Doctrines of the Qur'an


The doctrine about God in the Qur'an is rigorously monotheistic: God is one and unique; he has no partner and no equal. Trinitarianism, the Christian belief that God is three persons in one substance, is vigorously repudiated. Muslims believe that there are no intermediaries between God and the creation that he brought into being by his sheer command: "Be." Although his presence is believed to be everywhere, he does not inhere in anything. He is the sole Creator and sustainer of the universe, wherein every creature bears witness to his unity and lordship. But he is also just and merciful: his justice ensures order in his creation, in which nothing is believed to be out of place, and his mercy is unbounded and encompasses everything. His creating and ordering the universe is viewed as the act of prime mercy for which all things sing his glories. The God of the Qur'an, described as majestic and sovereign, is also a personal God; he is viewed as being nearer to man than man's jugular vein, and, whenever a person in need or distress calls him, he responds. Above all, he is the God of guidance and shows everything, particularly man, the right way, "the straight path."

This picture of God--wherein the attributes of power, justice, and mercy interpenetrate--is related to the Judeo-Christian tradition, whence it is derived with certain modifications, and also to the concepts of pagan Arabia, to which it provided an effective answer. The pagan Arabs believed in a blind and inexorable fate over which man had no control. For this powerful but insensible fate the Qur'an substituted a powerful but provident and merciful God. The Qur'an carried through its uncompromising monotheism by rejecting all forms of idolatry and eliminating all gods and divinities that the Arabs worshipped in their sanctuaries (harams), the most prominent of which was Ka'bah sanctuary in Mecca itself.

The universe

In order to prove the unity of God, the Qur'an lays frequent stress on the design and order in the universe. There are no gaps or dislocations in nature. Order is explained by the fact that every created thing is endowed with a definite and defined nature whereby it falls into a pattern. This nature, though it allows every created thing to function in a whole, sets limits; and this idea of the limitedness of everything is one of the most fixed points in both the cosmology and theology of the Qur'an. The universe is viewed, therefore, as autonomous, in the sense that everything has its own inherent laws of behaviour, but not as autocratic, because the patterns of behaviour have been endowed by God and are strictly limited. "Everything has been created by us according to a measure." Though every creature is thus limited and "measured out" and hence depends upon God, God alone, who reigns unchallenged in the heavens and the earth, is unlimited, independent, and self-sufficient.

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Contents of this article:

    The foundations of Islam
       The legacy of Muhammad
       Sources of Islamic doctrinal and social views
       Doctrines of the Qur'an
          The universe
          Satan, sin, and repentance
          Social service
       Fundamental practices and institutions of Islam
          The five pillars
             The shahadah, or profession of faith
             The zakat
             The hajj
          Sacred places and days
             Shrines of Sufi saints
             The mosque
             Holy days
    Islamic thought
       Origins, nature, and significance of Islamic theology
          Early developments
          The Hellenistic legacy
       Theology and sectarianism
          The Khawarij
          The Mu'tazilah
          The Sunnah
             The way of the majority
             Tolerance of diversity
             Influence of al-Ash'ari and al-Maturidi
          The Shi'ah
             Related sects
             The SufiI
          Other groups
             The Ahmadiyah
             The "Black Muslims"
       Islamic philosophy
          The Eastern philosophers
             Background and scope of philosophical interest in Islam
             Relation to the Mu'tazilah and interpretation of theological issues.
                The teachings of al-Kindi
                The teachings of Abu Bakr ar-Razi
             The teachings of al-Farabi
                Political philosophy and the study of religion
                Interpretation of Plato and Aristotle
                The analogy of religion and philosophy
                Impact on Isma'ili theology
             The teachings of Avicenna
                The "Oriental Philosophy"
                Distinction between essence and existence and the doctrine of creation
                The immortality of individual souls
                Philosophy, religion, and mysticism
          The Western philosophers
             Background and characteristics of the Western Muslim philosophical tradition
             The teachings of Ibn Bajjah
                Theoretical science and intuitive knowledge
                Unconcern of philosophy with reform
             The teachings of Ibn Tufayl
                The philosopher as a solitary individual
                Concern for reform
                The hidden secret of Avicenna's "Oriental Philosophy"
             The teachings of Averroës
                The divine law
       The new wisdom: synthesis of philosophy and mysticism
          Philosophy, traditionalism, and the new wisdom
             Traditionalism and the new wisdom
             Characteristic features of the new wisdom
             Critiques of Aristotle in Islamic theology
             Synthesis of philosophy and mysticism
          Primary teachers of the new wisdom
             The teachings of as-Suhrawardi
             The teachings of Ibn al-'Arabi
             The teachings of Twelver Shi'ism and the school of Esfahan
                The teachings of Mir Damah
                The teachings of Mulla Sadra
          Impact of modernism
       Social and ethical principles
          Family life
          The state
          Cultural diversity
       Religion and the arts
          The visual arts
       Islamic myth and legend
          Sources and variations
             The Qur'an and non-Islamic influences
             The mystics
          Types of myth and legend
             Cosmogony and eschatology
             Tales and legends concerning religious figures
                Other Qur'anic figures
                Mystics and other later figures
             Mythologization of secular tales
             Tales and beliefs about numbers and letters
          Illustration of myth and legend
          Significance and modern interpretations
       General works
       Political theory and institutions
       Islamic arts
       Theology and philosophy
       Islamic myth and legend


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