Prerequisites of Faith
(2(28) It is related by Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib that he heard the Apostle of God say: “He tasted the flavour of Faith and experienced its sweetness who agreed with a truthful heart to accept God as His Cherisher, Islam as his religion, and Mohammad as his Prophet.”
Just as all delicious foods possess a flavour but it can be perceived only when one's faculty of taste has not been lost or become perverted due to illness or any other cause, there is also a special sweetness in Faith which can be enjoyed by those alone who have, willingly and earnestly, made Allah their Lord and Master, Mohammad [Peace be on him] their prophet and guide, and Islam their religion and way of life, and whose hearts have bowed in submission to God and yielded in obedience to the Prophet and assented to be the adherents of the path of Islam. In other words, their bond with God, the Prophet and Islam is not merely formal, hereditary or intellectual but real, sincere and genuine.
(29) Anas related to us that “only he will taste the sweetness of Faith who has these three qualities: the love of God and the Prophet comes to him before everything else, he loves whom he loves solely for the sake of God, and the idea of going back to Apostasy after he has embraced Islam is as repugnant to him as bring thrown into fire.”
-Bukhari and Muslim
The subject-matter of this Tradition is almost identical to that of the preceding once. It says that the sweetness of Faith can only be perceived by him whose love for God and the Apostle is stronger than for anyone or anything else in the world, so much so that when he loves somebody, it is wholly for the sake of God, and who is so deeply devoted to the Islamic faith that the very idea of leaving it and reverting back to Apostasy is as painful to him as being cast into fire.
(30) It related by Anas that the Apostle of God said: “None of you can be an honest Muslim and a truthful Believer unless his love for me exceeds the love he has for parents, children or any other human being in the world.”
-Bukhari and Muslim
It shows that Faith can attain perfection and a Muslim can become a faithful believer only when his love for the Prophet is greater than for any other person, even his parents and children.
In the preceding Tradition the love for God, the Prophet and the Islamic faith being stronger than for anyone or anything else in the world was declared as essential for testing the sweetness of Faith while in the above Tradition only the love for the Prophet has been mentioned. But love for God, the Apostle and Islam is basically the same. True devotion to God and Islam is not possible without devotion to the prophet and true devotion to the Prophet cannot be imagined without devotion to God and Islam. Love for prophet, in his capacity as the Apostle of God, will, of course, be for the sake of God and out of deep attachment to Him and love for Islam will, instinctively, stem from it. It is for this reason that love for the Prophet alone has been stressed in this Tradition, otherwise what it means is that the blessings and radiance of Faith can accrue only to those in whose hearts love for God and the Apostle and Islam is strong enough to submerge all other ties and affections.
Commentators have, however, differed in their interpretation of the above saying, and, as such, many people are apt to be confused about it's meaning though the principle it lays down is very simple. Love is a well-known word and the idea it expresses is also widely understood. It is in the same traditional sense that it has been used here. The love the Believers have for God, naturally, is not due to the ties of blood or any other physical factor as the case is with the affection one feels for one's parents, wife and children. It is, essentially, a mental and spiritual state, and, when it attains perfection, all other forms of affection which are rooted wholly in blood or emotion are put in the shade by it. Anyone who has been blessed in some measure with this attachment and yearning will have no difficulty in appreciating the basic significance of this Tradition.
In brief, love in all these sayings denotes the same tender passion, the same feeling of the heart which is commonly known by that name and this is exactly what is demanded of us here.
The Quran says: Those who believe are stauncher in their love for Allah. (II: 165)
Say [O Mohammad]: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth ye have acquired, and merchandize for which ye fear that there will be no sale, and dwellings ye desire are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah bringeth His Command to pass. Allah guideth not wrong-doing folk. (IX : 24)
As it is distinctly stated in these verses, the love of the Believers for God, the Prophet and the Islamic faith must be stronger than for all the lovable objects in the world. Without it, the countenance of the Lord cannot be gained, not His special guidance obtained, nor can Faith acquire perfection.
Once this stage is reached, it will not only be easy for anyone to observe the duties of Islam and to carry out the commands of God and the Prophet but he will also derive a pleasure even from laying down his life for the sake of Faith. Conversely, a person in whose heart the love for God and His Apostle is not entrenched firmly will find it most difficult to keep to the everyday Islamic injunctions and to obey the common religious precepts. At the best, it will become a routine affair, a tediously automatic procedure. Hence, it has been said that unless the love for God and the Prophet governs and has the control of all other attachments and affections the true station of love cannot be attained nor its sweetness perceived. O God! I beg to Thee thy love and the love of him who loveth Thee and the conduct that will enable me to attain Thy love.
(31) It is related by Abdullah bin' Amr that the Apostle of God said: “None of you can become a truthful Believer unless his lusts become subservient to the guidance I have brought.”
It shows that the state of true Faith and its spiritual blessings can be gained only when worldly inclinations and carnal appetites are controlled and governed by Apostolic guidance.
The entire order of good and evil is based upon Hawa [Lust] and Huda [Guidance]. Man's success or failure, good fortune or ill-luck, is related to them. All wickedness and wrong-doing ensues from the lustful dictates of the flesh in the same way as every virtue originates from abiding by the guidance brought by the divine Apostles. The state of genuine Faith can, thus, be attained only by subordinating the propensities of the self to heavenly instruction and whoever becomes a slave to lust and cares nothing for Apostolic guidance destroys the very purpose of Faith with his own hands. It is about such people that the Quran has said: Hast thou seen him who chooseth for his God his own lust? (XXV : 43)
And who goeth farther astray than he who followeth his lust without guidance from Allah? Lo! Allah guideth not wrong-doing folk. (XXVIII: 50)
(32) It is related by Anas that the Apostle of God said: “None of you can be a faithful Believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.”
-Bukhari and Muslim
For attaining the true state of Faith and partaking of its singular blessings it is essential that man should be free from selfishness. He ought to be so genuinely interested in the welfare of his brethren as to desire for them all the good things, benefits and advantages he desires for himself and to dislike for him all the conditions and circumstances he does not like for himself. Without it, Faith cannot acquire perfection.
(33) It is related by Ma'ad bin Jabal that “I inquired from the Prophet about superior Faith [i.e., asked what was the highest grade of Faith and through what deeds and virtues could it be reached]. The Prophet replied, ‘It is that you love whom you love solely for the sake of God and hate whom you hate solely for the sake of God [i.e., friendship and enmity should be entirely for His sake]; and, secondly, that you keep your tongue engaged in the remembrance of God.' ‘What else?' I, further, asked. ‘That you desire for others what you desire for yourself and do not desire for other what you do not desire for yourself,' the Prophet said.”
Three things have been mentioned in the above Tradition by the Prophet without which perfection in Faith is not possible.
(i) Friendship and enmity solely for the sake of God;
(ii) Keeping the tongue occupied with the remembrance of God; and
(iii) Goodwill for the bondmen of the Lord to the extent of desiring for them what one desires for oneself and disliking for them what one does not like for oneself.
(34) It is related by Abu Umama that the Prophet said: “He who loves or hates, offers favours or withholds them, and whatever he does, does so for the sake of Allah, he perfects his Faith.”
It shows that a perfect Muslim in the sight of God is he who succeeds in subordinating his entire conduct – thoughts, feelings, social relations and all other affairs – to the Will of God so much so that when he establishes or breaks relations with anyone or gives or declines to give anything to anybody, he does so wholly for the propitiation of God; in short, when all his sentiments and inclinations, such as, love and hatred, and deeds and actions like offering or withholding a favour begin to take shape solely for the sake of God and cease to be influenced by his own urges and impulsions. When this state of submission to the Will of God is reached by anyone, his faith attains perfection.
(35) It is related by Abdullah bin Abbas that the Apostle of God said to Abu Zarr Ghifari: “Tell [me], which department of Faith is stronger [i.e., among the departments of Faith which is more long-lasting]?” “God and His Apostle know best”, replied Abu Zarr. The Prophet remarked, “Friendliness and mutual cooperation for the sake of God, love for anyone for the sake of God, and hatred and enmity for anyone for the sake of God.”
It shows that among the various states and stages of Faith the strongest and most enduring is that in which the behaviour of a person towards anyone, whether of cooperation or opposition, love or hatred, is determined wholly by the desire to please God and to carry out His commands and not by any personal wish or sentiment.
(35) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “You cannot enter Paradise unless you are Believers and you cannot be truthful Believers unless there is reciprocal love among you. May I tell you a thing that will produce affection in your midst if you act upon it? It is to spread the custom of salutation among yourselves and to make it common.”
From the foregoing Traditions we learnt that for perfection in Faith it was essential to hold God, Apostle and Islam dearest to our hearts and whatever love and affection there might be for anyone or anything, aside of them, should be wholly for their sake and that we were free from selfishness and our condition should be that we desired or did not desire for others what we desired or did not desire for ourselves. The present Tradition adds that Faith cannot attain perfection unless there is mutual love and cooperation among the Believers. If their hearts are devoid of fellow-feeling and affection for each other it should be taken for granted that the reality of Faith will not dawn upon them and they will not be able to partake of its true blessings.
(37) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “A Muslim is he from the mischief of whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe and a Momin [faithful Believer] is he on whose account people do not feel a threat to their life or property.”
The mischief of the tongue and hand has been mentioned specifically in the above Tradition for the reason that, generally, distress is caused to others by means of these two organs, or else what is sought to be conveyed simply is that it is unworthy of a Muslim to be a source of pain or discomfort to anyone.
From Ibn-I-Hubban's account of the same Tradition it appears that a Muslim should be friendly and inoffensive towards every one.
It is worth remembering that the infliction of pain which has been condemned as un-Islamic in this Tradition signifies only that which is without a legitimate cause otherwise to punish the guilty and to put down the high-handedness of the oppressor and the mischief of the evil-doer, provided that one has the authority to do so, is a matter of duty with the Muslims. Without it, there can be no peace and happiness in the world.
(38) It is narrated by Abu Shareeh Khaza'i that the Apostle of God once said, “By God, he is not a truthful Believer! By God, he is not a truthful Believer! By God, he is not a truthful Believer.” The question was asked: “O Apostle of God, who is not a truthful Believer?” The Prophet replied, “Whose neighbour does not feel secure on his account.”
Our conduct towards the neighbours should be so good and honourable that they feel completely secure from us and entertained no fear of viciousness or injustice from our side. It is one of the imperatives of Faith without fulfilling which no one can hope to be a faithful Believer.
Two other Traditions of the Prophet bearing the same import read:
“Treat your neighbours kindly; then you are of those who believe.”
“He who believes in God and the Day of Recompense will never harm a neighbour.”
(39) It is related by Abdullah bin Abbas that the Apostle of God said: “He is not a truthful Believer who eats his fill and lets his neighbour go hungry.”
It shows that a person who eats to his heart's content and gives no thought to his starving neighbour is unblessed with the reality of Faith though he may have been a Muslim for seventy generations. An attitude of cruelty and selfishness like this is wholly inimical to the spirit of Islam.
(40) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Among the Muslims more perfect in Faith is he whose manners are better.”
Perfection in Faith depends on good manners and noble qualities of mind and character. Thus, a person will be as perfect in Faith as his moral disposition is praise-worthy. Or, as one would say, good moral qualities are the natural outcome of perfection in Faith. It cannot be that a person is blessed with the reality of Faith and yet his morals remain imperfect.
(41) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Among the virtues of Islam and signs of perfection in Faith it, also, is included that a man avoided vain talk and futile actions.”
-Ibn-I-Maja, Tirmidhi and Baihaqi
Man is the noblest of creations and God has made him exceedingly precious. He should refrain from spending his time aimlessly and squandering away his capabilities. On the other hand, by putting them to proper use, he should develop his personality as much as possible and earn the countenance of the Lord. This is the essence of all religious teachings and the inmost aim and purpose of Islam. Hence, the blessed one who seeks to perfect his Faith must not only keep away from open sinfulness and immorality but also from all unprofitable activities including unavailing conversation and devote his time and natural abilities to pursuits that possess some element of gain or virtue, i.e., are necessary and purposeful from the point of view of both the worlds.
People who waste their time and energy in aimless talk and futile activities do not realise how very valuable God has made them and what a priceless treasure they are frittering away.
(42) It is related by Abdullah bin Masood that the Apostle of God said: “There were some worthy disciples and Companions of every Apostle raised up by God in any community before me who followed his path and obeyed his commands. Afterwards, it so happened that their heirs and successors turned out to be men of no value whose condition was that they did not practice what they preached [i.e., told others to perform good deeds but did not do so themselves or boasted to be virtuous while, in fact, they possessed little moral goodness, and, thus, told a lie in order to impress those around them with their devoutness and to flaunt their spiritual superiority], and performed deeds they had not been commanded to perform [i.e., they did not adhere to the way of their Prophet and instead of abiding by what he had prescribed or sanctioned indulged freely in evil-doing and making innovations in Faith]. Thus, whoever strove against them with his arm is a truthful Believer, and whoever strove against them [due to a constraint] only with his tongue, also, is a truthful Believer, and whoever [finding himself powerless to strive even with the tongue] stove against them only with his heart [i.e., merely felt anger and hatred towards them] is, also, a truthful Believer. But without it [i.e., in the absence of any of these conditions] there is no Faith, not even of the weight of a mustard-seed.”
It shows that to strive against the sinful and hypocritical heirs and followers of the Prophets and other spiritual leaders with the arm or the tongue, as the circumstances permit, or, in the last degree, only to feel revulsion against their wickedness and display of insincere piety is one of the essential requirements of Faith. Anyone who does not possess even the inner urge for such a kind of Jehad is, so to speak, totally devoid of the warmth and awareness of Faith.
The command of Jehad against the erring successors of the Prophets and worthless spiritual leaders, as contained in the above Tradition, means that endeavour should be made to correct them and to bring them to the right path, failing which something should be done to put an end to their false spiritual headship and hereditary influence so that people did not fall a prey to their deception.
(43) It is related by Abu Sa'eed Khadri that the Apostle of God said: “If anyone of you sees a sin being done or a wrong being perpetrated, he should [if he is in a position to do so] try to eradicate it by force, and if that be not possible, he should try to eradicate it by raising his voice against it, and if that, too, be not possible, he should feel sore about it in the heart [and think of possible ways of removing the evil]. This last state is the weakest state of Faith.
In the preceding Tradition struggle against the depravity and corruption of a particular class of men was enjoined as a requisite of Faith while in the present one a general command has been given for making strenuous efforts, in keeping, of course, with one's situation, to remove or set right every mischief and transgression. Three grades of it have been set down in this Tradition.
(i) If one is in power and the evil can be eradicated by means of it, force ought to be employed to root it out.
(ii) If power and authority be not in hand, effort should be made to remove the evil through persuation and good counsel.
(iii) If the circumstances are so adverse and the Believers in such a weak and helpless position that it is not possible even to raise one's voice against wickedness and immorality, the last stage is that it should be considered honestly to be hateful and vicious and an earnest desire be felt in the heart to prevent it. In that way, one will, at least, be praying to God to suppress it and also thinking out methods of its extermination.
According to the above Tradition, this is the weakest state of Faith which means that, after it, the question of the existence of Faith does not arise.
(44) Narrates Anas that “seldom has the Prophet delivered a sermon in which he may not have said: ‘In whom there is no trustworthiness, in him there is no Faith; he who does not fulfil the promises made by him has no share in Faith.”'
It tells that anyone who is not trustworthy and does not fulfil the promise when he makes one is unblessed with the reality of Faith. As we have indicated earlier, Traditions like it do not mean that such a person altogether ceases to be a Muslim and becomes an Infidel. They simply show that the essence and effulgence of Faith is not present in a man like him, i.e., his Faith is lifeless and of a very poor quality.