Published in  
October 14, 2020

The 3 Fundamental Principles | الأصول الثلاثة وأدلتها | Part 1

ثَلَاْثَةُ الأُصُوْلِ وَأَدِلَّتُهَا
لِلْشَّيْخِ الْإِمَامِ الْمُجَدِّدِ مُحَمَّدَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْوَهَّابِ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ

The 3 Fundamental Principles by Sheikh al-Imam, the Reviver, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab, may Allah have Mercy upon him.


The basis of this book are the 3 famous questions that every person is going to be asked in the grave.

مَنْ رَبُّكَ
Who is your Rabb?
مَا دِينُكَ
What is your Deen?
مَنْ نَبِيُّكَ
Who is your Nabi?

These questions have been formed into 3 principles in this book. Before beginning the main text of the book, Sheikh Ibn Abdul Wahab has placed 3 Muqaddimah’s.

The Sheikh begins his book with “بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ”. It is from the Sunnah of the Prophet that whenever he started a sermon, dictated or had a letter written, then he would initiate all such actions with Bismillah. A very famous letter which the Prophet sent to Hercules inviting him to Islam, begins with it. The treaty of Hudaibiyah begins with it as written by Ali. Following this all scholars of Islam begin their books with Bismillah.


اعْلمْ رَحِمَكَ اللهُ أَنَّهُ يَجِبُ عَلَيْنَا تَعَلُّمُ أَرْبَع مَسَائِلَ:

Have faith that Allah may have mercy upon you. It is obligatory upon all of us to learn about 4 matters:

This teaches us the manner in which should teach. It also shows us that we should make dua for the one we are advising or teaching as this is the Sunnah of the Prophet. We should use good words and manners so that it soften their hearts towards your message. The dua is because guidance is in the hands of Allah alone and all that we do is to just plant the seed.

Wajib are those things that are legislated/obligated upon a person by the Shariah to be done. Their completion in accordance to the guidelines brings rewards and not doing them incurs sin.


المسألة الأُولَى: الْعِلْمُ: وَهُوَ مَعْرِفَةُ اللهِ، وَمَعْرِفَةُ نَبِيِّهِ ـ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ـ، وَمَعْرِفَةُ دِينِ الإِسْلامِ بالأَدِلَّةِ.

The First Matter: Knowledge:
Knowledge of Allah’s Existence
Knowledge of the Messenger
Knowledge of the Religion of Islam with its Evidences

العلم : إدراك الشيء على ما هو عليه إدراكاً جازماً لاشك فيه

Ilm (Knowledge) is to know something as per its true nature with utmost surety.

True knowledge is that which is based on the Quran and Sunnah. When it comes to Ilm, it should not be hear-say but rather it should be based on conviction. How much knowledge should a person gather? The Sheikh stipulates the minimum knowledge which a Muslim needs to attain: knowledge of Allah, His Messenger and His Deen with its respective evidences.

Why does a person need this? Allah tells us in the Quran:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. [Surah adh-Dhariyat, Ayah 56]

This shows that, one clearly cannot worship Allah as He deserves unless we have knowledge regarding Him. Anyone who qualifies as being called a human being, then it is obligatory upon them to learn about their Creator. The knowledge of the Messenger is very important because one cannot have or learn about the knowledge of Allah without His Messenger. As for the knowledge of the Deen, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal beautifully remarked as quoted by al-Hafidh Ibn al-Qayyim:

الناس محتاجون إلى العلم أكثر من حاجتهم إلى الطعام والشراب لأن الطعام والشراب يحتاج إليه في اليوم مرة أو مرتين، والعلم يحتاج إليه بعدد الأنفاس

“People are more in need of knowledge than food and drink because they only need food and drink once or twice a day – but they need knowledge with every breath they take…” [Dar Miftah al-Sa`ada]

It is reported from Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal that he asked his father, whether it is obligatory upon a man to seek knowledge. He replied: “As for [the knowledge] through which he can uphold his prayers, and other matters of his religion like fasting, Zakah – and he mentioned the other main aspects of the religion – then a man must know about that.”
All that a person is obligated to do, he must seek the knowledge related to that and it is obligatory upon him to do so. Ex: Learning about the 2 testimonies of faith, salah, fasting etc. Not doing so is incurring a sin. With the same understanding all that which is recommended to do, then gaining knowledge of that is also recommended etc.

All this knowledge is that which is based on evidences from the Quran and Sunnah. Only with evidences can we differentiate between that which is right and wrong. Certainty in a matter cannot be attained without it being based on evidences.


المسألة الثَّانِيَةُ: الْعَمَلُ بِهِ

Second Matter: To Implement what we have Learnt

Ilm (knowledge) and Amal (action) have a very deep connection. All we need is, to ponder on the last ayat of Surah al-Fatiha to realize their importance and significance.

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ

Guide us to the straight path,
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. [Surah al-Fatiha, Ayat 6-7]

We ask Allah to save us from the path of 2 people, one who had knowledge and didn’t apply what they learnt (Jews), and the other, who did things without knowledge as per their desires (Christians). Point of reflection here is to find out what caused the Anger of Allah to descend upon the Jews and how the Christians were misguided. This shows us the deep relation between Ilm and Amal. The Jews got the revelation from Allah through numerous Prophets and Messengers, but they hid it, changed it or killed the Messenger who brought them or sold it as mentioned in many places in the Quran. They had the knowledge but did not act upon it and this brought the Anger of Allah upon them. The Christians were the opposite, who acted upon that which they did not have authentic knowledge of.

Fudayl Ibn Iyad famously said, “The scholar remains ignorant until he acts upon his Knowledge. Only when he acts upon that Knowledge which he has gained, is he a scholar.”


المسألة الثَّالِثَةُ: الدَّعْوَةُ إِلَيْهِ

Third Matter: Calling to it.

To call people to that which we have learnt from authentic sources and put into practice. This is a duty upon every Muslim. To think that what another Muslim does, has no bearing on ones own self is a very dangerous train of thought. Rather to propagate this message is the work of the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.

The Prophet ﷺ said,

‏بلغوا عني ولو آية وحدثوا عن بني إسرائيل ولا حرج، ومن كذب علي متعمدًا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار

“Convey from me even an Ayah; relate traditions from Banu Israel, and there is no restriction on that; but he who deliberately forges a lie against me let him have his abode in the Hell.” [Bukhari].

Based on what’s been covered before it can be said that it is obligatory to call people towards that which has been obligated upon a Muslim. A very important thing to keep in mind that one cannot call to people without knowledge. Just as this is a very lofty and praiseworthy thing to do, it can turn into something evil which can cast a person to the Hell fire if done without knowledge.


Mundhir bin Jarir reported on the authority of his father in a long hadith: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

مَنْ سَنَّ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ سُنَّةً حَسَنَةً فَلَهُ أَجْرُهَا وَأَجْرُ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يَنْقُصَ مِنْ أُجُورِهِمْ شَىْءٌ وَمَنْ سَنَّ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ سُنَّةً سَيِّئَةً كَانَ عَلَيْهِ وِزْرُهَا وَوِزْرُ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يَنْقُصَ مِنْ أَوْزَارِهِمْ شَىْءٌ

He who sets a good precedent in Islam, there is a reward for him for this (act of goodness) and reward of that also who acted according to it subsequently, without any deduction from their rewards; and he who sets in Islam an evil precedent, there is upon him the burden of that, and the burden of him also who acted upon it subsequently, without any deduction from their burden. [Muslim]


المسألة الرَّابِعَةُ: الصَّبْرُ عَلَى الأَذَى فِيهِ

Fourth Matter: Patience with the harm that befalls due to it.


Sabr, linguistically means to stop or refrain. A person is to have patience in the worship of Allah, in abstaining from the prohibitions, and in all that matters that have been decreed upon us.

A person who gets up in the dead of the night to make wudhu and pray to Allah, then this is also being patient with the hope of attaining the Love and Mercy of Allah. Likeiwse, the Messengers of Allah had to have so much patience is propagating the Message of Allah and similarly all the carriers of truth from their followers.

A quick look at the life of Imam Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah Ahmad Ibn Hanbal is testament to this fact. He stood firm in enduring all the torture and evil done towards him with patience and Allah granted him such a high position in the Ummah.


In summary, we are obligated to learn four matters:
First: Knowledge, which means: awareness of Allah, His Prophet, Religion of Islam, based on evidences.
Second: Acting on this.
Third: Calling to it.
Fourth: Patience with the harm that befalls due to it.

What is important to keep in mind that the order needs to be maintained or else it is a recipe for disaster. One cannot call people to something without having knowledge based on authentic evidences. Likewise one cannot be someone who has knowledge and calls people to it but himself does not practice upon it.


Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said,

يُؤْتَى بِالرَّجُلِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُلْقَى فِي النَّارِ فَتَنْدَلِقُ أَقْتَابُ بَطْنِهِ فَيَدُورُ بِهَا كَمَا يَدُورُ الْحِمَارُ بِالرَّحَى فَيَجْتَمِعُ إِلَيْهِ أَهْلُ النَّارِ فَيَقُولُونَ يَا فُلاَنُ مَا لَكَ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ تَأْمُرُ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَى عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ فَيَقُولُ بَلَى قَدْ كُنْتُ آمُرُ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلاَ آتِيهِ وَأَنْهَى عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَآتِيهِ

“A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown in Hell-Fire and his intestines will pour forth in Hell and he will go round along with them, as an ass goes round the mill stone. The denizens of Hell would gather round him and say: O, so and so, what has happened to you? Were you not enjoining us to do what was reputable and forbid us to do what was disreputable? He will say: Of course, it is so; I used to enjoin (upon people) to do what was reputable but did not practice that myself. I had been forbidding people to do what was disreputable, but practiced it myself”. [Muslim]


وَالدَّلِيلُ قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم: “وَالْعَصْرِ
إِنَّ الإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ
إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ”
[سورة العصر كاملة]

The proof for this is Allah’s saying: “In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
By the time!
Verily mankind is at loss – except for those who believe and perform righteous deeds, and advise one another towards the truth and advise one another towards patience.” [Surah Al-Asr]

Allah starts of this Surah by swearing an oath by time. This goes to show the importance of that which is to follow. The ال in  الإِنسَانَ denotes that all of mankind is in loss. The exception to it are those who believe, perform righteous deeds, advise one another and advise to be patient.

A point to note is that Ilm is not directly mentioned here. Here having Iman is the equivalent of having Ilm. Wherever in the Quran and Sunnah we are obligated to seek knowledge, then that is followed by having faith and implementing that knowledge too. Merely knowing about the matter is not enough.

Iman entails I’tiqad, Qawl and Amal

How do we know that doing these 4 things is obligatory? Because Allah says those who do not do these actions are those who are in loss meaning that they are destroyed. It is an obligation upon all of us to save ourselves and others from all such harms and evil endings.


قَالَ الشَّافِعيُّ ـ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ تَعَالَى – : لَوْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللهُ حُجَّةً عَلَى خَلْقِهِ إِلا هَذِهِ السُّورَةَ لَكَفَتْهُمْ

وَقَالَ البُخَارِيُّ ـ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ تَعَالَى ـ : بَابُ: العِلْمُ قَبْلَ القَوْلِ وَالْعَمَلِ؛ وَالدَّلِيلُ قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: ( فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لاَ اله إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنبِكَ )[محمد:19]، فَبَدَأَ بِالْعِلْمِ (قَبْلَ القَوْلِ وَالعَمَلِ

Imam Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “Had Allah not sent down a proof to His creation other than this Surah, it would have been sufficient for them.”

Imam al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “Chapter: Knowledge comes before speech and action.” The proof for this is Allah’s saying: “So know that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and seek forgiveness for your sins.” [Surah Muhammad, Ayah 19]

So He began by mentioning knowledge before speech and action.


May Allah grant us the tawfique to understand and the tawfique to implement that which we have learnt. May Allah help rectify our beliefs and grant us with the blessing to seek beneficial knowledge. May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family, his companions, and those who follow him.

DISCLAIMER: The following is based on the commentary of the three fundamental of Islam by Sheikh Abu Bakar al-Mukhtar Ahmad in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Abu Bakar is a graduate from the Kulliyah of Shariyyah, Dar al-Hadith al-Khairiyyah in Makkah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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