This is the continuation of the hadith of Jibreel/Gabriel. Jamal Az Zarabozo goes into great detail explaining Iman and tawheed. There will be at least 3 posts on this topic, inshaAllah. I am trying to summarize as much as possible, but it’s pretty much straight out of the book, since I don’t want to misquote/improperly explain something. Also, the author discussed many deviant groups and what was wrong with their aqeedah, but I won’t be covering that part.
Iman: What is Iman?
What is Imaan? Early on in Islam, Muslims divided over what the word Iman meant, what defines who a believer is and what defined what took a person out of the folds of Islam. Deviant groups such as the Mu’tazila, Khawaarij and Murjia arose.
When it comes to any concept in the Qur’an and Sunnah, historically speaking, there have been two approaches to determine the correct meaning:
- Discovering the meaning of the concept from the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as he passed it on to his companions and their followers.
- Going to the word itself and, based on presupposed premises, discovering the meaning from a linguistic and logical point of view.
These two differences are what seperates the correct way of Islam from the distorted one. Of course, the first approach is the approach of Ahl as Sunnah wa al Jama’ah (the people of the Sunnah). Ibn Taymiyyah says: “One must understand that if any term is found in the Qur’an and hadith, and its explanation is known and its purport made clear by the Prophet (peace be upon him), there is no need to use as evidence the statements of the linguists or others…
Everything that essentially needs to be known of the meaning of the Qur’an has been given by the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This should be a fundamental principle for all Muslims.
Iman is by the heart, tongue and physical actions. Ahl as Sunnah wa al Jam’ah say that deeds as a class are a component of Imaan and there is no Imaan for the one who does not perform any religious deeds. Many deviant groups say that Imaan is by the heart and tongue only. Some go as far as saying that Iman is only in the heart!
The view of ahl as Sunnah wa al Jamaah is that the locus of Iman is the heart, tongue and physical actions. Some such deeds are essential, others are required and yet others are recommended. This does not preclude the possibility that true believers commit sins. Such sins, even major sins if they are less than kufr or shirk, do not take a person out of the fold of Islam. In the hereafter, the sinner may be punished in Hell or be forgiven by Allah. However, all people who have even the slightest amount of iman in their hearts will eventually be rescued from hell and entered into Paradise. This is the belief that was passed on from the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his followers. It is the only view that takes into consideration the different relevant pieces of evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Ibn ‘Uthaimeen emphasizes very beautifully here how iman is not simply just a “belief” in the heart:
Iman is the affirmation that requires acceptance and submission. If a person believes in something without acceptance and submission, this is not iman. The evidence for that is that the polytheists [Arabs] believed in Allah’s existence and believed in Allah as the Creator, Sustainer, Giver of Life, the One who Brings forth Death and the Manager of the Universe’s affairs. Furthermore, one of them even accepted the messengership of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but he was not a believer. That person was Abu Taalib, the uncle of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. But that will not avail him whatsoever because he did not accept and submit to what the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam bought.
I’ll end the first part here, inshaAllah. We’ll pick up the discussion again and begin by discussing the different components of Iman in the next post inshaAllah.