THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IMAN AND GOOD DEEDS
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
Three distinct stages in Islam, ie, (i) Faith in Heart (Iman), (ii) Deeds by limbs (Islam) and (iii) Complete attention towards Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) /Tasawwuf (Ihsan). If someone does good deeds without Iman in his heart, he will not be treated as Muslim. If a person has Iman in his heart but is involved in sins, he will be called a sinner, fasiq. If a person has Iman in his heart and also does good deeds only for the same of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), he will be called a true believer and a person of Ihsan.There are differences of opinions of scholars on the issue of Iman and good deeds. Some say belief and good deeds together are Iman. Some say that Iman and good deeds are different from each other.This books discusses this issue in detail in the light of Quran, Ahadith and opinions of Aimma.
If a person believes in heart that 'There is no real (worship-able) god except Allah (SWT) and Mohammad (SAWS) is Allah's Apostle and surrenders himself to the will of God, meaning decides to obey Allah (SWT) and Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) as per the teachings of Quran and Sunnah, he is Muslim for all practical purposes.If the person does not believe in Shahada in his heart, he will called a non Muslim.If a person believes in heart and also proclaims the Shahada by his tongue, this is better.If a person, immediately after proclaiming Shahadah, also starts fulfilling Islamic obligations, like learning (or doing) Salah, fasting, giving charity (Zakah), etc., this is still better.A person who is good at Iman (belief) and Islam (deeds), his example is of a person who is wearing pant and shirt, along with undergarments.If a person is excellent in his deeds and as per Prophet's (SAWS) commandments, doing all his deeds seeing Allah (SWT) from his eyes, he comes under the category of Ihsan. His example is the person who is wearing Pant, shirt, coat, overcoat, hat, shoes and socks. He is fully dressed gentleman or person of Ihsan.It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) narrated by Abdullah : Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) said 'Allah (SWT) is not hidden from you'.If a person wears a gown (without wearing any cloths inside) to go to a place where naked men are not allowed and goes naked where naked people are allowed, his example is that of hypocrite (Munafiq).Some people may object that the Shaikh has given a bad example to explain Iman. They should know that there is nothing bad or good in explanations. We have to chose an example with which the issue is understood by one and all easily. If they still feel not comfortable, they should read the following Hadith.
It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) narrated by 'Ummul momineen Aisha (RA) : Allah's Apostle (SAWS) said, "The people will be gathered barefooted, naked and uncircumcised (on the Day of Judgment)." I said, "O Allah's Apostle (SAWS)! Will the men and the women look at each other?" He said, "The situation will be too hard for them to pay attention to that."Therefore, it is a good idea to understand the issue in its proper perspective rather than paying attention towards the examples given.If a person is wearing a beautiful hat, a costly coat, inner vest, shirt and tie and not wearing anything down, he will be called naked even though half of his body is covered with costly cloths. This is the example of Muslim sects / groups whose deeds are good, but whose basic faith is not correct. On the day of Judgment they will be declared as Non-Muslims. This is the reason Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) said, out of 73 sects, only one will get salvation and the rest will be thrown into hell fire. (Hadith Tirmidhi).If a person always prefers to remain in underwear, or wears shabby/torn clothes that do not cover his body properly, his example is that of a person who has Iman, but he does not have any good deeds or probably, he is a sinful person (Faasiq).As underwear is the yardstick to judge a person if he is naked or not, similarly the belief (in heart) in Kalma Tayyiba (Shahadah) is the standard with which we know if a person is Muslim or not.If a person increases the size/length of his underwear, it will not mean anything, except that he is now trying to increase the looks of his body. In the same way, Iman does not increase or decrease. Once a person believes in Shahadah in his heart, he becomes Momin for all practical purposes. The increase in his good deeds will get him more rewards in Hereafter.It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) Narrated by Anas (RU) - The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Whoever said "There is no real (worship-able) god except Allah (SWT)" and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said: - "There is no real (worship-able) god except Allah (SWT)" and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a wheat grain will be taken out of Hell. And whoever said - "There is no real (worship-able) god except Allah (SWT)" and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of an atom will be taken out of Hell."The above Hadith does not specify that the person should say with this tongue to others or declare in front of his community about his Iman. Saying and believing in heart is the condition. Meaning, he can say to himself that La Ilaha Illallah and he needs to have faith in his heart equal to weight of a barely grain.."It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) narrated Abu Huraira (RU) - One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (the angel) Gabriel came and sat, folding his knees like a student sits in front of a teacher and asked, "What is faith?" Allah's Apostle (SAWS) replied, "Faith is to believe in Allah (SWT), His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection." Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle (SAWS) replied, "To worship Allah (SWT) alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly, to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan." Then he further asked, "What is Ihsan (Tasawwuf)?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah (SWT) as if you see Him, and if you cannot see him then you must consider that He is looking at you." Then he further asked, "When will the Hour (the Day of Judgment) be established?" Allah's Apostle (SAWS) replied, "The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents. (i) When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master. (ii) When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAWS) then recited: "Verily, with Allah (alone) is the knowledge of the Hour--." (Luqman - 34). Then the person (Hazrat Gabriel -AS) left and the Prophet (SAWS) asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet (SAWS) said, "That was Gabriel (AS) who came to teach the people their religion."The above Hadith clarifies three distinct stages in Islam, ie, (i) Faith in Heart (Iman), (ii) Deeds by limbs (Islam) and (iii) Complete attention towards Allah (SWT) /Tasawwuf (Ihsan)."It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) narrated by Anas bin Malik (RU) - "Once Mu'adh was along with Allah's Apostle (SAWS) as a companion rider. Allah's Apostle (SAWS) said, "O Mu'adh bin Jabal. " Mu'adh replied, "Labbaik and Sa'daik. O' Allah's Apostle (SAWS)!" Again the Prophet (SAWS) said, "O Mu'adh!" Mu'adh said thrice, "Labbaik and Sa'daik, O' Allah's Apostle!" Allah's Apostle (SAWS) said, "There is none who testifies sincerely that 'There is no real (worship-able) god except Allah (SWT) and Mohammad (SAWS) is Allah's Apostle, except that Allah (SWT), will save him from the Hell-fire." Mu'adh said, "O' Allah's Apostle ! Should I not inform the people about it so that they may have glad tidings?" He replied, "When the people hear about it, they will solely depend on it." Then Mu'adh narrated the above mentioned Hadith just before his death, being afraid of committing sin (by not telling the knowledge). (Book #3, Hadith #130)
The above Ahadith clearly establish that to belief in heart is sufficient for a person to be declared Muslim and he becomes eligible to enter paradise.Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad At-Tahaawee (843 - 935) was a famous Islamic Scholar who followed Hanafi school of thought. He is famous for Aqeedah At-Tahawiyyah, a treatise on Aqidah that has been accepted by all four schools of thought (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali).
Both Imam al-Maturidi and At-Tahaawee said Iman (faith) consists of "conviction in the heart and affirmation by the tongue.
Imam Al-Maturidi declared (on the authority of Imam Abu Hanifa) that the foundation of belief consisted only in conviction in the heart, the tongue's affirmation is a supplementary integral /pillar (rukn zâ'id).
The other three Imams, Maalik, al-Shafi'i and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said that Islamic belief consists of 'conviction in heart, affirmation by the tongue, and practice with the limbs.
We believe that all Imams are correct. We can understand their rulings as follows.
When we take Iman as conviction in heart, then Imam Abu Hanifah's statement and the statement of Imam At-Tahaawee is correct.
When we consider the best deeds of a human being, then the first thing that comes to our mind is 'Iman" (faith), which is followed by other deeds. In this case, Iman becomes part of all good deeds or all good deeds become part of Iman.
It is in Hadith - (Bukhari Book 2, Hadith 25) narrated by Abu Huraira (RU) - Allah's Apostle (SAWS) was asked, "What is the best deed?" He replied, "To believe in Allah (SWT) and His Apostle (Mohammad - SAWS). The questioner then asked, "What is the next (in goodness)? He replied, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's (SWT) Cause." The questioner again asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To perform Hajj (Pilgrim age to Makka) 'Mubrur, (which is accepted by Allah (SWT) and is performed with the intention of seeking Allah's (SWT) happiness only and not to show off and without committing a sin and in accordance with the traditions of the Prophet)."
It is in Quran - لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ." ( Meaning - It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness - to believe in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing). (Al-Baqara - 177).
It is in Hadith - (Bukhari Book 2, Hadith 7) narrated by Ibn 'Umar - Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
- 'There is no real god except Allah (SWT) and Mohammad (SAWS) is Allah's Apostle
- To offer Salah ( prayers) dutifully and perfectly.
- To pay Zakat (obligatory charity) .
- To perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to
- To observe fast during the month of Ramadhan.
It is in Hadith - (Bukhari Book 2, Hadith 23) narrated by 'Abdullah (bin 'Umar) - Once Allah's Apostle (SAWS) passed by an Ansari who was admonishing to his brother regarding Haya'. On that Allah's Apostle (SAWS) said, "Leave him as Haya' is a part of Iman (faith)."
Why professing of Shahadah by tongue, as well as other good deeds have been separated from 'Belief in heart'?
May be because, there are certain circumstances for people when they cannot profess Iman openly fearing danger to their lives. This provision will help them to get salvation on the Day of Judgment.
When a person can profess Shahadah openly by his tongue and there is no threat to his life, then he should do it openly. If he does not do it, then his case is for Allah (SWT) to decide on the Day of Judgment.
If a person proves to others by his actions throughout his life that he is Muslim, even though he does not profess (or did not have the opportunity to profess) Shahada openly, then, other Muslims should have good faith in him and consider that, though he apparently did not declare about his belief to others openly, but his actions confirm that he has correct Islamic faith in heart, therefore, it is most likely that he will be treated as Muslim on the Day of Judgment.
The issue of belief in Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (SAWS) is a direct issue between Allah (SWT) and the servant. We cannot pass judgment looking at circumstantial evidence.
The primary importance of belief in heart is established from the fact that if a person does not do any good deeds, rather commits serious sins of all kinds, he is still treated as Muslim. He will be tagged as Sinner for which he may be punished in Hereafter. But his ultimate salvation is guaranteed because he has the belief in heart.It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) narrated by Abu Dhar (RU) - The Prophet (SAWS) said, "Gabriel (AS) said to me, "Whoever said there is no real (worship-able) god except Allah (SWT)" amongst your followers and died, will enter Paradise." The Prophet (SAWS) asked. "even if he has committed illegal sexual intercourse or theft?" He replied, "Even then." (Book #54, Hadith #445).The above Hadith emphasizes the importance of Iman over deeds.
Let us clarify an important issue here. We should not consider that being Muslims, we can do sins or committing sins is allowed in Islam. Be careful my brothers and sisters - sinner is walking on the tight rope bordering Kufr.
If a person commits a sin repeatedly thinking that since many people are doing it in Muslim society, therefore it is allowed, then he is inviting himself the trouble of going out of Islam. If you commit a sin and think that it is allowed in Islam, then you have invited a serious and bigger trouble for yourself. Islam does not allow wrong doings. Separating religion from day to day life or deliberately insisting on committing sins or making fun/mockery of established Sharia laws are very serious issues that should not be taken lightly. The angels are recording every action. Watch out, you will not even know when you were declared as non-Muslim by Allah's (SWT) appointed angels.
When a person commits the sin and considers that what he has done is wrong, deplorable and he should not repeat it or correct himself as soon as possible, then he remains Muslim.
Some people disrespect, insult Prophet Mohammad (SAWS), his family members and other dignitaries of Islam and insist that what they are doing is right. These actions take them far away from Islam.
The only possible way for these sects to come back to the fold of Islam and get salvation is, they should repent and renounce their beliefs and deeds and come back to the straight path of Islam.
Salafis and their like minded groups claim that Fatiha, Eithaal-e-Sawab, visiting of graves of dead believers are acts of shirk. These issues have been explained by us at many places.
If someone declares a real Muslim as 'Grave worshiper' or makes fun of his Islamic faith and mislead innocent Muslims to take them away from the straight path of Islam, and declares himself to be Muslim, then he, along with his followers may be treated as hypocrites (Munafiqeen) on the Day of of Judgment.
Similarly, there are some faith healers (Aamileen) in society who take the assistance of the souls of stars, trees, shayateen, etc., and mislead people claiming themselves as Sufi Babas and pious Muslims. These faith healers apparently have no Iman in their hearts. It is said that more than 98% of Muslim population; people belonging to all Muslim Groups, like Shia, Sunnis, Salafis and their like minded; talk a lot about Islamic beliefs, but when they are faced with any problem, they flock to these faith healers. This epidemic has overtaken the entire Muslim Community. My dear brothers and sisters, please note that your association and belief in bad faith healer Babas will take your Iman away from you. Well, there are some genuine and sincere Shaikhs whose Dua may help us in many ways. It is therefore advisable that we inquire about a person before approaching him with our problems.
In addition, there are some look alike Sufis in society who take advantage of innocent people in the name of Tasawwuf. People should identify such people and hold themselves away from them.
It is important that we find a real Sufi Shaikh of Ihsan for our spiritual training and Tazkia. We have discussed this issue and explained how to find these real Shaikhs/Awliya Allah.
The Ahle Sunnah teachers / Shaikhs should explain issues of Tasawwuf to people in the light of Quran and Ahadith. They should ensure that their students are first taught about basic Islamic subjects like reading and understanding Quran, Hadith, Arabic, Fiqh, and later they should be taught Islamic Theology (Tasawwuf).
What is observed is, our teachers and even the websites of famous Sufi lineages (Silsilaa), only refer the quotes/poetry of their Shaikhs that cannot be understood by young people. This gives rise to suspicion in the minds of young people about the authenticity of Sufi teachings and they eventually fall victim to faithlessness of misguided Muslim sects.
The requirements of our time are different. Our teaching methods should conform with those requirements. Let us teach students the requirements of Sharia first which can be followed by Tariqa of different lineages. This way we can establish a strong foundation in young people about Islam. Without completing the Sharia course, no one should be allowed to enter into Tariqa practices of Zikr, Halqa, Sama, etc.