Pillars of Iman

Posted By islampillars On Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 With 0 Comments


Iman is an Arabic term which denotes certitude or adherence to an idea. In Islamictheology, it refers to the inner aspect of the religion, and denotes a believer’s faith in the metaphysical realities of Islam.  The term Iman has been delineated in both the Quran [Quran 2:285] as well as the famous Hadith of Gabriel. There exists a debate both within and outside Islam on the link between faith and reason in religion, and the relative importance of either. Several scholars contend that faith and reason spring from the same source and hence must be harmonious

According to the Quran, Iman must be accompanied by evidence of righteous deeds, and the two together are necessary for entry into Paradise[Quran 95:6]. Also, since Iman is a quality of the heart / belief, it is impossible for anyone to judge who really is a believer. Iman is one of the three dimensions of the Islamic religion: islam, iman and ihsan.

The 6 Articles of Faith

Iman is generally outlined using the famous 6 articles of faith in Islamic creed:

  1. Belief in God
  2. Belief in the Prophets
  3. Belief in the Day of Judgement
  4. Belief in the Angels
  5. Belief in Divine Books
  6. Qadr (Fate)

Of these, the first five are mentioned together in the Qur’an [Quran 2:285] and Prophet Muhammad(saas), while including a corollary of belief in Allah – the good and evil of fate ordained by God – has referred to all six together in the following manner in the Hadith of Gabriel:

Iman is that you believe in God and His Angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Hereafter and the good and evil fate [ordained by your God]

Another similar narration ascribed to the Prophet is:

Ibn Abbas narrates that the Angel Jibril once asked the Prophet: “Tell me what is Iman?” The Prophet replied: “Iman is to believe in Allah, the Day of Judgment, His (Allah’s) Angels, Books and Prophets and to believe in life after death; and to believe in Paradise and the Fire, and the setting up of the Mizan (scales) to weigh the deeds; and to believe in the Divine Decree, the good and the bad of it (all). Jibril then asked him: “If I do all this will I be with Iman?” The Prophet said: “When you have done all of this, you will be having Iman.”

It is also assumed that the essential Iman consists of the first 3 items (Belief in God, Prophets, and the Hereafter)

Requirements of Iman

Ghamidi states that the Quran demands certain requirements from an individual who proclaims himself to be a believer. The permanent requirements of Iman are [Quran 103:1-3]:

  1. Righteous Deeds (a‘mal-i salih)
  2. Urging one another to the truth and urging one another to remain steadfast on it (tawasi bi al-haqq wa tawasi bi al-sabr)

Similarly, the contingent requirements of Iman are:

  1. Migration for the Cause of Religion (Hijrah)[Quran 4:97]
  2. Helping the Cause of Religion (Nusrah) [Quran 61:10-14][Quran 9:24]
  3. Adhering to Justice (Qiyam bi al-Qist)[Quran 4:135][Quran 5:8]

Delineation in the Quran and Hadith

In the Quran, Iman is one of the 10 qualities which cause one to be the recipient of God’s mercy and reward. [Quran 33:35]. The Quran states that faith can grow with remembrance of God.[Quran 8:2]. The Qur’an also states that nothing in this world should be dearer to a true believer than faith [Quran 9:24].

Prophet Muhammad(saas) is reported to have said that he gained sweetness of faith who was pleased to accept God as Lord, Islam as religion and Muhammad(saas) as prophet  He also said that no one can be a true believer unless he loves the Prophet more than his children, parents and relatives . At another instance, he has remarked that it is this love with God and the Prophet after which a person can be aware of the real taste of faith

Amin Ahsan Islahi, a notable exegete of the Qur’an has clarified the nature of this love:

… it does not merely imply the passionate love one naturally has for one’s wife, children and other relatives, but it also refers to the love on the basis of intellect and principles for some viewpoint and stance. It is because of this love that a person, in every sphere of life, gives priority to this viewpoint and principle.. So much so, if the demands of his wife, children and relatives clash with the demands of this viewpoint, he adheres to it and without any hesitation turns down the desires of his wife and children and the demands of his family and clan

Islahi and Maududi both have inferred that the Quranic comparison of a good word and a bad word in Chapter 14[Quran 14:24] is actually a comparison of faith and disbelief. Thus, the Qur’an is effectively comparing faith to a tree whose roots are deep in the soil and branches spread in the vastness of the sky.

Iman is also the subject of a supplication uttered by the Prophet to God:

O God! I have resigned myself to You and I have consigned my matter to you and have taken support from You fearing Your grandeur and moving towards You in anticipation. There is no refuge and shelter after running away from You, and if there is, it is with You. Lord! I have professed faith in your Book which You have revealed and have professed faith in the Prophet you have sent as a Messenger.

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