After the traditional recitation and reciting the Surah Al-Fātiha (the opening chapter of the Holy Quran), the Head of Jama’at Ahmadiyya commenced as follows:
I consider it a singular honour that the Department of Islamic Studies, Seville University has thought it fit to invite me here this evening to address you on the fundamental teachings of Islam. Before I came, I was advised that I should speak on the basics of Islam so that the students who are not well versed in this subject and who have only an elementary knowledge should be able to understand. That surprised me indeed. It surprised me in the first place because I was expecting university students to have fared better. Secondly, I was surprised because Spain has a long history of contact with Islam. Yet for it to have lost that contact so completely as to have erased even the faintest impression, is astonishing indeed! Here I am today to introduce to you the basic teachings of Islam.
When I visited Spain in 1982 to inaugurate a mosque built by the Ahmadiyya Community, which incidentally was the first mosque to be built here after a break of five hundred years, many eyebrows were raised. During my press conference I was repeatedly confronted with the same questions as to why we should come to Spain. What was the purpose? Was there any sinister motive attached to this exercise? Haven’t we had enough of Islam? Should we take it to be a new form of the invasion of Spain? My reply to all such questions was, ‘Yes, I have come to invade Spain, but not with the intention of winning territories by the sword, but to win hearts with a message of love and persuasion.’
That reply still holds good. We as a community in Islam are not built on the same pattern as the commonly perceived image of Islam on the reflecting mirror of the so-called fundamentalists. Today therefore, I will endeavour to present Islam to you not with reference to the Muslim behaviour in different countries, but with reference only to the basic teachings of Islam found in the divine book, the Holy Quran, and the conduct and traditions of the Holy Founder(sa) of Islam.
Islam means peace. Therein lies the soul and spirit of Islam. It is ironic that this religion of peace is understood today in the West as the religion of war, terrorism, chaos and disorder. While in reality Islam is not only peace in name, but peace pervades all its teachings, and works as the key to its understanding. If translated literally, the second meaning of the word Islam is submission. So the words peace and submission create a complete picture of Islam. While peace is in relation to the Muslim’s attitude to his fellow human beings and also in relation to the deep content he finds in Islam, the word submission describes the attitude of the Muslim to God. So in one single word, the entire philosophy of this religion is summed up. It is interesting to note that according to Islam, every true religion must have these two requisite features to indicate its divine origin. All religions, according to Islam, endeavoured to bring man back to his creator on the one hand, and to establish an ideal relationship with his fellow human beings on the other.
Islam has five fundamental articles of faith, which must be professed by everyone who desires to become a Muslim. Although Islam is already divided into many sects like all other religions, but on this issue there are no two opinions. By whatever title the sects are recognised, be they Sunnis or Shi’ites, all believe in these five fundamental articles.
- The first of these is to firmly believe in the absolute oneness of God . It is a Unity which is unsplittable and indivisible, and one which cannot be multiplied or compromised in any form.
- The second article relates to the belief in angels. Although there are varying opinions among Muslims about the concept of angels, nonetheless all Muslims believe in the existence of angels.
- The third article relates to belief in the books. The books in religious terms refer to such divine scriptures as contain new teachings and bring a new religious law. They are mentioned after the angels because most often revelation is transmitted to man through the agency of angels, who play a central role in carrying the divine message to the messengers. Angels have many other tasks to perform, but of that we will discuss later.
- The fourth article relates to the messengers or prophets, who sometimes bring a new code of life and a new law for a specific people in a specific age and who sometimes are sent only for the purpose of reform.
- The fifth and last article of faith relates to the Day of Judgement. It also implies that every human being will be raised after death in some form, and will be held answerable to God with regards to the life he had led here on earth.
These are the five fundamentals of Islam. However, according to some there is a sixth constituent of Muslim belief included in the fundamentals by the Holy Founder of Islam, and that is belief in Divine Decree. Let us now turn to a more detailed study of these articles one by one.