In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious Most Merciful

The Praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. It is He who created us in truth, so that we might identify the truth through His guidance sent with His Prophets and Messengers, the last of which was Muhammad the son of Abdullah (God’s peace and blessing on him and his). As to what follows:

I begin herewith a series about the foundational principles of Islam and how its components come together. This series will cover the following topics:

  1. The God-concept in Islam
  2. The Role of Prophets and Messengers
  3. The Role of Scriptures
  4. The ethics, morals and values in the Qur’an
  5. The lifestyle of the Muslim

Initially these five topics will be presented in a short form, and later I will expand on each topic with time Insha Allah. This series is targeted at the non-Muslim and at the thinking Muslim alike. It isn’t meant as an outlet to present feel good content for the believer who wants to be more motivated within his or her religious practice. Rather, it is a simplification of a more robust academic approach to what the religion means, how its components come together and its goals might be based on its sources.

Methodological Considerations

As a graduate in the field or religious studies it is important for me or any serious person or student to understand what the methodology is when presenting any religious content. For this series, the bulk of what I present will be based on the Qur’an, at times the Bible, and the established customs that makes up the lifestyle of the average Muslim. This work is non polemical and not targeted at intra-Islamic differences or schools of thought but is meant to provide a birds-eye view and appreciation of Islam from the perspective of its core values and not meant to go into any great deal concerning its branches. For this reason, the classical terminologies employed by traditional scholars and jurists will be avoided. As an example, when I discuss the God-concept in Islam, I don’t employ the traditional term Tawhid which is the label given for the belief in One God, but which does not feature as a label in the Quran or in the Hadith. Rather it is the traditionally used to label a field of study. Since traditional Islam and traditional scholars are not the target of this series, it is of little use trying to teach non-Muslims terminology that would otherwise not be required for the average person. Furthermore, the themes I will discuss are broadly presented in the Qur’an and as such I will not quote verses or sources constantly otherwise this discourse will be too bulky for the average person to really appreciate. Instead, I focus on the ethical considerations and implications of broad themes while citing some sources by way of demonstration only. If you want to know what the Qur’an, the Hadith, and what the traditional stances are, you will have to read up on that yourself.

The Knowledge of God

Firstly, in Islam, as in other monotheistic religions there is an absolute insistence on there being only One God, who is the creator of the heavens and earth, and all that is between them. God is unseen and is beyond mental comprehension because God in Islam is without comparison. We, in principle, don’t know God, we know about God to the extent humanly possible whether by intuition, revelation or through reason. The Qur’an in principle appeals to all three:

We will show them Our signs in the universe and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that this ˹Quran˺ is the truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a Witness over all things? (41:53)

In the above verse and many other verses there is an appeal to the external (the universe), the internal (intuition), and the revelation. There are identifiers in other words, where one thing aids another and truth is recognized because we ourselves were created in truth. Something cannot be recognized if knowledge of it didn’t exist intrinsically. Hence the Qur’an highlights a type of primordial knowledge from a pre-existent state of being in which God said the following:

Indeed, We offered the Trust1 to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant. (33:72)

And ˹remember˺ when your Lord brought forth from the loins of the children of Adam their descendants and had them testify regarding themselves. ˹Allah asked,˺ “Am I not your Lord?” They replied, “Yes, You are! We testify.” ˹He cautioned,˺ “Now you have no right to say on Judgment Day, ‘We were not aware of this.(7:172)

In other words, the imprint of our knowledge of God comes from having known God, met God, and accepted a covenant with God before we were born into this world. Hence, when God in the Qur’an calls people to faith He often uses the word “remember” or in Arabic “uthkur.”God isn’t unveiling knowledge about Him and His Religion in abstraction but is reminding us about something we already know on a primordial level. Hence, disbelief, in Arabic is termed kufr, which in principle means to cover up something. The Qur’an therefore instructs us as follows:

Do not mix truth with falsehood or hide the truth knowingly.(2:42)

When we look at the original Arabic the words here translated as “Do not mix truth with falsehood” would literally translate into “Do not dress up the truth with falsehood…” since the Arabic verb here is “talbisu.” To this end, the knowledge of God in Islam is considered innate from birth and then children are indoctrinated into the religions of their parents and given a God-concept. The primordial God-concept is, however, by default the one expressed in Islam. To this end the Prophet Muhammd (s) was reported as saying:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (S) as saying:

The mother of every person gives him birth according to his true nature. It is subsequently his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian. Had his parents been Muslim he would have also remained a Muslim. Every person to whom his mother gives birth (has two aspects of his life); when his mother gives birth Satan strikes him but it was not the case with Mary and her son (Jesus Christ).

Sahih Muslim 2659a

The above demonstrates from our sources that knowledge of God is intuitive for all people and that the imprint of that knowledge is within themselves. However, knowledge of God is also all around us in creation which God created in Truth. Meaning, that the creation around us is a reminder of the Creator, whom we already knew of before we came into our earthy existence. However, since people often don’t always know what to look for or what they are looking at, this same Creator of the Universe also gave us revelation through the agency of Messengers who brought Books. Here too, these books are recognized because it serves as a reminder of what is innately already known. These three elements, intuition, creation and revelation interact in an intimate way to demonstrate the existence of God.

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