The Science of Aqida

  • 66:12 - وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ -
    and Mary, daughter of Imran. She guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her from Our spirit. She accepted the truth of her Lord’s words and Scriptures: she was truly devout.
  • 6:12 - قُل لِّمَن مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ قُل لِّلَّهِ ۚ كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۚ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ -
    Say, ‘To whom belongs all that is in the heavens and earth?’ Say, ‘To God. He has taken it upon Himself to be merciful. He will certainly gather you on the Day of Resurrection, which is beyond all doubt. Those who deceive themselves will not believe.
  • In our journey toward trying to understand what this Deen of al-Islam is, thus far we have learned:
  • The first dimension is that of islam with a lower case i, which has to do with the do’s and don’ts, the halal and haram, the legal tradition of Islam, what to do with our bodies.
  • The second dimension is that of Iman, and the question posed by the Prophet (saw) in the following hadith:
    • The Prophet (saw) was with a Companion and he asked him, “How have you woken this morning?” Al-Harith (the Companion) responded, “I woke up as a true believer”. So the Prophet (saw) said, “Every single thing has a reality to it, what is the reality of your Iman?” Al-Harith said, “My self has become disillusioned with the dunya, and it’s as if I see the throne of Allah, and it’s as if I can see the people enjoy the beauty of Jannah, and I see others being punished in the Hellfire...” Upon hearing this, the Prophet (saw) said, “You know now, so be steadfast and committed to the path that you are on.” (narration from At-Tabarini).
  • In asking ourselves what the reality is of our belief, we must recognize the importance of having a belief that is not only uttered on the tongue or felt in the heart, but a belief that is manifest in the world.
  • When I ask what is the reality of my Iman, I need to be able to see my Iman effective, realized, actuated in the world.
  • Before venturing into the six pillars of Iman that Prophet (saw) identifies in the Hadith of Jibreel: the belief in Allah, the belief in the Angels, the belief in the Books, the belief in the Prophets, the belief in the Afterlife and the belief in Destiny, it is important to reflect on the study of Iman.
The Study of Iman
  • It is essential for those who aspire to be true believers, to assess and consider the question: how do we study Iman?
  • Often, the way in which we study Iman/Aqidah falls short in actually fulfilling our individual needs with regard to the true essence of Iman.
  • We do not throw out the manner in which Aqidah was studied in the past because each approach is essential and important. Instead, we analyze each approach and situate ourselves meaningfully in the study/space of Iman. We do this in order to realize not just theoretical knowledge, but a lived reality every single day.
  • We want something nourishing, that satiates, that is formidable and strong, something to which all other realities/ideas pale in comparison.
Methods Within Islamic Scholarship Towards the Study of Aqidah
  • The Theoretical Approach
    • Answers what is the belief of the Muslims.
    • The six pillars in the Hadith of Jibreel.
    • The qualities and attributes that must be affirmed to Allah: Allah hears, sees, speaks, is in contradistinction to His Creation, has Will, Power and Might
    • We must steer clear of affirming any deficiency to Allah,to attributing any weakness to Him, anything that likens Him to His Creation, anything that shows that He is incapable.
    • Nubuwwat - the study of Prophecy/Prophethood: that the Prophets (as) are trustworthy, honest, have wisdom, are infallible.
    • Sam'iyyat - the study of that which is in the Unseen realm.
    • Theologically confirming there is an Afterlife, a Sirat that we must cross over, a Gathering Place, the Scale, Paradise and Hellfire
  • Dialectical Theology
    • This may be seen in the practice of many of our great scholars such as ibn Taymiyyah, Imam al-Razi, and Imam al-Ghazali who positioned themselves to address the prevailing philosophies of their time. They believed it was very important to respond to the doubtful matters that were being thrust upon Islamic theology.
    • Atheism is not new. The claims that were made historically were far more sophisticated than the claims that materialistic atheists make today. The claims by atheists back then was not limited to the material realm because they believed in a world beyond what they could see, whereas the claims made today are made by materialists/empiricists who can’t get beyond what is known through experiment and sight.
    • There were entire movements to invalidate the idea that there is such a thing as prophecy and doubt after doubt would be put in front of our scholars, who found themselves in a position to respond to these doubts using intellectual methods to ensure that the opposing claims were undone and rendered null and void.
      • This is not needed by each individual to study Aqidah, but it is needed communally - there should be those who respond/are responding to the claims/doubt about religion.
    • There are plenty, within and without the Muslim community, who are casting doubt into the essentials of our theology - whether it’s the existence of God, the infallibility of our prophets, the finalize of Muhammad (s), and the list goes on.
      • We must revive a dialectical spirit in those who know how to address the philosophical discussion in our age - who know how to address individualism, secular humanism, liberalism, and every other -ism that is trying to challenge the authority of the Deen of Allah.
  • Spiritual, Experiential Theology
    • Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui calls this the necessity of experiential theology.
    • I have to experience my Iman every day. I can’t simply be theoretical about my creed. It can’t simply be intellectual. It must speak to the essence of the my being, a being that has a spirit breathed within me. What makes me alive is the fact that we have a ruh breathed into us.
    • If I study Iman in this deep, spiritual orientation, then perhaps my feeling everyday, becomes nourishing, subsisting, and satiating. That is the goal.
    • One of the most essential ways is knowing who Allah is - there is no god except Allah
      • Every part of our reality is subsumed under this idea.
    • I should want to endeavor, as an average Muslim, to learn in order to feel in awe of Allah, to fall in love with Allah
      • Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “ Whoever comes to know Allah, will love Him, and will do so certainly. Because we are pre-conditioned to love, give deference, and care about those who are generous towards us and those who are kind to us.
    • Allah, on every objective ground, is truly amazing.
    • Think about the human beings who inspire you, who you are in awe of, who you would like to be in their presence. Usually it’s because of some quality that makes you feel that way about them.
      • It might be wealth, power, sophistication, genius, etc - we identify something interesting about them.
    • Imagine if we sat back and imagined all the magnificent things about Allah, and we really understood it, and we really knew it. What do you think that will do to us in how we feel about Allah?
      • It will lead to a type of commitment, care, and connectedness that is unparalleled and no human being can ever offer us.
    It is Essential to Learn the Names and Attributes of Allah.
    • Did you ever ask yourself, why was it that in Makkah, before any rituals were revealed, the Companions were inspired to reject the path of their forefathers, to reject idol worship, to follow Muhammad (saw)? It was all about Allah, about what they learned and understood about Allah. When they affirmed that there is no god but Allah, and they affirmed all the Names and Attributes of Allah.
    • This is the reality of recognizing and knowing Who Allah is. Don’t continue doing what you’ve done your whole life. Don’t judge Allah and Islam by our practice, history, or anecdotal experience of religion. You know yourself and I know myself. We know how faulty we are. Don’t arrive to definitive conclusions about Allah without actually giving Allah a fair chance in our hearts and minds.
    • How many of us have spent the time reading the Qur’an and the Sunnah with a keen eye that asks: who is Allah? Pick Up the Quran or Hadith in any language that suits you and ask: how does Allah speak about Himself? How does He describe Himself? What does He tell me about Himself?
    • Have you ever paused for a moment and realized how incredible it is that Allah chose you and I, insignificant human beings, to speak to?
      Imagine if a person of high regard in the world, was to send you a personalized letter that speaks to you and asks you questions? How would that make you feel? Now imagine that The Creator of the heavens and the earth, The Sustainer, The Knower, The One Who chooses to communicate to each and every one of us? What feeling does that cultivate within me? What orientation?

    • We have to spend many hours learning about the beautiful Merciful Nature of Allah - that He wrote upon Himself. Verily, Allah has prescribed, and made obligatory upon Himself, mercy. When Allah created the heavens and the earth - what was transcribed upon The Throne of Allah is The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. When Allah sent our Messenger (saw), who will liberate us, guide us, and save us from the doldrums of dunya and the pains of the Afterlife, He sent him, essentially, as a Mercy to all the Worlds.
    • Don’t opine about Allah because you are facing a specific pain. Don’t judge Allah through your very limited lens.
      When you see His Omnipotence, His Magnificence, and that He has created this world for us to have the potential to live an absolute pleasure in the Afterlife.
      He cares enough to send us a Book that has been preserved by Him, He sent us Muhammad (saw), and we learn the entirety of his entire life so we can fall in love with our Creator and we can fall in love with our Messenger. This is all love and tenderness and compassion
    • What do we say when we recognize the mercy of Allah? Rahmaak - we desire Your Mercy, and Your Magnificence and Your Grace.
    • Every single day, the earth calls to Allah and asks for permission to devour creation, for verily they eat and drink and never thank You. The oceans call out to Allah, every single day, and ask for permission to drown the creation, for verily they eat and drink and never thank. The mountains ask for permission to destroy creation by folding over it. The sky asks for permission to send down tremendous torment and punishment. All of this because of our insolence, because of our thanklessness, because of our bigoted-ness, because of our arrogance. Allah responds by saying: O my creation (speaking to the skies, earth, oceans, and mountains) and asks did you create them? They respond, no we have not created them. Allah responds, leave Me and My servants. If you created them, you would be merciful with them. We deserve what the mountains and others are saying, but Allah is merciful to us.
    • There is nothing like Allah. All of these examples are incomparable.
    • Imagine how merciful you are with your children. They’re running around and making noise and you’re trying to send them to bed. But minutes after they go to sleep, you miss them, you want to hug them, to kiss them. That’s our simple mercy and we aren’t even the ones who created our kids, Allah used us to bring them into existence. There is a mercy that we have with our children that longs for being with them, for smelling them, etc. That’s your mercy with them. Allah’s mercy with us is multiplied by infinity.
    • Allah says that if we turn to Him in repentance, than He loves us. If we seek forgiveness than He is forgiving, and if we sin then He is our doctor, and if we call for forgiveness He will forgive us, no matter how far away from Him we are, and if we are close to Him and we look away from Him, He will gently turn our faces back to Him.
    • Allah says this about us every single day.
    • We need to develop an understanding about Allah that is comparable to the simple Bedoin who said, “O Allah, I am me and You are You, I am accustomed to sinfulness and you are accustomed to forgiveness. That’s who You are O Allah. I know You love to pardon and have mercy.
    • You may be so anxiety ridden with what’s happening in our political space, obsessively watching the 24-hour news cycle thinking that the entire world hangs in the balance of one nomination to the Supreme Court. Calm down. Who is this one person? Who do you think they are? Do you think they have control of anything? Do you think that one vote is going to make a difference? Advocate. Be civically engaged. Enjoin that which is good and forbid that which is evil. When something is harmful say it’s harmful, when something is good say it’s good. But never let your emotional, spiritual, psychological space hinge on whether one person wins a vote or not. That makes no difference for us theologically because when you know Allah, all other beings pale in comparison. Allah is The King of Kings.
    • Don’t get deceived by what’s happening with your boss, friends, family, overseas, or this tyrannical ruler or this tyrannical leader. No. Allah is the only One who occupies any control.
    • We are collectively in His constriction.He controls the reality of this world. It could cease to exist in a moment if Allah wills. Do you think that any government or nation state will matter when that happens? So why do we get so caught up in the physical realm/the horizontal realm, when the vertical realm is so much more interesting? This doesn’t mean we should be disengaged, oblivious, or aloof. You have to be an engaged, courageous, up front, and an upstanding citizen. If someone is harmful stop them from committing harm. Your knowledge of Allah should liberate you, it should make you feel at peace - that no bully can intimidate you because you are confident in what you know about Allah.
    • You never fear, not even for a moment, that you will not have enough to feed your children because you know that He is Al-Razaaq and that you will do your part and He will ensure that you are cared for. That you will never fear that just because you didn’t receive an immigration status that your life will fall apart. Try and struggle for it, but don’t think that your life hinges on that reality.
    • As long as Allah is in your purview and you know it, nothing can phase you because you are with Allah.
    • May Allah grant us his closeness.
    • May Allah help us to always be in His close company.
    • May Allah help us to be nourished by our knowledge of Him.
    • May Allah grant us a knowledge of Him that liberates our heart, our minds, our bodies, and our souls.
    • May Allah grants us a confidence in our Iman, and a confidence in our belief in Allah.
    • May Allah fortify in our hearts, the belief of la ilaha illallah, Muhammad Rasul Allah. A belief that will not be shaken by any being, entity, or force.
    • Allah grant us Iman that is nourishing, fulfilling, complete, and that brings us tranquility.
    • We ask Allah, on this blessed day of Ju’muah, to forgive our sins, our weaknesses, and our shortcomings that we have accrued over the past week.
    • Which method of Islamic scholarship in the study of Aqida has been most beneficial to me as I seek to manifest my Iman in the world?
    • How much time in a day do I devote to learning about Allah?
    • What can I do to increase the ways my Iman manifests in my day to day life?