By: Imam Mohammad Tawhidi
I have always believed that faith is a personal matter between us and our creator. In more recent times, I have been receiving questions through this website, during my public events, as well as from public figures about my personal beliefs. Most importantly: How I could still be a Muslim after making the statements I make on a regular if not daily basis. To be clear, I still don’t know what that means… or what “statements” they’re referring to? But I do have an idea of what they could be referring to: My rejection of the books of Hadith, my rejection of Islam’s clerical systems and my outspokenness against fundamentalist Muslims.
Before I began writing this piece, I believed that the visions page on this website would suffice; but I guess it’s time for a more detailed version of my beliefs. I am sharing this part of my personal life simply because I believe that the public, my friends and online followers deserve to know.
Note: There’s a lot to write. I shall share the most important and fundamental parts of my beliefs, and I will keep adding to this page as time allows. There will be no “updated” versions of my beliefs. What I share here will be exactly what I believe. I will possibly reword or restructure sentences for clarification purposes if I feel necessary (based on future feedback from readers), the context however will remain the same.
Opposing Islamism and Islamic Fundamentalism
My rejection of (all types of) extremism and religious fundamentalism doesn’t make me non-religious. My stance against ISIS and Islamic terrorists doesn’t make me non-Muslim. I can still be Muslim and reject my religion being spread through militant forms. I can still be Muslim and oppose others being beheaded in my name. There are over 70 schools of thought within Islam that stem from two main denominations. We are not all the same. Furthermore, I do not need to be a Muslim to criticize Islamists and Jihadists; especially when they are killing my people. I would still oppose them if I was Hindu, Atheist, Christian or Jewish.
The fight against Islamic Extremists is the fight to save our societies from their violence, and it is not limited to Non-Muslims alone. ISIS has a voice, Al-Qaeda has a voice, the Muslim Brotherhood have a voice, Hezbollah, the Ayatollahs and Hamas all have a voice… so where is my voice? I also have the right to oppose them while maintaining and preserving my faith. My war is against corrupt clerics and their Fatwas of death. My war is not against my God and creator.
My Belief in God
I am a creationist. I believe this life, world and universe, along with the whole of existence was created by one, eternal, creator.
The creator, also known as “God”, has characteristics. In brief, God is: One and only, All-knowing, All-wise, All-powerful, All-hearing, All-seeing, and so on. I also believe that God is not of materialistic form, which means that God is not limited to a body; and that the creator is above and beyond the restrictions of place and time.
I believe that there is only one creator, which also makes me a Monotheist. Monotheism is the most important theological principle in Abrahamic faith. I also believe in the ‘Justice’ of the creator. Meaning that: God is perfect and does nothing which is rationally wrong or evil.
Prophethood, Messengers and Successors
I believe that after belief in God, it is necessary to establish the link between the creator and His creations. I believe in all of God’s Prophets and Messengers: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Eber, Salah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jethro, Moses, Aaron, Ezekiel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Zechariah, John (the Baptist), Jesus and Mohammad. I also believe in all of their legitimate successors. I am a Shia Muslim, which means that I believe in the legitimacy of the succession of the Household of the Prophet, and not his companions or their caliphates.
After-Life and Resurrection
I believe that there is an afterlife, a place where all humans will be judged by the creator. This involves the resurrection of all humankind after their death for the Final Assemblage. This is widely known as the Day of Judgment, where our actions in this life will determine our final destination: Paradise or Hell-fire.
I also believe that All humans will enter paradise regardless of their beliefs, as God did not create us to burn us. This stems from the belief that God’s Mercy is greater than his wrath. Those who will reside in Hell are the ones who committed grave sins such as murder. To name a couple: Osama bin Laden and Hitler. They chose the path to hell-fire.
End-Times and The Second Coming
I believe in the promised savior in the end of time as well as the Second Coming.
In Shia Islam, Taqlid (the emulation of a learned scholar/Grand Ayatollah) is a widely practiced option (from three options: Ijtihad, Taqlid or Ihtiyat). Until 2015/2016, I was a follower of the Grand Ayatollah Sayid Sadiq Shirazi. I have since been a Muhtaat, which means I do not follow the laws of any Grand Ayatollah, but instead exercise ‘Recommended Precaution’ (Ihtiyat) in my day to day life.
Two examples of ‘Ihtiyat’ or ‘Precaution’:
If one religious ruling states that “it is disliked to smoke” and another ruling states that “it is prohibited to smoke,” then a person who exercises Ihtiyat (precaution) follows the second view to refrain from falling into error. (Smoking is not prohibited in Islam. This was just an example).
Or, (and this is a popular case): If during Ramadan, Muslims disagree on the sighting of the moon due to weather conditions or any other matter, then someone like me would fast during the ‘unsure’ or ‘uncertain’ days just to make sure that I have fasted the entire month. Whereas some Muslims would choose to simply not fast because they are uncertain whether or not Ramadan has begun (or ended).
The Prophet Mohammad
If this sounds different to what you are used to reading, that is because I am different. It doesn’t mean I am right; it just means that I think differently.
Prophet Mohammad is probably history’s most controversial figure. He is both hated and loved by millions, with hundreds of thousands prepared to blow themselves into pieces in his defense. Being the person I am, I have always found it important to look at any historic character strictly through a historic lens, disregarding any reported miracles and divine virtues. Muslims generally do not accept discussion regarding the character of the Prophet of Islam. His character is a red line that cannot be crossed, and the penalty for crossing this red line is, in most cases, death.
Academic study of any historic character is not always accurate, and academics tend to oppose each other on many important issues within the fields of doctrine, theology, jurisprudence, and philosophy. The subject of history is no different, and because we were not present at the time to witness what really took place, all we have to guide us to the truth are historic texts, generally written by people who never saw Mohammad, and were born centuries after him, not forgetting the books that have been destroyed or have vanished throughout the centuries, as well as those that claim Mohammad did not even exist.
I could never deny the fact that the Islamic books written about Mohammad were written and presented by scholars from various Islamic sects. With over seventy schools of thought within Islam, all perceiving Mohammad in their own ways, it is impossible to reach a correct and perfect conclusion, but what we can achieve is an idea of how the minority and majority of Muslims perceive their Prophet.
Minority Islamic schools of thought focus on making clear that the development of Islam as a religion, and Mohammad being the Prophet of that religion, are two separate subjects of discussion. This is because Islam’s development included many caliphs, governments, and thousands of leaders who claimed authority over the religion, all in different parts of the globe, and all of them introduced new concepts, while adding to and removing from the religion.
I agree that a fair and non-biased study does not involve holding Prophet Mohammad responsible for the actions of others, otherwise everybody would be guilty of actions they did not commit. However, I will never deny that most Muslims truly believe in scriptures such as Sahih al-Bukhari, that depict Mohammad as a pedophile and a terrorist.
The minor Islamic sects believe Prophet Mohammad was a peaceful and humble man. They also believe he was a great leader and a sophisticated politician. I was interested to know where their evidence came from, as it had clearly influenced the works and research of great western historians and thinkers. They believe in a completely different Mohammad.
The political, historical, social, ethical, and jurisprudential books that cover aspects of the life of Mohammad were written by scholars from many sects. They vary and contradict each other due to the different perceptions of Mohammad within all 70+ Islamic schools of thought. I encourage my co-religionists to review and evaluate their historical texts. Perhaps that could lead to them following a peaceful version of Mohammad.
My Belief in Religion
I believe that religion exists to serve humans, not to govern them. I do not believe that any religious book can be used as a constitution for any government. Government departments are public entities that exist to serve all citizens regardless of their beliefs. They shouldn’t serve a group of citizens and single out another group because of their belief systems. For example: The government (though the police) should provide protection to both: places of worship and nightclubs, even if they have clashing values. A government simply cannot subscribe to a particular religion if it plans to serve all citizens. This is why I have been outspoken against theocracies in more recent years.