I have read and heard a great deal about the virtues of attaining true belief in Allaah, and I would like you to explain to me in detail the meaning of belief in Allaah in a way that will help me to attain true faith and to keep away from everything that goes against the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the way of his companions.
Faith in Allaah means believing firmly in His
existence, Lordship and Divinity, and in His names and attributes.
Faith in Allaah implies four things, whoever
believes in them is a true believer.
1 – Belief in the existence of Allaah.
The existence of Allaah is something
indicated by reason and by man's innate nature, let alone the large amount of shar’i evidence to that effect.
The evidence of man’s innate nature that Allaah exists: every man has been created with an innate belief in his
Creator without having to first think about it or be taught, and no one deviates from this innate nature except the one who has been exposed to
misguiding influences. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no child who is not born in a state of
fitrah (the natural inclination of man), but his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1358; Muslim, 2658.
The evidence of reason that Allaah exists: all these created things, past, present and future, must have a Creator Who brought them
into existence, because it is not possible for them to have created themselves or to have come into existence by accident.
It is impossible for
them to have come into existence by themselves because a thing cannot create itself: before it existed it was non-existent, so how could it be a
creator?! And it is impossible for them to have come into existence by accident, because everything that happens must have a cause. Moreover, this
creation is done in a wondrous and precise manner, and every created being is in harmony with the rest of creation, and there is a strong
connection between cause and effect. All of this makes it impossible that this universe could have come into being accidentally, because what
happens accidentally does not happen in a precise and perfect manner, so how could it remain so precisely balanced?
If it is not possible for these things to
have created themselves or to have come into existence by accident, then there must be One Who brought them into existence, namely Allaah the Lord
of the Worlds.
Allaah has mentioned this rational evidence
and definitive proof in Soorat al-Toor, where He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Were they created by nothing? Or were
they themselves the creators?”
They were not created without a Creator, and
they did not create themselves, so their Creator must be Allaah, may He be blessed and exalted. Hence when Jubayr ibn Mut’im heard the Messenger
of Allaah (S) reciting Soorat al-Toor, and he reached these verses (interpretation of the meaning):
“Were they created by nothing? Or were
they themselves the creators?
Or did they create the heavens and the
earth? Nay, but they have no firm Belief.
Or are with them the treasures of your
Lord? Or are they the tyrants with the authority to do as they like?”
Jabeer was a mushrik at that time, and said:
“My heart almost soared, and that was the first moment that faith entered my heart.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari in several places.
We will give you an example that will help to
If a person were to tell you of a beautiful
palace, surrounded by gardens among which rivers flowed, filled with furniture and couches, decorated with all kinds of luxuries and adornments,
and told you that this palace and all that it contains created itself, or came into existence like that by accident without anyone building it,
you would hasten to deny that and regard it as a lie, and you would regard this as foolish speech. So after that can it be possible that this
wondrous, vast and well balanced universe with its earth, heavens and stars, could have created itself or come into being by accident with no
This rational evidence was understood by a
Bedouin who lived in the desert and who expressed it most eloquently, when he was asked, “How do you know your Lord?” He said: “If you see the
camel dung you know that a camel has passed this way, and if you see a footstep you know that a person has passed this way, so the heaven with its
starts and the earth with its mountain passes and the oceans with their high waves all point to the existence of the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”
2 – Belief in the Lordship of Allaah.
i.e., belief that He alone is the Lord, with
no partner or helper.
The Lord (Rabb) is the One Who has the power
of creation, dominion and control. There is no Creator except Allaah, no Sovereign except Allaah, no controller of affairs except Allaah. Allaah
says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Surely, His is the creation and
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘Who provides for you
from the sky and the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living?
And who disposes the affairs?’ They will say: ‘Allaah.’ Say: ‘Will you not then be afraid of Allaah’s punishment (for setting up rivals in worship
“He manages and regulates (every) affair
from the heavens to the earth; then it (affair) will go up to Him”
“Such is Allaah, your Lord; His is the
kingdom. And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmeer (the thin membrane over the date stone)”
Think about what Allaah says in Soorat
al-Faatihah (interpretation of the meaning):
“The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling
Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) [Maaliki Yaawm il-deen]”
And there is an alternative reading,
Maliki yawm il-deen. If we combine the two readings we will see a wondrous meaning, for the Malik (King) has more power and authority than
the Maalik (Owner), but a king may sometimes be a king in name only, with no control over affairs, in which case he is a king but not an owner.
But as Allaah is both Malik and Maalik, then this is confirmation both of His Sovereignty and His control over all affairs.
3 – Belief in His Divinity
i.e., that He is the One True God, with no
partner or associate.
Al-Ilaah (God) means the One Who is loved,
i.e., the One Who is worshipped out of love and veneration. This is what is meant by Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (there is no god but Allaah),
i.e., there is none who is rightfully worshipped except Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And your Ilaah (God) is One Ilaah (God —
Allaah), Laa Ilaaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”
“Allaah bears witness that Laa ilaaha illa
Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He always) maintains His
creation in justice. Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All‑Mighty, the All-Wise”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:18]
Everything that is taken as a god alongside
Allaah and worshipped instead of Him, its divinity is false. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“That is because Allaah He is the Truth (the only
True God of all that exists, Who has no partners or rivals with Him), and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him, it is Baatil
(falsehood). And verily, Allaah
He is the Most High, the Most Great”
Calling them gods does not give them the
rights of divinity. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“They are but names which you have named
you and your fathers
for which Allaah has sent down no authority”
Allaah tells us that Yoosuf (peace be upon
him) said to the prison guard (interpretation of the meaning):
“Are many different lords (gods) better or
Allaah, the One, the Irresistible?
You do not worship besides Him but only
names which you have named (forged) — you and your fathers — for which Allaah has sent down no authority”
No one deserves to be worshipped or singled
out for worship except Allaah, and no one has any share in this right with Him, no angel who is close to Him nor any Prophet who was sent. Hence
the call of all the Messengers, from the first to the last of them, was the call to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the
“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 (Allaah)], so worship Me (Alone
and none else)”
“And verily, We have sent among every
Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allaah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taaghoot (all false deities, i.e. do
not worship Taaghoot besides Allaah)”
But the mushrikeen rejected that and took
other gods instead of Allaah, which they worshipped alongside Allaah, seeking their support and help.
4 – Belief in His Names and Attributes.
i.e., affirming the names and attributes which
Allaah has affirmed for Himself in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in a manner that
befits Him, without distorting or denying the meanings, or asking how, or likening Him to His creation. Allaah says (interpretation of the
“And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong
to Allaah, so call on Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie or deny (or utter impious speech against) His Names. They will be
requited for what they used to do”
This verse indicates that the Most Beautiful
names belong to Allaah.
And Allaah says (interpretation of the
“His is the highest description (i.e. none
has the right to be worshipped but He, and there is nothing comparable unto Him) in the heavens and in the earth. And He is the All‑Mighty, the
This verse indicates that the attributes of
perfection belong to Allaah, because “the highest description” is the attribute of perfection. These two verses prove that the most beautiful
Names and the most sublime attributes belong to Allaah in general terms. With regard to the details of that, there is a great deal of information
in the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
This field of knowledge, i.e., the names and
attributes of Allaah, is one of the fields in which there has been a great deal of dispute and division among the ummah, and the ummah has split
into various factions regarding the names and attributes of Allaah.
Our attitude towards these differences is
that enjoined by Allaah when He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“(And) if you differ in anything amongst
yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allaah and in the Last Day”
We refer this dispute to the Book of Allaah
and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), seeking guidance therein from the way in which the righteous
salaf, the Sahaabah and Taabi’een, understood these verses and ahaadeeth, for they are the most knowledgeable of this ummah as to what Allaah and
His Messenger meant. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood spoke the truth when he described the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) by saying: “Whoever wants to follow a path, let him follow the path of one who has died, for there is no guarantee that the one who
is still alive will not be tempted. Those are the companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), the most pure in heart
of this ummah and the most deep in knowledge, the least sophisticated and complicated, people whom Allaah chose to establish His religion and
accompany His Prophet. So acknowledge their rights and adhere to their guidance, for they are following true guidance.”
Everyone who deviates from the path of the salaf in this matter is erring and going astray, and is following a path other than that of the
believers, so he deserves the warning issued in the verse where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the
Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way, We shall keep him in the path
he has chosen, and burn him in Hell — what an evil destination!”
Allaah has stipulated that in order to be
correctly guided, we must believe what the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) believed, as He says
(interpretation of the meaning):
“So if they believe in the like of that which
you believe then they are rightly guided”
Everyone who deviates and wanders far from
the path of the salaf is lacking in guidance to the extent that he strays from the path of the salaf.
Based on this, then what we must do in this
case is to affirm what Allaah has affirmed for Himself or what His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has affirmed of the
divine names and attributes; we should take the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah at face value, and believe in them as the companions of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did, as they are the best and most knowledgeable of this ummah (may Allaah be pleased
But it should be noted that there are four
things to be avoided, whoever falls into one of them has not attained true belief in the names and attributes of Allaah as he is obliged to do.
Belief in the names and attributes of Allaah is not correct unless one avoids these four things, which are: tahreef (distortion), ta’teel
(denial), tamtheel (likening Allaah to His creation) and takyeef (asking or discussing how).
Hence we say that what is meant by belief in
the names and attributes of Allaah is “affirming the names and attributes which Allaah has affirmed for Himself in His Book and in the Sunnah of
His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in a manner that befits Him, without distorting or denying the meanings, or asking
how, or likening Him to His creation.”
There follows a brief explanation of these
four things that are to be avoided:
What is meant is changing the meaning of the
texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah from their true meaning, which means affirming that the most beautiful names and sublime attributes belong to
Allaah, to another meaning which was not intended by Allaah or His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
They distort the meaning of the Hand of
Allaah which is mentioned in many texts and say that it refers to His blessing or power.
What is meant is denying the beautiful names
and sublime attributes and saying that Allaah does not possess them or some of them.
Everyone who denies one of the names or
attributes of Allaah that are proven in the Qur’aan or Sunnah does not truly believe in the names and attributes of Allaah.
Tamtheel (likening Allaah to His creation)
This means likening the attribute of Allaah
to the attribute of a human being, such as saying that Allaah’s Hand is like a man’s hand, or that Allaah hears as a man hears, or that Allaah
rose over the Throne like a man sitting on a chair… and so on. Undoubtedly likening the attributes of Allaah to the attributes of His creation is
wrong and false. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“There is nothing like Him, and He is the
All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer”
Takyeef (discussing how)
This means discussing how the attributes of
Allaah are, whereby a person tries to imagine or put into words how the attributes of Allaah are.
This is definitely invalid, and man cannot
know this. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“but they will never compass anything of
Whoever attains these four things believes
truly in Allaah.
We ask Allaah to make us steadfast in faith
and cause us to die therein.
And Allaah knows best.
See Risaalat Sharh Usool al-Eemaan by
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen.