USMAN DAN FODIYE'S
ELEMENTS OF RELIGION (USÛL AD-DÎN)
Praise be to God Lord of the worlds; blessing and peace be upon the Messenger of God - God bless him and give him peace.
This is a book of the elements of religion for the benefit - if God wills - of those who rely on it. I say - and God give me success:
The whole world, from its throne [on high] to its pad [below] has come into being, and its maker is God the most high. He is: 1) necessarily existent, 2) from eternity without having a beginning, 3) everlasting without having an end, 4) distinct from things which came into being; 5) he is not a body nor an attribute of a body; he has no direction and no place, but he is as he was from the eternal-past before the world, independent of a subject and a particularizing agent, 6) one in his essence, attributes and acts, 7) powerful with 8) power, 9) willing by 10) a will, 11) knowing by 12) knowledge, 13) living by 14) life, 15) hearing with 16) an attribute of hearing, 17) seeing with 18) sight, 19) speaking with 20) speech, and (= 9) choosing his acts or omissions. All divine perfection necessarily belongs to God, and all defect which is the opposite of divine perfection is impossible for him.
All his messengers, from Adam to Muhammad - God bless him and give him peace - are 1) true, 2) faithful, and 3) did communicate what they were commanded to communicate to men. All human perfection necessarily belongs to them, and all human imperfection is impossible for them. It is admissible that they should eat, drink, marry, sell, buy, and have such sickness which does not result in defect.
All angels are immune from defect, in that they do not disobey God in what he commands them, and they do what they are commanded; they are composed of light, are neither male nor female, and do not eat or drink.
All heavenly books are real and true.
Death at the appointed term is real. The questioning by Munkar and Nakîr of those who are buried or not is real. Torment and delight in the grave are real.
The day of resurrection is real; the raising of the dead on that day is real; and the gathering of men in one place on that day is real. The giving of the scrolls [of men's works] is real. The weighing of acts is real. The reckoning is real. The path is real.
Kawthar is real. The fire is real. The eternity of the fire with those in it is real. Paradise is real. The eternity of paradise with those in it is real. The seeing of the Most High by believers in the next life is real.
All that Muhammad - God bless him and give him peace - communicated is real.
These are the elements of religion, those which pertain to God, to the prophets, and what is believed because of revelation. God has affirmed all of them in the mighty Qur'ân, and every legally-encharged person must accet them as they were communicated.
The acceptance of all these elements by ordinary people takes the place of the science of a specialoist, since it is hasrd for them to grasp the proofs. This is the opinion of `Izzaddîn, the sultan of learned men, in his Qawâ`id al-ahkâm fî islâh al-anâm. He said: "Therefore the Messenger of God - God bless him and give him peace - did not require any who became Muslim to investigate these [proofs], but he confirmed them in what they clearly were not to depart from. The orthodox caliphs and right-guided scholars did not cease confirming them in this."
But, say I, if anyone is specially intelligent he is obliged to apply his thought to these elements in order to find his way out fo blind-acceptance and to have understanding in his belief, since religion is built on reflection, especially if a man has reached the position of having to call others to it. The Most High said: "Say: This is my way; I call to God with understanding, I and those who follow me" (Qur'ân 12:108).
Praise be to God.