The Six Articles of Belief
The most important beliefs a Muslim must have are six:
1. Belief in (the one, true) God
- There is only one God and no other divinities. He (though God has no gender) is the self-sufficient creator and sustainer of the universe. All power is from Him. He has no rivals, no equals. His knowledge is total. He alone is perfect.
The Creator is unlike His creation and free of any human characteristics people may ascribe to Him (such as having children, needing rest, and making mistakes).
Therefore no one is worthy of worship but God alone.
The veneration of demigods, idols, other living beings, spirits, or even one’s self is thus an injustice to God, as they too would be dependent on Him for their sustained existence (and thus could not be divine).
Our prayers, supplications and spirituality must be solely to God, and our material pursuits, goodwill and love projected upon the world all for His sake.
2. Belief in the Angels
- There is an unseen realm in which noble beings continuously serve and worship God. Worship in the form of service, obedience, praise, etc. is their only function.
Angels are not divine and have no free-will to choose between right and wrong. They always do right in obedience and servitude to the Creator. (Tales of fallen angels rebelling against God are thus untrue.)
At times angels may interact with human beings but only to the degree they have been permitted by God.
3. Belief in the Prophets
- Throughout human history God sent Prophets to the many nations of the world. They were human beings of the highest character inspired and guided by God to call humanity to the worship of the Creator alone and live in righteousness. Some were also Messengers, conveying God’s direct message (such as David with the Psalms, Jesus with the Gospel and Muhammad with the Qur’an).
Islam honors them all—the known and the unknown—, exonerates them from fictitious tales of supposed misconduct, and preserves the core teachings they all shared with humanity (regarding the worship of God alone, guidance on living a righteous life, descriptions of the Hereafter and the true purpose of man’s existence).
The age of prophets and their miracles has ended but the last Prophet, Muhammad, delivered the final message from God to mankind—the Qur’an—which is also a miracle for all to witness in every age to come.
4. Belief in the Divine Books
- God revealed Books (messages) to humanity for guidance, including the Psalms, Torah, Gospel and the Qur’an. They all shared the same essential message—worship only God the Creator—and called people to righteousness.
However, only the Qur’an survives in its original form, free from human tampering and distortions. This in itself is almost a miracle. For it is the last of the divine Books, the final Revelation; and God will not allow it to be lost.
5. Belief in the Last Day
- At some point humanity will perish. Then a last Day of Judgement will take place wherein all human beings will be resurrected to stand before God and answer for their deeds in life.
The righteous and obedient will be given Paradise as an eternal abode while the sinners and disobedient will enter the Fire of Hell. Some, if they were followers (in the true message of the Prophets), will eventually be taken out and enter Paradise.
6. Belief in Divine Decree
- God has full knowledge of all that will occur in the future and has in fact already decreed it. This includes not only everything that His creation will do and what will become of them, but also what He Himself will do to it. This demonstrates God’s ultimate transcendence and control over everything (even His own role in the universe). All that occurs in life is by the Will and permission of God and is actually created by Him as it happens.
Buthumanity still has free-will in a sense, since we have to make decisions all the time and don’t know the future. Thus it is essential to make the right decisions mentally, carrying through with them physically as best we can. We must choose to live for God, following His guidance in choosing good from evil, so that we may pass the test of this short life and attain eternal happiness in Paradise.