Being a Muslim has always been misunderstood and mislabeled as someone who is confined to an absolute, strict and difficult to live with set of rules. But these are all misconceptions of those who are looking from the outside, a mere observer who has never experienced nor understood what Islam is all about. Islam is a way of life, and it does not have a complicated theology. There are only six basic principles that every Muslim should study, understand and comply with.
1. Monotheism: Belief in the Oneness of Allah
It is the first part of the Muslim's Declaration of faith, LA ILLAHA ILLALLAH which literally means that there is no God except Allah. Islam is not some weird "cult" believing in some strange god named "Allah." Allah is not a name; it is just the Arabic word for "the one God." There are 99 names of Allah, but these do not signify different persons but God's characteristics and attributes.
Muslims believed in the existence of One Supreme and Eternal God, the Creator and Provider. Allah is the Lord of the worlds, who is merciful and compassionate, and the Ruler of the Day of Judgment. Allah has no equals, He is the all-knowing, the beneficent, and He is God of all mankind. Allah is mighty and supreme; Allah asks us to know Him, to love Him, and to follow His law, to worship him alone and no one else.
2. Belief in the Angels of God
Angels are pure and spiritual beings, also a creation of Allah just like human. They are also obliged to worship Allah and they are Allah's chosen way of sending his commands to mankind and report to him its fulfillment. They will descend in ranks on the last day as a sign of the coming of the Day of Judgment. Belief in the angels are mandatory as a Muslim, it reinforces one's faith in the Almighty Allah.
Among those mentioned in the Qur'an are: Gabriel, the angel who brought the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad, the two angels assigned to each one of us to record our good and bad deeds, the angels who question the soul in the grave, the angel of death, the angel who is the gate-keeper of Paradise, angels in charge of carrying out the punishments of Hell, and angels of battle.
3. Belief in the Revelations (Books) of God
Muslims believe in the Revelations sent by Almighty God to His Prophets and Messengers. Muslims believed that Allah revealed the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, and the Gospel to Jesus. The coming of a prophet like Moses with a new scripture is promised by the Torah, in Deuteronomy 18:15-20. And Jesus also promised a prophet to come after him, with the explanation of all things in the Gospel of John 16:7-15.
The Holy Qur'an is the literal word of Allah, an article of faith brought by Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. It is the last of the revelations, thus compiling all the previous teachings. As Allah is one, so his revelation is one.
4. Prophecy: Belief in the Prophets of God
The second part of the declaration of faith one makes as a Muslim says "And Muhammad is a Messenger of God". But aside from the belief in Muhammad as the last Messenger of God, it is also obligatory for a Muslim to have faith in all of God's prophets. Those the Qur'an has mentioned include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elijah, Job, Jonah, Zachariah, John (the Baptist), and Jesus.
All Prophets are humans; they are all mortal beings just like us. But they were the chosen ones during their own time and appointed by Allah to teach mankind. They were endowed with divine revelations, for the sole purpose of spreading God's word and religion.
5. Belief in Resurrection after Death and Day of Judgment
This covers two parts; the first one is the belief in the Day of Judgment. It is believed in Islam that this world is only temporary; we are all merely passing through it. Our final destination is the hereafter or the after life. We are only given this life as a chance for us to do good, to worship Allah and live our life in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Every one of us is endowed with our own free will, thus we have the freedom to do and choose with what to do with our lives to attain eternal life.
All of these will matter on the day that the world will come to and end. When will it happen? No one knows, except Allah. But there are signs of the imminence of the end explained in the Holy Quran. On this day, the living will die, and the dead will rise. It will be the day of Judgment, everyone of us will be judge.
In line with that, belief in the Hereafter or the after life is necessary because it is there that the reward and punishment will come. The Quran says, "the Hereafter is "better and more abiding" than this world. And the pain of Hell will last forever for those whom God condemns to it, and the joy of Paradise will last forever for those whom God admits to it."
6. Belief in Predestination or the Supremacy of Allah's will
It is the belief that Allah is all knowing, that He has measured out every thing; the sustenance in the world, the span of our life, the amount of our goodness and our evil, and everything that happen to us.
It comes from "Al-qada wa al-qadar", an Arabic phrase which means "the divine decree and the predestination" and "al-qadar" "which literally means "to measure out".
This can be best exemplified by two of the most frequently used phrases of Muslims. One is "inshallah" which means "if God wills". It is used whenever a statement about the future is made.
The second phrase is "mashallah" which means "what God has willed". This is used as a statement of acceptance of whatever happens and as a compliment of something good.
The use of these phrases acknowledged the belief of every Muslim that all things, both evil and good, is willed by Allah and happens according to God's will.