What is Eeman?

Prepared Shawana A. Aziz for Quraan Sunnah Educational Programs For online Islamic courses, audio lectures and informative articles Visit us at www.qsep.com Distributed by Enlightenment into Islam Study Circle - Women’s committee
Postal Address: Revival of Islamic Heritage Society - Women's Committee Attention: Enlightenment into Islam - P.O.Box: 5585, Saffat 13056, KUWAIT Telephone: 532-9259 (Direct Line), 257 0022 - Fax: 534-2573 Email: enlight@alturath.org

When it comes to a concept from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, there has always been two approaches to determine its correct meaning. Analyzing this essential step distinguishes the correct Islam from the later invented views. a) The first approach is to discover the meaning from the Qur'aan and the teachings of Allah’s Messenger , as he passed on to his Companions. b) The second approach is to discover the linguistic meaning based on assumption without first referring to the explanation given by Allah and His Messenger . This latter approach is of the heretical groups. S h a i k h al - Is l am Ib n Ta y m i y ya h (rahimahullah) writes in Kitab al-Eeman, ‘One must understand that if any term is found in the Qur'aan and the Hadeeth, and its explanation is known and its meaning is made clear by the Prophet , then there is no need to use any linguistic meanings as evidence… The words Salat, Zakaat, Siyam (fasting), Hajj are found in the words of Allah and His Messenger . The same is true for the word Khamr (intoxicants) and others. From him (Allah's Messenger ), one knows their meanings. If anyone wants to explain such terms in a way, other than how the Prophet  explained it, such an explanation will not be accepted… The terms Eeman, Islam, Nifaq (hypocrisy) and Kufr are more important than these terms. The Prophet  explained the

meanings of these terms in such a way that it is not necessary to look for their linguistic origins or how they were used by the pre-Islamic Arabs and so forth. Therefore, it is a must that while trying to determine the meanings of such terms, one looks at how Allah and His Messenger  explained them. Their explanation is clear and sufficient… the heretics have been misled on this matter. They turn away from this method. Instead, they begin to explain the religion of Islam based on some principles that they believe to be sound, either concerning linguistic meaning or rational thought. They do not ponder or consider the explanation of Allah and His Messenger . Every premise that goes against the explanation given by Allah and His Messenger  is certainly misguidance.’ Eeman is explicitly described in the famous hadeeth of Jibreel , when he  asked the Messenger of Allah : ‘What is Eeman?’ He  replied, ‘Eeman is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day and to believe in the Predestination; the good and the bad.’ [Agreed upon] In another narration, Ibn Abbas  said, ‘When the delegation of Abd al-Qais came to the Messenger of Allah , he commanded them to believe in Allah and asked, ‘Do you know what is Eeman?’ They replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger  knows best.’ He  then answered, ‘It includes bearing witness that there is no god but Allah, and that

Page 1

Muhammad  is the Messenger of Allah, to establish Prayer, pay Zakaat, fast in the month of Ramadaan, and give one-fifth of the war-booty.’ [Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] Thus, in light of the above Ahaadeeth, we understand that Eeman is a combination of belief and actions. The earlier scholars summed up these two components in their saying: ‘Eeman is Statement and Action.’ [See al-Laalakai v.1, p.176] Statement here includes both; statements of the heart and statement of the tongue and Action include both, actions of the heart and actions of the body. These two components are broken down into three essential parts for better understanding: 1.Belief of the Heart. 2.Confession by the Tongue. 3.Actions of the Body. (1) Belief of the Heart: Heart is the root of Eeman. If the belief of the heart is not firm and correct then no other deed or action can be perfect. The Messenger of Allah  said: ‘There is a lump of flesh in the body. When it is sound, the whole body is sound; but when it goes wrong, the whole body goes wrong. It is the heart!!’ [Agreed upon] Belief in the heart constitutes two parts; Tasdeeq and Inqiyaad i) Tasdeeq is the Statement of the Heart and it incorporates Recognition, Knowledge and Affirmation of (the Existence and Lordship of) Allah and His Commands. This Tasdeeq is ingrained in the Fitra, which is the natural instinct of mankind and it recognizes the True Lord – Allah. The Prophet  said, ‘Every child is born upon Fitra but it is his parents who make him a Jew, or a Christian or a Magian (fire worshiper).’ [Agreed upon] Imam Ibn Katheer explained, ‘Allah stated that (when Allah created Adam) He brought the descendants of Adam out of their father’s loins, and they testified against themselves that Allah is their Lord and King and that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. Allah created them on this Fitra, just as He said (in Soorah Rum (30): 30), ‘So set you (O Muhammad) your face truly towards the religion, Hanifan. Allah's Fitrah with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalqillah.' ii) Inqiyaad is the Action of the Heart which means Acceptance and Submission to Allah and His Commands. Unlike Tasdeeq, Inqiyad is something that needs to be established and thus,

the main message of all the Messengers of Allah  and their dispute with the disbelievers was specifically the second aspect; i.e. ‘Submission to the Commands of Allah.’ Allah says, ‘And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming), ‘Worship Allah (Alone) and avoid Taghoot (false gods).’ [Soorah an-Nahl (16): 36] (2) Confession by the Tongue: The second necessary component of Eeman is the confessing of one’s Eeman by the Tongue. The simple pronouncement of the Shahada (testimony), ‘La ilaha illAllah’ is not the intent - Certainly, the hypocrites did so (i.e. they merely pronounced the Shahadah) but they were not true believers. The pronouncement of the words must accompany: (a) The Correct Belief in the Lordship of Allah and its related aspects. (b) Rejection of all kind of Shirk. (c) Adherence to the laws of Islam. If these principles are not the intent of the proclamation, then such a confession is not beneficial. Hence, before one makes the testimony of Faith, he must clearly understand the meaning and purport of confession. Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) writes in his book Kitaab al-Eeman, ‘The Arabs do not have any such thing in their language as affirmation or denial unless it be in meaning and word (i.e. unless one understands and verbally confesses or denies). One will not find in Arabic speech statements such as, ‘Mr. X believed in Mr. Y’ or ‘denied him’ if Mr. X only knew it in his heart that he (Mr. Y) was true. (Such a statement would only be made if the person) spoke it. Whoever does not affirm his belief in someone with his speech, if he has the ability to do so, is not a believer according to Arabs. Therefore, our pious predecessors of this nation (the Sahabah ) and those who follow them in goodness agree on this point. One who believes in his heart but does no verbally state his belief is not considered a believer; neither in this life nor in the Hereafter. Allah has not declared such a person to be a believer in the Message (the Qur’aan) - simply due to the Knowledge of Eeman in his Heart. He is not considered a believer unless he confirms it by his speech. Therefore, the outward speech is an essential aspect of Eeman, and according to the earlier and later scholars, one will not be saved unless he verbally testifies. The Muslims agree that he, who does not make the confession of faith although he has the ability to do so, is a disbeliever. He is a disbeliever both inwardly and outwardly according to the pious

Page 2

predecessors and Imams of this nation.’ [Ibn Taymiyyah, Kitaab al-Eeman, p.126] (3) Actions of the Body: Actions of the body are the third integral part of Eeman. True belief of the heart results in external Submission to the Commands of Allah. It is not possible that one's belief of the heart is at a high level of Eeman but it is not demonstrated by his deeds. Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said, ‘It is inconceivable that there be a man who is a believer with confirmed belief in the heart that Allah has obligated him to pray, give in charity, fast and perform Hajj but he lives his whole life without even making one prostration to Allah or never fasting any month of Ramadaan, never paying Zakaat for the sake of Allah and never making pilgrimage to Allah's House. This is impossible!! This would only happen if the person has hypocrisy and opposition to Islam in his heart - It would never happen with a true faith!! For this reason, Allah describes those who refused to prostrate, as unbelievers…’ [Muhammad Ibn Taymiyyah Majmoo vol.7, p.611] The most important belief that should dictate our actions is that Allah All-Mighty exists, He is the Creator and Provider, and none can benefit not harm us except with His Permission. For example, if a person's Eeman in Allah is firm, he will be able to direct all his worship and obedience to Allah and feel no fear to worldly powers. Consider the encounter of Pharaoh’s court magicians with Prophet Moosa  as described in the Qur'aan. Before meeting the Prophet, they pleaded with Pharaoh for a substantial reward if they were to defeat Moosa  in the contest using magic, ‘So the sorcerer came to Pharaoh and said, ‘Of course we shall have a suitable reward if we win.’ [ (7): 113] Pharaoh accepted their plea and promised them not only a reward but also position at his court. When the encounter with Moosa  began, the magicians realized quickly that while their own display was simple magic, Prophet Moosa's display was extraordinary and much more than any human could do. So they all fell down in prostration saying, ‘We believe in the Lord of the Worlds. The Lord of Moosa and Haroon.’ [ (20): 70] Pharaoh was so stunned by their declaration of Faith in Allah that he shouted, ‘Have you believed in him, before I gave you permission?… Be sure, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and then I will crucify you on trunks of palm trees. So shall you know which of us can give the more and lasting punishment.’ [(20): 71] But these threats did not

frighten the magicians. These men who had been begging Pharaoh for more gold coins - now became so fearless because of their faith in Allah that they replied, ‘Never shall we prefer you over the Clear Signs that have come to us and Him who has created us. So decree whatever you wish to decree. For you can only decree concerning matters of this world. We have believed in our Lord; may He forgive us our faults and the magic to which you did compel us, for Allah is the Best and forever abiding.’ [ (20): 72-73] Increase and Decrease of Eeman: ‘Whenever there comes down a Soorah, some of them say, ‘which of you has had his faith increased by it? Yes, those who believe, their faith is increased and they do rejoice. But as for those whose hearts is diseased, it only adds wickedness to their wickedness, and they die while they are disbelievers.’ (9):124] Eeman increases and decreases according to one's Belief and Actions. It has higher parts and levels. Acts of obedience to Allah increase one’s Eeman and acts of disobedience decrease it. This is where those who posses Eeman fall in different ranks. Hence, with regards to the actions of the heart, some have a greater love of Allah than others, while others fear Him more, and others are superior in their sincerity to Allah. Concerning the actions of the tongue, some recite Qur'aan more than others do, others engage in more remembrance. Likewise, people also differ in actions of the limbs. The basic compulsory level of Eeman is the minimum level of Tasdeeq and Inqiyaad: The minimum level of Tasdeeq is to believe in everything that one knows from the Messenger of Allah  and the willingness to believe in all the new information one may acquire. Meaning to realize, accept and admit that he must believe in everything that is authentically reported from the Messenger of Allah . The minimum level of Inqiyaad is to adhere and submit to everything known from the Messenger of Allah ; i.e., all the commands of Allah's Messenger  and have a willingness, desire and recognition that he is obliged to submit to every command authentically known from him . These are the compulsory aspects for the validity of Eeman. If these are not fulfilled then Eeman does not exist.

Page 3