The concept of Iman or faith in Islam is the collective process of verbal acknowledgment of the Tawhid of Almighty Allah, sincere belief, and action of acting according to faith. These are the overall ideal of a Muslim and the first and foremost condition of Islam. Keeping and cherishing this trust in their heart, Muslims move toward their ultimate destination. Iman is a collective belief or trust in something that a believer never sees with eyes in this worldly life. But a true believer can feel the existence of what his belief is in. So, the basic concept of faith that is obligatory in Islam refers to belief in the Unseen.
Belief in the Unseen in Islam
In the Islamic context, Al-Ghaib (غيب) is unseen and unknown. According to the Holy Qur’an, mankind is unable to see Allah SWT and His attributes. Not only that, we are unable to see the existence, Abode, and Wanderings of the Supreme Lord, His process of Creation, His sent Messages, and the bearer of that Messages. Even we cannot see our life after death and the circumstances of that life. The concept of Iman in Islam refers to the strong and rational belief in these unseen things. And by placing firm faith in the unseen, the Muslims bear witness to the Tawhid of Allah Almighty. So, belief in the unseen is the fundamental constituent of Islam. However, belief in the unseen or Al-Ghaib is based on:
Six Pillars of Iman in Islam
When Zibreel (Gabriel) wanted to know about Iman saying to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Inform me about Iman (Faith).” Then the Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied: “That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Apostles’ Messengers, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree (Taqdeer) about good and evil.” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)
So, in accordance with the quotation from the Hadith, we become affirmative that Iman in Islam is based on six essential pillars of faith. These are:
Belief in the Tawhid (Monotheism)
Belief in Tawheed is the first pillar of Iman in Islam. Tawheed means monotheism of Allah SWT. Belief in Tawheed is the verbal acceptance and sincere belief in Allah Almighty as the only worthy entity of worship and Muhammad (PBUH) as His Messenger in Islamic concept. This is called ‘The Speech of Shahadah’ by reciting which one enters Islam. This belief also includes belief in the omnipotent and unique Powers and Attributes of Almighty Allah.
“I bear witness that there is no true god except Allah, He is One and Unique, He has no partners in His godhood. I also bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is His Servant and Messenger.” (The Speech of Tawheed)
Belief in the Angels (Malaika)
After believing in the Tawheed of Almighty Allah, it is necessary to believe in His created Angels. It is the second pillar of Iman in Islam. In this belief, the existence, activities, and duties of Angels are connected.
“All the praise and thanks to Allah, the only creator of the heavens and earth, who made the angels messengers with wings, -two or three or four”. -Al Fatir:01
Belief in the Divine Books
Belief in the Divine Books of Allah is an integral part of Iman in Islam. It is important for a believer to believe that the Almighty Allah has sent down many books to the world in order to guide mankind in the right direction. Such as Quran, Injeel, Torah, Jabber, etc. Believing in these books is the third important pillar of Iman in Islam. The Holy Qur’an states:
“This is the book (The Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt, guidance for the pious. And who believe in (The Qur’an) which has been sent down to you (O Muhammad PBUH) and in which were sent down before you and……” Al-Baqarah: 02, 04
Belief in the Risalah
Risalah means the series of Prophets and messengers coming to earth. In order to convey the eternal message of Almighty Allah to the people, many prophets and messengers have been sent to the world. This series of Risalah begins with the arrival of the first man, Adam (PBUH), and ends with the arrival of the final prophet, Muhammad (PBUH). Belief in all prophets and messengers who came to earth is an essential requirement of faith or Iman in Islam.
“The Messenger (Muhammad PBUH) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one of them believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. They say: We make no distinction between one another of Messengers.” -Al-Baqarah: 285
Belief in the Akhirah (Hereafter)
Faith in the Akhirah or life after death is another essential pillar of Iman in Islam. A believer has to believe that this worldly life is not the end for him, rather he must suffer or enjoy the consequences of all the actions of this life in the life after death. This part of belief includes our belief in our life after death, resurrection, judgment day, and Heaven or Hell as the final result after judgment. Faith in the Hereafter keeps a believer detached from worldliness and materialism and safe from the lust and infatuation of all worldly pleasures, wealth, and luxuries.
“This is the book (The Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt, guidance to the pious. And who believe in which has been sent down ……….and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter.” Al-Baqarah: 02, 04
Belief in the Predestinations (Taqdeer)
Belief in Taqdeer or destiny is the sixth important pillar of Iman in Islam. A believer believes that whatever Almighty Allah has created and will do in the world is predestined by Him. Also, the future of people, happiness or suffering is written by fate. Therefore, our actions, destination, and results are pre-ordained by Almighty Allah in this concept of Iman in Islam. Belief in Taqdeer makes people action-oriented in real life and protects them from anxiety and depression for those results. Allah the Almighty states:
“Indeed, all things I created with predestination”. Al Qamar:49
The Conditions of Iman in Islam
The structure of Iman or belief in Islam is basically composed of three conditions of belief. Iman or faith is not complete if there is a defect in one of them. These are:
This matter of verbal recognition is the first stage of the concept of Iman in Islam. it means reciting the Speech of Shahadah i.e., giving verbal recognition of Tawheed (Monotheism) and verbal recognition of the Risalah and Akhirah. Basically. The most important thing about confessing with the tongue is the declaration must be intended and meant. It never should be just a fact of pronunciation. A person enters Islam through the oral recitation of:
“There is no true god except Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH) is His Messenger.”
To Believe in the Heart
Mere verbal acceptance is not enough to establish complete trust in any matter. So, this recognition is only solidified when it is believed from the heart. However, the sincere belief stage of Iman is mainly accomplished in two steps.
The first is sincere acceptance and recognition by the heart. The six pillars on which the concept of Iman in Islam is fulfilled must be taken from the heart and believed deeply. And at the same time, it is necessary to establish a definite idea about those things.
The second stage is the practice of the heart. It means awakening sincere feelings about matters of faith after accepting them wholeheartedly. At this stage, a believer will understand the instructions of Allah SWT by heart and develop love and affection for the elements of faith. So, Iman or faith in Islam is never fulfilled without believing in the heart. The Holy Qur’an states:
“The Bedouins say: We believe. Say O Muhammad PBUH: You believe not but you only say, ‘we have surrendered (in Islam). for faith has not yet entered your hearts.” -Al-Hujuraat: 14
To Act According to Faith
The concept of Iman in Islam is completed through this step. After verbal recognition and sincere belief in the heart, the manifestation and fulfillment of that faith is its practical application. At this stage, a believer surrenders completely to Allah Almighty. He obeys all the orders and prohibitions of Almighty Allah in real life. A believer also conducts his life according to the rules given by Allah SWT. At this level of Iman in Islam, a believer becomes aware of the duties imposed upon him and always strives to fulfill them. Finally, he becomes a full-fledged Muslim. Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an:
“Only those are the believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah.” -Al-Hujuraat: 15
Importance of Iman in Islam
Iman in Islam is a life form. Just as a lifeless body is ineffective and insipid, Islam without faith is equally ineffective and incomplete. The first of the five fundamental pillars upon which Islam is founded is the declaration and firm holding, nurturing, and observance of Iman or Tawheed. On this foundation called Iman, the remaining four pillars namely Salat, Fasting, Zakat, and Hajj are established. It is because of this Iman or belief that a Muslim is different from a non-Muslim or unbeliever. All actions without Iman are considered unacceptable and abandoned in Islam.
“Verily, men are in the loss. Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience.” -Surah Al-Asr
Therefore, ignoring the importance and significance of Iman, the results of all other good deeds will not be beneficial in the Hereafter. For this reason, whenever Allah the Exalted has given the good news of Paradise for His servants in the Holy Qur’an, He has called for faith first and then good deeds in exchange for it. Therefore, the importance of Iman in Islam is paramount and everywhere. The successful indeed are the believers according to the Qur’an.
“Verily, those who believe and do righteous deeds, for them will be Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise). That is the greatest success.” Al-Burooj: 11
Place of logic in the concept of Iman in Islam
Materialistic reasoning has no place in the concept of Iman in Islam. Its first and final condition is faith. The presence or existence of God Almighty, the trustworthiness of the books sent down by God, the presence of the Angels, the proof of Prophethood, the existence of the Afterlife, and the writing of Destiny—all are firmly believed by a believer without seeing. There is no room for doubt here. Anyone can research the existence of unseen things, but Iman is not dependent on the results of that research. There is no scope for entering Islam or questioning Islam through unnecessary arguments or logic.
However, Islam does not force anyone to believe. It is only through one’s own desire and interest that one can be enlightened by the great light of Islam. However, people enlightened by the light of faith are able to sincerely understand the things they trust. These invisible things are not invisible to them at all but are perceived as constant and true as the daylight. So, the place of logic in the concept of Iman in Islam is zero. Allah the Almighty states in the Qur’an:
“This is the book (The Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt guidance for the pious. Those who believe in the Ghaib (Unseen things of Faith), perform the Salat, and spend out of what We have provided for them.” Al-Baqarah: 02, 03.
Therefore, the fulfillment of Iman is the most important element in Islam. The fullness of Iman or faith does not come from verbal confession and cordial belief only. Rather, Iman in Islam is accomplished through verbal recognition, sincere belief, and action according to the belief in the collective affairs of Tawheed, Risalah, and Akhirah. Again, after instilling the faith, it is also important to nurture and practice with the heart itself. However, without Iman or faith, one cannot become a Muslim. Again, all of the good deeds are completely meaningless if one does not contain the Iman or belief.
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