"O you who believe! Give your response to Allaah and His
Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life,
and know that Allaah comes in between a man and his heart, and
it is He to whom you shall all be gathered." al-Qur'aan,
Bismillaah Ar-RaHmaan Ar-RaHeem
Al-Hamdu Lillaah, was-Salaatu was-Salaamu `alaa Rasoolih
As-Salaamu `Alaikum wa RaHmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh
Aqeedah: its Meaning and Importance
From "Aqeedah (Matters of Faith...First...If They But
Knew), by Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Qari, published by Dar Makkah
One narration states, "You are going to a people from the
People of the Book. Let the first thing that you call them to be
the worship of Allah. If they acknowledge Allah, then inform
them that Allah has obligated upon them five prayers during
their days and nights." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim]
This hadith is clear. It does not require much of an
explanation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) applied this
principle in his practical calling to Islam. He stayed in Makkah
for thirteen years to teach the people iman and to educate his
Companions on this point and to correct the beliefs of the
people. That is the pattern upon which the Companions were
Jundub Ibn Abdullah al-Bajaly said, "We learned iman
(faith) and then we learned the Quran and it increased our iman."
Abdullah ibn Umar said, "We lived during an instant of
time in which one of us would receive faith first before
receiving the Quran and when the surahs were revealed we would
learn what they permitted and what they prohibited and what they
forbade and what they ordered and what should be the stance
towards them. But I have seen many men from whom one is given
the Quran before iman and he reads it from the opening of the
Book to its closing and he does not know what it orders and what
it forbids and what should be his stance towards it. He is like
someone who is just throwing out dates [i.e., he does not get
any benefit from his recital]."
That is the manner in which the Prophet (peace be upon him)
brought up his companions: Iman first and then the
Quran. This is similar to what Imam Abu Hanifa pointed
out: Understanding in the religion first (i.e.
tauheed) and then understanding in the science (i.e. the shariah).
The beliefs must be corrected first, then follows all of the
other aspects of the religion.... And Imam Ash-Shafi`i said,
"That a servant meets Allaah with every sin except Shirk is
better say than meeting Him upon any of the innovated beliefs."
Al-Aqeedah linguistically is derived from the term aqada. In
Arabic, one states,"Aqada the rope" when the rope is tied
firmly. And, "Aqada the sale" or "He settled the sale" when the
person ratifies and contracts a sale or agreement. And Allah
says in the Quran, "And as for those whom your right
hands have made a covenant (Ar., aqadat)" [Al-Nisa 33]. And Allah also says, "But He will take you to
task for the oaths which you swear in earnest (Ar., aqadtum)
[Al-Maida, 89] which means asserted and adhered to, as proven in
the verse, "And break not oaths after the assertion
of them" [An-Nahl, 91]. If one says, "Aqadtu such
and such," it means his heart is firm upon such and such.
Therefore, al-aqeedah or al-itiqad according to the scholars
of Islam is: The firm creed that one's heart is fixed
upon without any wavering or doubt. It excludes any supposition,
doubt or suspicion.
Imam Abu Hanifa called this great subject al-Fiqh al-Akbar
("The Greater Understanding") and the understanding of the
religion. He called the science of law (Ar., shariah) the
understanding of the science. Many scholars of Islam use the
word tauheed for all matters that a person must believe in. This
is because the most important of these matters is the basic
tauheed that is contained in the phrase, "There is none
worthy of worship except Allah."
Tauheed, according to them,
may be divided into two categories: tauheed of cognition and
affirmation and tauheed of purpose and deeds.
- Tauheed of cognition and affirmation is the tauheed of the
Oneness of the Creator and the tauheed of His Names and
Attributes [i.e. He is Unique in His being the only Creator
and the only One with His names and attributes].
- Tauheed of purpose and deeds is tauheed of lordship or
that none should be worshipped except Allah [i.e., He is the
only One worthy of worship].
The scholastic theologians (Ar., kalaamiyoon) - and what will
explain to you who the scholastic theologians are - call this
great subject "the root of the religion" and they call the law
"the branches of the religion". This is their terminology. We
also have a dispute with them in this matter but this is not the
place to discuss it. All of them give it a name or adjective
according to their needs.
But what is the name the Quran gives to this matter?
The Quran gives the grave matter the name iman. Allah says in
the Quran, "And thus We inspired in You (Muhammad) a
Spirit of Our command. You did not know what the Scripture was,
nor what the Faith (iman) was. But we have made it a light
whereby We guide whom We will of our bondmen..."
The general concepts that the heart of the believer must be
firm about are the "pillars" of this faith. But one will not be
called a believer just by knowing and understanding these
pillars but he must come to the level where he submits and
implements what is described, in the hadith of Gabriel, as
Iman, in this manner, incorporates Islam.
If iman was simply knowing the facts in one's heart, then its
companion would be equal to Satan and Pharaoh [Note: The Satan
was the most knowledgeable of his Lord but he was destroyed
because of his pride and envy. And Pharaoh, even though he
claimed to be the lord, knew that the lord is Allah and that
none has the right to be worshipped but Him. Allah says,
"He said: In truth you know that none sent down these
portents save the Lord of the heavens and the earth as
proofs..." (al-Isra, 102). - Although they knew
the truth, they did not put it in practice by turning their `ibadah
to Allah Alone].
In the hadith of Gabriel, the Prophet (peace be upon him)
explained the pillars of this faith in which every human must
believe, when he was asked, "What is iman?", he said,
"To believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His
messengers and the Last Day and predestination of good and
It is a must for every person to know these pillars and to
learn them with a correct understanding and to believe in them
in the manner that the pious forefathers understood and believed
in them, in the same manner that the Companions of the Prophet
(peace be upon him) believed and understood them, as well as
their Followers and those who followed on their path. This
includes the four imams, Sufyan Al-Thauri, Sufyan ibn Uyaina,
Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak and others similar to them, as well as
Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj, Shaikh
al-Islam ibn Taymiya and al-Hafedh ibn al-Qayyim. And scholars
similar to them who followed the same manner of understanding
and believing in these pillars.
This is the first obligation upon the responsible human
being. There is no difference of opinion on this question among
the scholars whose opinions are worth following.
Imam Abu-Hanifa said, "The understanding of faith is
better than understanding of the science." What he meant by
faith is tauheed and what he meant by science is the shariah. He
put the understanding of tauheed before the understanding of the
And Shaikh al-Islam al-Haruwi al-Ansari (d. 481 AH) stated at
the beginning of his book, Itiqad ahl al-Sunnah, "The first
obligation upon the slave is the knowledge of Allah. This is
proven by the hadith of Muadh, when the Prophet (peace be upon
him) said to him, 'You will come to a people from the People of
the Book. The first thing that you should call them to is the
worship of Allah. If they gain the knowledge of Allah, then tell
them that Allah obligates upon them five prayers during the day
From this premise did the great scholars of Islam proceed.
Ponder, for example, what Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari
did in his book al-Jami al-Sahih, which is the most authentic
book after the Book of Allah; one will see that from his
detailed knowledge and understanding of this religion, this
great Imam began his book with "The Beginning of Revelation" and
then he followed it with chapters on faith, followed by the
chapters on knowledge. As if he means, may Allah have mercy on
him, to point out that the first obligation upon a human being
is faith or Iman and the way to attaining faith is knowledge.
And the source of faith and knowledge is revelation. So he began
by showing how the revelation occurred and what it was like.
Then he followed by mentioning faith and knowledge. This
arrangement is no accident; by it he makes some important
This is the sum of what we wish to mention and what we wish
to raise our voices about. The matter of aqeedah is the first
priority. Faith and knowledge are the means of attaining it. And
the source of knowledge and faith is the Book and Sunnah.