The final and highest Prophet (sall-Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), who communicated the Islamic religion, is Hadrat Muhammad and his holy book is the Qur’ân al-kerîm. (The subsequent discourse on Islam will give further information regarding this subject.)
The guiding utterances of Hadrat Muhammad (sall-Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sallâm) are called al-Hadîth ash-sherîf. They have been collected in many valuable books. Besides the Qur’ân al-kerîm and the Hadîth ash-sherîfs, there are great religious scholars who also provided us with guidance. But there are people who slight and disregard these religious scholars, saying, “Why should such scholars be necessary? Cannot one find the right way and become a good Muslim by reading Islam’s book, the Qur’ân al-kerîm, and by studying the Hadîth as-sherîf?”
This presumption is false. A person who has no knowledge about the fundamentals of the religion cannot properly comprehend the deep meanings in the Qur’ân alkerîm. Even the most perfect athlete will look for a trainer when he prepares to climb a high mountain. A big factory employs master workmen and foremen, as well as engineers. A worker who begins to work in such a factory learns the basic aspects of his job first from this master workman and then from his foreman. If he tries to see the chief engineer before learning them, he will not understand anything from the engineer’s words and calculations. Even the best gun expert cannot correctly use a new gun given to him unless he is first taught how to use it.
It is for this reason that in matters pertaining to religion and belief, besides the Qur’ân al-kerîm and the Hadîth ash-sherîfs, we should utilize the works of those great religious scholars whom we call “Murshid-i kâmil” (perfect guide). The highest ones of the murshid-i kâmils in Islam are the imâms (leaders) of the four Madhhabs. They are al-Imâm al-a’zam Abû Hanîfa, al-Imâm ash-Shafi’î, Imâm Mâlik and Imâm Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahmatullâhi ‘alaihim ajma’în). These four imâms are Islam’s four pillars. We have to read the books of one of them to learn the correct meanings of the Qur’ân al-kerîm and the Hadîth assherîf. Thousands of scholars have explained the books of each of them. He who reads these explanations will understand the Islamic religion correctly and well. The beliefs revealed in all these books are the same. This correct belief is called “the belief of the Ahl-as-sunna.” Those beliefs which were made up later and conflicted with the Ahl-as-sunna beliefs are called “bid’a” or “dalâla” (deviation).
The common principles in all religions brought by all prophets since Âdam (‘alai ‘s-salâm) are the principles of belief. Allâhu ta’ala has not willed differences in credal principles. In the 159th ayat in Sûrat al-An’âm of the Qur’ân al-kerîm. He says to His beloved Messenger (sall-Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sallâm): “As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allâhu ta’âlâ: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.” (Allâhu ta’âlâ will call them to account and give them what they deserve)…”