Islam, Iman and Ihsan

All praise is due to Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help and we ask for His forgiveness. We seek refuge from the evil of ourselves and from the consequence of our evil actions .Whomsoever Allah guides there none to misguide and whomsoever Allah leads to go astray there none to guide. I bear witness that Allah alone is worthy of worship and that Muhammed (PBUH) is Allah’s slave and messenger. The best speech is the speech of Allah and the best guidance is that of prophet Muhammed peace be upon him.

The way people understand Islaam is not always the way it should be conceived. In this paper I’m going to touch upon this issue and clarify what Islaam really means. The sections of the research will be as follows:
A) The level of pillars and articles.
B) The level of the testimony of faith.
C) The level of Birr (righteousness).

The level of pillars and articles:

Islam is a way of life that includes both faith and practice. Having this into consideration, when look into the various authentic texts such as the second Hadith in the Arbaieen Nawawayyah we find that there are five pillars of Islam: First, bearing witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammed salla Allah alayhe wa sallam is His messenger. Second, performing the five daily prayers. Third, Giving Zakah. Fourth, observing fasting, and Fifth, doing Hajj. Failing to do one of these pillars, while being able to, one is considered to be a non-Muslim.

Likewise, there are six articles of faith: to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day and the divine decree both good and evil.
Combining these two, we can be more aware of what Islam really means. Having faith and acting upon it is the true message of Islam. It is even more comprehensible to consider the idea of Ihsaan : When angel Gabriel asked the prophet about it he answered that Ihsaan means to worship Allah as you can see Him, and if not, He sees you.
This concept of having faith and acting on it is emphasized in the Qur’an so many times. For example, Allah said, the meaning of which is :
“And those who have faith and do righteous good deeds, they are dwellers of Paradise, they will dwell therein forever” Qur’an (2:82)

The level of the testimony of faith:

It is generally known among many people that bearing witness that لا إله إلا الله means : there is no God but Allah. However if we have a look at the scholars’ sayings we see that it means: none has the right to be worshipped except Allah. There are necessities for bearing this witness. Wahb ibn Munabbih was asked: “Is not ‘La Ilaha Illa Allah’ the key to the Paradise?” He said, “Yes, but there is no key without teeth. If you bring a key which has the correct teeth, it will open for you. If not, it will not open for you.”
The scholars derived certain condition from the Qur’an and the Sunnah for this testimony to be beneficial to its holder I.e. to serve as the key to paradise. These conditions are as follows:
1. Knowledge: to know its meaning, that is we affirm that Allah only is to be worshipped and that no other deity has this right.
2. Certainty: to believe his with surety with no doubt in one’s heart.
3. Acceptance: after knowing the meaning and being certain we must accept the necessities of this phrase; otherwise one is a disbeliever if he or she did not accept it.
4. Compliance: that is to abide by what Allah ordered and legislated and to abstain from what He forbade.
5. Truthfulness: not to say it only by tongue like the hypocrites do but to say it from heart and to adhere to it.
6. Love: to love it even though some of its necessities are against our desires – this is the true love, to follow Allah and His messenger’ path.
7. Purity of intention: which means that we should say it only for the sake of Allah to gain His pleasure.
Taking the abovementioned details into consideration we conclude that the meaning of Islam is not just a word that we say or some action we do ritually and that’s all! There is a meaning beyond every act a Muslim does. This example of the testimony of faith is just an example or else every act of worship or article of faith has necessities and conditions and for a Muslim to understand Islam well they should acquire the minimum of these necessities by which they can be true Muslims.

The level of Birr (righteousness):

It might be strange to mention this item when talking about the true understanding of Islam but there is a significant link. It is true because a lot of Muslims isolate their “religious” life from their everyday conduct. The gap has to be bridged between knowledge and practice. I heard some people saying that religion is between you and Allah; it is in the “Masjid”. But is this really how it should be?
Allah Subahanaho wa ta’aala said, the meaning of which is:
“It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, and each and every act of obedience to Allâh, etc.) that you turn your faces towards east and west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is that: one believes in Allâh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masâkin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set slaves free, performs As-Salât, and gives the Zakât, and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment and at the time of fighting. Such are the people of the truth and they are Al Muttaqûn” Qur’an (2: 177)
Imam Al-Baghwy said in is tafseer that Al-Birr (righteousness) is every righteous act that cause its doer to enter paradise.
It is very interesting that Allah mentioned this fact that some people nowadays claim that religion is only in the masjid. “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards east and west in prayers” But Allah mentioned what righteousness really is by stating a number of acts related to: heart → belief in Allah…etc. Dealing with people → giving charity and freeing slaves. Worship → Performing prayers and Zakat. Conduct: fulfilling covenants. Self → patience.

To conclude, there has been a problem with some Muslims ,as well as non-Muslims, understanding the true meaning of Islam and its meaning cannot be limited to certain shallow plain definitions without explaining what it necessitates. Islam is not just peace, Islam is not some wrapped beliefs in mind, Islam is not even good actions without faith. ISLAM is the way of life that Allah pleased for us, and that system organizes our relationship to Allah, people, ourselves, the environment and everything around us.

1. The Noble Qur’an
3. Fathul Bary Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari, Ibn Hajar (web-based)
4. An Explanation of the Last Tenth of The Qur’an.
8. Al-Maktabah Ash-Shamelah (PC Application)
9. Ma’alim at-Tanzeel fee Tafseerul Qur’an, Imam Al Baghawy, Dar Ihya’ at-Turath, Beirut, 1420 (PC Application)

About Ahmed Othman

Ahmed is an English teacher, a teacher trainer, a public speaker, a writer and a therapist.

One comment

  1. This concept is great!

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