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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Are the Basic Beliefs of Islam?

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What Are the Basic Beliefs of Islam?

Islam – Question 4

The Islamic faith consists of both belief and works. The beliefs consist of six articles of faith while the works, or religious duties, consist of the obeying the five pillars of Islam.

The beliefs of Islam come not only from their holy book the Quran, but also from a collection of practices and traditions that were said to come from Muhammad. These are known as the “hadith.” The plural of hadith is “ahadith.” From the ahadiths, we find more detailed explanations about how Muhammad lived his life. Faithful Muslims are supposed to follow Muhammad’s example. We can make the following observations.

The Six Articles of Faith

There are six articles of faith that all Muslims must believe with all of their heart. They must also confess these beliefs with their mouth. They are as follows.

1. Allah [God]

The first article of faith is the belief in Allah. Faithful Muslims must recite the following creed.

There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his apostle.

The unity of Allah is central to Islam. Denial of this is called shirk. It is the unpardonable sin. Allah does not have partners, he has no equal.

It should be noted that Allah is the Arabic word for God. When Arabic-speaking Christians refer to the God of the Bible they all call Him “Allah.” However, they are not referring to the same God as Muslims. This can obviously cause some confusion. Therefore, we must remember that Allah is not only the name of the God of Islam it is also an Arabic term that can be a general name for God.

2. Angels

A second pillar of the Islamic faith is the belief in angels. Islam teaches that Allah created these beings from “light.” The greatest angel is Jibrail, or Gabriel. He is the one who revealed the Quran to Muhammad. He is also called the holy Spirit. He is the one who strengthened Jesus during His temptation with the devil.

Mikail, or Michael, is another chief angel. While Gabriel and Michael are found in Scripture, a third important angel, named Izrail, is not. He is associated with taking care of believers when they die.

Muslims also believe in spirits known as “jinn.” Allah created these spirits out of smokeless fire. These spirits can be either bad or good. Most of them are believed to be bad. These jinn inhabit desert places, ruined buildings, certain mountains, and wells. Muslims are fearful of the jinn and take precautions to protect themselves from the attack from these spirits.

The followers of Islam tend to be animistic; they believe there is certain power residing in objects. For example, Muslims must pray toward Mecca, and the sacred rock in the Ka’ba. When they make their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca they circle this sacred stone seven times and kiss it. They believe there is some sort of power residing in it.

The devil is also called Iblis, or Shaytan. Sometimes he is referred to as an angel, other times he is described as a jinn.

3. Books

Muslims believe that Allah has revealed his commands to human beings through 104 sacred books. However, only four of them now remain. They were given to Moses (the Law, or Torah, the Taurah), to David, (the Psalms or Zabur), to Jesus (the gospels or New Testament, the Injil), and to Muhammad, (the Quran). The Quran, the last of these revelations, is the primary one. If there is any contradiction between the Quran and the previous revelations, it is assumed that the previous revelations were corrupted.

4. Prophets

Islam believes that Allah has spoken to humanity from the beginning of human history through various prophets. The same truths have been consistently revealed to all of Allah’s prophets from the beginning. Islam recognizes a number of prophets. Nine of them are considered to be Major Prophets. They include: Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David and Jesus. Muhammad is the last and the greatest of the prophets according to Islam. Indeed, he is known as the seal of the prophets.

The prophets are not worshipped in Islam. This includes Muhammad. All of them are considered to be human beings, including Jesus. None of them are believed to be divine. The Quran says,

The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His apostles; We make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Your forgiveness (do we crave), and to you is the eventual course. (Surah 2:285)

Islam has a number of prophets that are listed nowhere in Scripture or, for that matter, anywhere else.

Islam believes and teaches that its religion can be traced back to the beginning of time. It actually started with Adam, not with Muhammad. Therefore, it cannot and should not be seen as new religion starting in the seventh century A.D.

5. The Day of Judgment

The idea that there will be a day of judgment is a major theme in the Quran and in Islam. There will be obvious signs before it occurs. This includes signs in heaven and on earth as well as the appearance of a man of sin, or antichrist. The Quran says the following about the judgment.

The terrible calamity! What is the terrible calamity! And what will make you comprehend what the terrible calamity is? The day on which men shall be as scattered moths, and the mountains shall be as loosened wool. (Surah 101:1-5)

On judgment day, the balances will be weighed. The Quran says,

Then as for him whose good deeds are preponderant, these are the successful. And as for him whose good deeds are light, these are they who shall have lost their souls, abiding in hell. (Surah 23:102-103)

Those whose deeds are light will be lost.

6. Allah’s Decrees

Allah, as the mighty God, has power over all things. His will always prevails. Accordingly, events are predestined, or determined, ahead of time. A Muslim, therefore, becomes fatalistic in his belief.

The Quran says,

For Allah leads to stray whom he wills and guides whom he wills. (Surah 35:8)

There is more. The Arabic word Islam means “submission.” Thus Muslims are to submit to the will of Allah. Their concern is not to find forgiveness from Allah, but rather to submit to whatever he has decided for them. This submission to Allah is central to Islam. A person is to submit to what Allah has predestined for him. Associated with the concept of submission to God is that of submission to Islamic authority. Muslims are to agree with what Islamic teachers say. Submitting to them is the same as submitting to Allah.

Conclusion: Muslims Believe Islam Is the Only True Religion

After considering Islamic beliefs, the obvious conclusion is that Muslims believed they alone have the true religion. This is stated in the Quran.

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost all spiritual good. (Surah 3:85)

The line is clearly drawn. Islam claims to be the one way to reach the one true God. There is no room for more than one way to reach the truth.

Christian Response to the Six Articles of Faith

Christianity would take issue with each of the six articles of faith that are in Islam. We can summarize the conclusions as follows.

1. The True God Is Yahweh, Not Allah

The true God is not Allah, the God of Islam but rather is Yahweh, or Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of Islam and the God of Christianity are not the same God. Allah is not Yahweh. He is a different God, one that does not really exist.

Christians who speak Arabic worship the true God. Yet they refer to Him as Allah since this is the Arabic name for God. It is clear to them, however, that they are not worshipping the same God as the Muslims.

2. Christianity Has a Different View of Angels and Does Not Accept the Reality of the Jinn

The Christian faith also believes in the existence of angels. However, in Scripture, angels are spirit-beings. The Bible does not tell us exactly when they were created or what they were created from. The idea of a separate category of spirits, or jinn, is not taught in Scripture. While there are such things as evil spirits, or demons, they are usually assumed to be sinful angels rather than a special class of spirit-beings.

3. God Has Revealed Himself in Two Testaments, Not Three

The fact that God has revealed Himself to the human race in written form is accepted by Christians. Both the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, have been given by divine revelation. The New Testament was the final revelation that God has given to humanity. The writer to the Hebrews put it this way.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets. In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His Son is the one through whom God made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2 God’s Word)

Jesus Christ is God’s last word to humanity. God has said all that He needs to say. Nothing more needs to be added.

4. Jesus Is Not to Be Classed among the Prophets

The prophets were men and women that God sent to His people to speak forth His truth. Jesus also was a prophet. He was One who spoke for the Lord to the people. However, Jesus was not a merely “great” prophet. Indeed, He is the one to whom the Law and the prophets spoke. We read about this in John’s gospel. It says,

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45 ESV)

Jesus is the culmination of the various prophecies found in the Old Testament. He is God the Son who became a human being to let us know what God is like. The Bible says of Him,

No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart; he has told us about him. (John 1:18 NLT)

God is explained to us through the Person of Christ. Therefore, He should never be classed among the prophets. They are not in His class. Indeed, He is God Himself.

5. The Day of Judgment Will Be Decided on How One Views Jesus

The Bible speaks of a Day of Judgment. This judgment will be based upon how individuals respond to the message of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that He will judge all humanity. The Apostle Paul wrote,

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 NLT)

Judgment is coming and Jesus will be the judge.

6. God’s Decrees Are Not Fatalism

The Christian faith accepts the biblical truth that God has made certain decrees for the human race. He has pronounced certain things which must come to pass. However, they do not have the same fatalistic view that Islam has. People have legitimate choice to believe or not to believe. We read Jesus saying,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37 ESV)

He wept over the city of Jerusalem because they would not believe in Him. It was not because they could not believe. They had choice and they exercised this choice.

As is now obvious, Islam and Christianity are far apart from each other concerning their main beliefs. There is no way to reconcile the six articles of faith in Islam with what the Bible teaches and with what Christians believe. Someone has to be wrong in their claims.

Summary – Question 4
What Are the Basic Beliefs of Islam?

There are six articles of faith that all Muslims must believe. It is important that we understand what they are as well as contrast them to what Christians believe.

First, Allah alone is God. He has no equals. Furthermore, Muhammad is his apostle. This is the primary belief of Islam and each Muslim must confess this.

Islam also teaches the existence of angels, good and bad, as well as spirits called jinn. This is another pillar of their faith.

In addition, Islam acknowledges a number of holy books. This includes the writings of Moses, the psalms, the gospels, and the Quran which is the final revelation of Allah.

Islam believes that Allah has sent a number of prophets to the world, including Jesus. However, Muhammad was the last and the greatest. His word is final.

Central to Islam is the Day of Judgment when the works of all humans will be weighed on a scale of balances. The ones with good deeds will go to heaven while the ones with more bad deeds will go to hell.

Finally, Islam teaches that Allah is in absolute control of all events. He predestines, or determines, everything ahead of time according to his own will. Therefore, it is the responsibility of humans to submit to his predetermined plan.

Clearly, Islam believes itself to be the one true religion. By definition, all other religions are not true. Consequently, compromise with other religions is not possible.

The Christian has a number of responses to these pillars of Islamic faith. They are as follows.

The true God is not Allah, but Yahweh. Allah is unity but not a Trinity. The God of the Bible is Trinitarian. He is one God who exists in three distinct centers of consciousness or Persons. Islam explicitly denies the Trinity.

The Bible teaches the existence of angels both good and bad. However, the existence of spirits, or jinn, is not taught in the Scripture. We do find the existence of evil spirits, known also as demons, but these creatures are usually assumed to be fallen angels rather than a distinct type of spirit.

The only Holy Book for Christians is the Bible. God has finished speaking to the human race, in the sense of giving divine revelation, through the apostles of Christ. There has been no divinely inspired Word from God after their time. Thus, the Quran is not the Word of God.

It is blasphemous for the Christian to list Jesus Christ among the prophets. While Jesus was indeed a prophet, He was much more. He claimed to be God the Son, the Creator of the universe. He is not in the same league as the biblical prophets.

There will be a judgment day as far as the Bible is concerned but it will be based upon ones view of Jesus Christ. It will have nothing to do with weighing the works of people to see if they have been good or bad. Our final destination, heaven or hell, will depend upon how we respond to Jesus.

The Bible does indeed teach the absolute sovereignty, or control, of God. Yet, there is no such thing as the fatalism like is found in Islam. God gives human beings legitimate choice. We can choose Him or we can reject Him.

While both Christianity and Islam claim to be the true faith, it is obvious that both cannot be true. When the evidence is evaluated it becomes clear that it is the Christian faith which has the facts on its side.

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