Faith in the Lord of the universe is the source of any goodness. Allah (SWT) has created man to help him, in this temporary world, as well as in the eternal hereafter. He has made faith, human spiritual sustenance and spiritual comfort and has guaranteed to the one who embraces himself with the belief and the righteousness, spiritual tranquility in this world and in the hereafter. The Qur’an contains many verses where Allah (SWT) addressed us by calling: “O you who believe …” and for God to call us “believers” is the largest assessment.
As for the definition of the word Iman, let’s read the words of Imam Tahawiyy in the book Al Aqeedah At-Tahawiyyah,
الإيمان هو الإقرار باللسان والتصديق بالجنان ولا يخرج العبد من الإيمان إلا بجهود ما أدخله فيه
“Iman is confirmation with words and acceptance by heart. The servant of God will not be a disbeliever, unless he denies what has made him a believer. “
Iman is a feeling that is placed in the human heart. Words and deeds must be corroborating with this feeling. The believer can make simple mistakes, for which can be punished, but they do not deviate him from faith; unless he consciously commits such mistake as, denying God or rejecting His teachings. For example, we can say that a man has not performed some prayers, which are required, but he does not deny that prayer is an obligation, then, if Allah wants, he can be punished for that sin. At the moment when man denies the prayer, he then rejects faith, for the fact that he denied the word of God as mandated in the Qur’an. Imam Tahawiyy continues:
والإيمان واحد وأهله في أصله سواء. و التفاضل بينهم بالتقوى ومخلفة الهوى وملازمة الأولى
“Iman is one and the believers are essentially the same. Their difference is in devotion, the abandonment of the carnal self and on the upholding on the religious priorities
The Spiritual Connection
Based on the Prophetic expression, Iman is divided into more than seventy branches. The highest is the expression and belief in “Laa ilaaha il-laa-Allah, Muhammad Rasulullah”, which means, “There is no other deity except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. The lowest branch is the removal of a harmful object from the road.
Iman also contains these six basic conditions: Believe in God, believe in His angels, believe in His books, believe in His messengers, believe in the Day of Judgment believe in Qada and Qadar.
In the book “Fihi ma Fihi ” of Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi, it is written: “Someone asked Rumi: What is higher than prayer? He replied: “The Spirit of the Prayer,” which means that it is faith that makes you a believer and that belief is displayed through the performance of prayer.
Mawlana Rumi compares the human soul before residing in the body, with the crystal clear body of water. The moment when one comes in this world, the water is disturbed by dirt particles. Prophets and awliyaa of Allah are those who remind us the origin of the soul, the water lucidity. There are those souls whose water is so contaminated with dirt, they fail to recall what was the original state of their souls. They are very confused in this world, but when the “moment of truth” comes, they will understand it. Mawlana Rumi also gives two examples: A woman lost something. She looks left and right, in front and behind. Once she has found that thing she no longer searches above and below, left and right, in front or behind. All at once she becomes calm and collected. Similarly, on the resurrection day all people will be of one eye, tongue, ear and understanding.
The second example is a group of people at prayer on a dark night; they turn their faces in every direction, being unable to see. When day comes they all turn themselves around, except for that one individual who through the night was facing Mecca. Why should that individual turn around? So, those special servants of God keep their faces towards the One even in the night, and have turned his face away from all else. Therefore, for him, the resurrection is already manifest and present.
Dear believing brother and sister! The unshakable Iman associated with righteous deeds, it’s like sun in darkness; it is the proof that the soul has always lived with “certainty”, therefore Imam Ali said: “Even if the veil was removed, my faith would not increase.” That is to say, “Even when the body is gone and the resurrection appears, my certainty can become no greater.”
The connection of Iman with the good deeds
Faith must be accompanied by good deeds which are its foundation. Indeed we are not guided by those who say that we are believers, but show no action. There are those who are fully convinced that God will reward them only because of the faith that they possess and a good deed they perform here and there whenever they remember. This is a wrong conviction. Related to this, let’s take a look at the Quran where in many Surahs, Allah (SWT) promises believers His absolute blessings, starting with these words: “Indeed those who believed and performed righteous deeds …” He also says in Surah Bayyinah,
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمۡ خَيۡرُ ٱلۡبَرِيَّةِ (٧) جَزَآؤُهُمۡ عِندَ رَبِّہِمۡ جَنَّـٰتُ عَدۡنٍ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِہَا ٱلۡأَنۡہَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيہَآ أَبَدً۬اۖ رَّضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡہُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُۚ ذَٲلِكَ لِمَنۡ خَشِىَ رَبَّهُ ۥ (٨)
(And) lo! Those who believe and do good works are the best of created beings. (7) Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden underneath which rivers flow, wherein they dwell forever. Allah hath pleasure in them and they have pleasure in Him. This is (in store) for him who feareth his Lord. (8)
So it is understood that the best of the creation and successors of the endless rewards, are those who believed and performed righteous deeds. The opposite stands with unbelievers.
The holy Qur’an contains a Surah, called “The believers.” The first verses of this Surah speak precisely about the believer’s relationship with the continuity of the performance of the righteous deeds.
“It is certain that believers have succeeded: those who are humble and cautious in their prayers, those who avoid the Vanities (word or work), and those who regularly give alms, and those who guard their chastity (in terms of intimate life) …”
The famous Muslim leader Umar ibn ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz wrote to ‘Adi ibn ‘Adi, “Belief includes obligations (fara’id), laws, legal limits of forbidden things (hudud), and things preferred to do (sunan). Whoever fulfills all of them has perfected his belief, and whoever does not fulfill them has not perfected his belief…”
Sincerity in piety reflects the strong belief. This is an important thing which relates to faith. The piety which appears only on the surface, does not reach the Creator of the universe. Remember that, it is not piety to show before people how many rak’ahs you perform, nor how long is your beard, but piety is, when man believes with all his being and performs duties driven by faith and not by interest, or conceit.
لَّيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ قِبَلَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕڪَةِ وَٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ وَٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ وَءَاتَى ٱلۡمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِۦ ذَوِى ٱلۡقُرۡبَىٰ وَٱلۡيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلۡمَسَـٰكِينَ وَٱبۡنَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَٱلسَّآٮِٕلِينَ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَى ٱلزَّڪَوٰةَ وَٱلۡمُوفُونَ بِعَهۡدِهِمۡ إِذَا عَـٰهَدُواْۖ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ فِى ٱلۡبَأۡسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَحِينَ ٱلۡبَأۡسِۗ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُواْۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُتَّقُونَ
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and gives wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observes proper worship and payes the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing.” (Surah Baqarah, verse 177.)
The fruits of Iman
In brief I will talk about the fruits of Iman and discuss the main ones.
Love, obedience and sincerity
He who recognizes Allah with His great names and His Exalted attributes is able to truly love Him. He who truly loves Him, obeys Him. It is said in poetic verses:
تعصي الإله وأنت تظهر حبـه ذاك لعمري في المقال شنيع
لو كان حبك صادقاً لأطعتـــه إن المحب لمن يحب مطيــع
You won’t obey God, but you show His love?
I swear on my life, saying that is outrageous
If your love is sincere you would have obeyed Him
The lover is obedient to the one he loves.
Sincerity is a condition for the acceptance of deeds. The man who wears the garment of faith, he is the possessor of sincerity as well. Only the deeds performed with sincerity reach Allah. It is said that a woman who donated her land to build an Islamic university in North Africa, sustained fasting from the day when the construction began, until the day it finished, while praying to Allah for the acceptance of this charity. There are many people who act in the eyes of the others as believers, but intact they have nothing to do with believe. How sad is for those who cling to the minor deeds and forget the priorities. How sad is for those who act as believers while remaining with the possessors of faith and the moment they separate from them, they go back to their animalistic friends and behave like them. How bad for those who have knowledge, but lack sincerity. At the time of the Prophet (PBUH) some Baduins (people who live in desert) expressed that they are believers, but Allah revealed in Surah Al Hujuraat:
“The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Ye believe not, but rather say “We submit,” for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts. Yet, if ye obey Allah and His messenger, He will not withhold from you aught of (the reward of) your deeds. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
No doubt that devotion in religion is a result of faith. If we take a look at the verses of the Quran, we find that some Islamic practices are bound by God, so people can achieve piety. For example in Surah Baqarah, after Allah commands the fasting of Ramadan, He concludes the verse by saying”… that you may attain piety.”
Worshiping the Creator, is a part of obeying Him. Islam, unlike many other beliefs this includes devotion not only in the religious rituals such as prayer, fasting, etc.., but in the human’s social life as well. In every moment that one adheres to Islam, he worships the Creator and will be rewarded. Islam is associated with human’s life so strongly. For this we say, Islam is the life.
The appearance of goodness and content of the stops
Belief makes a human to be the source of goodness for all that surrounds him/her. The believer loves for Allah’s sake and hates for His sake. He approaches the righteous deeds and conveys to the others that which is good. He also stays away and prevents the others from all evil actions. It was related from Anas from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Whoever possesses three attributes will experience the sweetness of belief: whoever loves Allah and His Messenger more than anything else; whoever loves someone for the sake of Allah alone; and whoever hates reverting to disbelief as much as he would hate being thrown into a fire.” Bukhari
Balance in religion
A fruit of Iman is being balanced in Islam. The believer always balances the work. He/she is not an extremist and knows that extremism ends in loss. He does not become so neglectful to abandon norms of Islam, nor does he overdo them by damaging his health and not fulfilling his own rights to himself first and then those of others. It is related from Abu Hurayra (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The Deen (Islam) is easy. Whoever makes the Deen too hard for himself will be overpowered, so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course…”Bukhari
Continuity of the good deeds
Iman makes the believer to be constantly in worship and in performance of the good deeds. It is related from ‘A’isha that once the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came when a woman was with her. He asked, “Who is this?” She replied, “So-and-so,” and told him about the amount she prayed. He said, “Stop! You must only do what you are able. By Allah, Allah does not grow weary [of giving rewards] as you grow weary, and the Deen He likes best is the one in which there is constancy.” From this blessed Hadith of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), we realize that is better to perform deeds that are small but constant. When we talk about the performance of small deeds, does not mean that we should decrease or leave aside the mandatory rituals of Islam. In another statement, the master of the humankind, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says,
“أحب الأعمال إلى الله أدومها وإن قل”
“The best deeds to Allah are those that maybe small, but constant.” Bukhari
At the end we to the Almighty to protect our faith and make us from those
who live as believers and die as such. Amin
Lecturer: Imam Didmar Faja
(The lectures were held during the month of November and December 2010, at Greenway Masjid, Arizona)