Other Cardinal Beliefs
God created angels from light. They can see humanity, but humans cannot normally see them. Angels are countless and ubiquitous; they carry out God’s commands without fail. Some angels, for example, are charged to record the deeds of each human being to whom they are assigned. Some are guardian angels who watch over each of us and pray to God for our guidance and protection. Whenever people gather together to worship or to learn Sacred knowledge, untold numbers of angels gather around the worshippers, filling the space between the heavens and the earth, as tranquility descends upon the worshippers, as the Prophet of Islam himself stated and as many can testify to.
There are angels who in the latest hours of the night descend to the world seeking out those special people who forsake their beds to stand and bow in Prayer; the angels praise them, pray for their welfare, and God answers their prayers. Others carry God’s revelations to His Prophets, with this duty belonging particularly to Angel Gabriel. The Angel of Death is responsible for taking the souls of people upon their demise. One angel is responsible for sounding the Trumpet that will signal the end of earthly time. Angels are wonderful creatures—as real as we are ourselves—who have a friendship with believers, guarding over them and inspiring them toward good. They are also repulsed by evil and anyone who disobeys God and who shows no kindness to others. It is an odd mindset of our times that many people do not (or cannot) believe in angels, as if the only things that exist are those beings and things that can be seen or touched. Angels have indeed manifested themselves before Prophets and righteous men and women in history. Angel Gabriel appeared, for example, before Mary, mother of Jesus, in her prayer chamber, giving her glad tidings of a son, though no man has every touched her. Angels also came to Abraham, announcing to him the birth of a son, though he was an old man. There are other examples. Belief in angels is a cardinal tenet of Islam.
The Devil or Satan is considered the evil one, the arch-enemy of humanity. Never does Satan offer anything beneficial to people, no matter how well adorned his whisperings and offerings may appear. His objective is to sow skepticism, disbelief, and immorality among human beings, that they may ultimately refuse to worship God and outright deny His existence or invent false notions about Him. But Satan’s guile is weak, says the Muslim scripture. His strength is exhibited only with those devoid of faith. Muslims do not believe that Satan was a fallen angel. Rather, he belonged to another race of unseen creatures known as jinn. Many of the jinn serve as his minions, demons who carry out Satan’s plans and objectives. Muslims also categorically reject the notion of duality, that there is a struggle between God and Satan. God is all-powerful, and Satan is not. God watches humanity and sees how they react to Satan’s guile — whether or not they fall into his snare. Satan is, in essence, a test for humanity, and God is the all-wise judge.
Sin and Redemption
It is a cardinal belief in Islam that everyone is born into this world with a clean slate — with a natural disposition that favors faith and believes in God and seeks out more knowledge of Him. The notion of “Original Sin” is essentially homeless in Islamic tradition. When Adam and Eve wronged themselves in the Garden, they both realized their sin and asked God for forgiveness and mercy. God heard their prayer, accepted their heartfelt repentance, and forgave them. The Quran states that Satan tricked both Adam and Eve to approach the forbidden tree. Islam does not accept the notion that it was the woman who brought evil and temptation into the world, nor does it hold that the seed of Adam and Eve was doomed to forever bear the burden of their parents’ error. Instead, according to Islam, every human being will make misguided or unwise choices in the tests of life. And when we do, we have recourse: to directly and genuinely seek God’s pardon and forgiveness, and then resolve ourselves to grow and improve. God is merciful, compassionate, and pardoning. It is His nature to be forgiving and to relent. In fact, He is pleased when people sincerely and genuinely seek forgiveness from Him. What is required in our salvation-quest is sincerity in belief, true feelings of penitence, resolve, and consistency in honorable conduct.
Muslims believe that God revealed scriptures to previous Prophets, most notably Moses (who received the Torah) and Jesus (who received the Gospel). The Muslim scripture, the Quran, confirms the authenticity of the books that preceded it. However, Muslims believe that many of the previous scriptures were tampered with by human hands and thus removed from their original state.