawi.

5) Key to the Garden by Habib Ahmed Mashur al-Haddad, translated by Mostafa al-Badawi. This book is also very useful for creed.

6) Two Treatises: Mutual Reminding and Good Manners by Imam ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad, translated by Mostafa al-Badawi.

7) Any book by Sheikh ʿAbdul Qādir al-Jilānī, translated by Muhtar Holland and available from Al-Baz Publishing. Futū al-Ghaib is an excellent starter.

8) Any book by Imam al-Ghazālī, published by Islamic Texts Society and others. A good starter is Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship, translated by Muhtar Holland.

For a book on manners and etiquettes, Islamic Manners by Sheikh ʿAbdul Fattā Abū Ghudda is probably the best book available in English.

You can also look at posts under the Purification label on this blog. Purifying the Soul is highly recommended.


SUPPLICATION (DU’A)

Supplicating to Allah is a key part of your relationship with Him, and there are many recorded supplications from the Prophet a, his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and the early Muslim community. These can be found in the following translated books:

1) Invocations and Supplications by Imam al-Ghazālī, translated by K Nakamura.

2) The Prophetic Invocations, compiled by Imam al-Haddad and Imam an-Nawawī.

3) Al-Hizb al-Azam, or ‘The Great Prayer Book of Islam’ by Allamah Ali bin Sultan Muhammad al-Qārī, with English translation and introductory comments. There is one very good edition published by Waterval Islamic Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa. Another translation is available here.

4) Once you’ve acquired some basic Arabic, Al-Adhkār by Imam Yaya An-Nawawī is an unparalleled book that contains supplications for every event and occasion. A translation into English should be available soon, insha’Allah.

There are many blessings in reading these invocations, but you are of course free to ask Allah what you want, for whatever you want and in any language you want. Don’t forget that you have a direct relationship with Him and do not require an intermediary or permission from anybody to communicate directly with Him!

THE ARABIC LANGUAGE

As a Muslim, knowledge of the Arabic language cannot be stressed enough. It is the key to understanding the Qurʾān and the traditions of the Prophet a, and opens up so many doors for the one seeking to develop and grow in the faith.

It is recommended that you try to learn at least the basics. Take your time and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you are able, keen and wish to take it further, then you could spend at least a year in an Arabic-speaking country and try to learn as much as you can. Doing an Arabic degree at a university, as a joint honours subject or even as an elective can bring some benefits, Allah willing.

If you are not already living in an Arabic-speaking country, there are means of learning the language, but it ultimately depends on your own enthusiasm and commitment. Look around for classes in your local community. Finally, ask Allah to give you a burning desire to learn Arabic!

There are two sets of books that are highly useful:

1) Gateway to Arabic by Dr. Imran Hamza Alawiye. This set consists of eight books and a couple of tapes. It can be used to teach yourself, but having a teacher is greatly desired. The first book will teach you the alphabet: www.greatwaytoarabic.com

2) Arabic Course for English-Speaking StudentsOriginally devised and taught at Madinah Islamic University, by Dr. V. Abdur Rahim, published by UK Islamic Academy. This is a set of three books. You will need to have knowledge of the alphabet before starting.

3) Al-Ajrumiyyah, which is a translation in progress and can be found here, starting with the first chapter, which is on the qualities of speech. This a classic beginners’ manual in Arabic grammar.

THE QURʾĀN

Once you have some knowledge of Arabic, meaning that you can read the words, you can start reading and reciting the Book of Allah. Try to read a portion every day. Don’t let a day go by without letting your eyes gaze on the Revelation of the Almighty One. Part of building your relationship with your Lord is to make yourself more and more familiar with His Book. An copy of the Qurʾān in Arabic can be obtained from any Islamic bookshop, but you should also read it in a language that you can understand, such as the above-mentioned English translation by Marmaduke Pickthall.

Recitation of the Qurʾān [tajwīd] can be a difficult skill to master, but there are ways, Alhamdulillah [All Praise is for Allah], of alleviating this problem:

- Find a teacher in your local community.
- Listen to a recorded recitation.

Ask for recorded tapes/CDs by Sheikh Mamūd Khalīl Al-usrī and Qārī ʿAbdul-Bāsi ʿAbdus-Ṣamad in particular. Sheikh Minshawi is another option.

You can also download the Juz 30 programme from ImaanStar. Highly recommended.

Once you have progressed in your recitation abilities there are certain chapters (sūrahs) that you should try to recite every day:

1) Yā Sīn - chapter 36 - to be recited after the Dawn Prayer (Al-Fajr)[4]
2) Al-Wāqiʿah - chapter 56 -to be recited after the Sunset Prayer (Al-Maghrib)[5]

Before going to bed try to recite:

1) Al-Mulk - chapter 67
2) As-Sajdah - chapter 32
3) Āyat ul-Kursī (The Verse of the Throne, which is Verse 255 of Surah Al-Baqara, the second chapter)
4) The last two verses of Surah Al-Baqara, Al-Kāfirūn, Al-Ikhlā, Al-Falaq and An-Nās, which are right at the very end of the Qurʾān.

For more details on this and other issues related to the Book of Allah, there is an excellent book called Etiquette with the Qurʾān by Imam an-Nawawī, translated by Musa Furber and published by Starlatch Press.
Memorising the Qurʾān is highly recommended. The Prophet a said: ‘The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and then teach it.’ [Narrated by Imams al-Bukhārī and Muslim]

Start with the final chapter, An-Nās, and work your way back to the 78th chapter, which is An-Nabaʾ. Then you will have memorised one thirtieth of the Qurʾān, known as a juzʾ. The above-mentioned tapes/CDs can be very useful in this regard.

ḤADĪTH (PROPHETIC SAYINGS)

The best collection available in the English language is The Complete Forty Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi, translated by Abdassammad Clarke and published by Taha. Imam An-Nawawi compiled and commented on these hadiths with the intention of providing the reader with a basic and comprehensive guide to the faith. Reading these sayings will give you great insight into the amazing character of the Prophet Muhammad a. The Arabic text is also provided and it is recommended that, if you can, try to gradually memorise it. Don’t worry about it if you can’t. Insha’Allah, with time you’ll get there! The 2nd hadith in the collection is called the ‘Hadith of Angel Gabriel’, and is an excellent hadith that sums up the religion of Islam in a very clear manner.

CONCLUSION

May Allah bless you and aid you on your journey! You are not alone - Islam is a religion of strong brotherhood and sisterhood, and Allah commands us to take care of and look out for one another. Make the effort to meet and spend time with fellow Muslims. This will help you learn more about the faith and make you feel part of the community. Don’t keep all your concerns to yourself. There are people out there who care about you and love you for the sake of Allah! Remember not to rush yourself. Allow yourself time to develop as a believer.

It is also strongly advised to be extra good to your family and friends. Don’t put pressure on them and don’t be neglectful in fulfilling their rights. Parents especially, whether Muslim or not, hold a special station. Be merciful towards them and take care of them, especially as they grow older. Manifest Islam through excellent character and let them see nothing but good resulting from your decision. Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, so that others can see the benefits of Islam in your life, and want the same for themselves.
We hope that you have found this guide beneficial. If you have, know that it is from Allah and all praise is for Him. Only the mistakes are ours.

APPENDIX

There are two other important points that are bound to come up at some point in your journey to Allah. They are related but are best treated individually.


What is a madhab [school of law/jurisprudence]? Where do they come from and why should I follow one?


Are all Muslims orthodox? Are there sects/cults amongst Muslims? How do I avoid them and become an orthodox believer?

What is a Madhab?

A madhab is a school of jurisprudence. Each of these schools is named after an Imam from the very first centuries of Islam. These are the schools of:

* Imam Abū anīfa (d.150 AH[6])
* Imam Mālik (d.179 AH)
* Imam Ash-Shāfiʿī (d.204 AH)
* Imam Amad ibn anbal (d.241 AH)

May Allah have mercy on all of them, āmīn.

These schools agree on the basics of jurisprudence but differ in the branches. Each school also has its own method of deriving rulings from the sources, i.e. the Qurʾān, the Sunnah (practice of the Prophet a), the way of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and so forth.

What must be understood is that the Prophet a taught his Companions different things when it came down to details. Some Companions were told to raise their hands in the prayer, while others were told not to. Some wiped their entire heads when washing for prayer (known as wuūʾ) while others only wiped a third. There are many more examples like this, and we must realise that these differences are a mercy.

Because the Companions differed on various minor issues, it is impossible to think that later Muslims can resolve these differences. The four madhabs are a natural consequence of these early differences of opinion. After the death of the Prophet a, the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, spread out from Madinah in the Arabian Peninsula and went to other lands to spread the faith. This movement can be summarised as follows:

The Companion ʿAbdullah ibn Masʿūd g[7] settled in Kufa in Iraq with about three thousand other companions, including Anas ibn Malik g and Abu Musa al-Ashʿarī g. Their understanding and practice was taught, passed on, and then gathered and codified by Imam Abu Hanifa, a native of Kufa, and the school became known as the Hanafi school.

Many Companions stayed in Madinah, such as Abū Bakr g, ʿUmar g and ʿUthman g. Their understanding and practice was taught, passed on, and then gathered and codified by Imam Mālik, a native of Madina, and hence that school became known as the Mālikī school. For further details and texts from the Maliki school, please visit the Madani Timbukti Traditions blog.

Another three thousand Companions settled in Makkah, including Ibn ‘Abbas g, the cousin of the Prophet a, who was the first exegete of the Book of Allah and an amazing scholar. Imam ash-Shāfiʿī, who originated from Gaza in Palestine, studied with the students of Imam Abu Ḥanīfa in Kufa and with Imam Mālik in Madinah. He spent some considerable time in Makkah, where he gathered and codified the understanding and practice of the people before moving on to Egypt, and the school became known as the Shāfiʿī school. The five fiqh texts mentioned above are from this school.

Three thousand companions also went to Bara in Iraq, including ʿAlī ibn Abī ālib, Fāima, asan, uṣayn, and ʿĀʾisha, may Allah be pleased with all of them. Their understanding and practice was taught, passed on, and then gathered and codified by Imam Amad, and the school became known as the Ḥanbalī school. A beginner’s text in anbalī fiqh, called Qadumi’s Primer, should be available in English soon, and with Allah alone is every success.

There is a lot more literature available on this subject. For articles, we recommend that you have a look at the following:

* ‘Understanding the Four Madhabs’ by Abdal-Hakim Murad.  
* ‘What is a Madhab?’ by Nuh Ha Mim Keller.
* Why Does One Have to Follow a Madhab? , which is a conversation between Imam Ramaān Al-Būī and a leading advocate for the abandonment of madhabs.

For lectures:

* The Manhaj of the Salaf, which is a lecture given by Al-Hajj Abu Ja’far Al-Hanbali.

For books:

* Abandoning the Madhabs is the Most Dangerous Innovation Threatening the Islamic Revealed Law by Sheikh Ramaān Al-Būī. This is probably the most decisive book on the subject. A preview of the book can be accessed here.

* The Differences of the Imams by Sheikh al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandhlawi, available from White Thread Press. [www.whitethreadpress.com] This book is ninety-four pages long and is very detailed and explanatory. It has been called the best book on the subject.

Eventually you should choose a school and stick with it. Find one that suits you and your circumstances, and Allah willing you will find a teacher who can assist you. To help you make this choice you can read The Four Imams by Muhammad Abu Zahra, translated by Aisha Bewley and published by Dar al-Taqwa. It also helps to talk to and ask people who follow different madhabs!

Last but not least, it’s crucial that you do not mix and match between schools regarding obligatory acts, as this is not what the Prophetic Companions did, and could result in you following a method (e.g. praying in a certain way) that has no precedent from them, and thereby your worship would be invalid. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘The best generation is my generation, then those who come next, then those who come next.’ [Agreed upon by Imams al-Bukhārī and Muslim, may Allah have mercy on them] When you follow a madhab know that you are following a massive group of at least three thousand Companions who were all scholars, all strikingly upright, and took directly from the Best of Creation, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. You have become part of that blessed and noble link. It is an amazing system with absolute authority in the dīn [religion], and to go against it is to ask for nothing but confusion. The Qurʾān and the Sunnah must be followed, no doubt, but the understanding must also be followed. The first three generations are our basis for understanding the Qurʾān and the Sunnah. If we can’t trust them then who do we trust?

Are all Muslims orthodox? Are there sects/cults within Islam?

The answer is that the vast majority (88%) [8] of Muslims are orthodox.

The Prophet a said about the Ummah [nation] of Musa [Moses] e[9], peace be upon him: ‘They will divide into 71 sects, all of them are in the fire except one.’ He a told us about the Ummah of Isa e [Jesus] : ‘They will divide into 72 sects, 71 will be in the Fire and one in the Paradise.’ He a said: ‘My Ummah is exalted above both of them, and will have one more sect, 72 will be in the Fire and one in the Paradise.’ Then he a was asked: ‘Who is the saved sect?’ He a said in a hadith: ‘It is what I and my Companions are on.’ And in a hadith: ‘The overwhelming majority.’ And in a hadith: ‘One is in Paradise, and it is the Majority [Community]. [Narrated by Abu Dawud (4597), Ibn Majah (3992), and Tirmidhi with the wording: ‘The Jews have divided into 71 or 72 sects, and the Christians likewise, and my Ummah will divide into 73 sects.’] [10]

If one looks at the history of Islam one finds that the vast majority of Muslims adhered to the four schools of jurisprudence and had the same foundational creed. There are differences over branch issues. Orthodox Islam has some key tenets that tend be contradicted or denied by cultists and innovators. Here are a few examples:

There is no god but Allah:
No other deity exists. Allah says: If there were therein [in the heavens and the earth] gods besides Allah then they [the heavens and the earth] would have been corrupted. Glorified is Allah, Lord of the Throne, above what they ascribe [unto Him].” [Al-Anbiyāʾ 21:22]

Allah is nothing like His creation:
Allah says: There is nothing like Him whatsoever, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. [Ash-Shūrā 42:11] We believe in Allah’s attributes without how and without meaning. We are not literalists. Allah is the Creator of time and space, and thus is not in need of a body, He does not need to occupy a space, He is neither dependent nor in need of the Throne and He does not need to move around. There is nothing like Him whatsoever. He is outside of creation, so we as created beings have no capacity to encompass Him or picture Him in our heads. We know what we need to know and we have a direct relationship with Him.

Salvation is not by deeds and faith but faith alone:
The evidence for this is in the following verse and Prophetic traditions:

Allah the Exalted says: Indeed those who disbelieve and bar others from the path of Allah, their [good] deeds are null and void. [Muhammad 47:1]

On the authority of ʿĀʾisha j[11] who said: ‘I said: “O Messenger of Allah, in jahiliyyah [pre-Islamic ignorance], Ibn Judʿān used to keep the ties of kinship and feed the poor. Will this benefit him?” He said: It will not benefit him, because he never said: “O my Lord, forgive me my sins on the Day of Judgement.’ [Narrated by Imam Muslim #214]

On the authority of Abu Hurayra g who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah a said: You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not [truly] believe until you love one another. Shall I indicate something that if you do it you will love one another? Spread peace amongst yourselves. [Narrated by Imam Muslim #54]

On the authority of Abu Hurayra g who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah a said: No one of you will enter the Paradise based on his deeds. They said: “Not even you O Messenger of Allah?” He said: Not even I, unless Allah covers me with His Mercy and His Bounty. [Narrated by Imam Muslim]

On the authority of Abu Hurayra g who said: ‘Somebody asked the Messenger of Allah a: “What is salvation?” He a said: ‘Salvation is accepting the word [There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah] that my uncle denied today.’ [Narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad]

For the believer, good deeds are done to manifest obedience, to ensure that one is not punished temporarily in the next life, and to give one a high rank in the Paradise.  You can read The Lives of Man by Imam Al Haddad for further clarification. Because you are a believer you are saved, and that can only change if you choose to reject Allah. Allah, the All Merciful, will never reject you.

Seeing Allah in the Hereafter:
This is made clear by the following verses where Allah says: Faces that Day radiant, looking at their Lord. [Al-Qiyāma 75:22-23] and For those who did good is the best reward, and something extra. [Yūnus 10:26] The best reward is the Paradise, and that something extra, according to all orthodox scholars, is the seeing of Allah in the Paradise.

Tawḥīd (Unity of Allah) is one and cannot be divided into different types:
Muslims have tawḥīd while disbelievers don’t. It’s that simple. Some cultists claim that disbelievers have something called tawḥīd rububiyyah (unity of Lordship), and they will quote the following verses: Al-ʿAnkabūt 29:61 and 63, Luqmān 31:25, Az-Zumar 39:38 and Az-Zukhruf 43:9 and 87. Let’s look at verse 39:38:

‘And if you should ask them [the disbelievers]: “Who created the heavens and the earth?” They will say: “Allah.” Say: “Do you think you should call on other than Allah? If Allah wanted to harm me could anyone remove that harm? And if Allah wanted to be merciful towards me could anyone withhold His Mercy?” Say: “Allah suffices me. Upon Him do they rely, those who rely.”’

These same innovators claim that disbelievers believe in the existence of One Unique Deity, because when the disbelievers are asked they say ‘Allah.’ However, they worship other than Him, and this is why only the believers have something called tawḥīd uluhiyyah [Unity of Godship], which is the belief that only Allah, and no other god, has the right to be worshipped. Orthodox Muslims believe that nothing deserves to be worshipped besides Allah, but we also believe that there is no other god period! The fact that disbelievers do not believe in One Unique Deity is evidenced from the following verses:

‘[The disbelievers, particularly the polytheists of Makkah, say] “Has he [Muhammad a] made all the gods [ilah] one God? Indeed this is a strange thing.”’[Ṣad 38:5]


From this verse we can clearly see that the disbelievers believed in the existence of other gods, and were not merely worshipping other gods. The word ilah (deity, god) in Arabic not only means something that is worshipped but also something that is believed to exist and can bring about benefit or harm. This definition can be found in all the authoritative Arabic dictionaries, including Lisān al-ʿArab.


‘And he [Pharaoh] proclaimed: “I am your Lord (rabb) Most High.”’ [an-Naziʿāt 79:24] Are we to believe that the Pharaoh had this thing called tawḥīd rububiyyah (unity of Lordship)?

‘Do you know about the one [Nimrod] who argued with Ibrahim [Abraham] about his Lord, because Allah had given him the kingdom; how, when Ibrahim said: “My Lord is the One who gives life and causes death,” he answered “ I give life and cause death.” Ibrahim said: “Indeed, Allah causes the sun to rise in the East, so make it rise from the West.” The disbeliever was bewildered, and Allah does not guide the oppressors.’ [al-Baqarah 2:258] Are we to believe that Nimrod had this thing called tawḥīd rububiyyah (unity of Lordship)?

Alhamdulilah, you are a believer and have tawḥīd. Don’t worry about it! You might want to note that this strange belief subconsciously admits to the existence of other gods (i.e. there are other gods in existence but only Allah deserves to be worshipped) which is not only blasphemous but impossible, because Allah says: If there were therein [in the heavens and the earth] gods besides Allah then they [the heavens and the earth] would have been corrupted. Glorified is Allah, Lord of the Throne, above what they ascribe [unto Him]. [Al-Anbiyāʾ’ 21:22]

Allah also says:

Know that there is no god (ilah) but Allah, and seek forgiveness for your sins. [Muhammad 47:19]

O Mankind! Worship your Lord (rabb) who created you, and created those who came before you, so that you may ward off evil. [Al-Baqara 2:21]

The Punishment of the Grave is true, for those who are deserving of it:
This is evidenced from the following verses:
                                                  
The Fire; they [Pharaoh and his people] are exposed to it morning and evening, and the Day the Hour is established [it will be said to the angels]: ‘Enter Pharaoh and his people into the most awful punishment. [Al-Ghāfir 40:46]

Pharaoh and his people are dead and they are being shown the Fire every morning and evening. Where are they now? In their graves. Are they being punished? Absolutely.

And among those around you of the wandering Arabs there are  hypocrites, among the townspeople of Madinah [there are some who] persist in hypocrisy whom you [Muhammad a] do not know. We know them, and we shall punish them twice, and they will be exposed to a mighty punishment. [Al-Tawba 9:101]

The mighty punishment is the punishment of the Fire. What are the two other punishments prior to that? According to Muslim Orthodoxy, the first punishment is humiliation or being killed in this life and the second is the punishment of the grave. [You can read The Lives of Man by Imam al-Haddad, as mentioned above, for more evidence and details of this subject]   
            
The Prophet Muhammad a is the last and final Prophet and Messenger:
Allah says: Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but He is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is aware of all things. [Al-Azāb 33:40] The Prophet a also said: ‘I am the first of the Prophets to be created and the last one sent.’ [Narrated by Imams at-Tirmidhī, Al-ākim, Amad, and graded as authentic (ṣaḥīḥ) by Imam at-Tirmidhī.]

It should also be noted that every Messenger is a Prophet but not every Prophet is a Messenger. Allah communicates to both Messenger and Prophet, but there is a difference. A Messenger is sent with a new divine dispensation (the creed doesn’t change but the law does) that he is obliged to call people to, whereas a Prophet merely revives and tries to call people back to the last dispensation. He may also be sent to aid a Messenger, as Hārūn e (Aaron) was sent to help his brother Musa e [Moses]. Messengers in fact perform both duties, because while calling people to a new revelation, with new legal rulings, they are also calling people to what every Messenger called to previously, namely the Unity of Allah; that fact that only He exists and deserves to be worshipped.  The above-mentioned hadith is also evidence of the primordial rank of the Prophet Muammad a.  His essence was the first one created whereas Adam e was the first human being to be given bodily form. For further discussion on the primordial rank of the Prophet Muammad a, please click here.

The Prophets, upon whom be peace, are infallible in their nature:
This contradicts the belief of the Christians and Jews, as can be seen from reading their Bible. For example, the Prophet Noah is described as becoming drunk and getting naked in Genesis 9:20-23. In Genesis 19:30-38 we read how the Prophet Lot slept with his both of his daughters after they gave him wine to drink, and this was done to preserve their father’s lineage. There are other examples of this, and this clearly poses serious theological problems. Prophets are entrusted with the greatest responsibility: delivering the message of salvation to mankind. If they are not infallible then they cannot be entirely trusted, and the revelation they claim to bring can be brought into question. The fact that some innovators/cultists hold this belief is worrying indeed.

In the Qurʾān, Allah describes the Prophets quite differently. We find Noah saying to his people: O my people! There is not the slightest bit of error in me but I am a Messenger from the Lord of all creation. [Al-ʿArāf 7:61] The Prophet Hūd said: O my people, there is not the slightest bit of foolishness in me, but I am a Messenger from the Lord of all creation.[Al-ʿArāf 7:67] The Prophet Yūsuf [Joseph] was tempted by the wife of the Aziz and Allah says: Had it not been for the clear proof of His Lord that he saw, and it is likewise that we turned him away from evil and perversion. Indeed he is from our sincere slaves. [Yūsuf 12:24]

‘Sincere’ is mukhlas in the Arabic text, and is in the passive sense. Allah made Yūsuf sincere and pure, and this is the case with all the Prophets. They cannot be tempted to sin and they are infallible in their essence. As for forgetting the name of an individual, missing out a part of a prayer, or understanding a command to be disliked [makrūh] as opposed to actually forbidden [arām], these are all possible, and have occurred. However, these are not considered to be mistakes, because they occur in order to derive benefit, and not harm, as is commonly the case when non-Prophets make mistakes. For example, the Prophet Muhammad a missed something in the prayer once in order to teach us the Forgetfulness Prostration (sajda sahu).
 
For further information on this subject please visit Al-Hajj Abu Ja’far’s website: www.htspub.com, which specialises in reaching out to adherents of cults and false religions. It stands for Hanbali Text Society Publications.

Final Note: Insha’Allah, this guide will be updated as and when more literature and resources become available, and with Allah alone is every success.
                                                  

[1] The symbol above reads ‘Bismillah HiRaḥmān niRaḥīm’ which means ‘In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.’
[2] Islam is not just a religion but rather a complete way of life, providing guidance in all areas and aspects.
[3] This symbol means ‘May the Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.’
[4] The Prophet a said: ‘In the Qurʾān is a sūrah that will make intercession for its reader and seek forgiveness for the one listening.’ [Narrated by ‘Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her.] He a also said: ‘Everything has a heart, and the heart of the Qurʾān is Yā Sīn, and I wish for it to be in the heart of everybody from my Ummah.’ [Collected by Al-Bazzār]
[5] The Prophetic Companion, ʿAbdullah ibn Masʿūd,  said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah a saying: “Whoever recites Sūrah Al-Wāqiʿah every night will never be afflicted with poverty.”Al-Jāmiʿ As-Saghīr of Imam As-Suyūtī, as well as other collections.
[6] This refers to the Islamic calendar, which began in 622 AD, the year in which the Prophet a emigrated from Makkah to Madinah.
[7] This symbol means ‘May Allah be pleased with him’.
[8] 1.5 billion out of approximately 1.7 billion worldwide.
[9] This symbol means ‘peace be upon him’.
[10] For an in-depth discussion on this matter, one can refer to Al-Ghunya by Sheikh Abdul Qādir Al-Jilāni, in which he explains that Ahl us-Sunnah wa Al-Jamāʿah, or Muslim Orthodoxy, are the saved sect and the majority of the Muslims. He also explains who the other seventy-two sects, or cults, are.
[11] This symbol means  ‘may Allah be pleased with her’.

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