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The Belief (i`tiqad) and Essentials of the Ahl Al-Sunnah

No school of thought (madhhab) was needed during the Age of Happiness and the time of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, because people learned the faith directly from Prophet Muhammad (saas) and his Companions.

As heretical movements and divisions based on un-Islamic ideas and practices (bid`ah) gradually emerged, devout scholars still following the path of the Prophet (saas) and his companions began to identify various measures in beliefs and deeds. They presented people with a purified form of Islam by distinguishing between truth and error. One outgrowth of this effort was the Ahl al-Sunnah schools.

Several important elements separate the Ahl al-Sunnah from heretical movements, some of which attracted gullible persons by opposing the Ahl al-Sunnah’s criteria. Therefore, those who follow our Prophet’s (saas) path must always be on guard against such types of corruption. Among the first things one needs to do is to learn about and bear in mind the essence of the Ahl al-Sunnah’s belief (i`tiqad).

Matters upon Which the Ahl Al-Sunnah Wal Jama‘ah Agree

1) Belief in Allah (swt)

Believing in Allah’s (swt) names, as referred to in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, is Islam’s basic tenet. It is impossible to bestow titles befitting human beings on Allah (swt), for He cannot be compared with His own creation. Each of His names has been mentioned in the Qur’an. Great care must be taken here, and no credence should be given to heretical views.

So long as people consider themselves Muslim, they must harbor no doubts about their faith and must not regard themselves as unbelievers due to any deficiencies they may have, so long as they have faith in their hearts. Having such a misguided perspective as regards their own faith is very harmful in terms of our belief. Indeed, our Lord reveals the following in the Qur’an:

Who could say anything better than someone who calls to Allah, acts rightly, and says: “I am a Muslim”? (Surah Fussilat, 33)

2) The Ahl Al-Sunnah’s belief in the Qur’an

The Qur’an is the word of Allah (swt). It came from Allah’s (swt) presence and will return to Him. It is the last and final Divine book, and the only book of truth that will remain valid until the Day of Judgment.

You receive the Qur’an directly from One Who is All-Wise, All-Knowing. (Surat an-Naml, 6)

3) Allah (swt) cannot be seen in this world

Nowhere does Prophet Muhammad (saas) say that he actually saw Allah (swt) in this world. According to the Ahl al-Sunnah, anyone claiming to have seen Allah (swt) before they die is a liar. In one hadith, our Prophet (saas) states: “None of you will see our Lord before he dies.” (Sahih Muslim)

4) Believers will see our lord in paradise

Books of trustworthy hadiths refer to people actually seeing Allah (swt) with their eyes on the Day of Resurrection. However, the Jahmiyyah, Mu’tazilah, and Rafidah schools maintained the opposite.

Allah (swt) is not in any one space or on the Throne. Rather, He (swt) is exalted far above all space.

5) What happens on the day of resurrection?

The Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah believe in the Prophet’s (saas) literal words concerning the Hereafter and the punishment that will be meted out in the grave. According to the Ahl al-Sunnah, the grave is the garden of Paradise for the believers and one of the deepest pits of Hell for the unbelievers.

Questioning by Munkar and Nakir, the two angels who will question each person in the grave, is also a fact. On the Day of Judgment, people’s mutual rights in this world will be considered and the rights will be returned to their owners.

Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, a renowned Turkish scholar of tafsir and fiqh, says the following about the Day of Resurrection:

“When people die, they will be questioned in the grave by two angels, Munkar and Nakir, who will ask: ‘Who is your Lord? Who is your prophet? What is your religion? What is your qiblah?’ This is called the questioning of the grave.

 

The book in which all deeds are written contains an account of all that a person did while alive. Written by angels, it will be given to its owner in the Hereafter. That person will be told to ‘take your book and read it,’ and thus nothing will remain hidden.

The Just Balance is a measure of justice by which everyone’s deeds are weighed and by which the levels of good and evil deeds can be established.

Al-Sirat, the bridge built over Hell, is by no means easy to cross. Righteous servants of Allah cross it with ease, so much so that some cross it as fast as lightning, and enter Paradise. The unbelievers and unforgiven believers will be unable to cross it and will fall into Hell. Unbelievers will remain there for eternity, while believers will enter Paradise once their punishment has ended.” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, The Great Islamic Catechism, pp. 32-33)

6) The intercession (Shafa‘ah) of the Prophet (saas)

The prophets and the righteous, who occupy elevated stations in the sight of Allah (swt), will ask Him to forgive those believers who committed sins and to elevate those who are free of sin. This is known as shafa‘ah, and all Muslims must strive to be worthy of it. Omer Nasuhi Bilmen has said this about the intercession of the blessed Prophet (saas):

“Intercession refers to our Prophet and some other individuals of high standing requesting Almighty Allah to forgive some believers and to raise the ranks of some obedient believers on the Day of Judgment. Our Prophet will make the greatest intercession for immediate reckoning of all people in the Hereafter. His intercession is known as al-Shafa‘at al-‘Uzma (the Greatest Intercession), and his elevated status in Paradise is known as al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praised Station).” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, The Great Islamic Catechism, p. 33)

7) Belief in destiny

The Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah believe in the good and evil of destiny. There are two degrees of belief in destiny:

The first degree is that Allah (swt) is fully aware of what every member of creation has done and will do. He knows their obedience and their rebellion before they ever take place. Almighty Allah (swt) has written the destiny of all that exists on al-Lawh al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet). A person’s destiny is brought to him by an angel while he is still in an embryonic form, before his soul has been breathed into him.

The second one is that Allah’s (swt) will is superior to that of human beings. No one can be a believer or an unbeliever unless Allah (swt) wills it to be so. Muslims must be very sensitive on this subject.

8) The Ahl Al-Qiblah cannot be excommunicated (Takfir) due to sinning

Someone adhering to the Ahl al-Sunnah’s convictions does not excommunicate another believer who prays in the same direction (qiblah) as he does or claim that such a person is an unbeliever. Kharijism, Islamic history’s first heretical movement, produced its first corruption (fitnah) on this very subject.

No matter how many good works someone who has lapsed into denial may perform, he will not benefit from them. Similarly, no matter how many sins a Muslim may commit, he cannot be considered a denier until he says that what is actually allowed is prohibited and that what is actually prohibited is allowed.

9) The wonders of the awliya’ of Allah (swt) are accurate

Belief in the wonders (karamah) of the Awliya’ of Allah (swt), the extraordinary states to which Allah (swt) gives rise by their hand, and the discoveries they make in various spheres of knowledge are among the essence of the Ahl al-Sunnah’s convictions.

10) The Prophet’s (saas) miraculous journey

According to the Qur’an and the hadiths, our Prophet (saas) ascended to a world beyond the heavens in both body and soul. It is revealed in the Qur’an that our Prophet’s (saas) going to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) is an absolute truth, and reliable hadiths confirm that he rose to the skies.

Glory be to Him Who took His servant on a night journey from the Masjid al-Haram [in Makkah] to the Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem], whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (Surat al-Isra’, 1)

In order to create corruption, the deniers and hypocrites, who did not believe in this miracle, dared to mock it, and tried to spread this corruption all over Makkah, for they told everyone that they met about it. One of them asked Abu Bakr (ra): “Muhammad (saas) claims to have gone from Makkah to Jerusalem in a single night. What do you say?” With his usual exemplary trust and submission, Abu Bakr (ra) ended this spreading corruption by replying: “If he says so, then it is true.”

11) The day of judgment

The Day of Judgment is the final day of life for the universe, as predetermined by Allah (swt). Everyone will be called to account on the Day of Judgment. No one will return to Earth in a second body, for all of the souls of everyone who has ever lived, from the time of Prophet Adam (as) right up until the Day of Judgment, were created beforehand. No soul will return to Earth with a different body.

12) Appreciating those given the glad tidings of paradise

Any inappropriate word spoken against a Companion of the Prophet (saas) who received the glad tidings of Paradise is not in line with the respect due to them and is a great sin toward those great individuals. These Companions are:

Abu Bakr (ra)

Umar (ra)

Uthman (ra)

Ali (ra)

Talha ibn Ubaydullah (ra)

Zubayr ibn Awwam (ra)

Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas (ra)

Sa‘id ibn Zayd (ra)

Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf (ra), and

Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah (ra).

The history of Islam’s early days is full of these superior individuals’ heroism. The Messenger of Allah (saas) praised these Muslims in his hadiths.

One of the common features of heretical sects is their attack on some of the Companions given the glad tidings of Paradise. There is no room for such views among the Ahl al-Sunnah.

13) To make no interpretation of the Qur’an and the Sunnah

Reason and analogy (qiyas) are not to be used to make different interpretations of the rulings that are clearly stated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, because the Companions and the imams of the legal schools commanded so and themselves did so. Believers accept everything that is compatible with the Qur’an and the Sunnah and reject everything that violates them. The main feature distinguishing the Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah from other groups is how they regard these two sources as the essential sources of all knowledge.

Believers interpret all matters in light of them, instead of following their presumption, whims, and desires. Nobody has the right to oppose the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

 

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