The Light Of Qur’an

Iman (Faith/ Belief):
The First and Basic Principle of Islam

Mohammad Alamgir Hossen
Msc in Tourism and Hospitality Management University of Gothenburg, Sweden BBA in Management, MBA in HRM University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

(Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding- Surah Az-Zumar, Chapter 39, Verse- 18.)

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Introduction

The only purpose for which Allah has created Jinns and men is to worship none but Him. Allah says» “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve (worship) Me”. (Surah At-Thariat, Chapter 51, Verse 56). » “And they (Ahl-al Kitab and polytheists) have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.” (Surah Al-Bayyinah, Chapter 98, Verse 5) So, in the sight of Allah the purpose of creating Jinn and Human being from the very beginning till the end of this world is nothing but worshiping to Almighty Allah. Mother word Ibadah (worship) means- Some scholars say “to enslave none but Allah”. - Based on information from Wikipedia: Ibadah is the ultimate obedience, the ultimate submission, and the ultimate humility to Allah (God) along with the ultimate love for Him. Ibadah consequently means following Islamic beliefs and practices– it commands the halal (what is lawful), and prohibits the haram (what is unlawful). - And, some say “to purify one’s soul”. Finally, we can say that Ibadah is the way of abiding by the oneness of Allah and the Instructions from Him regarding right and wrong/ lawful and unlawful and thus to formulate a purified life in order to lead a happy life.

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Now, Let us know a bit about Islam. The word Islam has been derived from the root word Salam which means peace. It also means submitting one’s will to the will of Allah (SWT). Thus, Islam means peace acquired by submitting one’s will to the will of Allah (SWT). Thereby, if we relate the meaning of Ibadah with the meaning of Islam then in all the ages the only accepted religion in the sight of Allah is/ was Islam. Allah says in Surah Al-Imran, Chapter 3, Verse 19, “The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will)” and in His sight there are only two streams of path to follow that are- (i) Islam, the path of Allah and all of His Messengers, and (ii) Any other path except Islam which is termed by Allah (SWT) as the path of evil as Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, Verse 208, “O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy.” If, someone of us like the way of Allah (SWT) that is Al-Islam then we should know what fundamentals or basic things does it require to fulfill! It is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, Volume 001, Book 002, Hadith Number 007, Narated By Ibn 'Umar : Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat. (i.e. obligatory charity) 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

The same message is mentioned also in Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 18, 19, and 20.

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Iman:

La Ilaha Illallahu Muhammadur Rasulullah Allah says in Surah Al-Anaam, Chapter 6, Verse 102, “That is Allah, your Lord! there is no god but He, the Creator of all things: then worship ye Him: and He hath power to dispose of all affairs.” Since Allah is The Creator of all things, and has power over each and every seen and unseen thing so He is the only One worthy to be worshiped that approaches the first part of Islamic Shahadah ‘La Ilaha Illallah’ (No god but Allah/ none has the right to be worshipped but Allah!). Again, Allah says in Surah An-Nisa, Chapter 4, Verses 79 and 80, “79|…We have sent thee as an apostle to (instruct) mankind… 80|He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah…” which again approaches the second part of Islamic Shahadah ‘Muhammadur Rasulullah’ (Muhammad (SAWS) is His appointed Messenger).

Iman e Mufassal In Surah An-Nisa, Chapter 4, Verse 136, Allah says “O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messenger, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray.” Again Allah says in Surah Al-Israa, Chapter 17, Verse 13, “Every man’s fate We have fastened on his own neck”. And, in Surah Hud, Chapter 11, Verse 7 Allah says, “…"Ye shall indeed be raised up after death"”. Thus, we are supposed to develop our Iman on 7 particularly True things suggested by Allah (SWT) in different places of Quran which approaches Iman-e-Mufasal that commands us “to believe in Allah; and His Angels; and His Books; and His Messengers; and the Day of Judgment; and that of Fate, the good and the bad given by Allah; and the Life after Death.” This is how, when a person develops his/ her Iman on all these seven Truly things then the Iman is regarded as the true/ complete form of Iman regarding which Allah says in Surah An-Nahl, Chapter 16, Verse 97, “Whoever works
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righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily, to him We will give a new life, a life that is good and pure, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of their actions”.

Meaning of Iman The Arabic word Iman means ‘to believe’, ‘to understand what is believed in’, and ‘to acknowledge what is understood’. The person who has developed Iman (faith) is called a Mu’min (believer). Regarding Believers Allah says in Surah Al-Huzurat, Chapter 49, Verse 15, “Only those are Believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones.”. Thus, in the Sight of Allah (SWT) Iman is to believe in Allah (the Creator) and in His Messenger undoubtedly. So, the complete meaning of Iman stands as to believe in Allah and in His messenger, to understand the existence of Allah and His Messenger, and to acknowledge accordingly based on what is understood!

Importance of Iman Why Iman is so important, considered as the first basic and mandatory principle in Islam? In Surah Al-Bayyinah, Chapter 98, Verse 6 Allah emphasized Iman in such a way that without Iman one is considered even as the worst of creatures as said, ‘Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.’. To Allah Iman is the only aspect the absence of which makes one worst of creatures and even none of his/ her good deed is considered for any reward as mentioned in Surah Ar-Ra’ad, chapter 13, Verse 14, “… for the prayer of those without Faith is nothing but (futile) wandering (in the mind).”.

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If someone wants to perform anything else then he/she have to understand the thing first (before performance), and before understanding it is significant to have a belief in the thing! If does not have even a belief then how could it be possible to spend effort to understand or to perform the thing? Therefore, if someone wants to enslave none but Allah (Ibadah) and wants to acquire peace in life submitting his/ her will to the will of Allah (Islam) then based on the meaning of Iman (to believe, to understand, and to acknowledge accordingly) he/ she must also primarily understand Allah and the instructions from Him and before understanding have to have a minimum belief! As good as the belief is so good the understanding is and thus so the performance is! Mainly therefore development of Iman is the first requirement to be considered with the issues of Islam or of an Ibadah (performance)!

Objective of Iman Allah says in Surah Al-Baqara, Chapter 2, Verse 257, “Allah is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith the patrons are the evil ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein (For ever).”. Based on this Verse, a believer is led by a light through the development of Iman. We know, Light is a power and used mainly to see the things exactly in the way the things are (each and every visible aspects)! Therefore, based on the verse 257 of Surah Al-Baqarah we can say that the objective of Iman is to develop a light or power which is required to develop one’s intelligence/ sensibility with an objective to recognize the things (before performance) in an exact form- in the sight of Allah. Since, Allah is the Creator of all things (6:102) so definitely He knows best what is in fact what(4:11- “… and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.”); and, since Iman enlighten a person, i.e. his/ her sensibility, (2:257) so a believer can sees (or perceives) the things around him/ her just in the way as Allah sees (what is in fact what)- what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what should do for wellbeing and what should not and so on.
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On the other hand, a Hadith from Sahih Bukhari, Volume 008, Book 075, Hadith Number 320 says, “A believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain which, he is afraid, may fall on him; whereas the wicked person considers his sins as flies passing over his nose and he just drives them away like this.”. Based on this Hadith, we guess that a believer has that Power based on which he/ she perceives and becomes sincere if commits any sin even by mistake! And, a person having no belief (an unbeliever) does not have that Power (sight/ sensibility) that could help him/ her to understand (see/recognize) the things if it is right or wrong (for why a wicked person is careless of his/ her bad deeds). Thus, based on the Hadith, the objective of development of Iman is, again, to develop a Light or Power or Sight so that we can accurately define and recognize the things (before performance). Since, Allah is All-knowing and owns power over every created things (4:11, 6:102) so who can be more knowledgeable regarding right and wrong issues? This is mainly why Allah requires us to develop Iman (a power to recognize the things) on Him to be considered with an accurate performance of the things and thereby to be rewarded in each and every aspect of our life. Once again, to know more specifically how does a light become crucial to have before taking proper actions/ performances let us take help of an exampleLet us think a house inside of which there are diamonds, golds, silvers along with dusts, trashes, and also viper snacks (both Good and Bad)! To see exactly what things are there inside there is also lighting facilities (but let say primarily it is off). Now, if such house is given to anyone of us and offered to use it according to our own wish then what might we do with it? May be (commonly) first we will open the door, put the lamp on, then see what things are available there, and then after being aware of the things (both good and bad) we will take initiatives to remove the bad things first! Only after removing the Bad things we will be able to utilize the values of the good things- very commonly! In this example if we do not have any light before taking actions then what might happen? First, it might be a difficult task to perform. Secondly, if anyone intends to start in such a status then he/ she might get bitten by the viper snakes in the darkness and may even loss the life first before getting in touch of the good things! Likewise, if we look at our own then we will also see both
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good and bad tendencies are there available inside of us (in addition to good and bad around us). But, to achieve wellbeing in our life we are always advised to utilize the good tendencies first and then to recognize and use the good things around us (not the bad ones). And, to do so we require such a light/ power of sensibility that would certainly help us to recognize a good thing as a good and a bad thing as a bad. Iman, in this context is the only medium through which development of such a light/ power is possible and this is which is the perfect Light/ Power to observe our own inside and to recognize the good and bad (both internal/ mental and external) before taking actions or performance of anything else. And, like the example, if we do not enlighten our sensibility in such a manner then we might also be bitten/ sufferer by our own ill tendencies and the bad things around us!

How to Develop Iman Allah does not command us, the mankind, to have Iman without knowing anything else or just blindly rather commands to know first as mentioned in Surah Muhammad, Chapter 47, Verse 19, “Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah....”. Allah (God) is not such a material thing that can be seen or felt by any of the five organs (Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, and Skin) rather can be perceived and understood with the help of our sensibility first and then the words, instructions, and Signs from Him as mentioned in Surah AlBaqarah, Chapter 2, Verse 242, “Thus doth Allah Make clear His Signs to you: In order that ye may understand.”. Therefore, it is totally unwise to describe Allah and the things from Him based on our vain talks. Some of the Verses from the Holy Quran are mentioned here below for our instance references13:2| Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.

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20:50| He said: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form and nature, and further, gave (it) guidance." 22:5| O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).

56:63| See ye the seed that ye sow in the ground? 56:64| Is it ye that cause it to grow, or are We the Cause? 56:68| See ye the water which ye drink? 56:69| Do ye bring it down (in rain) from the cloud or do We?

88:17|Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made?88:18|And at the Sky, how it is raised high?88:19|And at the Mountains, how they are fixed firm?88:20|And at the Earth, how it is spread out?

In all of the above verses if we just raise our questions on different Signs then we will be able to guess if really there is any God. Again, we do not see Allah and today any of His Messengers. So, how will we know the views of Almighty Allah and His Messenger(s) in certain situations that I encounter? To know the views of Allah, we are given a detailed instruction manual, the last and final revelation from Him, the Al-Quran regarding which Allah says in Surah An-Nahl, Chapter 16, Verse 64, “And We sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad (P)) for express purpose, that you should clear to
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them those things in which they differ” and elsewhere in Surah Ibrahim, Chapter 14, Verse 1, “A Book which we have revealed unto you in order that you might lead mankind out of darkness into light”. Furthermore, not only the Quran but also the sayings from the Prophet (SAWS) are simultaneously important to know the views of Allah as mentioned in Surah An-Nisa, Chapter 4, Verse 80, “He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah…”. So, to get the views of Allah in a certain situation we are supposed to relate the views of Quran and Hadith before performance of anything else.

Some Related Examples Since development of Iman helps us to develop a light/ power through which we can recognize the things in an accurate manner before performance so we can relate the process and logic of Iman with the logics of some technical devices available today in the age of modern scienceIman in Relation to a Computer System/ Logic

A computer has three different phases of performance- the input unit, the processing unit, and the output unit. Input unit does not directly connect to the output unit rather the command first goes to the processing unit and based on an accurate processing the result comes out through the output unit. The figure of a computer logic can be presented in the following way-

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

Input Device (such as keyboard)

Output Device (monitor or printer)

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Fig. : The Way a Computer System Works
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Likewise, whenever a believer intends to perform anything else he/ she always connects himself/ herself first with the views of Almighty Allah in stead of directly performing the intended thing. If Allah’s view contradicts the intension/ personal view, the believer immediately alter the intension and decide not to perform and the vice-versa.

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Iman in Relation to a Central Registration System

Let say student A appeared an exam far better than anyone else even than the student who placed the first place. But, if that student (A) is not registered in the central system then definitely he/ she will not get any result although appeared the best exam. The figure of a central registration system can be presented in the following way-

Central Registration System

Appearance in an Exam

Result of Exam

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Fig. : The Way a Central Registration System Works

This is how, if anyone does any good activity without development of Iman (enlighten to recognize good and bad accurately) then he/ she is also supposed not to be considered to get anything good from the Almighty Allah neither in this world nor (especially) in the hereafter as mentioned in Surah Ar-Rad, Chapter 13, Verse 14, “… for the prayer of those without Faith is nothing but (futile) wandering (in the mind)”.

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Iman in Relation to a Telephonic Network

If we want to place a phone call to another number then just after put forwarding the dial it does not directly connect the other number rather goes/ performs through a central server system. The figure of a telephonic network system can be presented in the following way-

Central Server System

Dial From a Particular Phone

Connection with other Number (Result)

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Fig. : The Way a Central Server System Works Similarly, a believer also connects him/herself to the performance/ result of the intended thing through the views of Allah. For this reason, the logic of Iman can be presented in the following way-

Allah’s View

Iman

Intention (to perform anything else)

Performance/ Result

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Fig. : The Way How Logic of Iman Works In the figure above a believer always connects him/ herself to the views of Allah before performance of anything else and never performs directly where Allah’s views are ignored and this is what a major character of a believer is!
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Some Cases to Check How Does Iman Serve Us Let say, we have understood and developed Iman. Now how much is it working? Let us verify it in connection with some practical casesi. Let say someone of us is going to somewhere and on the street got a lost mobile phone and without thinking anything else picked it up and put into pocket… ii. Let say a baby is crying in absence of its mother for its hunger and a mother of another baby was beside it and guessing the situation fed the baby from her own breast and let say after being fed the baby stopped its crying... iii. Let say someone of us is abused by any one of our brothers and the abused brother took an aggressive action on the other brother... In all of these above cases if we perform directly (putting the mobile into pocket/ feeding the baby/ taking aggressive action) without thinking the views of Allah then it is obvious that the logic of Iman is absent in each of these particular cases. And, going to perform such activities if we signify our own views and intension then Allah's view get ignored regarding which Allah says in Surah Al-Furqan, Chapter 25, Verse 43, “Seest thou such a one as taketh for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Couldst thou be a disposer of affairs for him? ” and in Surah Ta Ha, Chapter 20, Verse 16, “Therefore let not such as believe not therein but follow their own lusts, divert thee therefrom, lest thou perish!”. In fact, based on performances and the procedures to proceed an intension a person will be considered to the Almighty Allah if he/ she has any Iman or not.

Benefits/ Results of Iman Here in this World Who can be more respected among human being than one who has accurate knowledge on right and wrong issues and performs accordingly? Or, do we respect such a person who does not have right sense and do not also care about right performances? Since very naturally we pay due
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respect to a person having the qualities of accurate knowledge and caring about accurate performance (commonsensical) so our Lord most gracious Allah also commands us to develop such a quality through the development of our Iman the result of which is all kind of respects not only in the Hereafter but also here in this world as Allah Says in Surah Al-Shams, Chapter 91, Verse 7,8,9,10 “7|By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; 8|And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;- 9|Truly he succeeds that purifies it, 10|And he fails that corrupts it!”. So, if we want to succeed in our life, we must enlighten our soul (sensibility/ intelligence) regarding right and wrong the concept of which certainly approaches the logic of Iman!

In the Hereafter - Development of Iman helps a person first to be safe from all potential harms that affect the wellbeing of this world and also in the hereafter as mentioned in Surah Al-Asr, Chapter 103, Verses 1,2,3, “1| By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), 2|Verily Man is in loss, 3|Except such as have Faith (Iman), and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.” - Certain benefits and rewards are announced for those who have developed Iman and then performed accordingly as said in Surah At-Tin, Chapter 95, Verse 6, “Except such as believe (Iman) and do righteous deeds: For they shall have a reward unfailing.” - Developing Iman and activities thereby makes a person not only eligible towards achieving unfailing benefits in the hereafter but also makes the best of creatures in this world as mentioned in Surah Al-Bayyinah, Chapter 98, Verses 7,8, “7|Those who have faith (Iman) and do righteous deeds,- they are the best of creatures. 8| Their reward is with Allah. Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; Allah well pleased with them, and they with Him: all this for such as fear their Lord and Cherisher.”

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Way of Weighing the Level of Iman in Certain Time 1. We can use the following verse and Hadith as parameters to observe the level of our Iman in certain times/ situations. (i) “For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor (shakes) in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord”- Surah Al-Anfaal, Chapter 8, Verse 2. According to this parameter, if we have Iman then we are supposed to feel shake in our heart whenever the name of Allah is mentioned, then when a Sign from Allah is rehearsed we are supposed to find our Iman (faith) more strengthen and put trust on Allah in each and every aspects.

(ii) “He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand (alteration by action); and if he has not strength enough to do that, then he should do it with his tongue (try to alter); and if he has not strength enough to do even that, then he should (at least abhor it) from his heart; and that is the least of faith.” (Sahih Muslim, Chapter 1, Hadith 79, Narrated by Abu Sa’d al Khudri (ra)) Now let place the three commands of the Hadith in three different levels in a figure as followsBest Level (to alter)

Moderate/Good Level (try to alter) The Lowest Level

What even if we do not abhor? What even if we do anything abominable by ourselves? Fig.: Different Levels of Iman/ Faith
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According to the Hadith we are advised to change the situation of anything abominable when there is strength and that is what is indicated as the best level of Iman. Although the Hadith used the words 'with the help of hands' yet in some cases we might be able to change even by a blink of eyes, or just by telling something, or even by legs. So, for us the advice is- if there is strength then we should make change the situation 'with the help of an action'. Secondly, the Hadith suggests us to use 'tongue' when strength is insufficient to make change which indicates the second best level. Although the Hadith used the word ‘tongue’ yet we can try in many other ways to make changes which can be similar to the use of tongue. So, here the advice for us is- to try to make change an abominable situation. The third or the lowest level (of Iman) indicates while strength is insufficient either to make change or to try to change but have pure abhorrence from the heart of hearts. So, at least to save the lowest level of Iman we are advised at least to have an abhorrence to the abominable event/ situation. After the lowest level, the question arises that if we can not even abhor (anything abominable) then what becomes the level of our Iman (in that situation)? And, further, if we do anything abominable by ourselves then what becomes the level of our Iman in that situation?

Conclusion Iman is mandatory to develop first to be considered with any other A’mal/ good deed. It is because without Iman it is not possible to develop the Right Sight which is the prerequisite to perform the right! So, in order to perform the right and thus to be considered with the right deeds we everyone of human being are required by our own Creator Allah (SWT) to develop Iman first! May Allah help us to understand His instructions and thereby to develop a true Iman for which the wellbeing of our own life is promised by Him- Amin.

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References: 1. Al-Quran, English translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. 2. Al-Hadith, Sahih Bukhari 3. Al-Hadith, Sahih Muslim
4. Wikepedia (only for a definition of Ibadah)

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