Priority: aa, Quality: b

Faith

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Shi'a Beliefs
Theology
Tawhid (Monotheism) Tawhid of EssenceTawhid in AttributesTawhid in ActionsTawhid in Worship
Other Beliefs TawassulShafa'aTabarruk
Divine Justice
Bada'Amr Bayn al-Amrayn
Prophethood
Infallibility'Ilm al-ghaybMu'jizaIntegrity of the Holy Qur'an
Imamate
InfallibilityWilaya'Ilm al-ghaybOccultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) (Minor Occultation,Major Occultation) • Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a)Raj'a
Resurrection
HereafterBarzakhEmbodiment of ActionsBodily ResurrectionAl-SiratTatayur al-KutubMizanHashr
Other Outstanding Beliefs
Ahl al-Bayt (a)The Fourteen InfalliblesTaqiyyaMarja'iyyaTawalliTabarri

'Imān (Arabic: إيمان, faith) as "the belief in the heart" is among central concepts in Islam which has an essential role in human's happiness.

Different issues have been related and discussed about faith, most important of which are: the definition of faith and its relation with good deeds and sins, excess or loss of faith, difference between faith and Islam, having faith out of emulation, related to faith and the fruits of faith.

Literal Meaning

The word "Iman" is an Arabic word from the root a-m-n "أمن", having the general meaning of peace and certainty of heart and lack of fear. Its Thulathi Mazid class type is "ءَامَنَ یُؤمِنُ" (āmana, Yuʾminu) and if it is transitive for being collocated with "باء" (ba') or "لام" (lam), lexicologists agree that it means "to approve"[1] and if it is transitive in itself, it means "being assured against fearing" and in this case it has the same meaning as its Thulathi Mujarrad class type.[2]

In Fiqh and Hadiths

In hadiths and fiqh, faith is used both in general and specific senses.

  • General meaning is one's certitude of the heart about all the Prophet (s) has brought from Allah
  • Special meaning is to have faith in imamate and guardianship of the twelve Imams as well as the faith in its general meaning. According to this definition, all Twelver Shi'a are considered as faithful.[3]

However, the general and special meanings can be considered as one if we refer to faith as to have faith in whatever the Prophet (s) has brought has certain examples at any time; for example, before legislating prayer and fasting, believing in them was not a requirement of faith and Islam but after they became obligatory, believing in them became a part of faith and thus after 'Ali (a) and his progeny (a) were chosen by God and announced by the Prophet (s) as his successors, believing in them is considered as a part of what the Prophet (s) brought from God.

Scholars of fiqh use special meaning of faith in different discussions such as ijtihad, emulation (taqlid), cleansing, prayer, khums, fasting, i'tikaf, hajj, waqf, nadhr, qada', and witnesses.

Faith in its special meaning is a religious obligation and even the most important of all obligations and acts of worship and it is the requirement for acceptance of them which is a matter of consensus among all religious authorities. It is a prerequisite for the source of emulation [the religious authority], leader of prayer (imam al-jama'a), one to whom zakat and khums is given, judge, witness [at the court] and the one who is going to distribute the treasure assigned by the religious ruler. Many religious authorities have considered faith as a prerequisite also for the one who recites the adhan [call for prayer] and one who does hajj instead of another.

In Theology

Theologians have different theories about the special meaning of faith (the first theory has been accepted more):

Act of Heart

Faith is an act of heart: according to this theory, faith is the acknowledgement of God, the Prophet (s) and what he (s) has brought from God by heart. Mu'min [the faithful] is one who has faith in the heart and declaring by the tongue is not necessary; also action is separate from faith and its fruits. This acknowledgement is different from knowledge and is in fact inclination of the heart and the volitional act based on knowledge; thus, it is possible that one knows about something but does not acknowledge that which is a volitional act of heart like Jews of Medina who, according to the Qur'an, knew that the Prophet (s) was sent by God but they did not acknowledge him, "Those whom We have given the Book recognize him just as they recognize their sons, but a part of them indeed conceal the truth while they know." (Quran 2:146)

Most Ash'arites,[4] Maturidi and his followers,[5] some Imamiyyas such as Ibn Nawbakht, al-Sayyid al-Murtada, al-Shaykh al-Tusi, Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani, al-Fadil al-Miqdad, and Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji][6] accepted this theory.

Mere Acknowledgement by the Tongue

Iman [Faith] is the mere acknowledgment by the tongue, meaning that if one only recited shahadatayn without accepting them in the heart or practicing other obligations, he is regarded as faithful and thus a hypocrite is faithful in this world. This is the viewpoint of Kiramiyya and also attributed to some of Murji'a.[7]

Knowledge and Knowing

Faith is knowledge and knowing, and everyone agrees that Jahm b. Safwan believed in this definition; however, this viewpoint has also been attributed to some others such as Najjariyya, some of Qadariyya, some of Imamiyya and Abu l-Hasan al-Ash'ari.[8]

Doing Obligations and Abandoning the Forbidden

Faith is doing all the acts of worship including obligations, recommended actions and prohibiting the forbidden. Most Mu'tazilites,[9] Khawarij and Ghulat[10] are advocates of this definition including Abu Ali al-Juba'i, Abu Hashim al-Juba'i; but many of the Mu'tazilites of Basra believe that doing recommended actions is not a part of faith.[11]

Acknowledgment by the Heart and Admitting by the Tongue

This is the opinion of some Twelver Shia scholars such as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, al-'Allama al-Hilli[12] and Shaykh Salim b. Mahfuz.[13]

Acknowledgment by the Heart and Admitting by the Tongue and Practicing Acts of Worship

Faith is the acknowledgment by the heart and admitting by the tongue and practicing acts of worship. This is the viewpoint of Ahl al-Hadith [traditionists] and also some early scholars such as Ibn Mujahid,[14] al-Shafi'i,[15] and al-Shaykh al-Mufid from among Twelver Shi'a scholars.[16]

In Philosophy

In the view of philosophers, faith is the progress of soul in the course of theoretical perfection. Although, doing obligations and abandoning the forbidden is in the progress of soul in the course of theoretical perfection but this progress is, in fact, the result of that course of theoretical perfection; thus one who is faithful is one whose faith correspond the realities of creation.

Declination of Faith

One of the most important theological discussions about faith is if the faith of the faithful would decline? Most theologians have accepted the possibility of declination of the faith of the faithful, but it is said that al-Sayyid al-Murtada regarded it impossible that a true faith would decline and al-Shahid al-Thani also accepted it.[17] Also, al-Sayyid Abd Allah al-Shubbar believes in the separation of the two levels of the "perfection of certainty" and other levels, and believes that if one reaches the perfection of certainty, declination of faith would be impossible, otherwise it would be possible.[18]

Emulative Faith

There is disagreement on whether emulation is appropriate for faith or it should be achieved through reasoning. Sunni scholars[19] and also followers of Hashwids and Ta'limids accept emulated faith.[20] But, Mu'tazilites, most of the Ash'arites,[21] and Imamiyya [Twlever Shia] do not regard emulation in faith as sufficient and consider reasoning as required for having true faith.[22] Even though they disagree on whether the origin of such an obligation is intellectual or traditional, where for example Mu'tazilites and Imamiyya [Twlever Shia] regarded it intellectual and Ash'arites regard it traditional.

Articles of Faith

In the Qur'an, the following issues are mentioned as the articles of faith:

  1. Faith in God[23]
  2. Faith in all prophets[24]
  3. Faith in what was revealed from God to prophets (divine books, etc.)[25]
  4. Faith in the Day of Resurrection[26]
  5. Faith in angels[27]
  6. Faith in the Unseen[28]

The important point is that the above articles of faith are inseparable, meaning that one would either believe in all of that and he will be faithful, or he is not faithful whether he believes in some of them or he does not believe in any of that. The Qur'an refers to this for example in "But those who have faith in Allah and His apostles and make no distinction between any of them —them He will soon give their rewards, and Allah is All-forgiving, All-merciful." (Quran 4:152) and "Those who disbelieve in Allah and His apostles and seek to separate Allah from His apostles, and say, 'We believe in some and disbelieve in some' and seek to take a way in between (150) it is they who are truly faithless..." (Quran 4:150, 151)

Fruits and Requirements

  • Faith is different from Islam and is at a level higher than that[29]
  • True faith accompanies the great love of God.[30]
  • God brings the faithful out of darkness into light.[31]
  • In many verses of the Qur'an, after praising faith, doing "righteous acts" by the righteous ones is mentioned so that their necessary connection is understood from it.
  • True faith is that can increase or decrease.[32]
  • Believers' hearts finds rest in faith.[33]
  • The faithful are fortified with an "immutable word" (firm saying) by God in their worldly life.[34]
  • Satan has no authority over the believers who have not accepted his guardianship.[35]
  • The Quran is a guidance and healing for believers.[36]
  • God made faith beloved and beautiful in believers' hearts.[37]
  • God's descent of composure into the hearts of the faithful enhances their faith.[38]
  • The faithful are those whose hearts tremble [with awe] when Allah is mentioned.[39]
  • The faithful when tested are jolted with a severe agitation.[40]
  • No one would become faithful through compulsion.[41]
  • Despite the Prophet's (s) eagerness, most people will not have faith.[42]

The words "mu'min" [one who is faithful], "mu'minun" [the faithful] and their attributes are mentioned in the Qur'an suggesting that the faithful is a special group of people, and their lifestyle is completely different from the non-faithful. They live having a completely different worldview, thoughts, manners, and habits. Their motive in life is formed in their promise to God.[43]

However, the faithful people are not immaculate and sinless people. In different verses of the Qur'an, the faithful have been heeded about their sins and mistakes and they have been asked to correct themselves.[44]

Principles of Faith

Shi'a theologians believe that believing in unity, divine justice, the Prophet (s) and imamate of infallible Imams (a) after the Prophet (s), and the hereafter are requirements of faith.[45]

In the viewpoint of Mu'tazilites, essential requirements of faith are unity, divine justice, prophethood of the Prophet (s), reward and punishment, and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.[46] In the viewpoint of Ash'arites, believing in the Prophet (s) for what we know he (s) has brought for certain such as the unity of God, obligation of daily prayers, general acknowledgement of what is known generally and detailed acknowledgement of what is known in details;[47] and in the viewpoint of Hanafites, faith requires belief in God, angels, divine books, prophets and the Day of Judgment.[48]

Relation of Islam and Iman

Another issue about faith is the relation between Islam and Iman [faith]:

  • Islam and faith are one: Mu'tazilites,[49] many of Khawarij, Zaydis,[50] Hanafites,[51] al-Shaykh al-Tusi[52] and al-Tabrisi among Imamiyya, believe in this opinion.
  • Islam and faith are different: most of the Imamiyya[53] and Ash'arites[54] believe in this opinion. They believe that Islam is more general than faith and every faithful person is Muslim but every Muslim is not necessarily faithful.
  • True Islam and Iman are one, but superficial Islam is different from faith and is more general than that. This is the opinion of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi,[55] al-Shahid al-Thani,[56] and al-Taftazani.[57]

Levels of Islam and Faith

'Allama Tabataba'i mentioned four levels for Islam and faith:

  1. The first level is Islam and apparent acceptance divine orders and prohibition, which is performed by saying Shahadatayn; whether, they are the heart accepted it or reject it, as God says, "The Bedouins say, 'We have faith.' Say, 'You do not have faith yet; rather say, "We have embraced Islam," for faith has not yet entered into your hearts…" (Quran 49:14) and this level is followed by first levels of faith which begin with the belief in the general meaning of Shahadatayn in the heart and requires a better following of secondary obligations.
  2. The second level of Islam is the submission in heart for most of the true beliefs in detail which results in doing righteous acts, even though making mistake is possible in some cases. To describe muttaqin [the God-wary], God says, "Those who believed in Our signs and had been Muslims." (Quran 43:69). The second level of faith is Islam, where one needs to believe in all religious facts, as God says, "The faithful are only those who have attained faith in Allah and His Apostle and then have never doubted, and who wage jihad with their possessions and their persons in the way of Allah. It is they who are truthful." (Quran 49:15).
  3. When one used to the second level of faith and developed its qualities in himself, his other animal faculties become submitted and thus he reaches the position where he worships God just as he sees Him, and even if he does not see God, he is sure that God sees him, as God says, "But no, by your Lord! They will not believe until they make you a judge in their disputes, then do not find within their hearts any dissent to your verdict and submit in full submission." (Quran 4:65).
  4. In the previous level of Islam, one would sometimes be blessed by divine special graces and it is revealed to him that ownership in the world only belongs to God and no one owns anything and of course this position is a position gifted by God and one's will has no role in achieving that and maybe the following verse "Our Lord, make us submissive to You,..." (Quran 2:128) quoted from Abraham (a) refers to this issue, since Abraham (a) had already accepted Islam willingly before the prayer he says in this verse. The fourth level of faith is to expand the state mentioned in the previous level to all states and actions of the faithful servant, about which God says, "Look! The friends of Allah will indeed have no fear nor will they grieve.(62) —Those who have faith, and are Godwary." (Quran 10:62-63)

Notes

  1. Farāhīdī, al-ʿAyn, p. 40; Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, vol. 1, p. 163-164; Shartūnī, Aqrab al-mawārid, vol. 1, p. 73.
  2. Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, vol. 1, p. 163.
  3. Shahīd al-Thānī, Masālik al-afhām, vol. 5, p. 327-338.
  4. Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-maqāṣid, vol. 5, p. 177; Ījī, Sharḥ al-mawāqif, vol. 3, p. 527.
  5. Maturīdī, al-Tawḥīd, p. 395; Ghaznawī, Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn, p. 250-251.
  6. Fāḍil Miqdād, Irshād al-ṭālibīn, p. 442; Baḥrānī, Qawāʿid al-marām, p. 170; Lāhījī, Sarmāyi-yi īmān, p. 165.
  7. Ashʿarī, Maqālāt al-islāmīyyīn, vol. 1, p. 223; Muʿtazilī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl al-khamsa, p. 709; Shahristānī, al-Milal wa l-niḥal, vol. 1, p. 127.
  8. Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-maqāṣid, vol. 5, p. 177; Fāḍil Miqdād, Irshād al-ṭālibīn, p. 442.
  9. Ashʿarī, Maqālāt al-islāmīyyīn, vol. 1, p. 330; Muʿtazilī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl al-khamsa, p. 707.
  10. Ījī, Sharḥ al-mawāqif, vol. 3, p. 527; Qushjī, Sharḥ al-tajrīd, p. 393.
  11. Ījī, Sharḥ al-mawāqif, vol. 3, p. 527; Muʿtazilī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl al-khamsa, p. 709; Qushjī, Sharḥ al-tajrīd, p. 393.
  12. Ḥillī, Kashf al-murād, p. 426.
  13. Fāḍil Miqdād, Irshād al-ṭālibīn, p. 440-441.
  14. Qushjī, Sharḥ al-tajrīd, p. 393; Shahīd al-Thānī, Ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān, p. 54.
  15. Khamīs, Uṣūl al-dīn, p. 41.
  16. Fāḍil Miqdād, Irshād al-ṭālibīn, p. 442; Shubbar, Ḥaq al-Yaqīn, p. 558-559.
  17. Shubbar, Ḥaqq al-yaqīn, p. 558-559; Shahīd al-Thānī, Ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān, p. 54.
  18. Shubbar, Ḥaqq al-yaqīn, p. 573.
  19. Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-maqāṣid, vol. 5, p. 218.
  20. Shahīd al-Thānī, Ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān, p. 59.
  21. Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-maqāṣid, vol. 5, p. 288.
  22. Shahīd al-Thānī, Ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān, p. 54.
  23. Quran 2:186, 256; 3:52, 110, 193; 4:175
  24. Quran 3:179; 57:19; 2:177; 4:136
  25. Quran 2:136; 4:162
  26. Quran 2:8, 62, 126, 228, 232, 264
  27. Quran 2:177, 285
  28. Quran 2:4
  29. Quran 49:14
  30. Quran 2:165
  31. Quran 2:257
  32. Quran 9:124
  33. Quran 13:28
  34. Quran 14:27
  35. Quran 16:99
  36. Quran 41:44
  37. Quran 42:52
  38. Quran 48:4
  39. Quran 8:2
  40. Quran 33:11
  41. Quran 2:256
  42. Quran 12:103
  43. Quran 23:1-6, 9:71, 8:74, 33:23
  44. Quran 61:2; 63:9; 60:1; 49:1-12; 58:9
  45. Shahīd al-Thānī, Ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān, p. 144-164.
  46. Ghazālī, Qawāʾid al-ʿaqāʾid, p. 145.
  47. Ījī, Sharḥ al-mawāqif, vol. 3, p. 527; Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-maqāṣid, vol. 5, p. 177.
  48. Ghaznawī, Kitāb uṣūl al-dīn, p. 252.
  49. Muʿtazilī, Sharḥ al-uṣūl al-khamsa, p. 705.
  50. Mufīd, Awāʾil al-maqālāt, p. 54.
  51. Khamīs, Uṣūl al-dīn, p. 435-436.
  52. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 2, p. 418.
  53. Mufīd, Awāʾil al-maqālāt, p. 54.
  54. Bāqlānī, Tamhīd al-awāʾil, p. 391.
  55. Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, Qawāʾid al-ʿaqāʾid, p. 142-143.
  56. Shahīd al-Thānī, Ḥaqāʾiq al-īmān, p. 120-121.
  57. Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-maqāṣid, vol. 5, p. 207.

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