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Islam - Articles of Faith1. Articles of Faith
Tawhid, The Unity Of God
The central concept around which all Quranic teaching revolves is that of tawhid, the unity or oneness of Allah, the Quranic name for God. Such a concept emphasizes a rigorous monotheism, stating Allah to be a unique absolute Reality.
In the famous Muslim creedal formula the first part reads: la ilaha illa Allah "(There is) no God but Allah." This is the most important article in Muslim theology. No statement about God is more fundamental than the declaration that God is one, and no sin seemed to Him so unpardonable as associating another being with God in terms of equality.
The unity of God is emphasized repeatedly in the Quran and echoed in other verses such as the following:
And your God is One God, There is no God but Him,
the most Gracious, the most Merciful. (2:163)
In denying plurality, the Quran rejects all forms of idolatry, disallows any association of other divinities with God, and specifically denies all other definitions of God that might compromise unity.
God stands alone and supreme. He existed before any other being or thing, is self-subsistent, omniscient, and omnipotent ("all-seeing, all-hearing, all- willing"). He is the creator, and in the awful day of judgment he is the sole arbiter who shall save the believer out of the dissolution of the world and place him in paradise.
Though One, God is known by many names, which are referred to in the Quran as "the most beautiful names". Muslim tradition has established a sequence of ninety-nine of these names of God, and the Muslim rosary contains a chain of ninety-nine beads, in a thrice thirty-three arrangement, so that the names may be recollected during prayer.
These names are also a key to understanding God, because they focus on divine attributes such as the Compassionate, Merciful, Just, Mighty, First, Last, Eternal, One whom no vision can grasp, and yet He who is ever near.
Allah reveals his will and guides men in three distinct ways:
The second half of the Muslim creedal formula declares: Muhammad rasul Allah, "Muhammad is the messenger (or prophet) of Allah."
Muslims believe in a long line of prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. But Muhammad is the last and greatest of them all, the "seal" of those who appeared before him. None is his equal, either in knowledge or in authority; none has received or handed down so perfect a revelation. But though his authority is supreme, he was not a divine being appearing in the flesh. He was human like the rest of men. Nor did he pretend to supernatural powers; he performed no miracles, instituted no mystical, deifying sacraments, ordained no holy priesthood, set apart none to a sacred office by ordination or a mystical laying on of hands. The most celebrated suggestion in Muslim tradition is that Muhammad had a special relationship with heaven.
The second way by which Allah guides men is through the Koran. The Koran, revealed to Muhammad, is the undistorted and final word of Allah to mankind.
The third means by which Allah makes known his will is through the angels. Of these the chief is Gabriel, the agent of revelation, who is described as "the faithful spirit" and "the spirit of holiness." Allah sits in the seventh heaven on a high throne, surrounded by angels who serve him.
The Devil (called either lblis, or Shaytan, in Hebrew Satan) is an angel who fell through pride and is now an accursed tempter. He and his assistants busy themselves on earth to obstruct the plans of Allah and tempt men to go astray.
Muslims believe in the last judgment: There will be "signs" of its imminence: portents, ominous rumblings, strange occurrences in nature, finally the last trumpet, at whose sound the dead will rise and all souls will assemble before Allah's judgment throne. During the judgment itself the books in which each man's deeds have been recorded will be read, and eternal judgment will be passed accordingly.
Both heaven and hell are depicted with dramatic vividness in the Quran. The reward of heaven is described as
Gardens of eternity which they will enter along with all of their ancestors, spouses and descendants who have acted righteously. From every gate will come angels greeting them "Peace be with you who persevered." Joyous will be the abode! (13:23)
Hell is portrayed as the antithesis of this, a place of suffering, punishment, and anguish, an inferno for the wretched.
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