Part I: Belief (Al-Emaan)

Chapter 01

Belief and Its Elements

Meaning of Belief

         The Arabic word Emaan is from Aman which means peace and security. Another meaning of Emaan is to believe in, to have faith in, or to accept the truth or reality of something, or to acknowledge the existence of someone. As a term of Islamic Shariah (law), Emaan or belief stands for expression of one’s faith in Allah as the Only God of the Universe. Emaan is expressed by uttering certain words from tongue, by confirming these words with heart, and by following these words with actions.

         According to a tradition (Hadith) reported by Abdullah-bin-Umar, the Messenger of Allah Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) said: Islam is built upon five things (called pillars or articles) which are: to attest or testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad (PBUH) is Allah’s slave and messenger (i.e. belief); to keep up prayer (Salat); to pay compulsory alms (Zakat); to perform pilgrimage (Hajj); and to fast (Saum) for the month of Ramadhan (Bukhari and Muslim). So Emaan or belief is the first and the most important pillar or article of Islam. Belief is the foundation of all worship and all devotional acts and all righteous deeds. Belief is so important that without it no worship is acceptable and no righteous deed is entitled to any reward.

         However, before proceeding any further, let us produce some of the verses of the Holy Qur’an and Traditions of Prophet Muhammad PBUH which highlight the meaning, nature, constitution and importance of belief.

Verses of the Qur’an

1-            Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and their descendents, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the (other) prophets received from their Lord. We make no discrimination in them, and unto Him we have surrendered. – (Al-Baqarah 2:136)

2-            It is not righteousness that you turn your face toward the East and the West; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Scripture and the Prophets…… – (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

3-            The messenger (Muhammad) believes in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord and so do the believers. Each one believes in Allah and His Angels and His Scriptures and His messengers. They declare: We make no distinction between any of His messengers…… – (Al-Baqarah 2:285)

4-            O you who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Book which He has revealed to His messenger and the Books which He revealed before him. He who disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His Books and His messengers and the Last Day, he has indeed strayed far away…… – (An-Nisa 4:136)

Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

1.                   Umar-bin-al Khattab reported: We were seated once near the Apostle of Allah when lo! There appeared a person to us dressed in extremely white clothes and having jet black hairs. No fatigue of journey did appear on him and nobody amongst us could recognize him – till he sat down near the Prophet. Then he joined his knees to his knees and placed both of his palms over his two things and said: O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam. He replied: Islam is that you attest that there is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad (PBUH) is Messenger of Allah, that you keep up prayer, pay poor rate, keep fast of Ramazan and make pilgrimage of the house provided you have means of making journey to it. He replied: You have spoken the truth. We were astonished to see that he asked him and corroborated him. He enquired: Inform me about faith. He said: It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His apostles and the Last Day and that you believe in predestination in its good and in its evil. He said: You have spoken the truth. He enquired: Inform me about Ih’san. He said: It is that you serve Allah as if you see Him and if you do not see Him, He certainly sees you. ………. – (Muslim)

2.                   Ali reported that the Messenger of Allah said: No servant (truly) believes till he believes in four (things) --- he bears witness that there is no deity but Allah; and that I am the Apostle of Allah Who sent me with truth; and he believes in Death and Resurrection after death; and he believes in pre-measurement. – (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)

3.                   Abu Hurairah reported that the Holy Prophet said: Belief has got seventy and odd branches of which the best is the saying – There is no deity but Allah, and of which the most insignificant is the removal of injurious things from pathway, and shame is a branch of faith. – (Bukhari, Muslim)

4.                   Abbas-b-Abdul Muttaleb reported that the Messenger of Allah said: He has tasted the sweetness of faith who is pleased with Allah as Lord, with Islam as religion and with Muhammad as apostle. – (Muslim)

5.                   Abu Omamah reported that a man asked the Holy Prophet: What is faith? He replied: when your good work gives you pleasure and your evil work grieves you, you are then a man of faith. He enquired: what is sin? He said: When anything smites you within yourself, avoid it. – (Ahmad)

6.                   Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whoso has got three (things) in him shall taste the sweetness of faith on their account: He to whom Allah and His Apostle are dearer than anything besides them; he who loves a servant of Allah and who does not love him but for Allah; and he who is averse to return to infidelity after Allah has saved him therefrom as he would dislike to be flung into Hell-fire. – (Bukhari, Muslim)

7.                   Mu’az-b-Jabal reported that he asked the Holy Prophet about the most excellent faith. He said: It is that you love for Allah and hate for Allah, and engage your tongue in the remembrance of Allah. He enquired: What more, O Prophet of Allah? He replied: It is that you love for men what you love for yourself and hate for them what you hate for yourself.  – (Ahmad)

8.                   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Everybody who has an atom-weight of belief in his heart will be taken out of Hell. – (Tirmizi)

9.                   Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: What reaches the believer out of his works and good actions after his death is the learning he has acquired and spread abroad, and a pious issue he has left, or a book he has left as heritage, or a mosque he has built up, or a house for the travelers he has built, or a canal he has caused to be excavated, or an act of charity he has done out of his wealth while in his health and life – (these) will reach him (even) after his death. – (Ibn Majah)

10.               Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: By One in whose hand there stands my life! Nobody (truly) believes till he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. – (Bukhari, Muslim)

11.               Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: He does not (truly) believe by Allah, he does not believe by Allah, he does not believe by Allah. He was questioned: Who O Prophet of Allah? He replied: He from whose injuries his neighbor is not safe.  – (Bukhari, Muslim)

12.               Abu Omamah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The believer may have defects, the whole of them, except breach of trust and falsehood. – (Ahmad, Baihaqi)

13.               Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The believer is simple, beneficent; and the sinner is cunning, cowardly.  – (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmizi).

14.               Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The believer is more honourable to Allah than some of His angels.  – (Ibn Majah)

         Thus the Qur’an has prescribed for the followers of Islam to believe in Allah, His Messenger, His angels, His scriptures and the Hereafter. To these five elements of belief, Prophet Muhammad has added another element and that is belief in destiny (Taqdir).

Elements of Belief

         As stated above, there are six elements or constituents of belief which have been prescribed by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. These are: Belief in Allah, belief in Messengers, belief in Scriptures or Books, belief in Angels, belief in the Hereafter or the Last Day, and belief in Predestination or Taqdir. All these constituents of belief are briefly discussed as under:

1. Belief in Allah: Allah is the Almighty and only one God of the whole universe. He is the Creator of each and everything in the universe. He is Eternal and Ever-Living. He has no partner, no children, no parents and no spouse. He is All-Powerful, Unique in Essence and Attributes, All perfect, Sovereign Lord, Omnipresent, Omniscient, All-knowing, All-Seeing, All-Wise, Just, the Beneficent, the Merciful and the Forgiving God. The heavens and the earth are full of His signs and blessings. He gives life and death and revives the dead. He sent Prophets and revealed Scriptures for the guidance of man. He is the Master of the Day of Judgment. He is only to be worshipped. Followers of Islam have been enjoined by the Qur’an and by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to believe in Allah and worship Him alone.

2. Belief in Allah’s Messengers: For guidance of man, Allah sent messengers called Prophets or Apostles of Allah who conveyed to mankind Divine message and also acted upon the message themselves to set pattern for their followers. The Prophets were human beings and they did not claim any share in Godhead. Their exact number is not known. However, according to a tradition, God sent one lac and twenty four thousand prophets from Adam to Muhammad (PBUH) for guidance of the human beings. The Muslims have to believe in all the Prophets without making any distinction between them and without rejecting anyone of them. Belief is to be expressed in all the Prophets, whether mentioned in the Qur’an or not, from Adam to Muhammad. Prophets whose names have been mentioned in the Qur’an are twenty six: Adam, Idris (Enoch), Nuh (Noah), Hud, Salih, Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Lut (Lot), Yaqub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Shuaib, Ayyub (Job), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Dhu.I.Kifl, Uzair (Ezra), Daud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Ilias (Elias), Al-Yasa (Elisha), Yunus (Jonah) Zakariyya (Zechariah), Yahya (John), Isa (Jesus), and Muhammad. Life and teachings of some of these Prophets along with stories of their tribes or nations have been described in detail by the Qur’an such as that of Noah, Hud, Salih, Abraham, Lot, Shuaib, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

3. Belief in the Holy Books: Allah revealed books or scriptures and gave them to the prophets for guidance and education of mankind. The famous of them are: Scrols (Sahifahs) given to Abraham; the Torah given to Moses; the Psalms given to David; the Gospel given to Jesus Christ, and the Qur’an given to Muhammad. Followers of Islam are required to believe in all these Holy Scriptures.

4. Belief in Allah’s Angels: Allah created Angels from light. They are invisible to human eye, have no sex and are appointed to carry out Allah’s commands and glorify Him. They are not daughters of Allah as the pagan Arabs held. Most famous of them are: Gabriel charged with the duty of bringing revelations and messages of Allah to the prophets; Israfil who will blow the Trumpet on the Day of Resurrection; Mickael appointed for arranging rainfall and Izrael charged to take souls. Some other angels mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith are: Harut and Marut (sent by God to test the belief of some nation of the old), Kiraman Katibin (the respected recorders who record the deeds of human beings); Munkir and Nakeer who question the dead in graves; angel who brought good tidings of birth of a son to Mary mother of Jesus; angels who brought good news about birth of Isaac to Abraham; angels who destroyed the people of Lot; angels in charge of Hell and angels who would welcome the righteous in Paradise, etc. Muslims are required to believe in all angels of God.

5. Belief in the Hereafter:  This world would end on the Last Day called the Doomsday before which every living soul would die. The Hereafter would start after the death. On the Doomsday (also called the Day of Judgment and Day of Resurrection), every dead person would be revived by Allah. Allah would judge between mankind on that day and would reward the pious with paradise and punish the wicked with Hell. The life in the Hereafter would be real and eternal life. Muslims are required to believe in the Last Day and in the Hereafter, in life after death and in Paradise and Hell.

6. Belief in Destiny (Taqdir):  This belief is virtually integral part of belief in Allah and so it is not regarded as an independent element. This belief implies that all good and evil is from Allah and is in the knowledge of Allah.

         Emaan or belief, in short, is professed by proclaiming the following Kalimah (principle) with the tongue and by affirming its truth with the heart: “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.”

         Furthermore one has to testify the truth of the above mentioned Kalimah with the following words (which are called second Kalimah): “I testify that there is no god but Allah Who is One and has no partner. And I also testify that Muhammad (PBUH) is His servant and His messenger”.

         The formula of comprehensive belief (Emaan-ul-Mufassal) which attests belief in all the above mentioned elements is as follows: “I believe in Allah, in His angels, in His books, in His messengers, in the last Day and in the fact that everything good or bad is decided by Allah the Almighty, and in the life after death.”

         Although the followers of Islam believe in God and besides Him in His Apostles, Books, Angels and the Day of Judgment and the reward and punishment in the Hereafter, but nobody should be led to misconceive that Muslims hold the Apostles or the Books or the Angels as deities or as associates of God. Islam is strictly a monotheistic religion and Muslims believe in and worship only one God who is Allah, all the other objects are His creatures. In fact, belief in God’s Prophets, His books, His Angels and the Day of Judgment in compliance with God’s command is reaffirmation of one’s central belief in God.

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