Hiba Magazine presents a short multimedia presentation on ten different ways to fuel your faith and give your Eeman a boost. This series is based on an article “Ten Steps to Increase Your Faith”
Naureen Aqueel discusses the highs and lows of Iman (faith).
I am often left in great awe about the experiences my heart goes through. At times, I’m overjoyed, while at others – perplexed. The feeling is inexplicable, but every Muslim experiences it. It’s the highs and lows of Iman (faith), as we tread through this journey of life. Sometimes the waves rise and wash away the dirt, driving us to greater and greater heights of good deeds. At other times of spiritual deprivation, the same waves lower, leaving us wondering how they had ever been so high.
This bumpy journey of faith is fascinating but at the same time puzzling. During the periods of low, it is spiritually distressing. And that becomes the best time for Shaitan to attack. Therefore, it becomes extremely important for us to understand these variations in the level of our Iman and the reasons causing them, so that we can be well-prepared to intercept Iman in its downward journey and bounce it back up, Insha’Allah.
It is natural for our Iman to go through these ups and downs. The Prophet (sa) informed us of this condition, when he said: “Faith wears out in the heart of anyone of you, just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts.” (Hakim) Allah (swt) also mentions this condition: “…And when His Verses (this Quran) are recited to them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith…” (Al-Anfal 8:2)
The Messenger of Allah (sa) is reported to have said: “There is no heart that does not have clouds like the clouds that cover the moon. When the cloud covers it, it’s dark, and when the cloud moves away, it shines.” (Tabarani)
It is comfortably reassuring that the Companions of the Prophet (sa) went through the same fluctuations in their level of Iman. The Companions used to feel their Iman increase when they would sit in gatherings of righteousness, and when they were away from such gatherings, they felt their Iman was not so high. Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta) used to say: “Sit with us, so that we may increase in Iman.” (Ahmad)
We find similar reports about other Companions. An increase in their Iman was what they always sought. The fact that the Companions went through the same fluctuations in the level of faith is reassuring, only because it prevents us from falling into despair and gives us hope of reaching high ranks despite this natural human shortcoming. However, this should not make us passive and prevent us from striving to increase our Iman, for Iman often lowers due to sins and laziness.
Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When the believer commits a sin, a black dot will be engraved on his heart. If he repents, refrains and regrets, his heart will be polished again. If he commits more errors, the dots will increase, until they cover his heart. This is the Ran (stain) that Allah described: ‘Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn’ (Al-Mutaffifin 83:14).” (At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasai and Ibn Majah)
We often feel this rust on our hearts, when we fail to get the same concentration and spiritual replenishment through our Salah that we got previously. The same Quran that moved our hearts no longer brings those tears. We no longer feel the same excitement at learning a new Hadeeth, nor do we run to adopt a new Sunnah. We slack in carrying out voluntary acts of worship, and while we do perform the obligatory acts of worship, we find that vigour and spirituality painfully missing in us. Sounds familiar? Well, most of us experience one or more of these symptoms during different phases of our life.
The reasons for the falling of Iman are all basically centered around disobedience, laziness, heedlessness and being too involved in the Dunya (world). We often find ourselves so caught up in our worldly activities that we are unable to take out quality time for our Salah, gatherings of Zikr, the Quran and voluntary acts of worship. Our Salah becomes shorter, our daily Quran recitation and study become lesser, we do not have the time to attend Quran study circles, and slowly and gradually we get cut off from all that brings us near to Allah (swt). The result is a decrease in the level of our Iman, a weakening in our connection with Allah (swt) and eventually a heart covered by a dark and gloomy cloud of depression and frustration, resulting in a strange void inside us.
Ok, so we aware of the tell-tale signs signaling that our Iman is beginning to take a downward turn. We know the reasons for its lowering. Now what? Well, firstly, we have to take charge of our lives and not let our busy schedules, laziness or desires weaken our relationship with Allah (swt). It’s not like you won’t commit mistakes or that you’ll become a super time manager and find time for everything; however, you must not let these tactics of Shaitan keep you down for long. Repent and reform as soon as you realize your mistake. Squeeze out time from your busy life just to spend more time with the Quran and good companions. And above all – make Dua.
The Prophet (sa) taught us to ask Allah (swt) to renew our faith. He also taught us beautiful Duas for seeking Allah’s (swt) help concerning the matters of our Iman: “O Turner of hearts! Make my heart firm and steadfast on Your Deen (religion)!” (At-Tirmidhi) “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth), after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower!” (Al-Imran 3:8)
During periods of low Iman, you may find your daily Salah and your daily Quran recitation difficult and burdensome, but never let those feelings pull you down. Shaitan will tell you it’s no use praying or reading the Quran, when you no longer feel the way you did before. Don’t fall into that trap. Letting go of Salah and the Quran will only worsen your state. Also, increase the time of your listening to the Quran. This has an amazing effect on the heart. Attend Quran study circles and sit in the company of the righteous. You will feel a fascinating ray of Iman reaching into your heart, when you sit with the believers. Such congregations have a great effect in fortifying Iman, and even if your schedule feels tight, taking out time for such gatherings and for the Quran will leave you finding more time in your day, as you gain more energy and motivation from the Quran and the believers. Give it a try!
Wish you the best of Iman!
Just by looking at today’s events, one can clearly see that Muslim communities are suffering. Naturally, a lot of soul searching is being done to diagnose the problem. I remember my teacher once told me that all the rewards, which Allah (swt) has promised in the Quran, are for the true believers, i.e., Mumineen. So the Iman (Faith) of people is crucial. My question was: what is Iman? Like others, I wonder if we have really understood this word. One would assume that every Muslim, who says the Shahadatain, has Iman. But is Iman just a declaration of faith? Or is Iman only a belief in the heart? Or do actions and deeds together configure in Iman? Let us consider the answers to these questions one at a time.
1. Declaration of faith goes together with the belief in the heart.
Abdullah Bin Ubbay lived in Medina at the time of the Prophet (sa) and he had declared himself to be a Muslim. Although he prayed with the Muslims, Allah (swt) did not accept his faith, because his heart contained doubts about Allah (swt) and his Messenger (sa). He was later on declared to be the greatest hypocrite of his time. A Muslim’s Iman is complete only when he loves Allah (swt) and his Messenger (sa) more than himself.
2. Iman is not only a belief in the heart but in actions and the deeds as well.
Abu Talib was the uncle of the Prophet (sa). He recognized the truth of Islam, but he did not declare this with his tongue. Neither did this belief culminate into good deeds. He neither expressed approval nor submit to the will of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) declared him to be a disbeliever. Clearly, belief without expressing it in the form of words and deeds will not make one a believer.
Since Iman is the foundation of Islam, it has been very clearly explained in the Quran and the Sunnah. According to, Ibn Qayyim once wrote that Iman is composed of the following components:
1. Having the knowledge of what the Prophet (sa) taught.
2. Having complete and firm belief in what he brought.
3. Verbally professing this belief.
4. Submitting to what he brought out of humility and love.
5. Acting in accord with what the Prophet (sa) brought, both outwardly and inwardly. Implementing it and calling to its path according to one’s ability.
Ibn Uthaimeen has emphasized the fact that Iman is not simply composed of belief in the heart. I is a declaration that requires acceptance and submission.
The locus of Iman is the heart, tongue and action. It is also stated that Iman increases or decreases. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And when the verses are recited to them, they (the verses) increase their faith.” (Al-Anfal 8:2)
It is also clear from this that a believer’s Iman increases with the Dhikr of Allah (swt) and decreases with Fawahish (Indecency). In another verse, Allah (swt) says: “It is He who sends down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, in order that faith may be added to their faith.” (Al-Fath 48:4)
When a person’s Iman decreases he comes down from the high level of being called Mu’min to being a Muslim and vice versa. Iman can also leave the heart of a Muslim for a short period of time. The proof of this is in the statement of the Prophet (sa): “When a person commits adultery, Iman leaves him and remains above his head like an awning, when he discontinues this behavior, Iman comes back to him.” (Tirmidhi)
Three basic points for every Muslim to remember with regard to Iman:
Minimum level of Iman necessary to prevent one from the eternal hellfire.
A Muslim, should believe in every thing that is from Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). He should show a readiness and willingness to adhere to all the do’s and don’ts of Islamic teachings.
(1) Level of Iman necessary to save a person from going to the hellfire even for a short period of time: A Muslim should fulfill all the obligations upon him with respect to Allah (swt). He should fulfill all his duties with regards to people. Lastly, he should keep away from all that is forbidden. A person in this category is a true believer or a Mu’min as Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “The (true) believers are only those, who, when Allah (swt) is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts, and when His verses are recited to them, these increase their faith. And they put their trust in their Lord. Those, who establish the prayer and spend out of what We have provided them.” (Al-Anfal 8:2-3)
(2) Level of Iman necessary to be in the highest rank of Paradise:
These are the people possesing complete Iman. They strive to perform much more than the required deeds. They miss no opportunity to do well to people around them and always avoid causing harm to them. Their every act is done with excellence, i.e., Ihsan. These people are called Mohsineen. The Prophet (sa) said: “Ihsan is to worship Allah (swt) as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion, then you must consider that He is seeing you.” (Bukhari)
On the basis of Iman, people are divided into two categories: Disbelievers and believers, and among the believers there can be some, whom Allah (swt) can categorize as hypocrites. Believers are further divided into three categories, each higher in rank than the other: Muslim, Mumin and Muhsin. Let all the Muslims collectively strive to be true believers and seek help from Allah (swt) in doing so. Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “And seek help through patience and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive (to Allah (swt)).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)