Sacred Texts  Islam  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 16



1. "The Messenger has faith in what has been revealed to him from his Lord and so have the believers; they all believe in Allāh and His angels and His books and His messengers: we make no difference between any of His messengers" (2:285).

2. "And those who believe in that which has been revealed to thee and that which was revealed before thee and of the Hereafter they are sure" (2:4).

3. "O you who believe! Believe in Allāh and His Messenger and the Book which He has revealed to His Messenger" (4:136).

4. "The dwellers of the desert say, We believe, Say, You believe not; rather say, We submit; and faith has not yet entered into your hearts" (49:14).

5. "The faithful are only those who believe in Allāh and His Messenger, then they doubt not and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allāh" (49:15).

6. "And to Him submits whoever is in the heavens and the earth" (3:82).

7. "Whoever submits himself entirely to Allāh while doing good (to others)--he has his reward from his Lord" (2:112).

8. "And remember the favour of Allāh to you when you were enemies. Then He united your hearts, so by His favour you became brethren" (3:102).

9. "And say not to any one who offers you salutation, Thou art not a believer" (4:94).

The basis of all higher religions is a faith in Divine revelation, because God is known to man, and personal contact with Him is established, only through revelation. Man can make all discoveries in the sphere of the finite but he cannot discover the Infinite God; it is God Who reveals Himself to man, and it is therefore only through Divine revelation that man can know God. Bukhārī, who was gifted with special insight into matters religious, begins his Jāmi' with the book of Revelation and follows it with the book of Faith. But the conception of faith in Islām is widened in two ways. In the first place, faith here

p. 17

stands not for faith in revelation to one person or one generation but a faith in revelation to all people in all ages (v. 1). It is a faith in the books of Allāh, and in the messengers of Allāh, in all the books and messengers that preceded the Holy Prophet (v. 2). And secondly, faith here combines both belief and actions; in v. 3, believers are asked to believe, which means that they should bring their faith to its full development by good deeds and sacrifices; v. 4 shows that the first step is that of mere acceptance of Islām and the second is that when faith has taken root in--entered--the heart. When this stage is reached, a man becomes capable of the highest deeds of sacrifice (v. 5). Islām or submission to Divine laws is the rule of nature (v. 6) and man attains perfection only when he submits himself to the revealed laws of God (v. 7). Islām, however, does not aim only at individual perfection it also establishes a vast brotherhood of humanity, membership or which cannot be denied even to the man who simply offers the Islamic salutation (vv. 8, 9).

Hadīth related in this chapter begin with the basic fact that religion does not consist in hard religious exercise, but in living a good life in which due regard is paid to the rights of others (hh. 1-3). Good actions, it is further stated, spring from a good heart and hence the need of faith which rules the heart (h. 4). Īmān (faith) and Islām, (submission to Divine law) are often used but Īmān strictly indicates the acceptance of a principle which is the basis of action--the theoretical side--, and Islām the action itself--the practical side of man's life (hh. 5. 6). But theory and practice here go hand in hand, and the actions which spring from faith are also called faith. One's faith is therefore greater or less as one's actions are more or less beneficial to humanity. Faith is spoken of as love: the man who has faith in Allāh does not spare the doing of good to the nearest passer-by, so broad is his love for humanity (b. 7); he loves the whole of humanity and most of all the Holy Prophet, because he is the greatest benefactor of humanity (h. 8); his love for his brother is not mere word of mouth, but he is guided by that love in his everyday relations with him (h. 9); he loves Allāh most of all and loves humanity for the sake of Allāh and thus his love for humanity is based on the purest of motives (h. 10).

The next three hadīth show what Islām is. It does not simply mean a certain declaration; the declaration of Divine Unity and prophethood of Muhammad brings a man into the fold of Islām, but to be a Muslim he must live the life of a Muslim, the life of a man who lives in perfect peace with others. The first condition of that life is that he shall not cause injury to any man, either with his tongue or with his hand (h. 11). Such injury, is said to be an act of transgression, even disbelief (hh. 12, 13), It is not permissible however, to go to the other extreme and call a Muslim a disbeliever or turn him out of the pale of Islām because he has committed an act of disbelief. So long as a man declares his faith in the Unity of Allāh and the prophethood of Muhammad, he is a Muslim (hh. 16. 17f). Nay, a man who offers prayers like Muslims with his face to the Qiblah has the covenant of Allāh and His Messenger that he shall be dealt with as a member of the Muslim brotherhood (b. 15). p. 18 And the Holy Qur'ān goes even further and accepts the Islamic salutation as sufficient proof that such a man is a Muslim, whatever his differences with others (v. 9). H. 18 gives another description of what Islām in practice is.

1 Abū Hurairah reported that The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Religion is easy, and no one exerts himself too much in religion but it overpowers him; so act aright and keep to the mean and be of good cheer and ask for (Divine) help at morning and at evening and during a part of the night."1

(B. 2:29.)

2 Ā'ishah reported that The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, entered upon her and with her was a woman. He asked, "Who is this?

1. This hadīth shows what the Islamic conception of religion is. Religion does not consist in performing too many devotional exercises; these are in fact discouraged as they ultimately overpower the man who indulges in them. Religion is the name of acting aright and keeping to the mean course; this would keep a man in good heart. The truly religious man will smile in the face of everyone, as did the Holy Prophet. What is generally considered to be Divine worship is really the seeking of Divine help for acting aright and keeping to the mean. Thus is every Muslim taught to pray daily and hourly: "Guide us on the right path: the path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious" (1 ,5,6).

p. 19

('Ā'ishah) said, She is such and such a one; and began to speak (highly) of her prayers. He said:

"Enough; only that is binding on you which you are able to do; by Allāh, Allāh does not get tired but you get tired, and the devotions dearest to Him are those in which the devotee perseveres.2

(B. 2:31.)

3 'Abd Allāh ibn 'Amr reported,

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said to me, "O 'Abd Allāh! Am I not told that thou fastest in the day time and standest up in devotion during the night?" I said, Yes, O Messenger of Allāh. He said:

"Do not do so; keep fast and break it and stand up in devotion (in the night)

2. 'Ā'ishah admired the devotional exercises of a certain woman but the Holy Prophet warned her of excess of these because, he said, people indulge in these and then get tired of them. The chief aim of religion is, as made clear in the concluding words, to bring about perseverance in the character of a man, He is, therefore, told to adopt that course in religious devotion in which he can keep constant.

p. 20

and have sleep, for thy body has a right over thee, and thine eye has a right over thee, and thy wife has a right over thee, and the person who pays thee a visit has a right over thee."3

(B. 30:55)

4 Nu'mān ibn Bashīr said,

I heard the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:

What is lawful is manifest and what is unlawful is manifest and between these two are doubtful things which many people do not know. So whoever guards himself against the doubtful things, he keeps his religion and his honour unsullied, and whoever falls into doubtful things is like the

3. There are many versions of this hadīth and in all of them it is made clear by the Holy Prophet that a man has several duties to perform and he must keep all of them in mind in devoting himself to religious exercise. No religious exercise, whether it is keeping the fast or standing up in prayer, will do him good if he neglects his worldly duties. In fact, religious devotion is meant to make a man fitter for the performance of his duties which he owes to others. In the development of the spiritual, the physical side and worldly duties are not to be neglected.

p. 21

herdsman who grazes his cattle on the borders of a reserve--he is likely to enter it. Know that every king has a reserve (and) know that the reserve of Allāh in His land is what He has forbidden. Know that in the body there is a bit of flesh; when it is sound the whole body is sound, and when it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt. Know, it is the heart."4

(B. 2:38.)

5 Abū Hurairah said,

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, was one day sitting outside among the people when a man came to him and asked, What is faith (Īmān)? He said:

4. The man who is imbued with a truly religious spirit avoids not only what is manifestly unlawful but even the doubtful things which might lead him into the unlawful. The concluding portion of the hadīth shows that religion does not consist in the devotional exercises which a man may perform but in the presence in him of a right mentality--the mentality to act aright and avoid the wrong. A sound mind is of the essence of religion, as the Holy Qur'ān says: "Except him who comes to Allāh with a sound mind" (26:89).

p. 22

"Faith is that thou believe in Allāh and His angels and in meeting with Him and (in) His messengers and that thou believe in being raised to life (after death)."

He asked, What is Islām? (The Prophet) said:

"Islām is that thou shalt worship Allāh and not associate aught with Him and (that) thou keep up prayer and pay the zakāt as ordained and fast in Ramadzān."

He asked, What is ihsān (goodness)? (The Prophet) said:

"That thou worship Allāh as if thou seest Him; for if thou see Him not, surely He sees thee."5

(B. 2:36.)

5. At the end of this hadīth it is added that the Holy Prophet said that it was Gabriel who had come to teach people their religion. The hadīth is related with slight variations by 'Umar, but Bukhārī does not accept it. In 'Umar's version, describing īmān (faith) the Holy Prophet is reported to have said instead of "in meeting with Him," "that thou believe in qadar, in the good of it and the evil of it." The belief in qadar is evidently a doctrine of later growth and it is perhaps on account of this flaw that Bukhārī does not accept the version attributed to 'Umar. Another variation in 'Umar's version is that in describing p. 23 what Islām is, the pilgrimage to Makkah is also spoken of; this is evidently an omission in Abū Hurairah's version. And further. instead of "that thou shalt worship Allāh and not associate aught with Him" in Abū Hurairah's version, we have in 'Umar's, "That thou bear witness that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh."

This hadīth makes a distinction between Īmān (faith) and Islām, showing that the former relates to matters of conviction and the latter to matters of practice. The third term ihsān is not a technical term and indicates the state of sincerity in one's conviction or practice--to feel oneself in Divine presence. Īmān and Islām are often used interchangeably but, as distinguished from each other, īmān means a belief in Allāh, the angels, the messengers (which includes the Books or the messages). liqā'-Allāh (which means meeting with Allāh), and in a life after death; while Islām means the worshipping ('ibādah) of Allāh, keeping up prayer, fasting in the month of Ramadzān. paying zakāt (a fixed portion of one's savings) and the pilgrimage to Makkah.

The man who accepts these principles is a Muslim, and a member of the Muslim brotherhood.

p. 23

6 Ibn 'Umar said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Islām is built on five (things), the bearing of witness that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh and the keeping up of prayer and the payment of zakāt and the pilgrimage and fasting in Ramadzān."6

(B. 2:1.)

6. This hadīth corroborates the definition of Islām as given in the previous one. In fact, the first requisite of Islām--the bearing of witness that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh--includes all the other four, because they are a part of the teachings of the Holy Prophet. They are mentioned along with the basic principle on account of their importance.

p. 24

7 Abū Hurairah said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Īmān (Faith) has over seventy, or over sixty, branches; the most excellent of these is the saying, There is no god but Allāh, and the lowest of them is the removal from the way of that which is harmful and modesty (hayā') is a branch of faith."7

(M. 1:58.)

8 Anas said, The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

7. The word seventy is used in Arabic as a perfect number and signifies a large number. This hadīth shows that Īmān (Faith) carries a much wider significance than that which may generally be attached to it. It is not limited to certain matters relating to belief, to the conviction that certain principles are true, but extends to the carrying out of those principles into action; nor is it limited to certain religious acts or devotions but covers all good qualities and actions that benefit humanity,

Īmān is represented as a big tree with branches extending in all directions. The confession of Divine Unity which is the basic principle of Islām is the highest branch of this tree, while even the removal from the way of what may cause harm to a passer-by is a branch of the tree of faith. The making of roads for the convenience of the public is therefore an act of faith. Thus all acts which aim at doing good to humanity are branches of the tree of faith, and faith thus signifies the proper development of all human faculties. Hayā' translated here as modesty, is specially mentioned because it originally signifies that quality which makes one shun all evil things (R).

p. 25

"None of you has faith unless I am dearer to him than his father and his son and all mankind."8

(B. 2:7.)

9 Anas reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, He said

"None of you has faith unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."9 (B. 2:6.)

8 Though here only love for the Prophet is spoken of, yet what is meant is love for Allāh and His Prophet, as h. 10 shows. Love for a person springs from the good which he does to us or from the benefit which we may derive from him. As the Holy Prophet is the greatest benefactor of humanity, and of his ummah in particular, every Muslim is required to have greater love for him than to any other human being. Highest love for the Holy Prophet is made a test of faith, because the stronger the ties which bind a man to him the greater the strength with which he will be able to walk in his footsteps and the larger his capacity to do good to humanity.

Practically, the Muslim world to-day has provided an entire failure under this test. The Holy Prophet and his teachings are misrepresented throughout the world and he is abused as no other religious leader has been abused; but Muslims do not stir a single finger to remove the misrepresentations and carry the true teachings of Islām to a world which is groping in the dark.

9. Here is another test of real faith. It is not simply doing to others as one would like them to do to oneself; it is much more--to love for others what one loves for oneself. Such a state of mind can arise only from the highest disinterestedness. Muslims judge each other by the repetition of certain formulae and by belief in certain doctrines; the Holy Prophet required them to be judged by their love for Allāh and His Prophet and by their love for humanity.

p. 26

10 Anas reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, He said:

There are three qualities, in whomsoever they are met with he has tasted the sweetness of faith--that Allāh and His Messenger are dearer to him than anything besides them, that he loves a man and does not love him but for the sake of Allāh, and that it is loathsome to him that he may go back into unbelief as it is loathsome to him that he may be thrown into the fire."

(B. 2:8.)

11 'Abd Allāh ibn 'Amr reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, He said:

"A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe,10 and a

10. Here is another definition of Islām. A man is called a Muslim when he declares his faith in Unity, but he becomes a Muslim actually when he begins to lead his life as a Muslim, as a man of peace from whose tongue and hand all Muslims are safe. It is one thing to enter Islām and quite another to live it. Such life of peace not only raises the individual's character to a high level; it p. 27 also lays down the basis of a perfect brotherhood. It is not meant that a Muslim is at liberty to do harm to non-Muslims by his tongue or his hand; Muslims are mentioned in the hadīth because it is with one's own community that one has largely to deal. The aim is to lay the foundations of a world-wide brotherhood in which every one should feel himself safe, and that brotherhood can draw others into it only if they find themselves safe from the tongue and hand of a Muslim. There is another version of this hadīth in which the word "people" is used instead of "Muslims": "A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand people are safe" (Ibn Habān).

p. 27

muhājir (lit., one who flies from his home) is he who forsakes what Allāh has forbidden."11

(B. 2:3.)

12 Abd Allāh reported that The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"To abuse a Muslim is transgression and to fight him is unbelief."12

(B. 2:35.)

13 Mar'ūr said,

I met Abū Dharr at Rabadhah and he wore a garment and his slave wore a (similar) garment. I questioned him about it. He said,

11. This is how Islām introduced spiritual meaning into physical words--Hijrah or flying from home becomes flying from evil.

12. Here the act of abusing a Muslim (i.e., offending him with one's tongue) is called transgression, and the act of fighting him (or, offending him with one's hand) is called Kufr. It is not meant that such a man becomes a disbeliever or is outside the pale of Islām, for in the Holy Qur'ān itself two parties of p. 28 believers are spoken of as fighting with each other (49:9). The act itself may amount to kufr, but the doer of it does not thereby become a kāfir, so long as he professes faith in the kalimah, the Unity of Allāh and the messengership of Muhammad, which is the basic principle of Islām.

p. 28

I abused a man and called him by a bad name on account of his mother; so the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said to me:

"O Abu Dharr! Didst thou call him by a bad name on account of his mother; indeed thou hast in thee ignorance."13

(B. 2:21.)

14 Abū Hurairah reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, He said:

"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies and when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is

13. I have omitted here the portion of the Hadīth which speaks of according an equal treatment to slaves, and have quoted only the words of the Holy Prophet which show that abusing another man is an act of ignorance which word in Muslim terminology is equivalent to unbelief. Abū Dharr had used the words Ibn al-saudā', or son of a Negro woman, regarding another; and as these words were used contemptuously, they were considered an abuse of one Muslim by another, which was an act of ignorance or unbelief. In fact, every evil deed is an act of kufr according to the Holy Prophet, just as every good deed is an act of faith. Neither does a disbeliever become a believer if he does a good deed nor a believer a disbeliever if he does an evil deed. The line of demarcation between the believer and the disbeliever, the Muslim and the kāfir is the confession that God is one and that Muhammad is His Messenger--Lā ilāha illallāh Muhammad-un Rassūl Allāh.

p. 29

charged with a trust, he is unfaithful."14

(B. 2:21)

15 Anas said: The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Whoever offers prayers as we do and turns his face to our Qiblah and eats the animal slaughtered by us, he is a Muslim for whom is the covenant of Allāh and the covenant of the Messenger of Allāh; so do not violate Allāh's covenant."15

(B. 8:28.)

16 Anas reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, . . . He said:

"There is none who

14. That is to say, a person who tells lies, breaks promises and is unfaithful to trusts has no faith in him--nothing of the teachings of Islām, and his profession of faith is simply hypocrisy.

15. Here a more practical test is given. If you see a man saying his prayers in the Islamic mode and with his face to the Qiblah, that is a sure test that he is a Muslim--for him is the covenant of Allāh and the covenant of His Messenger--and to call him a kāfir is violation of the covenant of Allāh. The Holy Qur'ān lays down a still more practical and a broader test: "And say not to any one who offers you (Islamic) salutation, Thou art not a believer" (4:94). When a person says to another al-salāmu 'alaikum to show thereby that he is a Muslim, he cannot be called a disbeliever or kāfir. The author of the Mawāqif says: p. 30 generality of the theologians and the jurists are agreed that none of the Ahl Qiblah (persons facing the Qiblah in their prayers) can be called a kāfir (Mf. P. 600).

p. 30

bears witness with sincerity of heart that there is no god but Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh but Allāh has forbidden his going to fire."

(B. 3:49.)

17 'Uthmān said:

The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:

"Whoever dies while he knows that there is no god but Allāh enters paradise."16

(M-Msh. l.)

18 "Religion is faithfulness to Allāh and His Messenger and to the leaders of Muslims and Muslims in general."17

(B. 2:42.)

16. This hadīth and the one previous to it show that when a person professes that God is one and that Muhammad is His Messenger with a sincere heart, i.e., trying to the best of his knowledge to follow the Divine commandments and walk in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet, he is saved from the fire and shall enter paradise.

17. Faithfulness to Allāh consists in submitting to Divine commandments; faithfulness to His Messenger means following in his footsteps; faithfulness to Muslim leaders consists in obeying their orders so long as they do not go against Allāh and His Messenger; and faithfulness to Muslims in general consists in doing one's utmost for their good. This is the quintessence of the religion of Islām.

This saying of the Holy Prophet is quoted by Bukhārī in the heading of this chapter.

Next: Chapter III. Knowledge