The Fundamentals Of İman (Part 5)

"This exalted person asked again, 'O Rasul-Allah! Now tell me what is iman (faith).'" Having asked what was Islam and the answer having been given, Hadrat [1] Jabra'il ('alaihi 's-salam) asked our master Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam) to explain the essence and reality of iman. Literally iman means 'to know a person to be perfect and truthful and to have faith in him.' In Islam, 'iman' means to believe the fact that Rasulullah (sall-Allahu ta'ala 'alaihi wa sallam) is Allahu ta'ala's Prophet; that he is the Nabi, the Messenger chosen by Him, and to say this with the heart; and to believe in brief what he transmitted briefly and to believe in detail what he transmitted in detail from Allahu ta'ala; and to say the Kalimat ash-shahada [2] whenever possible. Strong iman is such that, as we know for certain that fire burns, serpents kill by poisoning and we avoid them, we should deem Allahu ta'ala and His attributes great, be fully certain of this by heart, strive for his consent (rida') and run to His beauty (jamal), and beware of His wrath (ghadab) and torture (jalal). We should write this iman on the heart firmly like an inscription on marble.

Iman and Islam are the same. In both, one is to believe the meaning of the Kalimat ash-shahada. Though they differ in general and in particular, and have different literal meanings, there is no difference between them in Islam.

Is iman one thing, or is it a combination of parts? If it is a combination, how many parts is it made of? Are deeds or 'ibadat included in iman or not? While saying, "I have iman," is it right to add "insha-Allah" or not? Is there littleness or muchness in iman? Is iman a creature? Is it within one's power to believe, or have the Believers believed under compulsion? If there is force or compulsion in believing, why was everybody commanded to believe? It would take a long time to explain all these one by one. Therefore, I will not answer them separately here. But it should be known thus far that, according to the Ash'ari madhhab [3] and the Mu'tazila, it is not ja'iz (probable) for Him. Every type of superiority, every attribute of perfection, belongs to Him only. No defect, no deficient attribute exists in Him. He is able to do what He wills. What he does is not intended to be useful to Him or to others. He does not do something for a reward. In everything He does, however, there are hidden causes (hikma), uses, blessings and favors.

[1] Hadrat: title of respect used before the names of great people like and Islamic scholars.
[2] kalimat ash-shahada: the phrase beginning with "Ashhadu..." The first of the five fundamentals of Islam; declaring one's belief in Islam.
[3] madhhab: all of what a profound 'alim of (especially) Fiqh (usually one of the four-Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanbali) or iman (one of the two, namely Ash-ari, Maturidi) communicated.