September 15, 2019
Chapter 2 – Iman
Think About It! What are some qualities or characteristics people think are important in society?
– Race, skin color, ethnicity, nationality, wealth, social class, religion, etc.
The Most Important Quality of a Person-
The most important quality in a person is whether they believe in God or not. A person who understands their unique existence and acknowledges their dependence on God for life and guidance is a believer. The Arabic word for belief is Iman, and Mu’min means believer. There are many aspects of complete Iman, but the most fundamental is the belief in one God.
The word Shahadah in Arabic means “witness” or “testimony”. There are two parts of the shahadah and each word has an important meaning. Laa ilaaha illa Allah means “There is no God, except Allah.” The first part, laa ilaaha (there is no God) negates the existence of each and any false god and condemns any false worship. The word ilaah means god or whatever is worshipped and can include any being, person, matter, or object that is worshiped. But ilaah can also refer to our own whims and desires such as pride or vanity. Illa Allah stresses that only the true God, Allah is worthy of worship. The greatest sin of all is shirk, or the worship of other gods or associating partners with him.
The second part of the shahadah is to declare that Muhammad is the messenger of God. Muhammadur rasullullah means that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, but it also affirms that Muhammad was the next prophet after Prophet Jesus, sent as a guidance to humans. He was not just one in the line of prophet’s send to mankind, but he was the last, and his mission is for all of humanity.
Iman is both a statement and a course of action. It has three essential elements: belief in the heart, profession by the tongue, and performance of the deeds by the physical parts of the body.
- Belief in the Heart
The heart is the focus of iman as well as its foundation. The first and most important part of faith is believing in something with your heart, committing and voluntarily surrendering to the will of Allah and placing your trust in him. It is one thing to say you believe without actual belief in your heart.
- Declaration of Faith with the Tongue
The second essential element of iman is to declare one’s faith with the tongue, to testify that one recognizes the truthfulness of the testimony of faith and intends to follow the commandments.
- Performance of Righteous Deeds by the Body Parts
These deeds can include praying the obligatory prayers, paying zakat, fasting, giving charity, and observing good characteristics.
Possessing just one of the elements of iman alone is not enough, all three are necessary for complete faith, having just one or the other leads to incomplete iman. It is also worth knowing that a person who performs bad deeds is still a believer but there is a deficiency in their faith. Iman is not a constant level, but a scale that fluctuates. Sometimes we are higher in iman than other times. There is a hadith of a conversation with the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and a sahaba, who told the Prophet he was worried, he was a hypocrite because his iman was high in the company of the Prophet but lower when he left his presence and went home. The Prophet (saw) reassured him that iman is not always at the same virtuous level, but it is important to take care of it and feed it. Faith increases by acts of obedience to Allah and decreases by acts of disobedience. Much like a plant that grows when it is nourished with water and food, and dies when it is neglected, our iman is the same. We can feed it by doing simple things such as visiting the mosque, spending time with pious Muslims, listening to and reading Qur’an, and remembering Allah (swt) throughout the day.
Essential Articles of Iman:
To believe in,
- His Angels
- His Books
- His Messengers
- The Last Day and
- Allah Decree, both the good and bad in it
Belief in Allah-
We talked about shahadah, the testimony of Allah and his Messenger, but belief in Allah (swt) requires a knowledge of his oneness, and his attributes. Belief in Allah is the cornerstone of iman. All things relating to belief in Islam, revolve around the belief in Allah. Tawheed is the testimony to the oneness of Allah and the scholars have divided it into three types:
- Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyah (the belief that Allah is the Lord of all creatures)
- Tawheed al-Uloohiyah (the belief that Allah is the true God who alone deserves to be worshipped)
- Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat (the belief that Allah has the Most Beautiful names and the loftiest attributes)
Allah is the Creator, the Provider, the One who gives life, and the One who takes it away and the One who disposes of all affairs. Every living creature and thing on this earth and in the universe was made by Allah (swt) and he alone takes life away and provides sustenance. The food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, are all given to us by Allah.
All acts of worship, both prayer, sacrifice, trust, and fear should be given to Allah. We should rely on none except Allah, seek no one’s help except Allah’s and worship none but Allah. This is the type of Tawheed that Allah’s messengers brought with them to guide humanity. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) came to the disbelievers and told them to abandon their false deities and idols that they worshipped.
Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat-
A Muslim believes in all of Allah’s names and attributes that were described by Allah or foretold by his messenger. These names should not be qualified or compared to any of Allah’s creatures. We as humans possess qualities that Allah (swt) has given us in a capacity much less than his own. For instance, one of the names of Allah is as-Sami, the hearer. As humans, we have a limited sense of hearing. Allah (swt) can hear across the entirety of the world, in every language, always, with no fatigue or discontinuity.
It is difficult for us as humans to comprehend the magnitude of Allah’s power, and his existence. We have a limited amount of understanding and as being creatures of the creator, we cannot fully imagine what power Allah possesses, and his eternal existence.
Think About It! How does Muhammad (saw) differ from other prophets?
He was the last prophet, he was sent not to just one people but to all of humanity, and the revelation he was given, the holy Qur’an will be preserved in the form it was revealed, other scriptures were distorted or changed.
Belief in the Angels-
Belief in the angels is another cornerstone of faith. The Arabic word for angel is malak, or malaa’ikah in plural. The angels are a creation of Allah (swt) that cannot be seen by man. They serve Allah and submit to him completely, carrying out his every command. The Qur’an speaks of the angels as messengers with wings and Prophet Muhammad (saw) said they were created from light (noor). Belief in the angels consists of:
– Believing that they exist
– Believing in the angels mentioned by name in the Qur’an or sunnah, such as Angel Jibreel who brought revelation to Prophet Muhammad (saw).
– Believing in their attributes mentioned by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
– Believing in the actions they perform. The angels worship Allah and glorify Him day and night. Specific angels perform specific tasks. Angel Jibreel is entrusted with Allah’s revelations which he brings down from Allah to his prophets and messengers. Angel Israfeel is responsible for blowing the trumpet that will signify the end of the world and the Day of Judgment. Angel Mika’eel is entrusted with the rain and vegetation. Other angels include the Angel of death who takes a person’s soul from their body, the Angels of the grave, Munkir and Naakir, who question the dead in their graves, the Angels who keep Paradise, and the Hell-fire, as well as the noble writers on our right and left shoulders who record the good and bad deeds of every human being.
Belief in Allah’s Books-
Belief in Allah’s books is the third article of faith. It refers to the revelations that Allah sent down to his Messengers. Their main objective was to bring mankind from the darkness of ignorance and disbelief to the light of faith. The Qur’an is the final revelation. Belief in Allah’s books consist of:
– Belief that these books were truly revealed by Allah to his Messengers.
– Belief in the divine books mentioned in the Qur’an or the Sunnah
– Regarding the teachings of the Qur’an, one must submit to it entirely even if he or she does not understand the wisdom beyond the command or statement.
– Belief that all the Divine books have become obsolete with the revelation of the Qur’an. The laws of former books no longer apply, and the Qur’an is our source of information and guidance.
A Word About the Previous Revelations-
The books that the Jews and Christians possess today, may contain some of the original revelations, but it should be noted that they have been distorted and countless changes of additions and deletions have been made into them over the centuries. All the previous revelations have been nullified with the revelation of the Qur’an, so it is unnecessary to use them for any rulings or guidance. We should however be aware that previous books have been sent and to which Prophets they were revealed.
- The Tawraah (Torah) was revealed to Prophet Musa (as)
- The Zaboor was revealed to Prophet Dawood (as)
- The Injeel (Gospel) was revealed to Prophet Eesa (as)
4 The Suhuf (The scrolls) are also indicated to have been revealed to Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Musa (as).
One of the greatest blessings of Allah is that he sent the revelations for the guidance of mankind. Specific and different revelations were sent according to the needs and conditions of different people over time. The Qur’an contains all the guidance that people need from the time of Rasullullah (saw) until the last Day. That means even 1400 years later, the Qur’an is still applicable and will continue to be. Allah (swt) has also protected the Qur’an from any tampering or distortions. Today, it is still exactly how it was revealed.
Belief in the Messengers of Allah-
The fourth article of faith is the belief in the Messengers of Allah. All the prophets and messengers were human beings chosen by Allah to receive revelations from him and were commanded to pass them to the people of their time. Allah alone chooses his messengers and has sent them to every nation, warning them to worship only Allah. As time passed, the message of these prophets became distorted or lost, and it became necessary to send a new prophet or messenger. It is important to recognize the humanity of these messengers, they were much like us, in that they had human limitations, and they lived and died like us, but they were the most perfect of humanity, in their character and existence, but they did not possess any divine quality and did not possess any superior knowledge except what Allah (swt) revealed to them. Belief in the Messengers consists of:
– Belief that the message of all of them is the truth from Allah. Muslims must believe in all of the Prophets and Messengers.
– Belief in all the prophets and messengers mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith, and the ones who are not mentioned.
– Belief in everything they said, as it was communicated from Allah completely and correctly.
– One must act in accordance with the guidance and teachings of the messengers.
How many Prophets are mentioned in the Qur’an?
There are twenty-five prophets mentioned in the Qur’an: Adam, Idrees, Nuh, Hud, Salih, Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqoob, Lut, Yusuf, Shuaib, Ayoub, Dhul-Kifl, Musa, Harun, Yoosha, Ilyas, Dawood, Suleiman, Uzair, Zakariyya, Yahya, Eesa, and Muhammad (saw).
We should know the distinction between nabi and rasool. A rasool or messenger is a man who was provided with a new law or set of laws and sent to transgressing people. A nabi, or prophet is a man who was provided with a message to follow a previously revealed law.
Belief in the Last Day-
While the world we live in continues to move through the ages, it will not last forever. There will come a day when our trial on this Earth will be over, and it will be time to face our Lord and our judgement. The Last Day has a number of names and it is the point in which we as humans begin the next phase of our lives, the afterlife or akhirah. Some of the names of this last day are mentioned in the Qur’an as, Al-Qaariah, the calamity, Az-Zalzalah, the earthquake, Yawm al-Nushoor, the day of rising, and Yawm al-Qiyaamah, the Day of Judgement. It is also called the Hour because of the quickness by which it will be accomplished and because it will come suddenly upon mankind.
Belief in the Last Day is one of the essential articles of faith, and it consists of the events of that day and events that take place after life resurrection, judgement, reward, paradise, and hell-fire.
The last of humanity left before the end of time will be the worst of people, while even the people with the slightest bit of faith will have died before this day. There are many signs of this day, and one of them is that the sun will rise from the west. People will try to declare their faith, but it will be too late. The trumpet will be blown, and all those living creatures and non-living entities will be swept away until the trumpet is blown a second time and the dead will be standing and waiting.
As believers we should belief in the resurrection, the weighing of the deeds and their following punishment or reward and the belief of paradise and hell. Paradise is the eternal home for those who believed, and hell-fire awaits those who denied the truth.
The first stage of the afterlife, begins when we die, and in our grave, will be questioned by two angels, Munkar and Nakir, who will ask us three questions to determine whether we will be punished in the grave. They will ask, “who is your Lord?” “What is your religion?” and “Who is your prophet?”
Belief in the Divine Decree (Al-Qadar)-
Al-qadar is an Arabic word which originally means “measure or amount.” It is obligatory upon every Muslim to believe in al-qadar. There are four beliefs.
- Knowledge- This means to believe that Allah has knowledge of everything, no matter how big or small, he sees even the smallest ant on a mountain in the dead of night. The hidden for him is visible and the secret is public. He is aware of what is in a person’s mind, in the heart, and what is still not uttered from a person’s lips.
- The Recording of Decrees- This means to believe that Allah has recorded all the decrees or outcomes of all his creatures, before he created the heavens and the earth. Allah is aware of everything that will happen and has happened and has recorded every detail.
- Allah’s Will- Allah’s will is always executed and his ability is absolute. If he wills something, it will certainly happen, and if he does not will something, it will never happen. It refers to everything, the giving of life, the rainfall, the actions of human, etc.
- Allah’s Creativity- This means that Allah has created everything and that there is no creator except him. Everything is a creation of Allah.
Iman- “to know” or “to believe” (this is intelligent faith, rather than blind faith, there are several components of Iman that we will cover in detail)
Mu’min- “believer” (a person who knows and possesses unshakable belief in the components on Iman)
Kufr- disbelief, “to cover” or “to conceal”
Kaafir- a person who denies God “a concealer”
Shirk- one of the gravest sins that is unforgiveable, worshipping anything else or associating partners with Allah
Tawheed- the oneness of Allah
Malak- angel (plural malaa’ikah)
Rasool- messenger, one who brings forth a new set of laws to guide his people
Nabi- prophet, one who brings forth a previously revealed message to reinforce lost people