The following outline should be presented as an overview in the first level course (Islam
101). More advanced courses should take up and expand on the various themes. The outline reflects the author’s 3 decades
of field experience in presenting Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims. The lesson learned from that experience is that the best
way of presenting Islam is to present it as ‘aqiidat islamiyyat (Islamic
creed), and shari’at islamiyyat (Islamic Law). Islam should not be presented as a culture because there is a lot of diversity in cultural expression. The essence
of Islam will be lost in the diversity of cultures. Islam should also not be presented as history because history is human
experience of Muslims down the centuries that may not fully reflect the essence of Islam. Islam should be presented from its
original sources and areas of difference with modern European thought should not be glossed over but should be highlighted
because in the end proper understanding of what Islam is will be the basis for building positive relations between Muslims
and non-Muslims. Presenting Islam from its essence as a creed and as Law will also enable non-Muslims to realize that the
negative image of Islam by the actions of a few misguided Muslims are not from the essence of Islam.
1.0: AL ‘AQIIDAT AL ISLAMIYYAT (The
1.1 The mainstream ‘aqiidat
The presentation of main stream ‘aqiidat covers
definition and description of usuul al ddiin (the three fundamentals of Islam) which are: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan.
This is followed by explaining in detail the concept and practice of tauhid (monotheism) which is the basis for Islamic
civilization, culture, and thought. Other major concepts to be covered under ‘aqiidat are: risaalat (the
message including angels, prophets and the scriptures), aakhirat (eschatology),
qadar (pre-determination), and khalq (creation or cosmogony). This should then be followed by clarification
of the concepts of ithm (sinning), dhulm (transgression), kufr (denial), shirk (polytheism or worship of anything else beside(s) God). Islamic
‘aqiidat is very simple and easy to understand and would take a few hours to present. Unfortunately because of
a lot of confusions that arose over the centuries we will need to spend more time clarifying the confusions about the ‘aqiidat
than the time we spend explaining the ‘aqiidat.
1.2 Jadal (purposeless argumentation) and Milal (other
Two aspects that are not part of mainstream ‘aqiidat should be taught in detail to enable understanding
of what are wrongly perceived as doctrinal differences among Muslims and Muslim antipathy to other faiths. Islam has a uniform
creed with no sects or denominations; the differences and groupings found in Islam arise as political differences or as a
result of jadal (purposeless argumentation) which is incidentally encouraged by the freedom of thought that
Islam gives its followers since it has no priesthood. Presentation of Muslim view of other faiths should be based on accurate
sources from those faiths and pointing out the differences or agreements with Islam.
Presentation of jadal should point out deviations from mainstream ‘aqiidat and
should cover the groups in the following different areas of argument: the Shia doctrine of imaamat, doctrines of different groups of Shia, existing ideologies of ancient groups that are extinct, Sufi ideology, Sufi terminology, and Sufi fraternities (5) the ideology of the mainstream ahl al sunnat wa al jama ‘at, groups considered by the majority
of Muslims to be outside the fold of Islam, philosophers or mutakallimuun (7) philosopher- mysticists.
Comparative study of Islam and other faiths will essentially consist of looking at their ideologies from the Islamic
tauhidi perspective. The study should cover the following religions and philosophies:
(1) Religions of West Asian origin: yahuudiyyat (Judaism), nasraniyyat (Christianity), and majuusiyyat (Zoroastrianism).
(2) Religions of South Asian origin: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Brahmanism. (3) Geographical religions: Roman
religion, Greek religion, Freemasonry, Neopaganism, Shinto, Voodo etc (4) Main concepts of European philosophies such as secularism,
empiricism, existentialism, materialism, positivism, rationalism, utilitarianism, socialism, communism, etc (5) Chinese philosophies:
Confucianism and Taoism.
2.0 AL SHARI’AT AL
ISLAMIYYAT (Islamic Law)
Presentation of Islamic Law should start by presenting the sources of the Law,
masadir al shari’at; purposes of the Law, maqasid al shari’at; and principles of the Law, qawa’id al
shari’at. It should also give a brief overview of the main legal manuals, kutub
al fiqh, in Islam according to the 5 schools of Law (Maliki, Hanafi, Shafe’e, Hanbali, and Ja’afari). The
following practical aspects of the Law can then be presented: (1) fiqh al ‘aadaat
(activities of daily living): taharat & salat, saum, zakat, hajj, reproduction,
personal and environmental hygiene, foods and drinks, sleep and activity. (2) fiqh
al jama’at (community institutions & functions): al bayt (the family),
al masjid (the mosque), ukhuwwat (brotherhood),
takaful (social mutual self help), and shuura
(mutual consultation). (3) fiqh al mu’amalaat al madaniyyat: munakahaat (marriage),
talaaq & fasakh (divorce and annulment); & mawariith (inheritance). (4) fiqh al mu’amalaat al maaliyyat (financial
transactions): buyuu’u (sales), quruudh
(personal loans), sharaakat (joint investments); awqaaf & hibat (endowments and gifts). (5) fiqh al mu’amalaat
qadha’iyyat (judicial transactions): jinaayaat(crimes), da'wa & shahadat (pleas & evidence,); qadha & ‘uquubat
(judgment, conviction, and punishment).