040 Faith, words and deeds
In my previous writing, I have completed the discussions on faith and explained in detail the requirements for having a proper and complete faith which will open the doors to an eternal bliss for us. But there are still such important points to be known about “faith” that I will address now.
Believing or not believing is something decided in one’s heart (conscience). That is to say, faith is a matter of heart. This is evidenced by the following verses:
“Say, "Ye have no faith; but ye (only) say, 'We have submitted our wills to Allah,' For not yet has Faith entered your hearts.” [Hujurat, 14]
“For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself.” [Mujadala, 22]
Therefore, the basis of faith is to accept and confirm with heart the requirements of faith as stipulated in our creed.
However, Islamic scholars have required us, as beings who live a social life, to declare our faith to other humans with our tongue as well so that we can be treated as a Muslim in the events of our daily life, shopping, marrying, divorcing, borrowing and lending, in our neighborhood relationships and even in our deaths, and they explained that “Faith is to accept with heart and confirm by tongue”. This is certainly true. As faith is a matter of heart, how can others know that we are a believer if we do not express the faith in our heart with words? If we happen to die at that moment, will not people hesitate even as to whether or not to perform a funeral prayer for us?
According to the Ahl as-Sunnah creed, deeds are not a part of faith.
Imam e Azam Abu Hanifa said:
“Deeds are not a part of faith. One who commits a big sin may not be called an unbeliever. While faith is necessary for everyone, not each deed is necessary for each person. For example, a poor person who does not possess enough wealth may not give zakat. But that poor person still needs faith.”
Faith and good deeds are separated from each other in Qur’anic verses as well:
“Except to those who believe and work righteous deeds: for them is a Reward that will never fail.” [Inshiqaq, 25]
“Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall have a reward unfailing.” [Tin, 6]
The following hadith clearly shows that one does not abandon the religion by committing a big sin:
“The archangel Gabriel said, 'Any Muslim who dies without committing polytheism against Allah (swt) will enter the Paradise', I asked 'if one who commits adultery and theft will also enter the Paradise?' He said, 'Yes'. I repeated the same question for three times. On the third, he said, 'Yes, a believer who commits adultery or theft will also enter the Paradise.'” [Bukhari, Muslim, Bazzar]
Dear readers, one does not lose one’s faith or be excluded from religion just because one commits a sin or does not perform their worships. But every deed, either for good or bad, will affect one’s faith. The light of faith is the Love of Allah. As one worships and obeys the rules, this love will increase. One feels oneself closer to one’s Rab. When one commits a sin, on the other hand, this love is reduced. Then one gets away from one’s Rab without being aware of this. In fact, if one continues to commit sins, time will come when the light of faith in that person’s heart will die off. So, then the person is dragged into the swamp of disbelief. Therefore, Our Master the Prophet considered good deeds together with faith:
“Faith is to accept with heart, confirm by tongue, and practice with organs of body.” [Ihya]
This is also referred to by some other hadiths. As a matter of fact, Our Master the Prophet said after he instructed a group of visitors to only believe in Allah:
“Do you know what it is to only believe in Allah? It is to testify that there are no gods but Allah and that Mohammed is His Messenger, perform salah, give zakat, perform ramadan fasting, and give one fifth of war booties.” [Bukhari]
“One who does not respect what is trusted to oneself does not possess faith.” [Tabarani]
“One who does not have compassion does not have faith either.” [Tabarani]
“One who drinks alcoholic beverages will lose the light of faith.” [Tabarani]
Especially salah is completely identified with faith:
“There is an essence of everything and the essence of faith is salah.” [Bayhaqi]
“What distinguishes impiety from faith is to abandon salah.” [Tirmidhi]
“One who abandons salah on purpose becomes an unbeliever.” [Tabarani]
“Salat means faith. A believer is one who performs salah in accordance with its time and other requirements.” [Ibn Najjar]
Dear readers, the following two hadiths reveal that compliance with prohibitions and orders is not directly related to faith but to sincerity (ikhlas) in faith.
“Do not call someone who says ‘La ilaha illallah’ an unbeliever! Otherwise you yourself become an unbeliever.” [Bukhari]
“One who sincerely states ‘La ilaha illallah’ will go to the Paradise. Saying it with sincerely means that the sayer is faraway from what is prohibited.” [Tabarani]
As a result, it is necessary to declare the faith in our heart to other people. Deeds are not a part of faith. But good or bad deeds significantly influence our faith by increasing and decreasing the love of Allah, which is the light of faith. Staying away from what Allah (swt) has forbidden and doing what He has commanded are an indication of the sincerity and loyalty in our faith. Therefore, we should try to live our religion with all the principles it involves.
In this part of my writing, I will try to offer you a few clues for a complete faith based on some statements of our Rab and our Master the Prophet.
I must mention first of all that a perfect, whole, and complete submission to Allah (swt) and His Messenger is certainly a requirement for a correct and complete faith. And the criterion for this submission is to completely comply with the divine provisions (ahkam, sharia). One’s faith is directly proportional to the extent one submits to Allah (swt) and His Messenger and complies with these provisions.
“And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy.” [Al Imran, 132]
“So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His Words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.” [Araf, 158]
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger, and make not vain your deeds!” [Muhammad, 33]
“He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah.” [Nisaa, 80]
“So take what the Messenger gives you, and refrain from what he prohibits you." [Hashr, 7]
Dear readers, there is only one religion in the sight of Allah, and it is Islam. And Islam means to put aside one’s own will (the desires of one’s ego) and to submit to the will (orders) of Allah (swt), who is one’s creator and educator. “Faith” lies in the foundation of this submission. Completeness of faith is directly proportional to the completeness of this submission. This submission is the key to all kinds of salvations.
“But We delivered those who believed and practiced righteousness” [Fussilat, 18]
“And we submit to Allah (in Islam).” [Baqarah, 136]
Living in compliance with Allah’s commands is essential for the blessings of the world and the afterworld because the commands of our Rab, who has eternal mercy, will always take one to a lifestyle that eventually leads to goodness. If one believes in one’s Rab and loyally submit to one’s Rab by believing that the Rab is always one’s true friend (protector), then Allah (swt) will open the doors of all blisses for them.
“And those who strive in Our (cause),- We will certainly guide them to Our Paths.” [Ankabut, 69]
So this submission is a requirement for a complete faith. Certainly, prohibitions are more important among divine rules because most of them include interpersonal rights and all of them are provisions that impose limitations on the desires of our egos. Taqwa (Piety) means to comply with these provisions and to stay away from what Allah (swt) has prohibited. The value of humans and communities in the sight of Allah (swt) is based on taqwa (righteousness, piety, the fear of Allah).
“Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” [Hujurat, 13]
One always should try to be a servant who fears one’s Rab. If one focuses on ikhlas (sincerity), taqwa (piety) and dhikr (to remember Allah), the elements of maturity, which Our Master the Prophet described, will manifest automatically:
“The most superior deed is faith. The most superior faith is to acknowledge that Allah (swt) is always with them.” [Tabarani]
“Not forgetting Allah, wherever one is, is an indication of a complete faith.” [Bayhaqi]
“One who becomes happy upon performing goodness and who becomes worried upon committing a sin is a true believer.” [Tirmidhi, Hakim]
“The most superior believer is the one who frequently remembers Allah.” [Tirmidhi]
“The faith of one who has these three elements is complete: beautiful morality as in getting along with everyone, piety which prevents from committing sins, and gentleness which covers one’s ignorance.” [Nasai]
“The most beautiful one among you in terms of faith is the one who is the most beautiful in terms of morality.” [Hakim]
“Most complete one among believers in terms of faith is the one who has a beautiful morality and who behaves their family gently.” [Nasai, Tirmidhi]
“The most superior faith is to love for Allah, fight for Allah, mention Allah (swt) also with one’s tongue, consider what is acceptable for oneself for others as well, not desire for others that which one does not desire for oneself, speak on goodness or keep quiet.” [Tabarani]
“One who is benevolent has a complete faith.” [I. Ahmad]
“I swear that you may not enter the Paradise unless you have faith. And you may not have faith unless you love each other.” [Tirmidhi, I. Ahmad]
“One may not be a true believer unless one loves for his religious sibling that which he loves for himself.” [Bukhari]
“One who loves Allah’s friends and who considers Allah’s enemies as his own enemies possesses a complete faith.” [Abu Dawud]
“These three things are indicators of faith: Patience for trouble, gratitude for blessings, and acceptance for predestined occurrences.” [Ihya]
“Be assured that one who continuously comes to the mosque has faith!” [Ibn Majah]
“Salah means faith. A believer is one who performs salah in accordance with its time and other requirements.” [Ibn Najjar]
Dear readers, as you can see, it is among the requirements of a complete faith to consider Allah (swt) always together with himself, never forget Him, only love and fight for Allah, stay away from what is prohibited and what is doubtful (taqwa and wara), have benevolence, kindness and beautiful morality, that is, visit who does not visit, give who does not give, forgive who oppresses, meet trouble with patience and blessings with gratitude, not desire something for one’s religious sibling that which one does not desire for oneself, speak useful or keep quiet, and perform salats in a mosque and properly. It is ordered in verse:
“And to thy Lord turn (all) thy attention.” [Inshirah, 8]
May Allah (swt) make us one of those servants who only focus on their Rab, live and die with a complete faith and who, thusly, are blessed with their Rab’s assistance, support and courtesy both in the temporary world life and also in the eternal afterworld.
Be entrusted to Allah.
Dr. Ismail Ulukus