Islamic term meaning "creed"
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Aqidah (Arabic: عقيدة, romanizedʿaqīdah (Arabic pronunciation: [ʕɑˈqiːdæ, ʕɑˈqɑːʔɪd]), plural عقائد ʿaqāʾid, also rendered ʿaqīda, aqeeda, etc.) is an Islamic term of Arabic origin that literally means "creed".[1] It is also called Islamic creed and Islamic theology.[2][3]

Aqidah go beyond concise statements of faith and may not be part of an ordinary Muslim's religious instruction.[4] It has been distinguished from Iman in "taking the aspects of Iman and extending it to a detail level" often using "human interpretation or sources".[5] Many schools of Islamic theology expressing different aqidah exist. However, this term has taken a significant technical usage in the Islamic theology, and is a branch of Islamic studies describing the beliefs of Islam.


Aqidah comes from the Semitic root ʿ-q-d, which means "to tie; knot".[6] ("Aqidah" used not only as an expression of a school of Islamic theology or belief system, but as another word for "theology" in Islam, as in: "Theology (Aqidah) covers all beliefs and belief systems of Muslims, including sectarian differences and points of contention".)[7]


According to Muslim scholar Cyril Glasse, "systematic statements of belief became necessary, from early [on in the history of] Islam, initially to refute heresies, and later to distinguish points of view and to present them, as the divergences of schools of theology or opinion increased."[8]

The "first" creed written as "a short answer to the pressing heresies of the time" is known as Fiqh Akbar and ascribed to Abu Hanifa.[8][9] Two well known creeds were the Fiqh Akbar II[10] "representative" of the Ash'ari, and Fiqh Akbar III, "representative" of the Shafi'i.[8] Al-Ghazali also had an aqidah.[8] These creeds were more detailed than those described below.

According to Malcolm Clark, while Islam "is not a creedal religion", it has produced some detailed creeds, "some containing 100 or more belief statements" that summarized "the theological position of a particular scholar or school."[11]

Six articles of belief

The six articles of faith or belief (Arkan al-Iman) derived from the Quran and Sunnah,[12] are accepted by all Muslims. While there are differences between Shia and Sunni Islam and other different schools or sects concerning issues such as the attributes of God or about the purpose of angels, the six articles are not disputed.

The six Sunni articles of belief are:

  1. Belief in God and tawhid (monotheism)
  2. Belief in the angels
  3. Belief in the Islamic holy book[13]
  4. Belief in the prophets and messengers
  5. Belief in the Last Judgment and Resurrection
  6. Belief in predestination

The first five are based on several Qurʾanic creeds:

...righteous is he who believeth in God and the Last Day and the angels and the scripture and the prophets (2:177)
...believer believe in God and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers (2:285)
Whoever disbelieveth in God and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily wandered far stray (4:136)
Who is an enemy of God, His Angels, His Messengers, Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! God is an enemy to the disbelievers (2:98)

The sixth point made it into the creed because of the first theological controversy in Islam. Although not connected with the Sunni-Shiʿi controversy about the succession, the majority of Twelver Shiʿites do not stress God's limitless power (qadar), but rather His boundless justice (ʿadl) as the sixth point of belief – this does not mean that Sunnis deny His justice, or Shiʿites negate His power, just that the emphasis is different.[citation needed]

In Sunni and Shia view, having Iman literally means having belief in the six articles.[citation needed]


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
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God in Islam
"Allah" in Arabic calligraphy
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Tawhid ("doctrine of Oneness") is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds that God (Allah) is one (aḥad) and unique (wāḥid), and the only worthy of worship comparable to Jewish and Christian view on God, while worshipping something else is considered idolatry.

According to Islamic belief, Allah is the proper name of God, and humble submission to his will, divine ordinances and commandments is the pivot of the Muslim faith. "He is the only God, creator of the universe, and the judge of humankind." "He is unique (wāḥid) and inherently one (aḥad), all-merciful and omnipotent." The Qur'an declares the reality of Allah, His inaccessible mystery, His 99 descriptive names expressing a quality characteristic, and His actions on behalf of His creatures.


Iman, in Islamic theology denotes a believer's faith in the metaphysical aspects of Islam.[14][15] Its most simple definition is the belief in the six articles of faith, known as arkān al-īmān.

Hadith of Gabriel

The Hadith of Gabriel includes the Five Pillars of Islam (Tawhid, Salat, Sawm, Zakat, Hajj) in answer to the question, "O messenger of God, what is Islam?" This hadith is sometimes called the "truly first and most fundamental creed."[8]

An Imam leading prayers in Cairo, Egypt, in 1865.
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb performing Salat.


Salat is an act of worship. Salat means to call to the Lord Who created and gives life to the worshipper in Islam. This call realizes one to surrender caller's will, obeying his God. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Islam gives concession conditionally if it is difficult to pray Salat in formal ways. People who find it physically difficult can perform Salat in a way suitable to them. To perform valid Salat, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by ritual wash ups, (wuḍūʾ), as per prescribed procedures. Salat consists of "standing" (Qiyam) intending to call God, bow at knees (Ruku) meaning to ready to obey, prostrate (Sajda) willing to surrender worshipper's will to God's, then to sit (Tashhud) asserting evidence of the oneness of God and the finality of God's apostle (Nabi).


Ending the fast at a mosque.

In the terminology of Islamic law, sawm means to abstain from eating, drinking (including water) and sexual intercourse from dawn until dusk. The observance of sawm during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, but is not confined to that month.


Zakat is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality.


A 16th century illustration of Islam's holiest shrine, the Ka'aba.

The Hajj is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and the largest gathering of Muslims in the world every year. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and a religious duty which must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so at least once in his or her lifetime.

Other tenets

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In addition, some Muslims include Jihad and Dawah as part of aqidah


Jihad (to struggle) and literally means to endeavor, strive, labor to apply oneself, to concentrate, to work hard, to accomplish. It could be used to refer to those who physically, mentally or economically serve in the way of God.[16]


Da‘wah ("invitation") means the proselytizing or preaching of Islam. Da‘wah literally means "issuing a summon" or "making an invitation," being an active participle of a verb meaning variously "to summon" or "to invite." A Muslim who practices da‘wah, either as a religious worker or in a volunteer community effort, is called a dā‘ī (داعي plural du‘āh, gen: du‘āt دعاة).

A dā‘ī is thus a person who invites people to understand Islam through dialogue, not unlike the Islamic equivalent of a missionary inviting people to the faith, prayer and manner of Islamic life.


Eschatology is literally understood as the last things or ultimate things and in Muslim theology, eschatology refers to the end of this world and what will happen in the next world or hereafter. Eschatology covers the death of human beings, their souls after their bodily death, the total destruction of this world, the resurrection of humans, the Last Judgment of human deeds by God after the resurrection, and the rewards and punishments for the believers and non-believers respectively. The places for the believers in the hereafter are known as Paradise and for the non-believers as Hell.

Schools of theology

Muslim theology is the theology and interpretation of creed (aqidah) that derived from the Qur'an and Hadith. The contents of Muslim theology can be divided into theology proper such as theodicy, eschatology, anthropology, apophatic theology, and comparative religion. In the history of Muslim theology, there have been theological schools among Muslims displaying both similarities and differences with each other in regard to beliefs. [17]

Traditional Sunni schools


Kalām is an "Islamic scholastic theology" of seeking theological principles through dialectic. In Arabic, the word literally means "speech/words." A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallimūn). There are many schools of Kalam, the main ones being the Mutazila,[18] the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools in Sunni Islam. Traditionalist theology rejects the use of kalam, regarding humans reason as sinful in unseen matters.[19]


Muʿtazilite is an Unorthodox Sunni School. In terms of the relationship between human beings and their creator, the Muʿtazila emphasize human free will over predestination. They also reduced the divine attributes to the divine essence. The Mu’tazilites are considered heretics by all the traditional Sunni Islamic schools of theology. [20]


Asharism accepts reason in regard of exegetical matters and traditionalistic ideas.[21] What God does or commands — as revealed in the Quran and ahadith — is by definition just. What He prohibits is by definition unjust. Right and wrong are objective realities.[22] The Quran is the uncreated word of God in essence, however it is created then it takes on a form in letters or sound.[23]


Maturidism holds, that humans are creatures endowed with reason, that differentiates them from animals. Further, The relationship between people and God differs from that of nature and God; humans are endowed with free will, but due to God's sovereignty, God creates the acts the humans choose, so humans can perform them. Ethics can be understood just by reason and do not need prophetic guidances. Maturidi also considered hadiths as unreliable, when they are in odd with reason.[24] However, the human mind alone could not grasp the entire truth, thus it is in need of revelation in regard of mysterious affairs. Further, Maturidism opposes anthropomorphism and similtute, while simultaneously does not deny the divine attributes. They must be either interpreted in the light of Tawhid or be left out.[25]

Athari theology

For the Athari theology, the literal meaning of the Qur'an and especially the prophetic traditions have sole authority in matters of belief, as well as law, and to engage in rational disputation, even if one arrives at the truth, is absolutely forbidden.[26] Atharis engage in an amodal reading of the Qur'an, as opposed to one engaged in Ta'wil (metaphorical interpretation). They do not attempt to rationally conceptualize the meanings of the Qur'an and believe that the real meanings should be consigned to God alone (tafwid).[27] This theology was taken from exegesis of the Qur'an and statements of the early Muslims and later codified by a number of scholars including Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibn Qudamah. There are different views whether Ath’ari creed should or should not be included as a Sunni school of aqidah.[28][29]

Shiʿi beliefs and practices

Shiʿi Muslims hold that there are five articles of belief. Similar to the Sunnis, the Shiʿis do not believe in complete predestination, or complete free will. They believe that in human life there is both free will and predestination.

Twelver's Roots of Religion (Uṣūl ad-Dīn)

  1. Tawhid: The Oneness of God.
  2. Adalah: The Justice of God.
  3. Nubuwwah (Prophethood): God has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (i.e. a perfect system on how to live in "peace.")
  4. Imamate: (Leadership): God has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise.
  5. Last Judgment: God will raise mankind for Judgment

Ismaili beliefs

The branch of Islam known as Isma'ilism is the second largest Shiʿi community. They observe the following extra pillars:

  1. Belief in the Imamate
  2. Belief in the prophets and messengers
  3. Beliefs about the Last Judgment

Literature pertaining to creed

Many Muslim scholars have written Islamic creeds, or specific aspects of a aqidah. The following list contains some of the most well-known creeds.

Sunni literature

  • Mukhtasar Shu'ab al-Imān or "The 77 branches of faith" by the Imām al-Bayhaqi
  • Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar by Imām Abu Hanifa
  • al-ʿAqīdah aṭ-Ṭaḥāwiyya ("The Fundamentals of Islamic Creed by al-Tahawi). This has been accepted by almost all Sunnis (Atharis, Ash'aris and Maturidis). Several Islamic scholars have written about the Tahawiyya creed, including Ali al-Qari, al-Maydani, ibn Abi al-Izz and Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz.
  • As- Sunnah by Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Al- Iman by al-Adni
  • As-Sunnah by Imām Abu Dawood
  • Sarihus Sunnah by Imām Al-Tabari
  • As-Sunnah by Imām Al-Tabarani
  • Aqīdah Salafi Ahl al-Hadith by al-Sabuni
  • I'tīqad Ahl Al-Sunnah wal Jām'ah by Imām Lalqai Hibatullah
  • As- Sunnah by Nasr al- Marwazi
  • Ash-Shariah by al-Ajurri
  • Al-Iman by Ibn Mandah
  • Ad- Durrātu fīma yazibu i'tiqaduhu by Imām Ibn Hazm
  • Kitāb at- Tāwhid by Imām Ibn Rajab
  • Al- 'Aqīdah al-Nasafiyya by Imām Najm al-Din 'Umar al-Nasafi
  • Ar-rīsālah al-kairoāniyah by Abi Zaid al-Kairoa
  • Al-I'tīqad by Al-Bayhaqi
  • Al-ʿAqīdah al-Wāsiṭiyyah ("The Wasit Creed") by ibn Taymiyyah.
  • Sharh as Sunnah or the Explanation of the Sunna by al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari. Lists approximately 170 points pertaining to the fundamentals of aqidah.
  • Khalq Afʿāl al-ʿIbād ("The Creation of the Acts of Servants") by Muhammad al-Bukhari. It shows the opinion of early scholars (Salaf) but it does not cover all topics.
  • Lum'at al-Itiqād by ibn Qudamah. Details the creed of the early Imams of the Sunni Muslims and one of the key works in the Athari creed.
  • al-ʿUluww by al-Dhahabī. Details the opinions of early scholars on matters of creed.
  • Ibaanah ān ūsulid diyanah by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari.
  • Risālah al-Qudsiyyah ("The Jerusalem Tract") by al-Ghazali, where the rules of faith are discussed.
  • Sa'd al-Din al-Taftazani on the creed of Abu Hafs Umar an-Nasafi

Shia literature


  • Bosniak "Book of the Science of Conduct" lists 54 religious duties that each Muslim must know about, believe in, and fulfill. Published in 1831, the handbook is by the Bosnian author and poet Abdulwahāb Žepčewī.

    Bosniak "Book of the Science of Conduct" lists 54 religious duties that each Muslim must know about, believe in, and fulfill. Published in 1831, the handbook is by the Bosnian author and poet Abdulwahāb Žepčewī.

  • "Book of Wisdom" based on Islamic Theology by Khoja Akhmet Yassawi (died 1166)

    "Book of Wisdom" based on Islamic Theology by Khoja Akhmet Yassawi (died 1166)

  • “Safeguards of Transmission” by Ubayd Allāh ibn Masūd ibn Mahmud ibn Ahmad al-Mahbūbī (died 1346).

    “Safeguards of Transmission” by Ubayd Allāh ibn Masūd ibn Mahmud ibn Ahmad al-Mahbūbī (died 1346).

See also

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  1. ^ Abdel-Haleem, M. A. S. (2008). "Part I: Historical perspectives - Qur'an and hadith". In Winter, Timothy (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 19–32. doi:10.1017/CCOL9780521780582.002. ISBN 9781139001816.
  2. ^ Buang, Sa’eda; Chew, Phyllis Ghim-Lian (9 May 2014). Muslim Education in the 21st Century: Asian perspectives. Routledge. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-317-81500-6. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  3. ^ Abbas, Tahir (22 January 2007). Islamic Political Radicalism: A European Perspective. Edinburgh University Press. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-7486-3086-8. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  4. ^ Guillaume, Alfred (1978) [1954]. Islam. Penguin. p. 134.
  5. ^ FAROOQ, MOHAMMAD OMAR (6 February 2020). "Let's Be Content With Iman, Not Aqeedah". Islamicity. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  6. ^ and hence the class VIII verb iʿtaqada "to firmly believe", verbal noun iʿtiqād "belief, faith, trust, confidence, conviction; creed, doctrine", participle muʿtaqad "creed, doctrine, dogma, conviction, belief, opinion". (Source: Wehr, Hans, “عقد” in: J. Milton Cowan (ed.), A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 4th edition (1979)).
  7. ^ "Theology (Aqidah)". Madina Institute. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e Glasse, Cyril (2001). New Encyclopedia of Islam (Revised ed.). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 105.
  9. ^ Abu Hanifah An-Nu^man. "Al- Fiqh Al-Akbar" (PDF). Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  10. ^ "Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar II With Commentary by Al-Ninowy".
  11. ^ Clark, Malcolm (2003). "4. What Muslims believe. Rejecting formal creeds". Islam for Dunnies. Wiley.
  12. ^ Joel Beversluis, ed. (2011). Sourcebook of the World's Religions: An Interfaith Guide to Religion and Spirituality. New World Library. pp. 68–9. ISBN 9781577313328.
  13. ^ "The Quran". The Quran. contributors Iman Mohammad Kashi, Uwe Hideki Matzen, and Online Quran Project.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ Farāhī, Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr, 2nd ed. (Faran Foundation, 1998), 347.
  15. ^ Frederick M. Denny, An Introduction to Islam, 3rd ed., p. 405
  16. ^ Khalid Mahmood Shaikh
  17. ^ Islamic Studies Resources, BAHISEEN [Islamic Studies]. "Primary Resources". Archived from the original on 2021-02-26.
  18. ^ Frank, Daniel H.; Leaman, Oliver; H, Frank Daniel (2003-09-11). The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Jewish Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-521-65574-3. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  19. ^ Hadi Enayat Islam and Secularism in Post-Colonial Thought: A Cartography of Asadian Genealogies Springer, 30.06.2017 ISBN 9783319526119 p.48
  20. ^ Nader El-Bizri, ‘God: essence and attributes’, in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic theology, ed. Tim Winter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 121-140
  21. ^ Ed. Esposito The Oxford History of Islam Oxford University Press 1999 ISBN 9780195107999 p. 280
  22. ^ Brown, Jonathan A.C. (2014) Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications ISBN 978-1780744209 p. 53
  23. ^ Cyril Glassé, Huston Smith The New Encyclopedia of Islam Rowman Altamira 2003 ISBN 978-0-759-10190-6 page 62-3
  24. ^ Rico Isaacs, Alessandro Frigerio Theorizing Central Asian Politics: The State, Ideology and Power Springer, 2018 ISBN 9783319973555 p. 108
  25. ^ Mohammad Sharif Khan, Mohammad Anwar Saleem Muslim Philosophy and Philosophers PH Publishing, 1994 ISBN 9788170246237 p. 30
  26. ^ Jeffry R. Halverson, Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam. ISBN 0230106587, p 36.
  27. ^ Jeffry R. Halverson, Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam. ISBN 0230106587, p 36-37.
  28. ^ Ahmad, Ustadha Shazia (29 March 2022). "Which School of Thought Should I Follow in 'Aqida?". Seekers Guidance. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  29. ^ Abrahamov, Binyamin (2016) [2014]. "Part I: Islamic Theologies during the Formative and the Early Middle period – Scripturalist and Traditionalist Theology". In Schmidtke, Sabine (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 263–279. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199696703.013.025. ISBN 9780199696703. LCCN 2016935488.
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