Reality of Iman~5

Levels of Iman

1st Level: this is the minimal level of ῑmān acceptable to Allah: Evidence for this: Surah Yusuf v. 106  and  Surah Al Hujurat

2nd Level: Al ῑmān al mutlaq. The minimal level required by Allah. This is also called in Arabic: al ῑmān al waajib.

3rd Level: Higher Level: Al ῑmān al kamil = perfection of ῑmān.

Any time the Quran or Sunnah negates ῑmān from a Muslim, it is negating al ῑmān al mutlaq and not mutlaq al ῑmān.

Sahih Bukhari: The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) swore three times and said, “Woe to the one whose neighbor does not feel safe.” This does not make the person a kafir, but the person does not have al ῑmān al mutlaq

Higher Level: Al ῑmān al kamil = perfection of ῑmān.

There is no limit to the perfection of ῑmān, and the Prophet(sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) is the perfection of humanity but not of the limit.

Reality of Iman ~4

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]

and also….

“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]

and finally….

“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.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s?

  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.

:.Reality of Iman-3.:

  Relationship Between ῑmān and Islam?

 The early scholars of our religion differed amongst themselves to some degree.

Example of a dark room: the room is enveloped in darkness and there is a straight path to go on to get to the door. The first scholars come in with flashlights and are searching, and then more scholars come and eventually the room is lit up.

  Methodology and Ikhtilaaf?

 Last verses of Hujurat: Allah talks about the bedouins who say that they have ῑmān. Allah denies ῑmān from them. ‘Say you have accepted Islam. ῑmān has not yet entered your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Messenger, then your actions will not go to vain.’ There is a distinction. The true believers believe in Allah and His Messenger and then they strive.

 On the authority of Umar also who said: ‘One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), there came before us a man with extremely white clothing and extremely black hair. There were no signs of travel on him and none of knew him. He [came and] sat next to the Prophet (pbuh). He supported his knees up against the knees of the Prophet (pbuh) and put his hands on his thighs.   He said, ‘O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’ The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Islam is to testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayers, to pay the zakat, to fast [the month of] Ramadhaan, and to make the pilgrimage to the house if you have the means to do so.” He said, ‘You have spoken truthfully [or correctly].’ We were amazed that he asks the question and then he says that he had spoken truthfully.   ………………..Then he went away. I stayed for a long time. Then he [the Prophet (pbuh)] said, “O Umar, do you know who the questioner was?” I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger knows best.’ He said, “It was [the Angle] Gabriel who came to teach you your religion.” [Recorded by Muslim]

  Hadith of the ‘Delegation of Abd al-Qays’: “Once a delegation of Abdul Qays came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘We belong to such and such branch of the tribe of Rabi’a, and we can only come to you in the Sacred Months. Order us to do something good so that we may take it from you and also invite our people whom we have left behind (at home) to it. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “I command you with four things and I forbid you with four things. I order you to believe in Allah. And do you know what is ῑmān in Allah? [It is] to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and I am the Messenger of Allah and to offer prayers perfectly, and to pay zakat, and to give the khumus. And I forbid you from dubba and hantam and muqaytat and naqir (all these are utensils used for the preparation of alcoholic drinks).’” [Agreed upon]

Scholars have differed over the relationship between these two terms, as follows:

First Opinion: The Two Terms are Synonymous

This is the opinion of: Al Bukhari, also ibn Mandah and Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwadhi. Their evidence was the fact that the two seem to refer to the same reality. They seemed to be used interchangeably. Imam Bukhari says that at the end of the hadeeth, the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said that this was Jibreel who came to teach you the religion, and the religion is composed of both simultaneously; therefore, they are the same. – Hadith of Jibreel – Dhariyat: 35-36. Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) is talking about the people of Lut.

Second Opinion: Islam signifies the shahadah and ῑmān signifies outward actions and inner beliefs

This was the opinion of another group, such as al-Zuhri, Hammad b. Zayd, and also reported from Imam Ahmad – Verse of Hujurat. The bedouin has outwardly shown himself to be Muslim, but inwardly ῑmān has not entered the heart. ῑmān is the inner belief accompanied by actions. According to Al Zuhri, the bedouins were political believers because it was advantageous for them to accept Islam. Their hearts had not yet truly formed beliefs about Islam. Hadith of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas: “Allah’s Apostle distributed (zakat) amongst (a group of) people while I was sitting there but Allah’s Apostle left a man whom I thought the best of the lot. I asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Why have you left that person? By Allah, I am sure he is a mu’min.” The Prophet commented: “Or merely a Muslim.” I remained quiet for a while, but could not help repeating my question because of what I knew about him. Then the Prophet said, “O Sa’d! I give to a person while another is dearer to me, for fear that he might be thrown on his face in the Fire by Allah.’” [Al Bukhari]  Scholars interpreted this to mean that the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) realized that giving money would harm the person in an ῑmān sense. The point is that the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) differentiated between ῑmān and Islam. They say that these people were hypocrites and may have given the testimony (outward) but do not have ῑmān in their hearts.

  Third Opinion: Synonymous at times, different at times

  This is the standard definition of ahl as sunnah wa al jama’ah. ῑmān and Islam are sometimes synonymous and sometimes different. Both previous opinions are valid in certain contexts.

:.The reality of iman 2.:

  ῑmān consists of :

  • Beliefs of the heart
  • Statements of the tongue
  • Actions of the lips

1.   Belief in the heart

This consists of :

a)      Knowledge and Affirmation (statements of the heart = qawl al qalb).

 Proof for this is found in surah Al Hujurat v. 14 and Surah An Nahl v. 106

Allah revealed verses concerning Ammar ibn Yasser. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) asked him how he found his heart, and he said that he found his heart full of ῑmān. Allah ascribes ῑmān to the heart, showing that of the essential qualities of ῑmān is the heart.

  b). Actions of the heart (‘amal al qalb). These are many emotions and the most important are love, fear and hope. In order to be a mu’min, there must be some of these emotions. These emotions rise and fall, but there must always be a minimum level. Many verses in the Quran require believers to have such emotions. Al Baqarah: 126-7: “Say all of you: We believe in Allah, and what has been revealed to us, and Ibrahim…” Al Mu’minun v. 1: The mu’minun are the ones whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned. This links ῑmān to fear of Allah.

2.   Admitting with the tongue(al-iqrar bi-l-lisan)

  The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said a sign of ῑmān is to love what Allah loves and hate what Allah hates. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said that you do not believe (have ῑmān) until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.

 This is a fundamental sign of conversion. No person can become a Muslim without the shahadah. Abu Talib had a little bit of amal al qalb because he loved Allah and the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and helped the believers, but he did not have al iqrar bi-l-lisan.

  Hadeeth: “I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify ‘lā  ilāha illa’llāh’.” The fighting is stopped when they say ‘lā ilāha illa’llāh’.

  Hadeeth of Usama ibn Zayd when he was rushing to kill the pagan who takes shahadah and is killed: The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said that saying ‘lā ilāha illa’llāh’ is the sign of mān. Saying ‘lā ilāha illa’llāh’is a necessary indication of what is inside. If he does not say it, then it is not acceptable. The shahadah is the basis, but you can say there are three types of qawl of al lisan: 1.Shahadah use your tongue for the dhikr of Allah (you cannot be a Muslim without making dhikr of Allah) 3.the tongue must be controlled from saying kufr. The best example: ridiculing the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and cursing him. This is the most harsh thing you can do. Al Baqarah v. 136-7: “Say all of you: We believe in Allah, and what has been revealed to us, and Ibrahim.”

  3. Acting with the limbs(al amal bi-ljawarih)

  There is unanimous consensus amongst ahl as sunnah that ῑmān and amal go hand in hand. The primary evidence of scholars of the past from the sahabah and tabi’oon is Surah Al Baqarah v. 143: ‘And Allah will not cause your ῑmān to go to waste…” This verse was revealed when Allah changed the qiblah. The sahabah asked what would happen to those who had prayed towards Bayt al Maqdis. This ayah was revealed. The question was about salah, and Allah called it ῑmān. In the Quran, salah is the only action that is called ῑmān. Salah is a necessary condition of ῑmān[Surah Al Ankabut v. 2]

  The famous hadith of the branches of faith clarifies this point, “Faith consists of sixty or seventy odd branches. The best [branch] is the testimony of shahadah, and the lowest is to remove some nuisance from the road, and modesty is also a branch of faith.” [Agreed upon] This is used as proof that ῑmān is of levels and goes up and down and is of belief, statements, and actions.lā  ilāha  illa’llāh’ is a statement, and removing something from the path is an action, and modesty is in the heart.

The very first theological split in the ummah was because of ῑmān. The basic question was: what constitutes ῑmān and who is a mu’min?

:.Reality Of Iman-1.:

This course was originally taught by shaykh yasir qadhi in Ilm summit 2009…….and inshallah in the next couple of weeks I shall post small notes from the class. Inshallah I hope people benefit from it!

 Methodology of defining

 1. Defining it through Scriptural Evidence (Quran and Sunnah)

2. Defining it through linguistic evidence

 Ibn Taymiyyah says: “How is it possible that Allah has defined salah, zakah, and Hajj and not defined ῑmān? It is not possible. Allah and His Messenger have defined ῑmān.”

It is mutawaatir from the early scholars that, “mān is comprised of statements and actions; it increases and decreases.”

 Best example in fiqh: the issue of travelling. The Quran and Sunnah did not define what constitutes travel. Most of  the jurists wanted some type of definition and hunted for a definition in the Quran and Sunnah and read in that it was travel.

 Ibn Taymiyyah said that travel was not defined in the Quran and Sunnah; therefore, what constitutes a travel is linguistics, and this varies from culture, time and place.

Definition of Iman?

Ibn Taymiyyah said that the Quran and Sunnah defined ῑmān in a different way: It is not something that is standard in all human beings. The definition has been given in a descriptive manner.

ῑmān consists of beliefs of the heart, statements of the tongue, and actions of the lips. Unanimous consensus amongst the sahabah, tabi’oon, taba tabi’oon, and later scholars on the definition.

  • Abdullah ibn Umar said, “We learnt ῑmān, and then we learnt the Quran, so we increased in our ῑmān.”
  •  Hasan al Basri said, “ῑmān is not by decorating oneself [with outward matters], nor is it by wishful thinking. Rather, it is what settles in the heart and is confirmed with actions.”
  • Al Bukhari said, “It is composed of statements and actions, and increases and decreases.”
  • Sahl al-Tusturi was asked, “What is ῑmān?” He replied, “Statements, actions, intentions, and sunnah. For if ῑmān is only statements without actions this is kufr, and if it is statements and actions without intention, this is nifaaq, and if it is statements and actions without sunnah, it is bid’ah.”


  • Story of Al Shafi’ee after he quoted a hadeeth, then was asked what his opinion was, “SubhanAllah! Do you see me go to church? Or do you see a zunnar tied around me? I tell you that the Prophet said something and then you dare ask me what my opinion is?” He is saying: How can he be a Muslim and have ῑmān and not follow the hadeeth? Actions are an indication Of ῑmān.