Increase and Decrease of ῑmān
“The believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts tremble, and when His verses are recited to them, their ῑmān increases…” [Al Anfal: 2]
Hadeeth proving ῑmān goes up and down:
“I have never seen any with lesser ‘aql and religion that [still] manages to cause a smart man’s intelligence to disappear… Does she not leave prayer in her menses? So that is her deficiency in her religion.” [Al Bukhari]
“The one who fornicates does not fornicate as a mu’min; the one who steals does not steal as a mu’min, the one who drinks does not drink as a mu’min.” [Al Bukhari]
“Whoever amongst you is able to change an evil with his hand, let him do so, and if not, then with his tongue, and if not, then with his heart, and that is the weakest ῑmān.” [Ahmad]
“While I was sleeping, I saw (in a dream) some people wearing shirts of which some were reaching up to the chests only while others were even shorter than that, Umar ibn Al Khattab was shown wearing a shirt that he was dragging.” The people asked, “How did you interpret it, Oh Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “The religion.” [Al Bukhari]
All the traditions that mention people will be removed from the Fire in batches, depending on their level of ῑmān. First people with a coin’s weight of ῑmān, then a twig / leaf of ῑmān, then a mustard seed / atom’s weight of ῑmān (smallest amount) from the Hellfire.
Imam Malik’s position?
In all of the verses cited above, Allah only mentions ῑmān increasing. he was following the letter of the Quran. It is common sense that if he says ῑmān goes up, then he would be quiet and stop. Everything that goes up must go down because the very fact that it goes up means that it was down in the first place. He would not say that ῑmān goes down, so he would say ῑmān goes up and stop. It does not mean he denied it goes down, but he wanted to avoid the controversy of discussing ῑmān decreasing and going to nothing.
ῑmān increases and decreases…..
The details of what believers have been commanded varied from time to place. This is true not just of different Shari’ahs but also early vs. middle vs. late Islam. The earlier Muslims did not have as many commands, which causes an increase in ῑmān because it was being built up.
2. The level of commitment and action that believers undertake.
3. Actual affirmation of truth is in fact of various levels. Even belief is of levels, meaning that people do not believe the same. It is possible that a person may have more belief that the Prophet (SAW) came with
The best example
Al Isra wa Al Miraj. By and large, they believed it but not like Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was called As Sideeq because of his level of belief. Ibn Taymiyyah says it is human nature and someone’s mother will believe him more than a stranger.
Another example: The Prophet (SAW) said, “The one who hears is not like the one who sees.” This means that seeing is more believing. Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned the incident of when Allah told Musa that his people had taken a golden calf ……
4. Detailed knowledge of a matter adds levels of perception and certainty that summarized knowledge does not. Detailed knowledge brings about a type of ῑmān.
5. A belief that causes one to act upon it is necessarily stronger than a belief that does not cause any action. We all know khamr is haraam, but some fall short.
6. The actions of the heart, which are an integral part of ῑmān, vary widely between people. The level piety in prayer varies.
7. The outward actions vary widely between people. Some people pray tahajjud and others do not. Some fast Mondays and Thursdays and others do not.
8. States of ghafla are more frequent for some than others. It is only the few and elite who have eliminated ghafla (heedlessness). The Prophet (SAW) praised those who worship Allah as though they see Him. They do not have any heedlessness. One of the tabi’oon said: ‘When we remember Allah and glorify and praise Him, it is our increasing of ῑmān.’
9. It is possible that a matter or belief is denied because of ignorance, and when someone learns of its truth, he accepts it.