Exactly what do Muslims believe? – Part I
“The Messenger believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and (so have) the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers …” (Quran 2: 289)
Yes! At a time like this, it might be useful to remember that what Islam demands of us is very simple. It is that we should believe, first of all, that He is One. The One whose oneness cannot be duplicated. He is One. He is the One whose oneness cannot be triplicated. He is One who was there when there was no one else. He remained the only One after He brought every other thing into life. He is the One whose oneness would have no end. He is the One from whose existence all existents derive their existence. He is the beginning. He is the real Present. He is going to be the last. Nothing will take over after Him.
Now to believe in Him is to believe in the unseen for ‘Un-see-able’. But again, to believe in Him, is to possess the powers to ‘see’ Him in portents in the heavens and on earth. If you desire to see the Almighty, look at yourself, ponder your world, contemplate His wonderful ways in creation.
The Almighty demands nothing more from us other than for us to also believe in the existence of angels that have been created to perform specific functions in creation. The arch-angel is Jibril- the conveyor of divine messages to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). Angels are beings created from light. They are numinous entities vested with inimitable powers. Of these we know of Mikahil, of Israfil and Azrail (a.s). We know that they equally exist- Raqib and Atid (a.s). We know there are others whose characterizations are known only to their Creator, the Almighty.
Islam demands of Muslims to believe in all revealed books, the culmination of which is the Quran, the last testament. Yes. The Quran is the last testament from the Almighty to humanity. It is that book that must be read and re-read. It is a book of honour. It is that scripture that has no conclusion. It is that book that has no reference nor bibliography. If there are editions of classics, there can be no old or new editions of the Glorious Quran.
Sister! To believe in revealed books is to believe in the Prophets sent by the Almighty to guide humanity to the path of rectitude. Thus he is a Muslim, he who believes in Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). She is a Muslimah, that woman who holds that Prophet Muhammad is the last in a chain of righteous messengers of the Almighty in which Prophets Isa (Jesus Christ), Musa, Ibrahim (a.s) etc find space. He is a Muslim, he who believes and knows that the day of resurrection is a reality. The Almighty says: “O mankind, if you doubt the day of resurrection and the ability of God to restore life to the dead, know that We have created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm, then from coagulated blood, and then from a lump of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, demonstrating Our power through all of these stages. We appoint a certain time for what lies in the womb, and then We bring you forth from the womb in the shape of an infant, so that you may live and grow to maturity. Some of you die during this process and others of you reach old age and the time of weakness and impotence even to the extent of losing your understanding” (Quran 22:4).
Now he wrote to me as follows: “When is this your “judgment day” by the way? How many people will be judged on that memorable day? Everyone who ever lived since Adam? Or only those who came after Jesus the Christ, since there were no Christians before his coming to create them on earth? How many assistants will your God employ? And why wait till “judgment day” before delivering “judgment” since we already know pretty much who is going to heaven anyways…?
Consequent upon the emphasis of the Prophet on the day of resurrection, a Bedouin (someone living in the backwater of the Arabian Peninsula) named Ubayy b. Khalaf picked up a decayed bone and set out for Madinah to meet him. He wanted to demonstrate to the Prophet that the whole idea of resurrection was nugatory. As soon as he met the Prophet, he raised the bone up, as if it were a valuable and convincing piece of evidence, and crushed it with his hands and scattered the pieces in the air. Then summoning the vocabulary of Sodom and the speech of the dung-cart, he irreverently addressed the Prophet as follows: “Who will restore to life the scattered particles of this rotten bone?”
Whenever humans choose to live in an estate of the moment, it becomes easy for them to forget and to gloss over the impermanence of the present and the moment. They become spiritual cynics who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Prophet Muhammad could not answer the question of the Arab differently from the answer provided, in the usual Quranic style, by the Qur’an. The Almighty answers the Bedouin as follows: “(O Messenger,) say: ‘God Who first brought them to life will restore them to life. He has knowledge of all His creation.’ … Is the Creator Who brought into being the heavens and the earth incapable of creating the like thereof? Certainly He is the Creator and All-Knowing” (Quran 36: verse 79 and 81).
• Prof. Oladosu is Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan