Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Bear in mind that if all the people combined together to grant you some benefit, they would not be able to do it unless Allah has determined it for you. And that if all of them combined together to do you harm, they would not be able to do it unless Allah has determined it for you. The pens have been set aside and writings of the Book of Fate have become dry.” [Tirmidhi]
The important lesson to understand from this hadith is that we must not fear death, loss or reproach in obeying the commands of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), for only that harm will come to us which is already destined to. A believer should not be frightened by the number or resources of the enemies of Allah. This should never determine whether they should obey Allah or not, as this hadith tells us that they can not do any harm unless Allah has destined it for them. And if that is the case that harm will come anyway, but the believer will be rewarded for obeying the commands of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).
Unfortunately, we find Muslims helping to hurt and kill other Muslims today, using as an excuse that harm would come to them otherwise. We need to develop our understanding of qada wal qadar to become righteous.
After Hamd and Salat, is being announced that this treatise will describe the beliefs of the
genuine followers of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, that is, the saved and the successful sect
(Al-Firqatun-Naajiyah Al-Mansoorah) to the Day of Judgement.
The belief is this: To have faith in Allah, His angels, His Scriptures, His Messengers, and in
being resurrected after death, and in having a good or bad destiny.
The word Amma ba’d is used to indicate the beginning of the main theme. The Prophet (peace be upon
him) would often use this word in the beginning of his Khutbah (sermons) and writings.
The word ‘Aqeedah means accepting anything with the heart and conscience and obeying Allah in
doing it. The word conveys the resoluteness of the intention and maturity of thought.
Firqah is used to denote a group of people. The author has qualified it with salvation and assistance
owing to the fact that one of the Ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) says:
“One group from my Ummah will always hold fast to truth and it will always have the assistance of
Allah. No one who dissociated from it will be able to do harm to it up to the Day of Judgement.” (AlBukhari, 13/293)
In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) says:
“This Ummah will get divided into 73 Firqah, and except one Firqah all the others will be destined to
Hell. That one Firqah will be such as will follow my way and the way of my Companions.” (AtTirmidhi, 7/397)
In the phrase of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama ‘ah, Sunnah means the way and practice followed by the
Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Sahaba. The heretical innovation and different creeds had not
come into being till then. The word Jama ‘ah stands for the people who assemble. Here it means those
Sahaba and the Tabi’een (the generation immediately following the Sahaba) who unanimously
accepted the truth proved from the Qur’an and the Hadith and gathered together.
The Six Pillars of Faith
The six things on which, the author says, it is compulsory to have faith are regarded as the pillars of
the Faith. Unless one has faith in these six things in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah, his
Faith will not acquire perfection. If someone denies even one of these six things or does not believe in
it in accordance with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, he is a Kafir. All these things have been described in
the Hadith known as the Hadith of Jibrael. It is mentioned that Jibrael came to the Prophet (peace be
upon him) in the guise of a Bedouin and put questions to him about Islam, Iman and Ihsan. He said in
reply to that:
“Iman means having faith in Allah, angels, heavenly Scriptures, Messengers of Allah, life after death,
and good and bad destiny.” (Muslim 1/259)
Al-Malaika is plural of Malak. This word is derived from AI-Ulooka, which means Messengership.
By Malaika is meant the creatures of Allah whom He has made to inhabit the heavens and has
assigned them the affairs of His creatures. He has mentioned them in His Book explaining that they do
not disobey Allah and follow whatever they are commanded to do. They continue narrating the glorification of Allah untiringly day and night. It is enjoined upon us to have faith in all the Attributes
and actions of the angels described in the Quran and the Hadith, and keep quiet about such as have not
been mentioned, for these constitute the affairs of the Unseen which are known to us only to the extent
Allah and His Messenger have told us.
Al-Kutub means those Scriptures which Allah has sent down from the heaven upon His Messengers.
From amongst these, we have the knowledge of the Books of Abraham, Torah of Moses, Evangels of
Jesus, Psalms of David and the Quran The Quran descended as the last Scripture and it stands as the
protector and the testifies for all the earlier Scriptures. In addition to these books, it is also necessary
to have a general faith in the Scriptures of the other Messengers of Allah.
The word Ar-Rusul means those people who receive revelations from Allah. These revelations
contain commandments of the Shari’ah and the Messengers are commanded to preach them. It is
necessary for us to have specific faith in the 25 Rasool mentioned by Allah in the Quran. A poet has
collected the names in a verse:
“Eighteen have been mentioned in the Quranic verse of “Tilka Hujjatuna; the remaining seven are
Idris, Hud, Shu’aib, Saleh, Dhul-Kifl, Adam, and Muhammad (peace be upon him)”.
In addition to these Rasool and Nabi, we must have a general faith in other Prophets also, that, we do
not have to wrangle about the faith in their Prophethood and Messengership, their names and their
numbers, for Allah Alone has this knowledge. He has said:
“And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to
you.” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 164)
It is necessary to have this Faith in connection with these Messengers that they did convey the
message to mankind which Allah had commanded them to do, and explained them in a manner that
none remains in any doubt. And that they are free from flaws of character like falsehood, betrayals,
hiding knowledge and ignorance. The most superior among these are: Muhammad, Abraham, Moses,
Jesus, and Noah. They have been mentioned in the following verse:
“And (remember) when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you (O Muhammad
(peace be upon him) and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Mosa and ‘Iesa-son of Maryam.”
(Sarah Al-Ahzab, 33:7).
And the second verse is:
“He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh, and that which
We have inspired in you (O Muhammad (peace be upon him), and that which We ordained for
Ibrahim, Mosa ‘Iesa saying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do
practically), and make no divisions in it (religion) (i.e. various sects in religion).” (Surah Ash-Shura,
The meaning of the word Ba’th is to raise and to give motion. In the terminology of Shari’ah it means
to raise the dead from their graves alive on the Day of Judgement so that they are judged. Allah will
see him who has done an iota of good and him who has done an iota of bad. We must have faith in
Ba’th in the same sense in which Allah has mentioned in the Quran, that is, Allah will collect all the organs that are dissolved and revive them again and bring back life in them. The philosophers and the
Christians who deny the bodily Ba ‘th are Kafir, and those who believe in Ba ‘th but hold that Allah
will inspire soul into a body different from the body of this world are heretical innovators and corrupt.
Al-Qadar means making an appraisal. In the terminology of Shari ‘ah it means that Allah has the
knowledge of the quantity and temporality of everything from the beginning of the creation. He
created them by His Power and Will and according to His Knowledge, and He recorded them in the
Safe Tablet (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees) before creating them. A Hadith says:
“He first created the pen and commanded it to write. The pen asked, ‘What should I write?’ Allah said,
‘Write out all that is destined to happen'”
Allah says in the Quran:
“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees –(Al-Lauh
Al-Mahfuz), before We bring it into existence.” (Surah Al-Hadid, 57:22).
I bear witness that there is no true God except Allah. He is alone and has no partners. And I
bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His slave and Messenger. May Allah
favour him, his family and his companions with an abundance of Salaam.
Bearing witness means to explain a thing by having a knowledge of it and having a belief regarding its
being correct and evident. A witness is reliable only when he has the qualification of affirmation and
conviction, and his heart supports the tongue. Since the hypocrites bore witness with the tongue, Allah
decreed them as liars.
Laa ilaha illa Allah (There is no God to be worshipped except Allah) is that sentence of Tauhid
(Oneness of Allah) about which all Messengers of Allah are unanimous. This is the sum and substance
of their mission and Messengership. Every Messenger began his mission with this sentence. The
Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“I am commanded to fight with those people who do not say La ilaha illa Allah.” If they say La ilaha
illa Allah, their life and property will be safe and then their affairs will lie with Allah.” (Al-Bukhari,
This sentence negates Divinity of other than Allah in the beginning and affirms the Godhood of Allah
Alone in the last part. The sentence means that there is no real being deserving of worship and this
sense is reinforced by the phrase that He is One and has no partners. The phrase La ilaha illa Allah
provides the basis for it. By bearing witness in support of the Prophet (peace be upon him) along with bearing witness for
Allah, it has been indicated that it is necessary to bear witness for both. One remains pointless without
the other. That is the reason why both have been mentioned together in the Adhan (call to prayer) and
the Tashahhud (a state of Salat). Some Ulama have stated in the explanation of the Quranic verse Wa
rafa ‘na laka dhikrak (And We exalted your fame…) that Allah says:
“(O Muhammad) whenever I am mentioned, you too are mentioned”. (Abu Y’la, 2/522)
The Kalimah established both the Attributes of Messengership and servitude of the Prophet (peace be
upon him) for these two are the most important Attributes of a worshipper of Allah. Worship is the
rationale and aim behind the creation of jinns and mankind, and the perfection of creation lies in
realizing this aim in practice. When the worshipper goes up higher in servitude, his status is exalted.
By establishing the attribute of servitude for the Prophet (peace be upon him) those extremists stand
contradicted who raise the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the position of Godhood; such as the
practice of the misguided Sufi. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has repeatedly warned:
“You should not deify me in the way as the Christians deified the son of Mary. I am only a slave of
Allah and His Messenger”. (Al-Bukhari 12/144)
In bearing witness to this, the worshipper admits that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is perfect in
servitude and perfect in the Messengership of Allah. This also states that he occupies the highest
position in terms of the perfection of Attributes in the entire mankind. This testimony will be
completed only when a slave testifies to the ideas transmitted by the Prophet (peace be upon him)
when he obeys his commands, and keeps himself dissociated from those things which he has
The literal meaning of Salat is prayer. The meaning of ‘Salat on the Prophet (peace be upon him)’ is
explained by the narrative of Abul-‘Alia which has been reported by Imam Bukhari as:
“Salat on the Prophet (peace be upon him) means Allah praises him before the angels.”
The meaning of Salat pronounced by the angels is that they pray for pardon for the Messenger of
Allah; and the meaning of Salat performed by a man is that it is an imploration and invocation.
The word Aal-e-Rasool means those kinsmen of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who are interdicted
from accepting Zakat (obligatory charity), i.e., people belonging to Banu Hashim and Banu
AlMuttalib. Likewise, the word Aal may also mean the followers of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Ashaab means all those people who saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the state of having
become believers in the Faith and died in the state of believing in the Faith.
Salaam means asking for security from the evil things. This is one of the Names of Allah and means
that He is free from all kinds of defects and drawbacks and is safe and secure, or, that He will give
security to His faithful slaves in the Hereafter.
Ibn Taimiyah’s method of teaching was both elegant and striking, replete with authentic references,
strengthened with rational arguments, and evidence from the Ahadith .For a lecture on any subject, he
would refer to verses of the Quran and discuss their meanings with cross references from the Quran.
He would also note evidence from Ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and check their
authenticity. He would then expound the relevant opinions of the four schools of jurisprudence and of
other famous experts in jurisprudence. Having discussed the matter fully in this way, the problem and
its solution would become clear in the minds of his listeners. Ibn Taimiyah had a prodigiously good
memory which helped him overwhelm his adversaries in polemic
Imam Ibn Taimiyah’s full name is Taqi ud-Din Ahmad bin ‘Abdul-Halim. He was born in Harran on
22 January, 1263 AD (10 Rabi’ Al-Awwal, 661 AH). His family had long been renowned for its
learning. His father ‘Abdul-Halim, uncle Fakhr ud-Din and grandfather Majd ud-Din were great
scholars of Hanbalite school of jurisprudence and the authors of many books. His family members
were forced to leave their native place in 1269 AD before the approach of the Mongols and to take
refuge in Damascus. At that time, Ibn Taimiyah was seven years old. His father ‘Abdul-Halim was
appointed as Professor and Head of the Sukkariyah Madrasah. Endowed with a penetrating intellect
and a wonderful memory, Ibn Taimiyah studied, at an early stage, all the disciplines of jurisprudence,
Ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), commentaries of the Quran, mathematics and philosophy,
and in each he was far lead of his contemporaries. Among his teachers, was Shams ud-Din AlMaqdisi, first Hanbali Chief Justice of Syria following the reform of the judiciary by Baibars. The
number of Ibn Taimiyah’s teachers exceeds two hundred. Ibn Taimiyah was barely seventeen, when
Qadi Al-Maqdisi authorized him to issue Fatwa (legal verdict). Qadi remembered with pride that it
was he who had first permitted an intelligent and learned man like Ibn Taimiyah to give Fatwa. At the
same age, he started delivering lectures. When he was thirty, he was offered the office of Chief
Justice, but refused, as he could not persuade himself to follow the limitations imposed by the
Imam Ibn Taimiyah’s education was essentially that of a Hanbali theologian and jurisconsult. But to
his knowledge of early and classical Hanbalism, he added not only that of the other schools of
jurisprudence but also that of heresiographical literature, in particular of philosophy and Sufism. He
had an extensive knowledge of Quran, Sunnah, Greek philosophy, Islamic history, and religious books
of others, as is evident from the variety of the books he wrote. Though he preferred the Hanbali school
of jurisprudence, he was never biased in favor of it. In his writings, he frequently quoted the opinions
of all four of the well-known schools of jurisprudence, even others. In a number of matters, he himself
held opinions different from those of the four schools. In fact, he was an original thinker (Mujtahid)
who merely drew upon the wisdom of the four established schools.
In all his reformative efforts, Ibn Taimiyah accepted the Our an and the Sunnah (traditions of the
Prophet (peace be upon him)) as the basic criteria. In matters where there was no clear guidance from
the Quran and the Sunnah, he never hesitated to venture into rational thought and took the path of
Ijtihad or creative originality an initiative.
The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries AD have a distinguished place in Islamic history. Ibn AlAtheer described the political and military conditions prevailing in the Muslim world during Ibn
Taimiyah’s lifetime in the following words:”Islam and Muslims had during that period been afflicted by such disasters that no other nation had
experienced. One such affliction was the invasion by the Tatar. They came from the east and inflicted
overwhelming damages. Another was the onset of the Prankish people (the Crusaders) from the West
to Mesopotamia and Egypt, they occupied its ports, and nearly subjected all of Egypt to their rule, had
it not been from Allah’s Mercy and victory over them. But another affliction was that the Muslims
themselves had been divided, and their swords lifted up against their fellows.
“In addition to such horrid conditions facing the Muslims on the political and military front, Islam as
practiced and preached by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and As-Salaf As-Salih (the
righteous predecessors) was being seriously challenged by various deviant sects. The Sufi movement
which was spearheaded by the teachings of Al-Ghazali had won over many converts and was
exercising a firm hold on the intellect and patterns of thought of many people. Along with this AlAsh’ari system of creed had been widely accepted by the majority of the scholars of Ibn Taimiyah’s
day. Al-Ash ‘ari system of doctrine was a mixture of the Salafi methodology which is based on
revelation centered theology and the Mu’tazilah methodology which is based on a rationalist thought
system. Taqleed was practiced widely. Even though information on the Deen, Fiqh, Ahadith, etc., was
abundantly available, only a handful of scholars and ordinary people took up the task of investigating
the sources of the knowledge and its vehicle. Most people blindly accepted the teaching of their
Sheikh or Imam without questioning or investigating the sources from where the knowledge had
Imam Ibn Taimiyah’s struggles and persecutions
Ibn Taimiyah’s life was not confined to the world of books and words. Whenever circumstances
demanded, he took part in political and public affairs too, distinguishing himself not only through his
writings and speeches but also with the sword as a brave warrior.
Participation in Jihad
1300, the Mongols under their king Ghazan, invaded Syria and defeated the Sultan’s army. Ibn
Taimiyah, by this time well-known, flung himself into the stream of affairs, while the religious divines
and saints were leaving Damascus to take refuge in Egypt. When Mongol threat arose for a second
time, Ibn Taimiyah exhorted people to Jihad and encouraged them to confront the Mongols boldly. He
toured the cities, called the people to a holy war and fired them with zeal. After a pitched battle at
Shaqhab in which Ibn Taimiyah fought bravely, the Syrian-Egyptian army won a glorious victory that
turned the tide against the Mongols. This victory, which was to a great extent due to Ibn Taimiyah’s
commitment, stopped the Mongols advance.
Apart from the battle of Shaqhab, he took part in some other expeditions with the Mamluk authorities,
and also undertook a few expeditions without them.
Opposition of rival Ulama
Because of his brilliant performance on the battlefield and his radical thinking, Ibn Taimiyah’s fame
spread throughout the realm, and he became a highly distinguished celebrity. This made a number of
jurists jealous. Ibn Kathir has pointed out this fact, saying that: ‘A group of jurisprudents were jealous
of Ibn Taimiyah, as the people paid heed to him. To enjoin good and forbid evil was his vocation, and because of this he became very popular among the people. His followers were countless. His religious
zeal, learning and actions made them jealous of him.’ For the complaint of rival Ulama, he was
imprisoned several times.
His last imprisonment began on 13 July, 1326 and lasted until his death. His opponents dug up an old
Fatwa, related to tomb visits, given by him some seventeen years before, which could be
provocatively interpreted. In his treatise on the subject (Risalah Ziyarah Al-Qubur) Ibn Taimiyah had
questioned the legality of visiting tombs, even the tomb of the Prophet (peace be upon him). His
opponents distorted the sense and context of this Fatwa to make it objectionable in the eyes of the
public and the Sultan. A great dispute arose and Ibn Taimiyah was imprisoned in the citadel of
Damascus along with some of his pupils including Ibn Al-Qaiyim.
While in prison, Ibn Taimiyah spent all his time teaching and writing. Many of his works were
produced in this period. In 1328, he was deprived of all means of writing, his pen and papers were
But this did not stop him from writing; he wrote many letters and booklets with coal. He never
complained to anybody about his persecution. Only when all reading and writing materials were taken
away from him, did he say: ‘Now they really have put me into prison.’ He breathed his last on 26
September, 1328 (20 Dhul-Qa’dah 728 AH) having endured harsh conditions for five months. The
whole country mourned. Schools, shops, hotels and markets were closed to mark his death. His burial
was attended by the great numbers of Damascans; eyewitnesses confirm that, excepting some invalids,
all turned out for his funeral prayer, both those who had been for him and those against. This is a clear
testimony of his place among the people, of their appreciation of his sacrifices for public purposes and
just cause. Including the two years and three months of his last imprisonment, Ibn Taimiyah spent
about five years in different prisons.
A great reformer
In the Islamic perspective, ‘reform’ is understood quite differently than in Christian terminology. In
Islam, ‘reform’ means purification of the original Islamic teachings, and the removal of UN-Islamic
new practices (Bid’at) and misconceptions. In this sense of the word, Ibn Taimiyah was a great
The main aspects of his reforms
The most important elements of Ibn Taimiyah’s reforms were: (a) to bring about a revolution against
UN-lslamic practices (Bidht) that had crept into Islam and to emphasize the concept of Tauhid with all
its implications; (b) a return to the fundamental priorities of Islam and its original spirit, instead of
disputing over secondary and nonfundamental problems.
Attack on philosophy and logic
Another target of Ibn Taimiyah’s criticism was Greek philosophy and logic. He knew that unless the
crippling falsehood of Greek philosophy was removed, the people would not be able to grasp the
Divine truth of Islam. He studied critically all the great Muslim philosophers and their works in this
regard, and then he opposed it extremely.
Rejection of Sufism and deniers of SifatHe abhorred the Sufi ideas of pantheism, gnosticism, and deterministic view of total religious
resignation. According to him the implication of these ideas upon the Muslim community were
devastating, because they led to political apathy, religious misconceptions, and withdrawal from an
active community life. A major portion of his intellectual energies was spent refuting the doctrine of
The Shi ‘ah were also subjected to harsh criticism by Ibn Taimiyah because of the many flaws in their
doctrines and beliefs. He strongly denounced their falsification of the historical facts and forging of
the Sunnah to support their own political views.
Ibn Taimiyah also attacked Al-Jahmiyah and Al-Jabariyah — the determinists — who denied the
human being’s responsibility for any of his actions. He also denounced Al-Mu’tazilah and AlQadariyah — the rationalists — who held human free will as the basis of human action. He also did
doctrinal battle with the followers of Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’ari on various issues including
determinism/free will, the Names and Attributes of Allah, and other issues of the Islamic creed.
As a result of his confrontation with the Sufis and the scholasticists, he made many enemies among
them. Many of their leaders who exercised political clout used it against him, and as a result, he was
once exiled in Alexandria and imprisoned on three different occasions.
Ibn Tamiyah gave himself relentlessly to pointing the way to the knowledge which, in his own words,
means: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) shown the fundamentals and applications of religion, its
intent as well as its expression, its (intellectual) knowledge and its action. This fact is the foundation
of all fundamental knowledge and belief; and he who most adheres to this foundation is most worthy
of the truth — both, to know it and to do it.”