What follows are the beliefs and creed of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah concerning the fourth pillar of Imaan – Belief in the Messengers, taken from The Tenets of Faith by Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaimeen (d. 1421H, rahimahullah).
- We believe that Allaah the Exalted sent to the people Messengers: “Bringing good tidings and warning, that mankind may have no excuse against Allaah after the sending of the Messengers. And Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” [an-Nisaa 4:165]
- We believe that the first of the Messengers was Noah and the last of them was Muhammad; may Allaah send blessings and peace upon them all: “Indeed We revealed to you, as We revealed to Noah and the Prophets after him.” [Soorah an-Nisaa 4:163].1“Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is not the father of any man amongst you, but he is the Messenger of Allaah and the seal of the Prophets.” [Soorah al-Ahzaab 33:40].
- The best of them is Muhammad; then Abraham; then Moses; then Noah; then Jesus, son of Mary. They have been particularised in Allaah’s saying: “And when We took a covenant from the Prophets, and from you, and from Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus son of Mary; We took from them a solemn covenant.” [al-Ahzaab 33:7].2
- We believe that the Sacred Law (sharee’ah) of Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam incorporates the virtues of the Sacred Laws of those Messengers particularised with excellence, due to Allaah’s saying: “Allaah has prescribed for you the same religion that He prescribed for Noah and which We revealed to you O Muhammad, and which He prescribed for Abraham, Moses and Jesus; that you should establish the Religion and not split up into sects with regards to it.” [Soorah ash-Shooraa 42:13]
- We believe that all the Messengers and Prophets were human beings (bashr), none of them had any qualities of Lordship. Allaah the Exalted said about Noah, who was the first Messenger: “I do not say to you that I possess Allaah’s treasures, nor do I know the unseen, nor do I say that I am an angel.” [Hood 11:31]Allaah the Exalted ordered Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who is the last of them, to say:
“I do not say to you that I possess the treasures of Allaah, nor do I know the unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel.”
[Soorah al-An’aam 6:50]
And to say:
“I have no power to bring about benefit or harm for myself, except for what Allaah Wills.” [Soorah al-A’raaf 7:188]
And to say:
“Say: It is not in my power to cause you harm, or to bring you to correct guidance. Say: None can protect me from Allaah’s punishment if I were to disobey Him, nor can I find refuge except in Him.” [Soorah al-Jinn 72:21-22]3
- We believe that they were all slaves/servants of Allaah (‘ibaadullaah), whom Allaah the Exalted honoured with Messengership and described with servitude (‘uboodiyyah) in the sublimest of contexts and by way of extolling them. So He said about Noah, the first of them:“O offspring of those whom We carried [on the Ark] with Noah! Indeed he was a grateful slave.” [Soorah al-Israa 17:3]He said about the last of the Prophets and Messengers; Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
“Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion [the Qur’aan] to His slave, that he may be a warner to the worlds.” [al-Furqaan 25:1]
He said about other Messengers:
“And mention Our slaves Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; possessors of might and understanding.” [Soorah Saad 38:45]
“And remember Our slave, David, endued with might. Indeed he was a penitent man.” [Soorah Saad 38:17]
“And to David We bestowed Solomon. How excellent a slave! Indeed he was oft-returning in penitence.” [Soorah Saad 38:30]
He said about Jesus, son of Mary:
“He was no more than a slave whom We blessed, and We made him an example for the children of Israa’eel.” [Soorah az-Zukhruf 43:59]
- We believe that Allaah the Exalted terminated Messengership with the Messengership of Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; whom He sent to the whole of mankind: “Say: O mankind! Indeed I am the Messenger of Allaah sent to you all. To Him belongs the dominion of the Heavens and the Earth; none has the right to be worshiped except Him. He ordains life and death. So believe in Allaah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet who believes in Allaah and His Words; and follow him in order that you may be rightly-guided.” [Soorah al-A’raaf 7:158]
- We believe that the Sacred Law revealed to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the Religion of Islaam that Allaah the Exalted has chosen for His servants, and that He will not accept from anyone a religion other than it, due to what He the Exalted states:“Indeed the Religion with Allaah is Islaam.” [Aal-‘Imraan 3:19]And He said:
“This day have I perfected your Religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your Religion.” [Soorah al-Maa’idah 5:3]
“And whoever desires a religion other than Islaam, never will it be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be amongst the losers.” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan 3:85]
- We hold that whoever claims that there is, besides Islaam, a religion in existence today that is acceptable to Allaah – whether it be the religion of the Jews, Christians or others – is an unbeliever (kaafir). His repentance should be sought; if he refuses to repent, he is to be killed as an apostate (murtad) because of rejecting the Qur’aan.4
- We hold that whoever rejects the universality of Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam’s Messengership has rejected all of the Messengers; even the one he claims to believe in and follow. Allaah the Exalted said: “Noah’s people rejected the Messengers.” [ash-Shu’araa 26:105]So Allaah considered them to be rejectors of all the Messengers, even though there was no Messenger prior Noah.5 Allaah the Exalted said:
“Indeed, those who disbelieve in Allaah and His Messengers and desire to discriminate against Allaah and His Messengers, by saying: We believe in some and reject the others – intending to adopt a middle course – those are indeed the unbelievers. And We have prepared for the unbelievers a humiliating punishment.” [Soorah an-Nisaa 4:150-151]
- We believe that there is to be no other Prophet after Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Whoever claims Prophethood after him, or believes the claim of one who claims it, is an unbeliever because of rejecting Allaah, His Messenger and the consensus of the Muslims.
[THE PROPHET’S COMPANIONS AND NATION]
- We believe that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had Rightly-Guided Successors who were his successors in knowledge, calling to Allaah, and ruling over the Believers. [We believe] that the best of them and the most rightful of them to the succession (khilaafah) was Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq, then ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, then ‘Uthmaan ibn al-‘Affaan, then ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib – may Allaah be pleased with them all.Furthermore, the [order of their] succession was in accordance with their virtue. Indeed Allaah the Exalted – who has infinite wisdom – would never appoint a ruler over the best of generations, whilst there was someone better and having more right to the succession.
- We believe that those lesser in virtue than the Rightly-Guided Successors can, in a particular virtue, be superior to those who, on the whole, are more virtuous than them. Since virtues are of a great number and variety.
- We believe that this nation (ummah) is the best of all nations and the most noblest to Allaah the Mighty and Majestic; as He the Exalted said: “You are the best of nations ever raised for mankind; you enjoin what is good, forbid what is evil, and believe in Allaah.” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan 3:110]
- We believe that the best of this ummah are the Companions (sahaabah), then the Followers (taabi’oon), then those who followed them.6
- And that there will not cease to be a group from this ummah victorious upon the truth, not be harmed by those who desert or oppose them, until there comes to them the command of Allaah the Mighty and Majestic.7
- We believe that what transpired between the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, with regards to civil strife was the outcome of sincere interpretation that they exercised in order to reach the truth. Whoever was correct amongst them will be rewarded twice, whereas those who erred will be rewarded once and their error will be forgiven.
- In our view it is obligatory to withhold from [speaking about] their mistakes and that they should only be mentioned with what they deserve of beautiful praise. We should purify our hearts from any hatred or malice against any of them, due to Allaah the Exalted’s saying about them:“Not equal amongst you are those who spent before the conquest [of Makkah], and fought, [and those who did not]; They are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. But to all has Allaah promised the best reward.” [Soorahal-Hadeed 57:10]Furthermore, Allaah the Exalted said with respect to [the rest of] us:
“And those who come after say: O our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith, and do not place in our hearts any malice against those who have believed. O our Lord, indeed You are the Most Kind, Most Merciful.” [Soorah al-Hashr 59:10]
1. That Noah ‘alayhis-salaam was the first Messenger is clearly stated in the hadeeth concerning the Intercession, which is reported by al-Bukhaaree (no. 7440) and Muslim (no. 194). As for Adam alayhis-salaam, he was a Prophet, not a Messenger. Consult: Sharhul-‘Aqeedatil-Waasitiyyah (1/66) of Ibn ‘Uthaymeen.
2. A number of scholarly opinions exist concerning the difference between a Prophet (nabee) and a Messenger (rasool). From them is what Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, said in Kitaabun-Nubuwwaat (p.255):
“A Prophet is someone who is informed by Allaah about something, and he conveys what Allaah revealed to him. If he is sent with it to those who reject Allaah’s commands – so as to convey to them the Message of Allaah – then he is a Messenger. But if he follows the previous Sacred Law and is not himself ordered to convey the Message of Allaah [to the rejectors], then he is a Prophet, not a Messenger.”
Point to Note: This, as well as the other definitions, concur upon the fact that: Every Messenger was a Prophet, but not every Prophet was a Messenger.
3. Imaam at-Tabaree explained in his acclaimed Tafseer (11/86), whilst discussing the following Qur’aanic verse:
“Say: I am a human like you, to whom it has been revealed that your deity to be worshipped is a single Deity.” [Soorah Fussilat 41:6]
“Allaah – may His mention be exalted – states: O Muhammad! Say to those people who have turned away from the Signs of Allaah, from amongst your nation: O you people! I am only a man from amongst the children of Adam like yourselves – in species (jins), form (soorah) and appearance (hay’ah) – I am not an angel. It has been revealed to me that your object of worship , to whom it is correct to direct worship, is only One.”
4. The consensus of the Muslim scholars is typified by Imaam an-Nawawee, rahimahullaah, who stated in Rawdatut-Taalibeen (10/70):
“Someone who does not believe that the person who follows another religion besides Islaam is an unbeliever, or doubts that such a person is an unbeliever, or considers their sect to be valid – is himself an unbeliever; even if he manifests Islaam and believes in it.”
A Further Point: The fact that the Qur’aan sometimes refers to the Jews and the Christians as ‘People of the Book’ in no way alters the fact that they are unbelievers.
Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, stated in Majmoo’Fataawaa (35/227-228):
“So all those who believe in the scripture that currently exists with the People of the Book, are from the People of the Book, and are unbelievers because of them adhering to a book that has been altered and abrogated. They will dwell in the Hellfire for eternity, just like the other categories of unbelievers, even though Allaah the Exalted has ordered that the jizyah be levied from them and permitted [eating] their food and [marrying their] women.”
5. Its like was mentioned by Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer (3/353).
6. As reported by al-Bukhaaree (no.3651) and Muslim (no.2533).
7. Its like has been reported by al-Bukhaaree (no.7311) and Muslim (1920).
NOTE: Capital punishment such as for apostasy is to be carried out by the rulers in the Muslim lands only, those in authority, and following due process and procedures. Individuals or vigilantes aren’t permitted to carry out such punishments themselves and neither are extremist kharijite terrorists or the groups they affiliate with such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, etc.