Islam-Doctrines, Practices

The Doctrine and Practices:

Doctrine in religion is a principle or body of principles relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by  religious authority presented for acceptance or belief. In religions of the East, doctrines are usually designed to serve as catalytic clues to religious insight. The functions of doctrines and dogmas vary in the several religious traditions according to the stress each puts on the importance of the rational conceptualization of religious truth first glimpsed in images, symbols, and parables. In the religions of the West, doctrines and dogmas tend to function as aids to theological reflection (the concept of God’s unity in Islam, Judaism and also claimed by Christians despite the intricacy of doctrine of Trinity). In all the higher religions, doctrines and dogmas emerge and develop in the service of instruction for the faithful: interpreting their sacred scriptures, understanding their obligations and duties, safeguarding the lines between allowable diversity and actual error, all of which help to chart the religious pathway to wisdom, rectitude, and fulfillment, theology, which utilizes doctrines and dogmas in the study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions may be termed as “faith seeking rational self-understanding.” The other function of doctrine is refutation: the defense of the faith against misinterpretation and error, within or without a religious tradition. Given the invariably pluralistic character of theological reflection, there is a constant tension between the concern for identity and continuity of the tradition, on the one hand, and for deeper and richer comprehension of truth itself, on the other. Over against this, in most cultures there is a concurrent rivalry with other religions, with their contrary doctrinal claims, and beyond that, the challenges of secular wisdom and unbelief. This calls forth a special sort of doctrinal formulation: Formal argumentation in defense of the vindication of the true faith against its detractors or disbelievers. At the heart of all efforts to support religious faith lies the problem of primal authority. It is required of a doctrinal statement that it be clear and cogent, but doctrines always point past their logical surface to some revelations in the past or deposit of faith.

The religions in general provide a personal or institutionalized system grounded in beliefs and worship for the spiritual development of man. To accomplish it, the religions provide: Firstly; A doctrine which gives it a theoretical or philosophical justification. Secondly; Instructions or Commandments, which create the ethics designed to modify motives which govern behavior. Without the efforts, and channeling of energy based on these values, there can be no direction of development. Thirdly; Religious practices which constitute a methodology or techniques. These three, however, are interdependent and not wholly separate. The Doctrines, for instance, can be regarded as an ethics of thought and a technique for modifying the world view such that it provides a framework within which all experiences can be interpreted in a unified self-consistent manner. The religious practices such as ‘prayer’ can have no meaning without the doctrine and are the means for establishing the ethics. The ethics leads to the transformation of behavior and interaction within a society as well as with the environment. This not only change experience but also modifies the person so as to change perception, thoughts and the world view. Religion can have different forms according to how it is formulated, organized and practiced and this may depend on the times, places and nature of the people. According to Qur’an; “To every People have we appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow let them not then dispute with thee on the matter but do thou invite (them) to thy Lord: for thou art assuredly on the Right Way.”(Qur’an;22:67);“We sent an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them.  Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power Full of Wisdom.”(Qur’an;14:4); “..He causes not to stray except those who forsake (the path)”(Qur’an;2:26). ‘Whom He pleases’; the usual expression for Mashiyat, the “Universal Will and Plan”, which is all-wise and on the highest plane of goodness and righteousness, in line with the limited free will or the  option to choose between the truth and falsehood using the intellect provided to each human. Religions are distinguished by their different practices. The ethical teachings of all religions are more or less the same and seldom lead to disputes. Controversies between different religions are usually about doctrines. These may be understood differently in different places and ages owing to the changes in language and conditions of life. If, however, attention is focused on the aim of religion, then on its different methods and forms, which either conform or conflict with the aim, it would help in reducing the existence of disputes. The application of term  religion, on Islam is an understatement, Islam, which is a Din, a complete code and practicable way of life, prescribed by the Creator for the wellbeing of humanity. If some followers of Islam are found to be casual in following some of the teachings, while ignoring others, Islam  can not be blamed for it. The life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the role model for humanity.

Articles of Faith:

The Islamic faith is based on sound philosophy, doctrines and practices, successfully practiced the world over for centuries. The Islamic root of affirmation is based on the conviction upon  unity of Allah. In order to be a  Muslim one has to believe in the six articles of faith, which has been repeatedly mentioned in Qur’an at;24:62, 2:136,177,285, 4:136, 3:114, 4:78, 54:3, 17:99, 29:20, 64:67  and many other places. Firstly; To affirm his belief in Allah (Single God). Secondly; To believe in His messengers (include all Biblical prophets, from Adam to Jesus, twenty five mentioned by name in Qur’an), and Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be His Last Messenger. Thirdly; His books, Qur’an and all scriptures revealed to His Messengers which also include the original Torah, Psalms and original Gospel of Jesus. Fourthly To believe in metaphysical creatures like the angels. Fifthly; Resurrection after death on the Day of Judgment, accounting and the scales, hell and paradise. Sixthly; that the good and evil of destiny are in the power of Allah, the Most High.

Angels are the metaphysical spiritual creatures mentioned in Biblical and Islamic traditions. They have no physical desires nor material needs. In Islamic concept, the angels do not have free will or choice to disobey Allah; they only obey His commands and worship Allah. According to Bible the primary function of angels is to praise and serve God and do His Will. In Judaism and Christianity some angels are believed to have fallen from a position of proximity to God, because of pride or for attempts to usurp the position of the Supreme Being  such as Lucifer (after his fall called Satan by early Church Fathers). According to Qur’an: “The angels are but His honored servants. They do not precede Him in speaking and they act according to His commandment.”(Qur’an:21:26-27). Gabriel, Michael Israfil (Raphael) are well known angels in Bible. The angels are mentioned as ordinary messenger (Job;1:14; 1Samuel;11:3; Luke;7:24; 9:52); as messengers of prophets (Isaiah;42:19; Haggai;1:13), of priests (Malachi;2:7), and ministers of the New Testament (Revelation;1:20). They are created by God and they worship Him (Nehemiah;9:6).Their personal existence is plainly implied in such passages as Genesis;16:7,10-11;Judges;13:1-21;Mathew;28:2-5; Hebrews;1:4, etc. These superior beings are very numerous: “Thousand thousands,”. (Daniel; 7:10; Mathew; 26:53; Luke: 2:13; Hebrews; 12:22-23). As to their nature, they are spirits (Hebrews; 1:14), like the soul of man, but not incorporeal. Imperfection is ascribed to them as creatures (Job;4:18; Mathew;24:36; 1Peter; 1:12). Angels never die (Luke;20:36). They are possessed of superhuman intelligence and power (Mark;13:32; 2Timothy; 1:7; Psalms; 103:20). They are called “holy” (Luke: 9:26);”elect”(1Timothy;5:21). The functions of angels are manifold: they obey the will of God (Psalms; 103:20; Mathew; 6:10); execute the purposes of God (Numbers;22:22; Psalms; 103:21); execute the judgments of God (2Samuel; 24:16; 2Ki 19:35; Psalms; 35:5-6); celebrate the praises of God (Job 38:7; Psalms; 148:2; Isaiah; 6:3). In the widest sense they are agents of God’s providence (Psalms; 104:4; Hebrews; 11:28; 1 Corinthians;10:10; 2 Samuel; 24:16; 1 Chronicles; 21:16; 2Kings;19:35; Acts;12:23; Exodus;12:23). Apart from angels, Jinn is an other metaphysical creature mentioned in Qur’an, which are created from smokeless fire. They are spirits, and therefore subtle like a flame of fire. Allah says: “while before him (Adam) We had created Jinn from smokeless fire.”(Qur’an;15:27). Their being free from smoke implies that they are free from grossness for smoke is the grosser accompaniment of fire. Like humans, Jinns have also been given limited choice (free will) to  choose between evil and good, hence they will be sent to heaven or hell as per their faith and deeds. Iblis (Satan), who became rebellious by disobeying God, is among the Jinns, he is the enemy of humanity (Qur’an;7:27, 15:39, 17:53, 36:62, 16:99). Qur’an mentions about Jinns at many places: Jinns follow Islam and different religions;(Qur’an;72:11-15); they are not aware of hidden secrets (Qur’an;34:14), some jinns listened and believed in Qur’an (Qur’an;;46:30, 31, 72:1-6, 13); they also appears to believe in the previous scripture and revelations of Moses. (Qur’an;46:30).

The Day of Judgment is one of the cardinal beliefs in Islam. Allah says: “The Day whereon  they will (all) come forth: Not a single thing concerning them is hidden from Allah. Whose will be the dominion that Day? That of  Allah the One the Irresistible! That Day will every soul be requited for what it earned; no injustice will there be that Day for Allah is Swift in taking account.”(Qur’an;40:16-17). The Bible also mentions about Resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel;12:2); “ Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”(1Corinthians;15:51-52); “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” (Isaiah;26:19);“The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.”(Psalms;7:8). The Qur’an and Bible agree that the time of occurrence of Day of Judgment is not known to any one except God. Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) said: “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”(Mark;13:32).[The concept of Trinity is refuted, as it is evidently clear that Jesus did not know the time of Day of Judgment, so he is not part of divinity]. Allah says: “They ask you (O Muhammad) about the Hour of Doom and when will it take place. Say: “Knowledge about it rests only with my Lord: He Himself will disclose it at the proper time. Heavy is its weight in the heavens and the earth. It will not come gradually but all of a sudden. They ask you as if you yourself were in search of it. Tell them: “The knowledge about it rests only with Allah though most people do not understand.””(Qur’an;7:187); “Surely Allah Alone has the knowledge of the Hour,”(Qur’an;31:34).

Paradise is the abode of enjoyment which Allah, the Exalted, prepared for the righteous. No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard of, and no human being has ever thought of the blessings that they will enjoy there (Qur’an;32:17). It is mentioned in Bible: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”(Luke;23:43); “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”(Genesis;2:8). The Hell is the abode of punishment that Allah has prepared for the sinners and unbelievers: “Surely, We have prepared for the evildoers a fire, whose pavilion encompasses them. If they call for help, they will be helped with water like molten copper which will scald their faces. How dreadful a drink and how evil a resting place!”(Qur’an;18:29). According to Bible: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”(Psalms;9:17); “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”(Psalms;16:10);“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”(Psalms;86:13). Prophet Jesus Christ’s (peace be upon him) denunciations against the Pharisees (the ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form) is evident, when he said to them: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”(Matthew;23:33).

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