Question # 175: Assalam alykum, there are some scholars who says the word “Aqeedah” isn’t mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, it came afterwards when the sectarian came afterwards. Aqeedah means belonging to a group and creates division. So Aqeedah isn’t needed as the words never existed at the time of the prophet nor is it mentioned in the Quran. Are they correct?
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Although the word ‘aqeedah is not directly mentioned in the divine revelations, ‘Aqeedah is a matter of knowledge, which the Muslim is obliged to believe in his heart, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has told him about these matters in His Book or through the Revelation to His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Variants of word ‘aqeedah have been mentioned in the Qur’an (aqadat, aqadtu, Uqood). Moreover, the Muslim scholars have discussed the issues of this branch of knowledge and written books under the heading of Al- ‘Aqaa’id to refute the sects of innovation, and the innovators who appeared, from time from time, including the like of Khawaarij, the Raafidah, the Qadariyyah, the Murji’ah the Jahmiyyah and the Mu’tazilah. In summary, ‘Aqeedah (belief) is the counterpart of shari’ah, because Islam is composed of both ‘aqeedah and shari’ah. Hence, ‘Aqeedah is the firm belief (i’tiqaad) that one’s heart is strongly attached to and which is settled and fixed in the heart without any wavering or doubt approaching it.
The Meaning of ‘Aqeedah‘
The word ‘aqeedah‘ (عقيدة) is of the (morphological) form of (فعيلة) which has the meaning of (مفعول) (that to which something is done), meaning (معقودا عليه), that which is tied, knotted to, firmly fixed onto, held onto. It is derived from the root (عقد), which means to tie, fasten, join, and bind.
The affairs of the religion are divided into akhbaar (information) and ahkaam (rulings that require action), as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) said: وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلاً (“And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice… (Soorah Al-An’am, 6:115)
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)’s word has been fulfilled in these two types: truthfulness in information and justice in His commands and prohibitions (ahkaam). As for the akhbaar (information), then it is obligatory to accept and believe in them (make tasdeeq of them). Thus, anything that returns to belief (Eemaan) and acceptance (tasdeeq) and does not enter into the practical matters requiring action is called ‘aqeedah‘. This is because its source and starting point is in the knowledge of the heart. It is called ‘aqeedah‘ because it enters the heart and it becomes fixed and tied to the heart strongly, meaning strongly bound and strongly adhered to it, in the sense that the heart is eager upon it so that it does not leave or escape from the heart.
In Arabic one says, “aqada the rope”, meaning he tied the rope firmly, and likewise, “aqada the sale”, which means he concluded or settled the sale, or contract, or agreement. And Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) mentions this verb in the context of [the ratification of] pledges (وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ, Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:33), and oaths which have been sworn in earnest (وَلَـكِن يُؤَاخِذُكُم بِمَا عَقَّدتُّمُ الأَيْمَانَ, Soorah al-Maa’idah, 5:89). And when a person says that “aqadtu such and such”, it means that my heart is firmly upon such and such.
‘Uqood refers to the strongest of covenants, as when Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), says in the Qur’an: “O’ you who believe! Fulfil [your] obligations [awfoo bi ‘l- ‘uqood] …) (Soorah Al-Maidah, 5:1)
In Islam, ‘aqeedah (belief) is the counterpart of shari’ah, because Islam is composed of both ‘aqeedah and shari’ah. Shari’ah means the practical duties enjoined by Islam, about acts of worship and dealings with others.
From what has preceded, the meaning of ‘aqeedah‘ can be defined as:
The firm belief (i’tiqaad) that one’s heart is strongly attached to and which is settled and fixed in the heart without any wavering or doubt approaching it. It excludes any supposition, doubt or suspicion. Hence, ‘Aqaa ‘id (plural of ‘aqeedah) are the things which people’s hearts affirm and believe in, the things that they accept (as true). These are matters which are held as certain beliefs, with no taint of doubt. (The Muslim scholars of earlier and recent times have discussed the issues of this branch of knowledge under the heading of Al- ‘Aqaa’id, although the word ‘aqeedah is not mentioned in the Book of Allah or in the Sunnah of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم))
‘Aqeedah is not a practical matter, but a matter of knowledge which the Muslim is obliged to believe in his heart, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has told him about these matters in His Book or through the Revelation to His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
- Relationship Between ‘Aqeedah and Eemaan
Eemaan means ‘aqeedah (belief) that a person accepts in his heart and affirms by his tongue, and he accepts and always adheres to the way laid down by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Hence the scholars of the salaf (Pious Predecessors) said: “Eemaan means belief in the heart, words on the tongue (declaration) and striving to implement its pillars.”
- Relationship Between ‘Aqeedah and Shari’ah
There are two conditions of faith: ‘aqeedah which is deeply rooted in the heart, and deeds which manifest themselves in a person’s actions. If either of these two essential components is missing, eemaan is lost or becomes unbalanced. Hence the connection between these two elements is very important.
Eemaan is like a good, strong tree that is firmly rooted in good soil with its branches reaching up into the sky, bearing abundant fruit, producing its fruit for everyone by the grace of its Lord. Thus eemaan is the tree; ‘aqeedah is rooted deeply in the heart, and its trunk, branches and fruits are deeds and actions.
Undoubtedly if the roots are removed or turn rotten or dried up, they will no longer exist. Similarly, eemaan will no longer exist if ‘aqeedah is taken away… Similarly, if deeds are neglected, in part or in whole, then eemaan will be reduced or destroyed.
List of Books of the Early Salaf
Here are a list of books from the Salaf using the words [aqeedah, at-Tawheed (التوحيد), as-Sunnah (السنة), and ash-Shari’ah (الشريعة) al-Eemaan (faith), al-Qadr (Predestination) etc.]:
- “Kitaab ul-Eemaan” by Imam and mujtahid, Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Salaam (d. 224H)
- “Kitaab ul-Eemaan” by Imam Ib Abee Shaybah (d. 235H)
- “Usool us-Sunnah” by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241H)
- “Kitaab ul-Eeemaan” in the Sahih by Imam al-Bukharee (d. 256H).
- “Kitaab ut-Tawheed” in the Sahih by Imam al-Bukharee (d. 256H).
- “As-Sunnah” by the student of Imam Ahmad, Abu Bakr al-Athram (d. 273H)
- “Kitaab us-Sunnah” (being part of the Sunan) by the faqeeh and Imam Abu Dawood as -Sijistaanee (d. 275H)
- “Asl us-Sunnah” by the haafidh and Imam, Abu Haatim ar-Raazee (d. 277H)
- “As-Sunnah” by the qaadee and haafidh, Ibn Abee ‘Aasim (d. 287H)
- “As-Sunnah” by the haafidh, Abdullah ibn Imam Ahmad (d. 290H)
- “As-Sunnah” by the qaadee and muhaddith AbuBakr al-Marroodhee (d. 292H)
- “As-Sunnah” by the student of Imam Ahmad, al-Marwaazee (d. 292H)
- “Sareeh us-Sunnah” by the mujtahid, mufassir and Imam, Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree (d. 310H)
- “Kitaab ut-Tawheed” by the faqeeh and Imam, Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311H)
- “Aqeedat ut-Tahaawiyyah” by the Imam Abu Jafar at-Tahaawee (d. 321H)
- “Sharh us-Sunnah” by Imam al-Barbaaharee (d. 329H)
- “Kitaab us-Sunnah” by the qaadee, Abu Ahmad al-Asaal (d. 349H)
- “Ash-Sharee’ah” by the faqeeh and Imam, Abu Bakr al-Aajurree (d. 360H)
- “Kitaab ut-Tawheed” the haafidh and Imam, Ibn Mandah (d. 395H)
- “Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jamaa’ah” by the haafidh and faqeeh, Imam al-Laalilkaa’ee (d. 428H)
- “Al-I’tiqaad” by Abu Nuaym al-Ashbaanee (d. 430H)
- “Aqeedat us-Salaf Ashaabul-Hadeeth” by the haafidh and Imam, Abu Uthmaan as-Saboonee (d. 449H)
Deviations in ‘Aqeedah‘
All [of the above] books were written to refute the sects of innovation, and the innovators who appeared, from them, the Khawaarij, the Raafidah, the Qadariyyah, the Murji’ah and then the heads of innovation such as al-Ja’d bin Dirham, al-Jahm bin Safwaan, Waasil bin Ataa, Amr bin Ubayd [(originators of the sects of Jahmiyyah and Mu’tazilah)] and others.
(The above answer is the summarized version of the definition of aqeedah from the following two sources: ‘Belief in Allah – in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah’ (Islamic Creed Series – Book 1) by ‘Umar S. al-Ashqar and Aqidah.com)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.