The development of faith

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					                   The development of faith
This article describes the meaning of ‘Imaan’, its implications and the
three stages of development. Life examples of prophets are used to
illustrate the final ‘stage of certainty’. A powerful consequence of strong
faith is confidence to act and take bold and courageous steps. Moving
examples of this are given.

What is faith?

According to Imam An Nasafi (d.1165) faith is;

   o Faith is to accept mentally and say verbally what the Prophet
     (SAW) brought from Allah.

   o The quantity of deeds a person does may increase, but the Imaan
     of a person does not increase or decrease.

   o Imaan and Islam are one and the same thing. When a person has
     mentally accepted mentally and pronounced verbally (the
     testimony of faith), then he can say, ‘I am a believer’ and it is not
     correct to say, ‘I am a believer, Insha Allah’ (God willing).

                                                           (Aqaid An Nasafi)

The definition of faith is having confident belief in the truth. This belief
does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. It’s to be certain and
to have no doubt. Having faith is known as conviction, the state of being
convinced and persuaded.

The literal Arabic meaning of Imaan has the meaning “to believe”, “to
trust someone” and “to have confidence in someone”. The Quranic
definition of Imaan is to believe in Allah, his messengers the day of
judgement and everything else that Allah has commanded us to believe
in. The Quran says:
   “As to men of faith each of them believes in Allah, his angels and his
According to the Ahl Sunnah wal jamaat faith consists of mentally
accepting and verbally declaring ones beliefs. This is known as ‘the
essence of faith’, it is a ‘non or all effect’ i.e. You either have faith or you
don’t. After accepting the faith it grows as a result of good deeds, this is

known as ‘perfection of faith’. It is this that will be constantly changing,
like the curve, with highs and lows depending on ones good works. The
Quranic formula of, “those who believe and do good works” points to the
fact that faith and good works are two separate things. However they
interact and affect one another (from Aqaid An Nasafi)

If we imagine Islam is a building then Imaan is the foundation. Without
this the building would not exist. There is yet another reason for knowing
more about Imaan namely that a strong Imaan gives confidence to the
Muslim. In the gloomy age through which we are passing strong Imaan is
the only guarantee for our success and salvation. The only hope lies in
having strong Imaan in Allah.

(Surah Hujarat 13-15)

Once the nomads of Banu Asad a tribe living in the suburbs of Madinah
were faced with a famine. They came to Madinah and begged the Prophet
to help them because they were believers. This verse clarifies the fact that
by merely claiming to be part of the Muslim Ummah does not make one
believer. It is important that his mind is free of any doubt and if he is
called to make sacrifice of his life or property he is happy to do so.

It may seem from this verse that according to the Quran Imaan and Islam
are two distinct entities. M’umin is someone whose heart is bright with
light of Imaan and a Muslim is someone who is obedient although his
heart maybe deficient in Imaan. This is not the case. The Quran rejects
this notion when it says:
‘The only religion acceptable to Allah is Islam. Allah says to the Prophet,
‘Say I have been told to become the first Muslim’

So Imaan is the belief in the Almighty and it has to be accompanied by
submission to his will. This is why Allah says, ‘If they had obeyed Allah
and his messenger they would be fully rewarded”.

In a hadith when Jibril asks the prophet (saws), “What is faith?” He
replies, “ it is to believe in Allah, his prophets, books, predestination and
the life hereafter.” Jibril then asks, “What is Islam?” He says, “To pray
five times a day, to fast, to give Zakah and perform hajj.” (Bukhari)

Faith is not just comprised of belief in one God but also in the Prophet
Muhammad (saws) this is shown in the following ahadith.

The Prophet (saws) said, “Whoever has these three qualities will taste the
flavour of faith: God and his messenger are most dear to him; he loves
others only for the sake of God, and he hates to return to kufr more than
being thrown into fire alive. (Agreed upon)

The Prophet (saws) said, “None of you can be a believer until I am more
dear to him than his children, parents and all of the people.” (Agreed

The prophet (saws) said, “he has tasted the flavour of faith who is happy
with Allah as the Lord, Islam as a religion and Muhammad as the
messenger”. (Muslim)

When faith becomes an absolute certainty

True Imaan is not merely uttering of Shahadah, as Allah rebuted this
concept in the Quran with the example of the incident with Banu Asad.
True faith demands certain things:

1) To enter the fold of Islam completely, which means to follow Islam
wholly. This requires following Islam in our private lives. The Quran tells
    “ O believers enter into Islam wholeheartedly and do not follow the
          footsteps of Satan for he is your open enemy.” (2:208)

2) To avoid everything that Islam has forbidden. Things like alcohol,
drugs, unlawful sex relationships, disobedience of parents etc.

3) To practice the commandments such as; salah, Zakah, fasting and hajj.

4) To follow the example of the blessed Mustafa. The messenger of Allah
lived a life, which was a perfect model for everyone. Allah says,

  “Surely the messenger is a beautiful example for him who has hope in
                   Allah and the day of judgement.”

It should be noted that the Quran says that the messenger is a “beautiful
example” for those people who have faith in Allah and believe in the life
hereafter. Thus linking Imaan with following the Messenger.

The three stages in development of faith

True faith is trusting and loving Allah (swt). It is a continuous spectrum.
Ranging from on one side weak faith to the other extreme of strong faith.
The Quran describes the three stages of Imaan: These are;

1) Knowledge; (Ilm ul Yaqin) This is the first step of Imaan we hear
someone speak about something and we accept it. The Quran says,

             “Those who believe in the unseen” (Baqarah: 3)
The accept unconditionally what he tells them, they do not doubt him and
this is because they have trusted the messenger of Allah and placed their
confidence in him. They inferred the truth from him! Without any other

2) Seeing and recognising the truth; (Ain ul yaqin). In this second stage of
Imaan one sees with his own eyes evidence for his unseen beliefs. He
witnessed its truth. He sees things, which point to its truth.

   “And in yourselves there are plenty of signs don’t you see!” (Zariat

3) The third stage of Imaan is absolute certainty of assured truth. This is
haqqul-yaqin. The Quran gives many examples of this final stage of
certainty. One striking example is that of the Prophet Uzair. Whilst he
was passing through ruins of Jerusalem he said;

      “How shall Allah bring it back to life again?” (Baqarah: 259)

Due to this comment Allah caused him to die for a hundred years. Allah
resurrected him after a hundred years and he felt as though he had been
asleep for a day or part of it. But he was told, “You have slept for a
century! Look at your drink, they show no sign of age and now look at
your donkey”. His drink and fruits were still fresh whilst his donkey had
not only died but decayed and was a heap of bones. An then Allah says,

 “ Look further at the bones how we bring them together and cover them
                                in flesh!”
Upon seeing this miracle Uzair proclaimed,
                “ I know Allah has power over all things”

Here we may ask didn’t Uzair a prophet already know that Allah has
power over all things? If he didn’t know then how could he be a prophet?

What it means is that he knew but he wanted to witness the power of his
Lord so that he could attain the absolute degree of certainty, Haqqul

Similar incident is mentioned concerning the prophet Ibrahim. He

“ O my Lord show me how you will give life to the dead” (Baqarah: 260)

The same doubt had arisen here. Didn’t Ibrahim have faith in the power
of his Lord? The Quran tell us he had a faith, which was given to him
through intuition and revelation. He wanted to progress to the final stage
of faith. This he could get only through seeing the majesty and power of
his Lord being manifested clearly before his eyes. Allah asked Ibrahim:

“ Don’t you believe Ibrahim?” He replied, “Why not, I believe but I want
                          to satisfy my heart.”

Obviously Allah knew that Ibrahim believed in him but for our education
he had this dialogue with him. Then Allah told him to take four birds and
cut them into pieces and scatter their meat on four hills and call to them.
They will come to you flying. Then know Allah is exalted in power and
all wise.

The following example is a good illustration of the three stages of Imaan.
Someone tells you that this box contains chocolate, if you believe him
without seeing that is Ilm ul yaqin. But if you open the lid and peep inside
it and actually see the chocolate that is ain ul yaqin. And to convince
yourself that it is really chocolate you eat it! This is haqqul ul yaqin
absolute certainty. You have now tasted it all your senses tell you that it
is chocolate. No one can convince you otherwise. This final degree of
certainty is a prominent feature of the prophetic faith. A real faith.

A strong faith gives confidence and hope

This strong faith in Allah gives emotional and physical strength. It gives
hope at time of despair. Gives confidence and will power to face
adversities. It is the key to happy and bright future. The following
examples from the messenger’s biography clearly illustrate the power of

Examples of Haqqul Yaqin

1) One day the messenger of Allah was sitting in the shade of the Kaaba.
Habab bin Airth one of his disciples came to him and pleaded to him to
pray for divine help. As the Muslims were being severely persecuted. The
messenger sat up and said, “Habab have you already given up? In the past
the believer was cut in to pieces and flesh pulled from his bones with
metal combs but he didn’t give up! Listen Habab, ‘Allah will certainly
complete his deen and a time will come when the traveller from Hibr
Mauth in Yemen will fear no one but Allah!”

Look at the certainty with which the Messenger is speaking. And at a
time when there was only a handful of Muslims. They were too weak
even to preach openly. Bitterly persecuted and tormented. But despite the
gloomy situation He seems hopeful and sees a bright future. This is
prophetic certainty and trust in Allah’s power. Who else could have
replied so positively and confidently?

2) Another Beautiful incident illustrating the deep faith of the prophet
occurred at the time when the Muslims were digging the ditch around
Madinah. The enemies were gathering together a large force to finish off
the Muslims in Madinah. The Muslims were only 3000 decided to protect
their city by digging a ditch. As the work was progressing the disciples
came across a boulder it shattered into smithereens. A spark came out.
The prophet looked at his weary tired soldiers and said, “ In this spark I
saw the white palaces of Persia and the yellow palaces of Damascus.
Soon you shall conqueror them!”

This was a most remarkable statement. Here were the Muslims under
siege. The enemy just about to destroy them. But the prophet’s faith in
Allah’s help and the ‘near victory’ is extraordinary.

3) Example of Suraqa bin Jasham and the Golden bracelets of Chosroe
the emperor of Persia.

The seed of Imaan

This is an apt metaphor of Imaan. For the seed of Imaan is present in our
hearts but it needs to be nurtured so it can grow into the mighty and
sublime tree of faith. Whose roots are deep in the earth and branches high
in the sky. A seed needs three ingredients to grow; water, minerals and
sunlight. In a similar way the seed of Imaan needs the water of eyes,
flowing from the fear of Allah. It needs the minerals of Quranic wisdom;
it needs the light for Nur-e-Muhammad.

For this is an urgent need of our time. “O Believers believe”.

The superficial Imaan has to develop into conviction a firmly rooted
belief. The formal Islam must move towards the spirit of Islam. From the
outward (Zahir) to the inward (batin). Only then will there be an Islamic
revolution. We are fortunate that we still have the outward Islam other
religious communities have lost even that. Look at Christianity and see
how it has compromised with secularism to the extent that its’ original
character is difficult to discern. The Talmudic laws are nowhere to be
seen for Zionism has over ran Judaism. In this utter darkness of modern
jahaliyya the torch of Islam still burns as it did fourteen centuries. We
still have the original book-the glorious Quran-the supreme source of
guidance. We still have Mustafa our benevolent leader-the exemplary
sacrificing lives of the disciple are like are open book before us.

All that is needed today in the willingness to practice then. For this reason
we invite you to our weekly study circles, our conferences, read our
literature-in short we invite you to re-read the glorious chapters of Islamic
history. Let us not forget that true Iman still has power. The same power
which defeated Rome and Persia.


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