what brought it into being, what it said, what it developed into, what its criticssaid of it, and what the future may hold for it.
Islamic theology is based on an ethical rather than speculative imperative.Many Qur’anic verses and hadiths show that
or “true faith” is obligatory and rewarded by paradise, and that
or “unbelief” is wrong and punished by hell. Every Muslim must know certain matters of faith, be convinced of them himself, and not merely imitate others who believe in them. The faithGod requires of man is expressed in the words
“The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each believes in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. We do not differentiate between any of Hismessengers, and they say: We hear and obey, O Lord grant us Your forgiveness, and unto You is the final becoming” (Qur’an 2:285).
This verse defines the believer as someone who believes in the Prophet’srevelation (Allah bless him and give him peace) in general and in detail. Thedetails have to be known to be believed, for as Allah says,
“Allah does not tax any soul except in its capacity” (Qur’an 2:286),
and it is not in one’s capacity to believe something unless it is both known toone and not
believable, meaning not absurd or self-contradictory.Moreover, “belief” means holding something to be
not merely believing what one’s forefathers or group believe, such that if they handed downsomething else, one would believe that instead. That is, “belief” by blindimitation without reference to truth or falsity is not belief at all. Allahspecifically condemns those who reject the message of Islam for this reason, by saying:
“When they are told: ‘Come to what Allah has revealed, and to the Messenger,’ they say, ‘It suffices us what we found our forefathers upon’—But what if their forefathers knew nothing, and were not guided?”Qur’an 5:104).
In short, Islamic
theology exists because belief in Islam demands threethings: