Iman (belief) in Islam
What is Iman ?
Iman (Arabic: إيمان) is an Arabic term which denotes certitude to the unseen. In Islamic theology, it refers to the inner aspect of the religion, and denotes a believer’s faith in the metaphysical realities of Islam.
According to the Quran, Iman must be accompanied by evidence of righteous deeds, and the two together are necessary for entry into Paradise. Also, since Iman is a qua…lity of the heart / belief, it is impossible for anyone to judge who really is a believer. Iman is one of the three dimensions of the Islamic religion: islam, iman and ihsan.
Meaning of word Iman:
Word “Iman” (ايمان) is literally translated as Faith or belief, means “to know”, “to believe” and “to be convinced beyond the least shadow of doubt”. Faith, thus, is firm belief arising out of knowledge and conviction. And the man who knows and reposes unshakable belief in the unity of God, in His Attributes, in His Law and the Revealed Guidance, and in the Divine code of Reward and punishment is called Mo’min – مومن(faithful). The word Iman is based on word peace (الأمن) which means (الطمأنية) tranquility. A truthful person is satisfied (يطمئن) with his news while a liar is not. Like they say in Arabic “الصدق طمانية و الكذب ريبة”, “truth is tranquility while lie is suspicion” . Hence, a Mo’min attains tranquility by believing in true faith and by putting his trust in Allah (swt). This faith (ايمان) on true deen (دين الحق) invariably leads man to be completely obedient to Allah (swt) and submit to His will.
The definition of Iman is that to testify all the news brought by the Messenger (pbuh) about the unseen God (Allah) and His attributes (as in الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ)[al-baqara 2:3], and complete obedience to the Shariah He (pbuh) brought.
The word Iman and Islam are often interchanged. The salaf agreed that if words Islam and Iman are mentioned together, then Iman carries the meaning of internal beliefs of heart and Islam is outwardly actions. However, if they are mentioned independently, they carry meaning of both. Hence, if word Islam is mentioned independently, it carries meaning of both Islam and Iman. This is proved from vast numbers of verses of Quran and Hadith. If they (Islam and Iman) are mentioned together, as in Hadith Jibreel:
In the famous Hadith Jibreel, as the Prophet (pbuh) explained:
عن أبي هريرة قال كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بارزا يوما للناس فأتاه جبريل فقال ما الإيمان قال الإيمان أن تؤمن بالله وملائكته وكتبه وبلقائه ورسله وتؤمن بالبعث قال ما الإسلام قال الإسلام أن تعبد الله ولا تشرك به شيئا وتقيم الصلاة وتؤدي الزكاة المفروضة وتصوم رمضان قال ما الإحسان قال أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك…
Narrated Abu Huraira:
One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, “What is faith?” Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.”
Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.”
Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you…”
(Sahih Bukhari, Book #2 Iman, Hadees # 47.)
ثم قال حدثني أبي عمر بن الخطاب قال بينما نحن عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات يوم إذ طلع علينا رجل شديد بياض الثياب شديد سواد الشعر لا يرى عليه أثر السفر ولا يعرفه منا أحد حتى جلس إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فأسند ركبتيه إلى ركبتيه ووضع كفيه على فخذيه وقال يا محمد أخبرني عن الإسلام فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وتقيم الصلاة وتؤتي الزكاة وتصوم رمضان وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيلا قال صدقت قال فعجبنا له يسأله ويصدقه قال فأخبرني عن الإيمان قال أن تؤمن بالله وملائكته وكتبه ورسله واليوم الآخر وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره قال صدقت قال فأخبرني عن الإحسان قال أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك قال فأخبرني عن الساعة قال ما المسئول عنها بأعلم من السائل قال فأخبرني عن أمارتها قال أن تلد الأمة ربتها وأن ترى الحفاة العراة العالة رعاء الشاء يتطاولون في البنيان قال ثم انطلق فلبثت مليا ثم قال لي يا عمر أتدري من السائل قلت الله ورسوله أعلم قال فإنه جبريل أتاكم يعلمكم دينكم
Ibn Umar said: My father, Umar ibn al-Khattab, told me: One day we were sitting in the company of Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him. None amongst us recognized him.
At last he sat with the Apostle (pbuh) He knelt before him placed his palms on his thighs and said: Muhammad, inform me about al-Islam. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Al-Islam implies that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakat, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you are solvent enough (to bear the expense of) the journey. He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth. He (Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: It amazed us that he would put the question and then he would himself verify the truth.
He (the inquirer) said: Inform me about Iman (faith). He (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil. He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth.
He (the inquirer) again said: Inform me about al-Ihsan (performance of good deeds). He (the Holy Prophet) said: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don’t see Him, He, verily, sees you.
He (the enquirer) again said: Inform me about the hour (of the Doom). He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: One who is asked knows no more than the one who is inquiring (about it). He (the inquirer) said: Tell me some of its indications. He (the Holy Prophet) said: That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master, that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herds vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.
He (the narrator, Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: Then he (the inquirer) went on his way but I stayed with him (the Holy Prophet) for a long while. He then, said to me: Umar, do you know who this inquirer was? I replied: Allah and His Apostle knows best. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: He was Gabriel (the angel). He came to you in order to instruct you in matters of religion. (Sahih Muslim, Book #1 Iman, Hadees #1)
Iman was defined by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as:
■ That you affirm your faith in Allah,
■ in His Angels,
■ in His Books,
■ n His Apostles,
■ in the Day of Judgment, and
■ you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil.
And Islam was defined as:
■ to testify (Tawheed),
■ prayers (Salat),
■ charity (Zakat),
■ to fast in Ramadan,
■ pilgrimage (Hajj)
Allah (swt) explained in Quran:
آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ2:285
Prophet Muhammad PBUH has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ آمِنُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ مِن قَبْلُ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِاللّهِ وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلاَلاً بَعِيدًا4:136
O you who have believed, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray
In another place,
the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) defined Iman as: “Faith (الإيمان) has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no god but Allah, and the humblest of which is the, removal of what is injurious from the path: and modesty is the branch of faith”, as mentioned earlier.
Here the Prophet (pbuh) expanded the definition of Iman to include all what encompasses in practical Islam. Thus, he included all the actions as part of Iman. Allah (swt) also defined complete Iman as:
لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَالْمَلآئِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُواْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء والضَّرَّاء وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous”[The Holy Quran, Surah al-baqara 2:177].
These definitions are more for terminologies. Otherwise both Islam and Iman are intertwined, as practically essence of belief at heart produces an obvious outward action, i.e. if some one believes he is thirsty then he will drink water, otherwise he is not really thirsty.
Bases of Iman are six:
1. Believe in Allah, Tawheed
2. Believe in His Angles
3. Believe in His Messengers
4. Believe in His Books
5. Believe in Qadar of Allah, that Allah has power over good or bad
6. Believe in Judgment Day
and they are the foundations and principles with which all messengers were sent. The Iman (faith) of any person is incomplete without believing in these six, and if some denies any of these he stands outside the boundaries of faith.
Iman is “saying” and “action”
Iman “ايمان” is both, first “قول” – saying then “عمل” – action.
■ “قول” – Saying in the sense of believing at heart or saying it with tongue, like proclaiming “لا إله إلا الله”.
■ “التصديــق” – The Saying of heart can be understood from the verse – وَالَّذِي جَاء بِالصِّدْقِ وَصَدَّقَ بِهِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ – “And the one who has brought the truth and [they who] believed in it – those are the righteous”[39:33].
■ Saying of tongue is testifying that “there is no god but Allah” and all that goes with it. As Allah (swt) said, وَقُلْ آمَنتُ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِن كِتَابٍ – “I have believed in what Allah has revealed of the Quran”[42:15]
■ “عمل” – Action in the sense of both at heart and by limbs. The action of heart includes intention and piety, while the action of limbs would be helping in good cause and refraining from bad.
■ Action of heart can be defined as Taqwa تقوى (piety), ikhlas اخلاص (purity), نية (intentions), حب (love), طاعة (obedience), tawakul توكل(reliance) etc. As Prophet (pbuh) said, أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال الأعمال بالنية – “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention”[Sahih Bukhari, Book 2:51]. Or as Allah (swt) said: وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ أَندَاداً يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللّهِ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلّهِ – “And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.”[al-baqara 2:165]
■ Action of tongue is to recite Quran, supplications or reading of Hadith to people. Action of limb is praying, fasting, zakat, jihad, doing good deeds, stopping injustice etc.
Majority of Imams agreed on the definition that Iman is saying and action, including Malik, Shafie, and Ahmed. However, Imam Abu Hanifa slightly differed from majority on the definition of Iman. Abu Hanifa regarded believing to be part (ركن) of Iman, and acting (عمل) upon them is “mandatory” or “obligatory” (شرط). Although their definitions are merely a theological debate, the end result is same. i.e. actions must accompany believes. The difference in Ahnaaf is that they see “actions” as outside the definition of Iman. But the fact remains that both of them regarded actions as mandatory, and all the punishment and reward is based on these actions. All agrees that there are certain actions that must be done and there are certain actions that must be refrained from in order to find success in Day of Judgment, and that “خلود في النّار” (staying out of hellfire) mandates righteous actions. One of the sects that deviated from this definition is Murjia (مرجعئة) sect. The word Murja’ee comes from “Irjah” means to delay. They say Iman is only “saying” and action is not necessary. Hence, if one says it from the tongue and yet do not practice it ever — it is considered enough to be defined as Iman. It is commonly said that Murjia is the mudhab (مذهب) of Kings who says the Kalima from tongue but takes no action.
Outward actions attest the inward Iman:
A minimum level of action is necessary to attest the level of Iman that can save a person from Hell fire. A complete inaction simply means no Iman exists in the heart.
Ibn Taymiyah said that there is consensus amongst Muslims that whoever doesn’t testify faith (by saying testimony of faith) is not a believer, but there is difference of opinion on leaving four mandatory actions (Salah, Zakat, Sawm, Hajj). Whereas when we say that Ahlus-Sunnah agreed that a sinner cannot be declared non-believer we mean that sins like adultery, drinking alcohol, otherwise declaring non-believer for the fundamental actions (leaving four mandatory actions) have known difference of opinions [al-Iman].
This refers to Khawariji (خوارج) and Mutazilah (معتزلة) who says all actions are part of Iman, and leaving any action mean loss of Iman, and doing a major sin take one out of Iman. Mutazilah said it on the basis that Iman is saying/action but it remains constant and no increase/decrease can occur in Iman. This led them to assert that any reduction in ‘action’ will in turn result in reduction in ‘Iman’. That is why they declared a sinner will remain in hell for ever, and Khawariji declared such as non-believer.
Murjia (مرجعئة) and Jahmiyah (جهمية) said that all ‘actions’ are outside ‘Iman’ and they are obligatory (شرط) for completion of Iman, however, none of them called it mandatory for the health of Iman. While Murja’ee insists that Iman is just attestation at heart and no action is necessary.
Ahlus-Sunnah (اهل السنّة) said that Iman is ‘sayings’ and ‘actions’, and that absence of certain ‘actions’ completely wipe out Iman, such as the basic four (Salah, Zakat, Sawm, Hajj).
Ibn Taymiyah said in Al-Iman, that “اعمال” actions themselves are not the foundation of Deen (or اصل الدين) but they provide evidence for it. They (actions) attest existence of Iman at heart. A complete inaction represents no Iman at heart, as it is not possible that a person believed in Allah (swt) and held the right aqeeda (belief) and then he/she never followed any commandment from Allah (swt).
Imam Shatbi (امام شاطبي) said in al-muwafiqat that this is why the Shariah has stipulated that the outward actions (ظاهر) are attestation of inward belief (باطن). If outward action (ظاهر) is incorrect, then the same will be assumed for inward belief (باطن). The same principle is applied in Fiqh, and worldly dealings and experiences also suggest same.
Hence, to attest that Iman is rooted in heart one has to observe mandatory actions (واجبات), this gives evidence that this person has at least the level of Iman necessary to save him from hell fire. But if a person completely does not observe mandatory actions (واجبات) then it gives evidence that he doesn’t even have lowest level of Iman.
Iman “increases” and “decreases”
Iman increases by doing good deeds and following commands of Allah (swt), while decreases by doing bad deeds or sins. As salaf said “يزيد بالطاعة و ينقص بالمعصية”. Ibn Taymiyah said in his book “Iman” that various verses of Quran and Hadith suggest that Iman increases and decreases.
Allah (swt) said:
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
8:2 The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely
Also, Quran 2:173. 48:4. Also the Prophet’s hadith that Iman has more than 70 branches (as mentioned earlier). Also,
عن طارق بن شهاب وهذا حديث أبي بكر قال أول من بدأ بالخطبة يوم العيد قبل الصلاة مروان فقام إليه رجل فقال الصلاة قبل الخطبة فقال قد ترك ما هنالك فقال أبو سعيد أما هذا فقد قضى ما عليه سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول من رأى منكم منكرا فليغيره بيده فإن لم يستطع فبلسانه فإن لم يستطع فبقلبه وذلك أضعف الإيمان
The Prophet said: “He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue, and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of faith.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 1 Iman, #79)
And there are numerous verses of Quran and Hadith to that extend.
Hanafis disagreed with majority of Ahlu-Sunnah that Iman increase and decrease, as they considered action to be outside Iman (see our earlier explanation). Iman at-Tahaawee said in his book Al-Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah: “Eman (Faith) is, at base, same for everyone, but the superiority of some over others is due to their fair and awareness of Allah, opposition to their own desires, and their choosing what is more pleasing to Allah”. However, the literal meaning of Quranic verses and various traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) seems to suggest that Iman increases and decreases.
هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ فِي قُلُوبِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِيمَانًا مَّعَ إِيمَانِهِمْ
48:4 It is He who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they would increase in faith along with their [present] faith.
What is more important that we pay attention to what causes Iman to decrease and avoid it, and learn what increases the Iman and adopt it. The main reason for understanding the increase and decrease in Iman is to identify the minimum level of Iman that is needed to protect ourselves from hellfire.
Also, the Murja’ee ( مرجع ) sect said the Imaan doesn’t increases or decreases and its constant in nature, which perhaps goes well with their definition of Iman, i.e. Iman is merely saying it from tongue and no actions is needed. While the Khawarij ( خوارج ) said the same as Murja’ee but adds that leaving any part of Iman makes the person Kafir, or non-believer.
Ibn Taymiyah said that the level of Iman for everyone doesn’t stay the same as constant. i.e. it increases or decreases.
Some of the reasons that Iman can increase or decrease can be classified as following:
■ Knowledge: A person may not be aware of a certain aspect of Deen and thus he did not practice this aspect. However, once it came to his knowledge he practiced it.
Allah (swt) said: إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاء – “Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge”[35:28]
As the person increase in his knowledge of deen, his tawqa (fear of Allah swt) may continue to increase. وَإِذَا سَمِعُواْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُواْ مِنَ الْحَقِّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ – “And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses”[5:83].
■ Deeds: The iman will increase with the good deeds. As the certainity grows towards the understanding of Deen his faith also grows stronger that leads him to increase his good deeds. He may do more charity, or additional prayers. He may start to educate himself in matter of deen to the next level. Similarly, on the downside a person may join company of bad friends; they may influence him to do bad deeds, waste his time in wasteful activities, do gambling, or drink alcolol, hence reducing his iman by commiting to bad deeds.
Three levels of Iman
Hence, the Iman can be categorized in three levels:
■ Comprehensive Iman – الايما ن المجمل
■ Obligatory / Detailed Iman – الايما ن الواجب
■ Complete Iman – الايما ن الكا مل
Comprehensive Iman – الايما ن المجمل
This can be defined as the core of Islam and it’s believes, which is Tawheed. Generally means to believe in the “Message” of Allah that He send through his Prophet, without any hesitation or ambiguity.
There can be no concession at this level of Iman. i.e. one must believe that Allah exists, and Allah is one and the He is the Creator. Or for example, Allah doesn’t beget and he was no begotten. This is the concept of Tawheed and other Islamic believes.
These are core believes, and If a Muslim does not understand it or reject them and does not believe in them fully, then he is out of Islam. This does not include the Iman of detailed Shariah (as defined below) that may not be known yet (i.e to say at the time of Prophet the revelation was still coming, while the concept of Tawheed was firmly understood), but it definitely includes intention of believing in any law or faith that may become known to the person at later time.
This level of Iman does not increase or decrease. It is constant. And it must not be mixed with other obligatory duties, like prayers and fasting, which if one misses that mean he lacked the Iman at the time, but still remains a Muslim.
However, if one says he believes that Allah is one and He is the Creator, but he is not sure if Allah has children or not… then he certainly has broken the testimony, he is not to be considered in the Realm of Islam.
Following summarizes the Iman in beautiful words:
آمنت بالله كما هوَ بأسمآئه و صفاته و قبلت جميع أحكامه
I believe in Allah (as He is) with all His names and attributes and I accept all his commands.
آمنت بللّه و ملآ‘كته و كتبه و رسوله واليوم الاخرة والقد ر خيره و شره من الله تعالى والبعث بعد الموت
I believe in Allah, and His Angels, in His books, in His messengers, in the last day and in the fact that everything good or bad is decided by Allah, the Almighty, and in the life after death.
Obligatory / Detailed Iman – الايما ن الواجب
Following all obligatory duties as defined in Shariah Law and observing obligatory duties (واجب) while refraining from prohibited (حرام). These obligatory duties includes (but not limited to), establishing Salah (prayers), paying Zakat, fasting in Ramadan, performing Hajj (Pilgrimage), or be good to your parents and neighbors etc.
This level of Iman states that a Muslim,
■ Do their obligatory duties (واجب) and
■ Refrain from prohibited things (حرام).
The Obligatory duties may sometimes differ between Muslims. For instance, if one is rich and he has the means (اسبا ب) and strength to perform the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) then performing Hajj becomes the part of his Obligatory Iman.
Obligatory Iman may increase or decrease, depending on individual’s situation. A Muslim who fulfills all his obligations with (خشوع وخضوع) passion can certainly raise the level of his Iman.
Complete Iman – الايما ن الكا مل
This defines a complete Iman, that is, following all obligatory duties (واجب), and non-obligatory duties (مندوب و نوافل), and refraining from prohibited action (حرام) and avoiding hated (مكروه). The Prophets achieved it. The Companions (صحابة) came close. This can certainly be achieved with deep and thorough understanding of Islam and staying stead fast with it.
According to Ahlul-Sunnah the Detailed Iman (الايمان الواجب) and Complete Iman (الايمان الكامل) increases and decreases, but the Comprehensive Iman (الايمان المجمل) remains constant.
Three components of Iman:
Now since we established that Iman is sayings and actions, and that it increase and decrease, we will identify the main components of Iman. Iman can be further explained as:
معرفة – Knowledge:
■ معرفة – Knowledge: No one can understand a subject until he has prior knowledge of it. How can a person testify on statement when he is not aware of it and does not know its details? Thus, one has to know and learn Tawheed first before he can believe in it.
التصديــق – Attesting
■ التصديــق – Attesting: Means to attest that knowledge to believe in Allah and all His commands, Messengers and Guidance.
Some people mistakenly believed that Islam is only about attesting (that is saying shadateen شهادتين), and they further assumed that if a person brings you a news and if you say this news is truth, then attestation (تصديق) is achieved. And they applied same understanding to Shariah meaning of attesting Iman.
The fact of matter is that just attestation doesn’t provide proof for established Iman, as we stated previously, the actions must follow the sayings.
الـتزام – means commitment
■ الـتزام – means commitment: or (أو الإقرار أو الطاعة و الانقياد) This is the most important component of Iman that is needed to save from Hell fire (خلود في النّار). By having the Knowledge (of Deen) and attesting it that it’s from Allah does not establish any one as believer. The attestation must be followed by serious commitments and actions.
A person believed in Allah (swt), accepted Allah (swt) as the creator and law maker, he then accepted Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as his last messenger and admitted to His Shariah, and he doesn’t reject anything from this Shariah and Deen. Then he show serious commitment by following and practicing it.
This can be further divided into two areas (see above figure 3a/3b):
■ Establish Commitment and Basic pillars: Means that serious commitment to Deen of Allah is establish that will eventually force the heart to carry out Islamic Duties. These include believing Tawheed and also include complete rejection of Kufr, Shirk and Taghoot. Some Madhabs consider doing Salat as part of commitment. Abu Bakar Siddique included Zakat also in it.
■ This is a minimum requirement for establishment of Iman and to stay in the fold of Islam.
■ Perform Islamic Obligations and Actions: This is where Iman increases and decreases. By doing more good deeds, following the Sunnah, and avoiding more sins Iman increases and vice versa. These are the things that are part of Obligatory Iman (الايما ن الواجب).
Thus, one must full fill basic requirements of Iman to have knowledge, then attest it, and then to have serious commitment to act upon it.
Posted on January 2, 2013, in Allah (God), Articles and tagged Bases of Iman, Believe in Allah, Believe in His Angles, components of Iman, definition of iman by prophet Muhammad pbuh, denifinition of iman, meaning of iman, Outward actions attest the inward Iman, Tawheed, the meaning of word iman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.