These are the actions that demonstrate the belief;
Iman is the first of the five pillars of Islam. It consists of the belief in:
(a) Allah (The Arabic name of God), and Prophet Muhammad as His Messenger,
(b) All the Angels who are the spiritual beings of God,
(c) All the Prophets and Messengers of God,
(d) All the Scriptures revealed by God for the guidance of mankind,
(e) The Hereafter: The Day of Resurrection and Judgement.
Also the Islamic doctrine: that God is all wise, all-powerful. And all human beings are accountable for their own actions. Qur’an states:
“The Prophet believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the men of faith. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures and His messengers, making no distinction among His messengers…” (2: 285)
Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What is Iman” He replied:
“To believe in God, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Last Day.”
(a) The belief in God and Muhammad as His Messenger:
Muslims should know how to declare the Shahadah, the Declaration of Faith, which is the first article of Iman. It is the testimony that there is no deity except God and that Muhammad is His Messenger. This first act of worship is to believe with the heart and declare with the tongue that there is nothing worthy of worship but Allah, the source of all creation, and Muhammad is His Messenger.
Without the declaration of the Shahadah, none of the other pillars of the Islamic Faith are counted. People cannot call themselves Muslims unless they make this Declaration of Faith.
(b) The belief in all the Angels who are the spiritual beings of God:
God, who created the human beings, is able to create any kinds of creatures. Human beings are not the only intelligent beings God created. Another kind of beings is angels, who serve God in many ways. Unlike human beings, angels were not created with free will. They are absolutely obedient to God’s commands, carrying out their duties of obeying, serving and worshipping Him.
There are many angels but we know only a few of them:
(1) The Archangel Gabriel is the angel of revelations. He dictated the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad in a period of twenty- three years. When Muhammad was forty years of age, the revelation came down to him. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and said: ‘Read’, but as Muhammad was an illiterate man, he said to the Angel: ‘I cannot read, I am not a reader.’ The Angel then repeated his request and Muhammad repeated the same answer: ‘I cannot read’. The Angel said: ‘read, in the name of your God, who created, created man from…. Read….’
(2) The Angel Israfil, the Angel who will announce the event of Resurrection.
(3) The Angel Azra’il, the Angel of death.
(4) The Angel Michael and some others.
There are angels before and behind us, who act as guardians and watch over us.
“But verily, over you are protectors (angels), kind and honorable, writing down (your deeds), they know all that you do.” (82: 10-12)
“He sends down His angels with inspiration of His command to such of His servants as He pleased, (saying): ‘Warn (man) that there is no god but I, so do your duty to Me’.’’ (16: 2)
(c) The belief in all Prophets and Messengers of God:
The third article of Iman is the belief in God’s Prophets and Messengers. There are many prophets and Qur’an mentioned a few of them e.g. from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Moses, Elias…. to Jesus and Muhammad. Qur’an says:
“Say: ‘We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham and Isma’il and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes (of Israel), and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Him do we submit ourselves’.” (2:136, also 3: 84-85)
So, submission to God means Islam, therefore Islam is not a new religion. It is the original religion that goes back to Adam, Noah and Abraham and their descendants. Its teachings brought by the many different Messengers of God in different times.
Muslims believe that all prophets were truthful and faithful men. They have the same human needs and feelings but they were only of special qualities, whom God had chosen to carry out His commands. They committed themselves to convey His mission, with which they were entrusted. Each one of them conveyed the message that suited the people they addressed at that particular time. Prophet Muhammad was the last Messenger of God. His message was the final one of God’s instructions and guidance to mankind for all time to come.
(d) The belief in all the Scriptures revealed by God for the guidance of mankind:
Muslims believe in all previous revelations of God, which He gave in Books to several prophets from Adam to Abraham, who each received ten Books. Many other Devine Books were delivered to different prophets in between. All these Books are believed to be lost. Other Sacred Books were revealed to other prophets and messengers of God. Moses was given the Torah, Jesus was given the Injeel and Muhammad was given the Qur’an.
Because all these Books were sent from one God, and because it is believed that, apart from the Qur’an, many alterations have undergone to the present copies of these Books, Muslims believe that any passage, which is not in harmony with or is contradicting the teachings of the Qur’an is not a true revelation.
“It is He Who revealed to you (Muhammad) the Scripture (the Qur’an) in truth, confirming what went before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Injeel before this as guidance to mankind…” (3: 3)
The final Sacred Book is the Qur’an. It means in the Arabic language ‘The Reading’. It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad through Archangel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years, started when Prophet Muhammad was at the age of forty until his death, when he was sixty-three years old.
Qur’an is the only Devine Book, which has been preserved to the present time in its original form. It is kept and recited in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed. Even those Muslims, who do not know Arabic, never recite the Qur’an in the Islamic prayers or any religious occasion, in translation.
As people believe that the Revelations did come from God, they should follow this up with the real understanding of what is revealed by putting it to good practical use.
“And give good news to the believers who work deeds of righteousness.”(17: 9)
“If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female and have faith, they will enter paradise, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” (4: 124)
(e) The belief in the Hereafter: The Day of Resurrection and Judgement.
The fifth article of Iman is the belief in the Last Day, the Day of Resurrection. Human beings are responsible for their own actions and will be asked about their right and wrong doings in the course of their life on earth.
“Then how can you reject faith in God, seeing that you were without life and He gave you life? Then He will cause you to die and will bring you to life again, and again to Him will you return.” (2: 28)
Muslims believe that body and soul will be raised and assembled together on the day of Resurrection, which its time is secret to all of us.
“Does not man see that it is We Who created him from sperm? …and forgets his own creation. He says: ‘Who can give life to bones when they are decomposed?’ Say:
‘He will give them life Who created them the first time, for He knows about every kind of creating’.” (36: 77-79)
In the end, Iman starts with Shahadah, Declaration of Faith and include the responsibility to family, contributions to the society and practicing the codes of morality by observing social behaviour, justice and good character. Prophet Muhammad said:
“The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in morals.”
“There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human.”
So, a true Muslim must have a good understanding of the articles of Iman and perform the acts of the Islamic Faith which form the five pillars of Islam and which come from Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims also have to recognize and appreciate the blessings of the Creator and be thankful to Him for His blessings.