Like a lot of my ideas for blogposts, this one started with a conversation I had with some sisters, during which the question arose as to what a Muslim should study and where to start. I think the obvious place to start is with what we need/should know, so I decided to write a list of what every Muslim needs to know. What I came up with isn’t a list for people wanting to become a scholar, or even a student of knowledge. It’s simply a list of what any Muslim needs to know to live their life in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah. Which is what we’re all supposed to be doing, of course.

I think everything any Muslim needs to know comes under two categories: Aqeedah (creed – our belief system) and Fiqh (jursiprudence – the rules and regulations). Yes, there are more areas of study in Islam, but they all feed one, or both, of these two areas. So for example, when you read the meaning of the Qur’an, you’re either learning about your Aqeedah, or your learning about an Islamic ruling.

Now, even though I stripped this list down to the bare minimum, it’s still a mammoth list, so I’ve decided to publish it in two parts. In this post, I’m focusing on Aqeedah.

Knowing our Aqeedah entails a full understanding of the six pillars of Iman, how to implement them and what signifies a break from them. There are loads of books on the subject, such as Al-Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyah or Al-Aqeedah At-Tahawiyah, both of which have been explained and elaborated on by recent scholars. In short, to know our Aqeedah we must know:

1) Belief in Allah: Tawheed and it’s opposite, Shirk. There are three different areas of Tawheed and we need to understand these. Also, we need to truly understand the names and attributes of Allah in order to get to know our Creator.

2) Belief in the angelsThis is especially important in this day and age due to the amount of ‘foreign’ beliefs and ideas surrounding angels has come into our lives from TV, films, culture, etc. We need to understand the nature of angels and how they relate to us. In relation to the angels, it is also helpful to understand something of the Jinn (especially for people from cultures that don’t really believe in Jinn), but, as it’s not a pillar of Islam, it’s not as important. Although Jinn can negatively affect us, focusing on the positive in our faith and strengthening our connection to Allah and His angels, we will automatically be protected from much of the Jinn’s mischief.

3) Belief in the Books of AllahThis involves understanding the miracle of the Qur’an and it’s importance and significance. It also involves knowing about the other books which Allah revealed and what happened to them.

4) Belief in the messengersThere is no trial or tribulation that anyone can go through that a messenger before has not suffered and endured, worse than we can. Be it a test of sickness (Ayyoub – Job), or of loneliness (Ibrahim – Abraham), or of leadership (Musa – Moses), or of something else or even a combination of all or several of these things, there is always the example of a prophet who dealt with it before us. They are a huge inspiration and the diverse nature of their personalities means that there are always some with whom you feel a great connection. It’s most important however to start with the life of the Prophet Muhammed (saw) as we have the most information about him and because it was to him that the Qur’an was revealed. He is our ultimate role model and moreover, Allah commanded us to follow him in Surah Nisa, verse 80:

He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then we have not sent you (O Muhammad SAW) as a watcher over them.

5) Belief in the Day of Judgement : Understanding and knowing that we will be held to account for our actions is fundamental in Islam. Knowing how scary it’ll be and what will happen, as well as how to prepare for it (there’s more than just doing good deeds, peeps!) will definitely be something we’re grateful for on the day. Tied into this, but not included in it, is belief in what happens after we die. It’s easy to forget that we’re not going to live forever, but we’re going to be dead for a lot longer than we’re alive, and we need to prepare for it. 

Like, yesterday. 

We all die someday, as Allah said in Surah Nisa, verse 78:

Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high.

6) Belief in Qada and Qadr (Predestination and Destiny):

This is important especially for those coming from another faith and/or have lived in a culture dominated by another faith, because issues of fate, destiny, chance, coincidence, etc are an area of huge disagreement between the faiths.

See, I told you it was a long list!

Is there anything that I’ve forgotten that should be on this list? Any good resources for learning Aqeedah you can share? Anything you’d want me to research / explain more?