“Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves.”
What are the attributes of the correct Religion?
Praise be to Allah.
Every member of a faith tradition believes that his community is following the truth. Every follower of a religion believes that his religion is the best religion and the straightest way. Whenever you ask the followers of deviant religions or the followers of man-made traditions about the evidence for their beliefs, they tell you that they found their fathers doing this so they are following in their footsteps, then they tell you stories and reports that have no sound basis and whose texts are not free of faults and discepancies. They rely on inherited books of which it is not known who wrote or said them, or in which language they were originally written, or in which land they originated; rather they are a mixture that has been gathered and written in a book that is venerated, then they were passed down from generation to generation with no proper scientific examination of the source of the text or of the text itself.
These unknown books and stories and blind imitation do not provide valid proof with regard to religions and beliefs. Are all these deviant religions and human traditions true or false?
It is impossible that they could all be true, because the truth is one; there are not many “truths”. And it is impossible that all these deviant religions and human traditions could have come from Allah and all be true. If they are many, and the truth is one, then which of them is the truth? So there have to be guidelines by which we may recognize the true religion and distinguish it from false religions. If we find that these guidelines apply to a religion then we will know that it is the truth; if these guidelines or one of them is absent from a religion then we will know that it is false.
The guidelines by which we distinguish the true religion from false religions
1 – The religion should have come from Allah, revealed through one of the angels to one of His Messengers, to convey it to His slaves, because the true religion is the religion of Allah, and Allah is the One Who will judge mankind and bring them to account on the Day of Resurrection according to the religion which He revealed to them. Allah says:
“Verily, We have sent the Revelation to you (O Muhammad) as We sent the Revelation to Nooh (Noah) and the Prophets after him; We (also) sent the Revelation to Ibraaheem (Abraham), Ismaa’eel (Ishmael), Ishaaq (Isaac), Ya’qoob (Jacob), and Al‑Asbaat [the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya’qoob (Jacob)], ‘Eesa (Jesus), Ayyoob (Job), Yoonus (Jonah), Haaroon (Aaron), and Sulaymaan (Solomon); and to Dawood (David) We gave the Zaboor (Psalms).” [4:163]
And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): Laa ilaaha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else).” [21:25]
Based on this, then any religion which is introduced by some person who attributes it to himself and not to Allah is undoubtedly a false religion.
2 – It should call for the worship of Allah alone, and forbid shirk (polytheism or the worship of anything other than Allah). It should also forbid the means that lead to that, because promoting Tawheed (belief in the oneness of Allah) is the basis of the call of all the Prophets and Messengers. Every Prophet said to his people: “Worship Allah! You have no other Ilaah (God) but Him” [7:73 – interpretation of the meaning]
Based on this, any religion that includes shirk and joins others in worship with Him, such as a Prophet, angel or wali (“saint”) is a false religion, even if its followers attribute it to one of the Prophets.
3 – It should be in accordance with the principles advocated by the Messengers, such as the worship of Allah alone, calling people to His path, and forbidding shirk, disobedience to parents, unlawful killing and immoral deeds, both hidden and open. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): Laa ilaaha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else)” [21:25]
“Say (O Muhammad): Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty — We provide sustenance for you and for them. Come not near to Al-Fawaahish (shameful sins and illegal sexual intercourse) whether committed openly or secretly; and kill not anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that you may understand.” [6:151]
“And ask (O Muhammad) those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: Did We ever appoint aalihah (gods) to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious (Allah)?” [43:45]
4 – It should not be self-contradictory, so it should not issue one command that is contradicted by another, or forbid something then allow something very similar for no reason, or forbid something or allow it for some but not for others. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Do they not then consider the Qur’an carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely, have found therein many a contradiction.” [4:82]
5 – The religion should guarantee to protect people’s religious commitment, honour, wealth, lives and children though the commands, prohibitions and morals that it prescribes, which protect these five holistic principles.
6 – The religion should be a mercy to mankind, freeing them from the wrongs that they do to themselves and to one another, whether those wrongs have to do with violating their rights, giving control of wealth to the few or leaders misleading the masses. Allah says, telling us of the mercy that was contained in the Tawraat which He sent down to Moosa (peace be upon him):
“And when the anger of Moosa (Moses) was calmed down, he took up the Tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who fear their Lord.” [7:154 – interpretation of the meaning]
Allah says, telling us how He sent ‘Eesa (peace be upon him):
“And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah).” [19:21 – interpretation of the meaning]
And Allah says of Saalih (peace be upon him):
“He said: O my people! Tell me, if I have a clear proof from my Lord, and there has come to me a mercy (Prophethood) from Him.” [11:63 – interpretation of the meaning]
And He says of the Qur’an:
“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe.” [17:82 – interpretation of the meaning]
7 – It should include guidance regarding the laws of Allah and should show people what Allah wants, and should tell them where they came from and where they are going. Allah says of the Tawraat:
“Verily, We did send down the Tawraat (Torah) [to Moosa (Moses)], therein was guidance and light.” [5:44 – interpretation of the meaning]
He says of the Injeel:
“and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light.” [5:46 – interpretation of the meaning]
And He says of the Qur’an:
“It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam).” [9:33 – interpretation of the meaning]
The true religion is that which contains guidance concerning the laws of Allah and brings security and peace of mind, so that all whispers of the Shaytaan are driven away and all questions are answered, and all confusing matters are cleared up.
8 – It should advocate the best attitudes and actions, such as truthfulness, justice, trustworthiness, modesty, chastity and generosity. And it should forbid bad attitudes and actions, such as disobedience to parents, murder, immoral actions, lying, wrongdoing, oppression, miserliness and promiscuity.
9 – It should bring happiness to those who believe. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Taa‑Haa. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings] We have not sent down the Qur’an unto you (O Muhammad) to cause you distress” [20:1-2]
It should be in accordance with the sound natural disposition of man (al-fitrah):
“Allah’s Fitrah (i.e. Allah’s Islamic Monotheism) with which He has created mankind.” [30: 30 – interpretation of the meaning]
It should also be in accordance with sound reason and common sense, because the true religion is the laws of Allah, and sound reason is the creation of Allah, and it is impossible that the law of Allah and the creation of Allah would contradict one another.
10 – It should point towards the truth and warn against falsehood. It should show the way to true guidance and steer people away from misguidance. It should call people to the straight path in which there is no crookedness. Allah tells us that when the jinn heard the Qur’an, they said to one another:
“O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book (this Qur’an) sent down after Moosa (Moses), confirming what came before it, it guides to the truth and to the Straight Path (i.e. Islam).” [46:30 – interpretation of the meaning]
It does not call them to that which would cause them misery. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Taa‑Haa. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings] We have not sent down the Qur’an unto you (O Muhammad) to cause you distress.” [20:1-2]
And it does not enjoin them to do anything that would cause their doom. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.” [4:29]
It does not differentiate between its followers on the grounds of race, colour or tribe. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At‑Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]. Verily, Allah is All‑Knowing, All‑Aware.” [49:13]
The only distinguishing feature for which people may be preferred over others, according to the true religion, is piety or fear of Allah.
In the light of the guidelines by which we may distinguish between the true religion and false religions, supported by that which what is said in the Holy Qur’an, which indicates that these guidelines apply to all the truthful Messengers who were sent from Allah, we may then discuss different types of religions.
[ Source: From Kitaab al-Islam Usooluhu wa Mabaadi’uhu, by Dr. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn Saalih al-Suhaym – https://islamqa.info/en/9607 ]
What are the degrees of Islam?
Degrees of Islam are three, which are: Islam, eemaan and ihsaan. Each of them has a meaning and certain pillars or essential parts.
Islam in Arabic means submission, while eemaan means belief which is committed to submission.
When either word, eemaan; Islam or ihsaan, is used alone, there is no difference between them, rather each of them when used alone refers to the entire religion.
When any of Islam or eemaan is used in conjunction with the other, then the word Islam refers to outward physical actions and the word eemaan refers to inward actions of the heart.
With regard to ihsaan, when it is used in conjunction with either or both of the words Islam and eemaan, the meaning is perfecting one’s outward and inward deeds. And it has two categories:
– The first (which is the heigher of the two) means worshipping Allaah as if you can see Him.
– The second is that of sincerity and awareness that Allaah is always watching.
What are the Pillars of Islam?
Islam is based on five pillars which the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has explained for us, when He said: “Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing regular prayer (salaah); paying the zakaah; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting Ramadaan.” [Al-Bukhari]See Full Fatwa – islamqa.info
What are the Pillars of Faith?
Faith in the sense of belief is based on six principles, which are mentioned in the Hadeeth of Jibreel (peace be upon him), when he questioned the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him), who said: “Faith means to believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and the Divine Decree, both good and bad.” [Agreed upon]See Full Fatwa – islamqa.info