Aqeedah is the Islamic theology branch of Islamic studies and deals exclusively with the understanding of Muslim creed.
Ibn Uthyameen said:
Aqeedah refers to those matters which are believed in, with certainty and conviction, in one’s heart and soul. They are not tainted with any doubt or uncertainty.
The Arabic word aqeedah stems from the root ‘aqada, which conveys meanings of certainty, affirmation, confirmation, etc.
In Islam, aqeedah is the matter of knowledge. The Muslim must believe in his heart and have faith and conviction, with no doubts or misgivings, because Allah has told him about aqeedah in His Book and via His Revelations to His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The principles of aqeedah are those which Allah has commanded us to believe in, as mentioned in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers. They say, ‘We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers’ – and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).’” [al-Baqarah, 2:285]
– and as defined by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the famous hadith which describes how the angel Jibreel came to him and asked him about Islam etc.: “Eemaan (faith) is to believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, the meeting with Him on the Last Day, His Messengers, and the Day of Resurrection.”
So in Islam, aqeedah refers to the matters which are known from the Quran and sound ahaadeeth, and which the Muslim must believe in his heart, in acknowledgement of the truth of Allah and His Messenger.
Islamic aqeedah is not a theoretical and philosophical method; action is an essential part of this aqeedah. Hence the Ahl al-Sunnah are agreed that eeman (faith) consists of both words and deeds, or speaking with the tongue, believing in the heart and acting with the physical limbs.
Whoever believes in Allah as his Lord and God, will worship Him and obey Him by praying, giving zakaah and so on.
Whoever believes in the Last Day and its reckoning and reward or punishment, will be motivated thereby to do that which Allah has commanded and abstain from that which He has forbidden.
Whoever believes that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah will therefore obey him, follow his Sunnah and propagate his religion.
Thus the principles in which a person believes are translated into actions and words and efforts. The stronger that faith grows in his heart, the more its effects will be seen outwardly.
Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “In the body there is a piece of flesh which, if it is sound, the entire body will be sound, and if it is corrupt, the entire body will be corrupt. It is the heart.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 52; Muslim, 1599.
Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Faith is not the matter of wishes or outward appearances, rather it is that which settles in the heart and is confirmed by one’s actions.”
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “If the heart is sound in terms of faith, knowledge and feelings, then this will inevitably lead to the soundness of physical actions, such as verbal statements and deeds. As the leading scholars of hadith said: (Faith is) Words and deeds, both inward and outward. What is outward must follow what is inward, so if what is inward is sound then what is outward will also be sound, and if it (the former) is corrupt, (the latter) will also be corrupt. Hence, one of the companions of the prophet said concerning the one who prayed carelessly: If his heart had been humble and focused, his body would have been humble and focused.
Most Crucial Subject of Study in Aqeedah
The most important subject to be studied under aqeedah is about Allah. A person cannot love nor fear Him unless he knows Him. And he cannot know Him unless he studies His Names and Attributes.
Ibn Qayyim put it beutifully when he said:
The nobility of knowledge is in accordance with the nobility of what is learned from it, how strong and firm its proofs are, how necessary such knowledge is, and how beneficial it is. And there is no doubt that the loftiest and greatest subject of knowledge is Allah – besides Whom none deserves to be worshipped, the Lord of the worlds, the Sustainer of the heavens and the Earth, the King, the Clear Truth, the One described with complete perfection, the One free of all fault and deficiency, and free of all resemblance in His perfection – and there is no doubt that knowledge of Allah, His Names, Attributes, and actions is the noblest and loftiest of knowledge, just as He is the Noblest of all in comparison to anything else that can be known and studied. Just as knowledge of Him is the noblest of all knowledge, He is the basis of all knowledge. Just as everything in existence depends on the King and Clear Truth for its own survival and existence, every type of knowledge depends on Him in a similar fashion. So, knowledge of Him is the basis of all knowledge since He is the Lord, Owner, and Sustainer of everything.
There is no doubt that complete knowledge of something created requires knowledge of the one who created it, just as knowledge of something that was brought about requires knowledge of what brought that thing about. Everything that exists besides Allah depends for its existence on Him – just like a product depends on its producer, and an action depends on the one carrying out the action. So, knowing Allah, His Attributes, and actions means that one will automatically come to know what exists besides Allah. This is because He is the Lord and Owner of everything, and knowledge of Him is the basis and source of all other knowledge. So, the one who knows Allah will know other than Allah, and whoever is ignorant of Allah will be ignorant of anything besides Him, as Allah Said:
“And do not be like those who forgot Allah, and He then caused them to forget themselves” [al-Hashr, 19].
Reflect upon this verse and you will find that it contains a great and noble meaning, and this is that whoever forgets his Lord will end up forgetting himself, and will not know the reality of himself or his interests. He will be made to forget what leads to his health and success in life, and will end up becoming incapacitated and lost, just like a wild animal. In fact, the animals might even be more aware of what is in their interests than him due to the fact that they remain firm upon the bit of guidance that was provided to them by their Creator. He, on the other hand, rebelled against the fitrah (natural disposition) that he was formed on and forgot his Lord, and was thus made to forget himself, his soul, its characteristics, what completes it, what purifies it, and what satisfies it during its life, and Allah Said:
“and do not obey he whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his own lusts, and whose affair has been lost” [al-Kahf, 28].
He forgot his Lord, and therefore lost his affair and his heart. So, he is unable to grasp what is in his best interests, or what completes and purifies his heart and soul. Instead, his heart is divided, and he is confused, lost, and misguided.
The point is that knowledge of Allah is the foundation of all knowledge, and it is the foundation for the slave knowing what will make him happy, complete, and fulfilled in this life and the next. Ignorance of Him leads to one being ignorant of himself, his interests, what completes and purifies him, and what leads him to success. So, knowledge of Him is happiness for him, and ignorance of Him is pain and anguish.
And there is nothing for the slave that is better, sweeter, or more relaxing or delightful to his heart and livelihood than loving his Creator, constantly remembering Him, and striving to Please Him. This is the completeness that the slave cannot achieve otherwise, and this is why the Creation was Created, the Revelation was revealed, the Messengers were sent, the heavens and Earth were established, Paradise and Hell were put forth, laws were legislated, the Sacred House was built and made a place of pilgrimage – which is a manifestation of loving and being pleased and pleasing to Him – and this is why Jihad was commanded, the necks were struck of those who rejected and preferred others to Him, and an abode of eternal punishment and torture was prepared for them. And this great matter is why the Creed was established, the Qiblah was ordained, and it is what all the affairs of the Creation revolve around.
There is no way to enter all of this except through the door of knowledge, as love of something is an extension of knowledge of it, and those who love Allah most are those who know Him best. So, whoever knows Allah will love Him, and whoever knows this world and its people will lose interest in them. So, knowledge is what opens this great door, which is the secret of the Creation and Ordainment.
The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker, 49-50
Resources on Aqeedah
- Fundamentals of Faith by Yasir Qadhi (video)
- An Explanation of the Two Shahadahs by Yasir Qadhi (video)
- Explanation of Kitab-at-Tawheed by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
- Explanation of Aqeedah Al-Hamawiyyah by Ali Tamimi (audio)
- Explanation of Aqeedah al-Wasitiyyah by Ali Tamimi (audio)
- Salvific Exclusivity in Islam by Yasir Qadhi (video)
- Minor Forms of Shirk by Yasir Qadhi (video)
- Jinn vs Mankind by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
- Why Should I Believe in God? by Nouman Ali Khan (video)
- Islam vs. Evolution by Yasir Qadhi (video)
- Truth About the Evil Eye by Yasir Qadhi (video)
- The Human Fitrah (Nature) and How We Know Islam is the Truth by Yasir Qadhi (audio)
- Aqeedah, It’s Meaning and Importance by Abdul Aziz Al-Qari
- Pillars of Faith by Ja’far Sheikh Idris
- Explanation of the Pillars of Faith by Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen
- Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah: A Fourteenth Century Defense against Astrological Divination and Alchemical Transmutation by John W. Livingston
- The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Bilal Phillips
- Book of Eeman by Muhammad Naim Yasin
- Three Fundamental Principles by Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen
- A Critical Study of Shirk : An Explanation of Kash al-Shubuhat by Yasir Qadhi
- Notes on Aqeedah al-Wasitiyyah by Muhammad ibn Sailh Al-Uthaymeen
- Explanation of Aqeedah Al-Hamawiyyah by Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen
- Explanation of Aqeedah at-Tahawiyyah by Ibn ‘Izz Al-Hanafi
- The Names and Attributes of Allah by Umar Sulaiman Al-Ashqar
- Exemplary Principles Concerning the Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah by Muhammad ibn Salih Uthaymeen
- The Messengers and the Messages by Umar S. Al-Ashqar
- Divine Will and Predestination by Umar S. Al-Ashqar
- The Day of Resurrection by Umar S. Al-Ashqar
- Paradise and Hell by Umar S. Al-Ashqar
- General Precepts of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah by Nasir al-‘Aql
- Little Book of Aqeedah by AlMaghrib Institute