(taken from Tafseerul-‘ushril-Aakheeri minal-Qur’aanil-Kareem)
1. From where does a Muslim take his creed and faith?
a. The Muslim takes his creed and faith from the Book of Allah [the Qur’an] and the authentic Sunnah of His Prophet, who does not speak of his own desire, rather [as Allah says]: “It is only revelation revealed.” [53:4] These two sources should be understood according to the understanding of the companions and the righteous predecessors.
2. How many levels are there in the religion of Islam?
a. There are three levels in the religion of Islam. Islam, Iman, and Ihsan.
3. What is ‘Islam,’ and how many pillars does it have?
a. ‘Islam’ is submission to Allah by: believing in Tawheed (Oneness of Allah), complying with His orders, obeying Him, and avoiding and absolving oneself from all forms of polytheism and idolatry, as well as those who commit them.
b. The pillars of Islam are five, as mentioned in the narration of the Prophet: “Islam is built on five [pillars]: To testify that none is rightfully worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayers, to offer obligatory charity, to perform pilgrimage to Mecca, and to fast the month of Ramadan.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
4. What is ‘Iman,’ and how many pillars does it have?
a. ‘Iman’ is: belief and conviction in the heart, speech of the tongue, and action of the limbs. Iman increases by performing good deeds and decreases by committing sins. The Prophet said: “Iman is seventy-some branches: the highest of which is to say that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah, the lowest is to remove harm from the path; and modesty is a branch of Iman.”(Muslim)
b. ‘Iman’ has six pillars, as mentioned in the narration of the Prophet: “Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment, and Destiny and what it brings of good or evil.” (al-Bukhari)
5. What is meant by the phrase ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah’?
a. The statement means to negate that any being other than Allah has the right to be worshiped, and to affirm that it is Allah alone who deserves worship.
6. There seem to be many sects in Islam, how do I know which one to follow? Do I have to follow any of them at all?
a. The Prophet said: “My Nation will split into seventy three sects, all of which will go to Hellfire, except for one.”
His companions then asked: “Which one is that, O Messenger of Allah?”
He replied: “The one that will be upon the way of me and my companions.” (at-Tirmidhi)
Thus, the truth and the correct path is the way of the Prophet and his companions. Therefore, if one wishes to be saved on the Day of Judgment and desires that one’s deeds be accepted by Allah, one must adhere strictly to the way of the Prophet and his companions and avoid all innovations in the religion.
7. Is Allah with us?
a. Yes, Allah is with us with His perfect knowledge, His hearing, His seeing, His protection, His absolute comprehensiveness, His omnipotent power, and His divine will. However, Allah Himself is not a part of His creation, and nothing in His creation can encompass him.
8. Can Allah be seen with the eyes?
a. The Muslim scholars are in agreement that Allah cannot be seen in this life, but that the believers will see Him on the Day of Resurrection as well as in Paradise. Allah said: “On that Day, some faces will be beaming, looking at their Lord.” [75:22-23]
9. What is the benefit of knowing Allah’s Names and Attributes?
a. The first obligation that Allah obligated upon the people is to know Allah. If they truly come to know Allah, they will worship Him as He deserves. Bringing the expansive mercy of Allah to mind causes one to hope, remembering His characteristic of being severe in punishment for disobedience instigates fear, and acknowledging His characteristic of being the exclusive Bestower of Bounties creates a feeling of gratitude. Therefore, what is meant by worshiping Allah through His Names and Attributes is that one learns them properly, understands their meanings, and acts accordingly. Allah says: “And to Him belong the most beautiful names, so supplicate to Him with them…” [7:180]
b. The Prophet said: “Allah has ninety-nine Names, and whoever enumerates them will go to Paradise.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim) There are three levels to enumerating them:
i. To count and know them and their expressions.
ii. To understand their meanings and that which they indicate. For example, knowing that Allah is al-Hakeem (the Wise) entails that the Muslim resigns all his affairs to Allah, since it is all according to His wisdom. Similarly, knowing that Allah is al-Quddoos (the Holy) entails that a Muslim believes that Allah is free from all imperfections.
iii. To call on Allah by them, and that is of two types
1. Glorifying and worshiping Allah in accordance to these names
2. Supplicating to Allah and asking Him by them
10. What is the difference between the Names of Allah and His Attributes?
a. The names of Allah and His Attributes both share the trait that it is allowed to seek refuge and swear oaths by them, but there are some important differences between them, some of which are as follows:
i. It is allowed to supplicate to Allah using one of His Name, or name oneself “the slave of” one of His names, but this is not allowed with His Attributes. Thus, one may call himself Abd al-Kareem (the slave of the Most Generous) but not Abd al-Karam (slave of Generosity), and one may supplicate “O Most Generous (Kareem)!” but not “O Generosity (Karam) of Allah!”
ii. One may derive Attributes from Allah’s Names, but one may not derive names from His Attributes. Thus one may derive the Attribute ‘rahmah’ (mercy) from His name ‘Ar-Rahman’ (the Merciful), but not the name ‘al-mustawi’ (The One who Rises Over) from His Attribute of ‘al-istiwaa’ (Rising Over).
iii. One may not derive Names from the actions of Allah. Thus, one may not say that one of the names of Allah is ‘al-ghaadib’ (the Angry) based on the fact that Allah becomes angry. One may, however, derive Attributes from His actions, and thus affirm that one of the Attributes of Allah is ‘Ghadab’ (anger) due to the fact that he becomes angry.
11. What is belief in the Angels?
a. Belief in the angels means to believe with firm conviction that they exist, and that Allah created them in order to worship Him and carry out His commands, as He has said, “…they are honored servants. They cannot precede Him in word, and they act by His command.” [21:26-27]
b. Belief in angels includes
i. Believing in their existence
ii. Believing in all those who have been named to us, like Jibreel (Gabriel)
iii. Believing in all that we have been told about their attributes, such as their mighty creation
iv. Believing in all that we have been told about their particular duties and activities, such as The Angel of Death
12. What is the Qur’an?
a. The Qur’an is the word of Allah, the recitation of which is an act of worship. He actually spoke it as it is, with its letters and sounds which Jibreel heard from Him and then conveyed to the Prophet Muhammad. Similarly, all divinely revealed books are the words of Allah (that is, the books as they were originally revealed, not the forms in which we now find them, which have been altered).
13. Can we suffice with the Qur’an without need of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad?
a. This is not allowed, as we were commanded in the Qur’an to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet. Allah said: “And whatever the Messenger has given you, take; and whatever he has forbidden you, refrain from it…” [59:7] The Sunnah was revealed to the Messenger as the explanation of the Qur’an, and one cannot know the details of the religion, such