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The Creed of Imam Al-Nasafi

Introduction

(This book is available on Kindle from Amazon: Aqaid al-Nasafi – Articles of Belief by Musharraf Hussain)

 

Al `Allamah, Imaam Abu Hafs `Umar ibn Muhammad an-Nasafi (d. 537) was born in a town called Nasaf in Turkestan. He was a great Hanafi scholar and author of some one hundred books on such diverse topics as fiqh, literature, tafsir and so on.

He wrote a short, succinct and accurate summary of the authentic Muslim beliefs in his popular work, `Aqaa’id an-Nasafi, which you now hold in your hands. `Aqaa’id is the plural of `aqidah, which means, ‘to believe in something because of the certainty of its’ truth.’ This short treatise soon gained acceptance amongst the Ummah due to the fact that it was the most comprehensive and indeed complete summary on the subject of what the Muslim is to believe.

What made the treatise even more popular was the commentary written by S`ad ud-Din Taftazaani (d. 793 AH) Since then, it has been taught in Islamic schools and seminaries throughout the world, particularly in Central and South Asia.

In the work you hold in your hands, the author compiled and enumerated some 65 points of believe, each one of them being established by a Qur’anic ayah or a sahih hadith. There is a consensus about all these fundamental beliefs mentioned in its’ pages and there is no disagreement about them.

Our aim in translating this masterpiece is to enable every Muslim to read and learn his beliefs in a short period of time. This could also be used as a textbook for the module on the Muslim creed, where the students are encouraged to memorise the creed and the teacher explains the comments on the text.

 

  1. Sources of Knowledge
  • The people of truth have said that the reality of the existence of things is an established fact. And their knowledge is certain, unlike the belief of the Sophist [1]

There are three sources from which knowledge of the creation can be acquired:

(1) The five senses

(2) The true knowledge

(3) The intellect

The senses are five: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. And every sense organ is endowed with a specific faculty.

The factual knowledge may be obtained in two ways:

  • One of them is a source of knowledge called mutawaatir. The term mutawaatir refers to information that has come from such a large number of people that it would be impossible for it to be a lie. That many people would not be able to make up a lie and all agree upon it. This source of information is useful in gaining factual information or self-evident truths, like the information about the Kings in the past and cities in far away places.
  • The second way of gaining knowledge is through the messengers of God. Truthfulness of the knowledge they provided is accepted because they can perform miracles. Prophetic knowledge is inferred knowledge since it is based on reasoning. The reasoning being that the truthful man is divinely chosen and therefore whatever he says is the truth. Prophetic knowledge is equal in value to factual knowledge in terms of certainty and proof. [2]
  • The intellect is the third source of acquiring knowledge. The knowledge acquired through intellect is self-evident. For example, the totality of something is greater than its parts. Knowledge gained through intellect is acquired. Ilhaam (Intuition) according to the people of truth is not one of the sources of gaining knowledge.
  1. The Universe is Created
  • The whole universe with all its constituent parts is created,[3] since it is ‘Ayan and Aradh’. Ayan is a substance that exists by itself. This can be either a compound or a single element that cannot be split up any further. And Aradh refers to a property of something but it cannot exist by it self. Compounds and elements have properties. Examples of Aradh are colours, flavours and smells.

 Belief in Allah ﷻ 

  1. Allah ﷻ is the Creator of the Universe
  • The Creator of the universe is Allah ﷻ, the One, [4] Eternal, All-Powerful, All-Living, Omniscient, All-Seeing, All-Hearing, The All-Willing and Desirous.
  • Allah ﷻ is neither an element nor a property, nor does He have a form or a body.
  • He is neither limited, nor numbered. He neither consists of parts, nor is He an organism and He is not a finite being. [5] 
  • He cannot be ascribed a nature, nor a state, nor a place, nor a time. He has attributes from eternity that are se1f-existing. These are neither His being nor separate from His Being. These divine attributes are Knowledge, Power, Life, Hearing, Sight, Will and Desire, Intellect, Creation, Provider of Sustenance and Speech.
  1. The Speech of Allah ﷻ  
  • Allah ﷻ speaks, which is an eternal attribute that is neither formed of letters or sounds. This attribute is incompatible with silence and has no organs of sound. And Allah Almighty is the Speaker. Through His speech He commands, forbids and informs (His creation).
  • The Qur’an is the Speech of Allah ﷻ and not a creation. It is written down in our books, safe in our hearts (memorised in our minds), recited by our tongues and listened to by our ears without being incarnated (without becoming embodied in letters).
  • Creation is an eternal attribute of Allah ﷻ. He created things from elements at the time of their creation. We believe He Himself is not a created being. And the Divine Will is Allah’s ﷻ eternal attribute established with His being.
  1. The Believers Will See Allah ﷻ 
  • Seeing Allah ﷻ (in the Hereafter) will be possible for the believers. The evidence for this is established in the Qur’an and the Sunna. Allah ﷻ will not be seen in a particular place, direction or by the rays of light. Nor will there be distance between the onlooker and the Almighty.  
  1. The Decree of Allah ﷻ (Al-Qadr
  • Allah Almighty is the Creator of all the actions of man, whether it is denial or acceptance, obedience or disobedience. All these actions occur by His Will, Desire, Command and Planning.
  • Man has free choice (he can choose to be an obedient servant of the Lord or otherwise) and he will be (accordingly) rewarded or punished. His good deeds meet the Almighty’s approval while his evil deeds do not have His approval.
  • And the capability is integral with action and this is the meaning of power by which the action is done. These terms (capability and power) are also used to describe the means, the tools and the health that is required for carrying out the action. The following of Shari`a rulings depends on this capability. And man is not charged with what he is incapable of doing. The pain suffered in an injury after being struck by a person and the breaking of glass by a person, all these actions are Allah’s ﷻ creation. The creation of actions cannot be ascribed to man. [6]

 

Belief in Al Akhirah (the Hereafter)

 

  1. Time of Death is Fixed 
  • The murdered person dies at his appointed time. Death is a state of the deceased and Allah’s ﷻ creation and the appointed time is only once.
  • Each one consumes only their portion whether it is lawful or unlawful. It is unimaginable that a man will not consume all his assigned sustenance or that someone else will consume his sustenance. Unlawful things are also a form of sustenance.
  • Allah ﷻ misguides whom He wishes and guides whom He wishes. It is not incumbent upon Allah Almighty to give man what he most deserves.

 

  1. Punishment of the Grave  
  • The punishment of the grave is for the unbelievers and some disobedient believers. The delights are for the obedient ones in the grave and only Allah Almighty knows what they are.
  • The questions asked in the grave by the angels, Munkir and Nakir, are established by evidence from the texts.

 

  1. Events of the Day of Judgement
  • The Resurrection, the Scales, the Book of Deeds, the Reckoning, the Prophets and the Bridge are all true.
  • Paradise and the Fire are true and both have been created and already exist. They are permanent and will not perish nor will their inhabitants perish.

 

  1. Disobedience and Sin  
  • Major sin does not diminish the faith of a believer and neither does it cause him to become a kaafir (unbeliever).
  • Allah Almighty will not forgive the one who associates others with the Almighty. However, He will forgive other than him anyone who He wishes whether they have (committed) minor or major sins. [7] 
  • A punishment is possible for a minor sin and forgiveness for a major sin as long as it is not regarded as being lawful.

 

Belief in the Messengers

 

  1. Faith 
  • Faith is to accept mentally and say verbally what the Prophet ﷺ brought from Allah ﷻ.
  • The quantity of deeds a person does may increase, but the Imaan of the person does not increase or decrease.
  • Imaan and Islam are one and the same thing. When a person has accepted mentally and pronounced verbally (the testimony of faith), then he can say, ‘I am a believer,’ and it is not correct to say, ‘I am a believer, insha’allah (God willing)’. 
  • A blessed person can become wicked and a wicked can become blessed. This change is in blessings or wickedness but not in (Allah’s ﷻ attribute of) giving  bliss and making wicked, which are two divine attributes and change never occurs there in Allah’s ﷻ being or in in His attributes.

 

  1. The Purpose of Sending the Messengers 
  • There is a divine wisdom in sending prophets. Allah ﷻ has always sent prophets from amongst their own people so as to tell them good news and warn them.
  • They explain to people what they need to know concerning both the sacred and the profane. And He supported them with miracles that are unusual occurrences. All the prophets were teachers, deliverers of the message from Allah ﷻ and honest and sincere advisors.
  • The first prophet was Adam (AS) and the last of them was Muhammad ﷺ. Although some ahaadith have mentioned the number of prophets sent, it is still preferable not to mention a fixed number. Allah Almighty has said, ‘Amongst them are some who we have related to you and others that we have not related to you,’ Surat ulMu’minun, ayah 78. Therefore it is unsafe to mention a fixed number, since some may be included amongst them who were not prophets and it could be that others may be excluded who were prophets.
  • The best of all prophets is Muhammad ﷺ

 

  1. The Angels 
  • The Angels are Allah’s servants who carry out His orders and are not to be described by using either male or female gender.
  1. The Books 
  • These are Allah’s ﷻ Books, which He revealed to the prophets and explained in them His commandments, prohibitions, promises and warnings.
  1. The Ascension 
  • The Prophet’s ﷺ ascension was a bodily journey in a wakeful state to the heavens and then to heights where Allah ﷻ wished him to go.
  1. Intercession 
  • Intercession in favour of major sinners is proven for the Prophets and the righteous people.
  • The major sinners will not remain in the Fire forever, even if they had died without repentance.

 

Belief in Saints and Leadership

 

  1. Saints and Their Miracles  
  • The miracles of the saints are true. Miracles of the saint are unusual occurrences like travelling great distances in a short time, appearance of food, drink, clothes when needed, walking on water, flying in the air, the speaking of animate and inanimate things, to divert impending calamities and misfortunes and achieving ones purpose from enemies and other events. The saints’ ‘miracle’ is really the miracle of the Prophet who he follows and this is a sign that he is a saint. He cannot be a saint if he is not firm in his religion; i.e. he must verbally express and practically obey the Prophet ﷺ.                    
  • The best human being after the Prophet is Abu Bakr, then `Umar, then `Uthmaan and then `Ali (May Allah ﷻ be blessed with them all). Their caliphate was in this particular order and it extended over a period of thirty years, then monarchy and governance followed.
  1. Leadership of the Muslim  
  • Muslims must appoint a leader who rules them, establishes the Islamic legal system protects them from the enemies, maintains the army, collects (Islamic) taxes, enforces law and order to control the rebellious and the robbers, organises the Friday and `Eid prayers, reconciles disputes and conflicts, takes oaths, arranges the marriages of children who have no guardians and distributes the booty.
  1. Characteristics of the Leader  
  • The leader must be present. He cannot be hidden nor awaited. He must be from the Quraish and it is not permissible that the leader should be amongst any other tribe although he need not be from the Bani Haashim or the children of `Ali (RAA).
  • It is not a condition that the leader must be Ma`sum (infallible) nor does he have to be the best one in his time. However, it is a condition that he must be capable of ruling well, commanding authority, establishing the law and protecting the boundaries of the Muslim country and able to deliver justice to any victims.
  • The leader cannot be removed from his office due to his mischievous behaviour or cruelty. It is permissible to pray behind any good or bad imaam and it is permissible to pray the funeral of any good or bad person.
  • Anyone who insults the companions of the Prophet should be stopped from insulting them.
  • We bear witness that the ten companions have been given the glad tidings of Paradise. [8]

 

The Ahl us-Sunna wal Jama`ah

 

  1. The Practices of Ahl us-Sunna 
  • We regard the wiping of the Mocassin (Leather socks) permissible either at home or on a journey.
  • We do not regard as unlawful the drinking of water obtained from dates that have been soaked.
  • No saint can attain the status of a prophet.
  • No one can acquire a status where he is free from the obligations and the prohibitions of the Shari`a.
  • The Mujtahid (jurist) could sometimes make a mistake and at other times he could be correct.
  1. Prayers for the Dead
  • Peoples’ prayers for their deceased are like charity.
  • Allah Almighty accepts prayers and fulfils needs.
  1. Beliefs and Practices that Lead to Kufr 
  • We take the outward literal meanings of the texts and to misconstrue their meanings like the Baatiniyyah [9] is regarded as kufr and rejection of the texts.
  • To regard disobedience (sin) permissible is kufr.  
  • To regard disobedience lightly is kufr.
  • Making mockery of the Shari`a is kufr.
  • To despair of Allah’s ﷻ mercy is kufr.
  • To accept the forecasts of fortune-tellers as truth is kufr. [10] 
  • The non-existent is nothing. [11]

 

  1. Prophet’s ﷺ Predictions About the Future

       All the Prophet’s ﷺ predictions about the following events are true:

  • The signs of the Last Day
  • The coming of the Dajjal (the False Messiah and the Deceiver)
  • The beast of the earth
  • The appearance of Gog and Magog
  • The coming of Jesus
  • The rising of the sun from the West
  • The human prophets are superior to the angelic prophets. The angelic prophets are superior to ordinary men. And ordinary men are superior to ordinary angels.

Translation by Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari Translator of Majestic Quran, www.majesticquran.co.uk

 

[1] These philosophers believe that there is no objective reality to things and that everything is imagination and an illusion.

[2] In many instances, the knowledge of a prophet is superior, for it is the guideline and foundation that modern scientists and academics have just now come to know.

[3] As such it has a beginning and an end.

[4] He is Waajib alWujub, the necessary being. His existence is not dependent on anything else. It is logical that at the end of the chain of cause and effect there must be one being whose existence is self-sustained and that is Allah ﷻ.

[5] This just further strengthens the point that Allah ﷻ is not bound by the constraints of time. Thus Allah ﷻ, He does not grow old with age or deteriorate, as all created things experience molecular breakdown. He is Eternal and completely free from such constraints.

[6] One may ask in this area, if actions cannot be ascribed to man, then how can man be held accountable for his actions? The answer is that Allah ﷻ is the Creator of all actions, and whatever action man does, Allah ﷻ knows of it. To say that man has the ascribing of actions for himself means that when he does an action, he is actually creating, and thus Allah ﷻ was not or is not aware of what the man who ‘created’ the action was going to do or has done. Thus since Allah ﷻ created all of the actions, they can not be ascribed to man. But man must choose one action freely to take, whether it be disobedience or obedience. This is why Allah ﷻ has said, ‘And He created you and all that you do.’  

[7] To say that Allah ﷻ will not forgive anyone who associates with Him is in reference to the major association of partners with Him, known as shirk. But the minor association Allah will forgive. Allah ﷻ will also forgive the major association if the person who committed it repents and ceases the sin of major shirk.

[8] These are the 10 Sahaaba (RAA) that the Prophet ﷺ promised that they would go directly to the Paradise. It a hadith, the Prophet ﷺ mentioned the ten as, ‘Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthmaan, `Ali, Talha, Zubair, `Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Awf, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqaas, Sa`id ibn Zaid and Abu `Ubaidah ibn alJarraah.

[9] A heretical sect that believes that the literal meaning of the Qur’an and ahaadith is not their real meaning, but that the texts are symbolic and figurative representations of the true and esoteric meaning (Baatin). Only those initiates who have received special instructions at the hands of  the master can understand these symbols.

[10] These type of forecasters or fortune-tellers include psychics, palm-readers, astrologers as well as the horoscopes that appear in the newspapers in many Western countries. The horoscopes are to be abandoned by the believers and not to be relied upon.

[11] This statement is basically clarifying that everything that exists or does not exist in our world, or that which is created, or has yet to be created,  is in the knowledge of Allah ﷻ (SWT), even before it was created. To say that things that do not exist (meaning things that have not been created yet) are nothing would mean that everything that was going to be was not in the knowledge of Allah ﷻ, hence Allah ﷻ does not know what was, what is and what is going to be. This is an error in belief.

This is why Imaam ash-Shaafi`ii (RH), based on the evidences taken from the Qur’an and the Sunna,  remarked, ‘Before everything was created, we were in the knowledge of Allah ﷻ ,’ please see Kitaab al Faqih wal Mutafaqqih under the Chapter on Usul ulFiqh for more details.