Source: Sharh Riyadus-Salihiin, chapter 5, by Shaikh Muhammad bin Salih Al-’Uthaimeen.
Faith or belief is an act of the heart, while Islam is an act of the limbs. Therefore, we say that Islam is an apparent deed (action) and Faith is an inner (inward) matter, and its place is in the heart.
Iman or Faith is to have firm belief in something, a belief that is not associated with doubts. It is an affirmed confession. This type of belief ultimately leads one to full submission and acceptance, accepting all that is ordained by Allah and submitting to Him totally.
Belief in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is to believe that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) exists, Ever-living, All-Knowing and Able and that He is the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, Jinns, and all that exists).
It is also to believe that there is no god except Him and that the whole dominion supreme power and authority belongs to Him. All praise and glory are due to Him. To Him return all matters. He is the Only One Who deserves to be worshiped and none else. In Him we put our trust and through Him (only) we achieve the success and gain victory (support).
To Him belong all the perfect Attributes (Qualities), incomparable to those of any of His creation, because He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat ash-Shura (42:11):
“ليس كمثله شيءٌ”
“Nothing like unto Him.”
If you truly believe in all the aforementioned, then you have believed in Allah’s existence, His Oneness of Lordship, and of Worship, and you have believed in the Uniqueness of His Names and Qualities.
Whoever denies Allah’s existence is a Kafir (unbeliever) and his final abode is in the Hell-Fire.
Equally, those who have doubts or are hesitant in their belief are considered Kafir, because Faith requires an affirmed belief that Allah is living, All-knowing, Able and existing.
In addition, whoever associates any god with Allah is considered a Kafir. For example, whoever believes and says that the Awliyaa’ (Allah’s chosen slaves and supporters) are disposing the affairs of this universe and have a free hand in doing that, and accordingly he invokes them, seeks their help, or prays to them, is considered a Kafir, because he does not believe in Allah (Alone), and because he associates others in worshiping with Allah.
Similarly, whoever prostrates to the sun, the moon, trees, rivers, seas, or similar objects is a Kafir. Even so is the one who prostrates to a king, a prophet, a righteous person or a scholar.
Furthermore, whoever denies (or belies) any of Allah’s Attributes (Qualities), is considered a Kafir because he has disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger. For example, to say that Allah does not rise over His Throne, or does not descend to the nearest Heaven, is considered a Kafir.
If one believes in Allah in the correct way, he will worship Him by following His commands and abstaining from all His prohibitions. He will also love and magnify Allah from the inner depth of his heart. If one loved and magnified Allah to an extent that no other love or magnification is similar to it, then he will carry out Allah’s orders and commandments and abstain from His prohibitions.
Allah is (Al-’Alee, Al-’Adheem ) Most High, Most Great:
Belief in Allah requires one to believe that Allah is above everything, rising over the ’Arsh (Throne), and that the Throne is above all the creation, and it is the greatest creation of Allah.
It is quoted that Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The seven heavens and the seven earths compared to the Kursi* are like a ring thrown into the open space of the desert.” [Al-Silsilah al-Sahiha no. 109]
If you throw a ring in an open area of the earth and compare the ring with the earth, what will be the effect? It will seem like nothing. Similarly, the Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Kursi compared to the ’Arsh (Throne) is nothing but like a ring thrown into the open space of the desert.”
If the Kursi extends over the entire universe, and the Kursi compared to the ’Arsh is nothing but like a ring thrown into a desert, then how great is the ’Arsh?! Indeed Allah, the Creator of both the Kursi and the ’Arsh is the Most Great.
Therefore, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) attributed (described) the ’Arsh with Might as in Surat at-Tawba (9:129):
“رب العرش العظيم”
“The Lord of the Mighty Throne.”
And in Surat al-Buruj (85:15), Allah qualified the ’Arsh with glory and greatness:
“ذو العرش العظيم”
“Owner of the Throne, the Glorious.”
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) raised over this Throne, and the Throne is above all the creation.
The Kursi, though small when compared with the Throne, extends over the entire heavens and earth as Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Baqarah (2:255):
“وسع كرسّيه السموات والأرض”
“His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth.”
It is incumbent on us to believe that Allah, the Exalted, is above everything and that Allah is greater and more dignified then to be encompassed (or surrounded) by intellect or thoughts. Even the eyesight (vision) of the believer, who will see Allah in the Hereafter in Paradise, will not be able to grasp Him or surround (encompass) Him. As Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-An’am (6:103):
لا تدركه الأبصار وهو يدرك الأبصار
“No vision can grasp Him, but His Grasp is over all vision.”
If you believe in Allah in this great way, you will worship Him as He deserves to be worshiped.
Allah Muhit bi kulli Shayin ’Elman: Allah encompasses everything by His knowledge:
One way of affirming one’s faith in Allah is to believe that Allah’s knowledge encompasses everything. He knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal, and knows whatsoever is in the heavens, the earth and all that is between them, whether small or large.
إن الله لا يخفى عليه شيء في الأرض ولا في السماء
“Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heavens.” (3:5)
Allah Qaadir ’Alaa Kulli Shaye’: Allah is Able to do all things:
Also one should believe that Allah has power over all things. If He wills a matter, He says to it only, “Be!” and it is, no matter its magnitude. Just think about the creation of mankind and its resurrection, in it is a sign for people of understanding. Mankind in its great diversity of numbers, colors, races, etc. is just one of Allah’s creations. He created them, sustained them and He is quite aware of their number, a task impossible for any one else to accomplish.
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Luqman (31:28):
ما خَلْقُكم ولا بعثكم إلا كنفس واحدة
“The creation of you all and the resurrection of you all are only as (the creation and resurrection of) a single person.”
Also Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said regarding the resurrection in Surat an-Nazi’at (79:13-14):
فَإنّما هي زجرةٌ واحدة فإذا هُم بِالسَّاهِرة
“Indeed, it will be but a single cry, (or a single Blowing), when, behold, they find themselves upon the earth, alive after their death.”
One may see some of Allah’s Ayat (signs, verses, proofs, evidences, etc.) in his daily life. For example, when a man sleeps Allah takes his soul, but if he is not destined to die at that time, Allah returns his soul, thus he wakes up from his sleep. As Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-An’am (6:60):
وهو الذي يَتَوفّاكُم بِالّليل
“It is He Who takes your souls by night (when you are asleep).”
The departure of the soul from the body when one sleeps is not a complete one because by Allah’s leave, the soul maintains a kind of connection or with the body. This connection is only the one necessary to carry on essential physiological processes during sleep. Then if Allah wills He raises him up from his sleep, and the person feels as if he is back to a new life (or given a new life). This is more noticeable at times or places where there are no electrical lights. When night envelops, people feel and dread its darkness, but when the day appears, people feel its light and welcome its brightness with delight. Therefore, the one who gets up from his sleep feels that he wakes up to a new life and this is out of Allah’s Mercy and Wisdom.
Allah (Al-Samie’ and Al-Basir) All-Hearer, All-Seer:
We believe also that Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer. He hears all that we utter, even though it may be said secretly. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat az-Zukhruf (43:80):
أم يحسبون أنّا لا نسمع سِرّهُم وَنَجْوَاهم بَلَى وَرُسُلنا لديهم يكتبون
“Or do they think we hear not their secrets and their private counsel? (Yes we do) and Our Messengers (appointed angels in charge of Mankind) are by them, to record.”
Also Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Ta-Ha (20:7):
“يعلم السر وأخفى”
“He knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden.”
“That which is more hidden,” than the secret and that which man conceals in his ownself (or what man’s breast conceals), as Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Qaaf (50:16):
ولقد خَلَقْنَا الِإنسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ ما تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُه
“And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him.”
Meaning, what his ownself whispers to him, Allah knows it even if he did not reveal it to the people.
And Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is al Basir, the All-Seer, He sees the creeping of a black ant on a black rock in the pitch-darkness of the night.
If you believe in Allah’s Knowledge, Ability, Hearing, and Vision, then it is obligatory on you to have regard for your Lord (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). You should not make Him hear except what He is pleased with, and not do (any deed) except what He accepts. Because whenever you speak He hears you and whenever you do something He sees you. So you should fear your Lord and don’t make Him see you in places He has forbidden for you and miss you at places where He has ordered you to be.
Also you should fear your Lord when you speak, such that your speech does not anger Him, but pleases Him. Similarly, you should not keep silent of things He has commanded you to say.
(Qudrat ullah) Allah’s Ability:
If you believe in Allah’s complete Ability, then accordingly you should ask (invoke) Him whenever you need Him (without being aggressive in your Du’aa or request) and without losing hope.
Everything is possible by Allah’s Ability. Let us reflect on the story of Moses (‘Alayhissalaam). When he reached the Red Sea while fleeing from Pharaoh and his people, Allah ordered him to strike the sea with his stick. As he did this, the sea parted and each separate part (of that sea water) became like the huge firm mass of a mountain, leaving a dry path in between. Moses and the believers with him were able to walk on this path as if they were walking on a desert by Allah’s Ability (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala)(Surah 26:63-66)
Similarly, it is narrated that prior to the time of the Muslim conquest of Persia, the Persians crossed the Tigris River in Iraq at time of sunrise, destroying all the bridges and drowning all ships so that Muslims would not be able to pursue them. But Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), seeing this, consulted with the companions. Finally he decided to walk over (pass over) the river and by Allah’s Leave, he and his companions with their horses, camels, and cavalry walked over the river without harm.
Who held the sea till it became as hard as stone in order for Sa’ad and his soldiers to walk over it without being drowned? It is Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), Who is Able to do all things.
Allah’s Signs are many. Believing in Allah’s Signs as mentioned in His Book or by His Messenger, and in those signs and miracles witnessed and narrated by people, is another way of affirming our faith in Allah, because it is a belief in Allah’s Ability.
Yet another way of believing in Allah is to acknowledge that Allah sees us, even if we do not see Him. This is a matter which many ignore or tend to forget.
You may see a person worshiping Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) as if this act of worship is done as a habit, he does not perform it as he should, (as if he sees Allah), and this indicates a deficiency in the faith and the deed. We should therefore worship Allah bearing in mind that He is constantly watching us and not see the act of worship as a ritual that needs to be performed and done with haste and impatience.
(Al-Hukmu Lillahil-’Alee Al-Kabeer) the Judgment rest, only with Allah, the most Hight, and the Most Great:
Believing that the decision and judgment rest only with Allah, the Most High, the Most Great, is another way of affirming our faith in Allah.
The legal and universal decisions are all with Allah. There is no judge or ruler except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) -in His Hand is everything, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Aal-Imran (3:26):
قل اللهم مَالِكَ المُلْكِ تُؤْتِي المُلْكَ مَن تَشَاءُ وَتَنْزِعُ المُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاءُ وَتُعِزُّ من تشاءَ وتُذِلُّ من تشاء بِيَدِكَ الخَيْرُ إِنَّك على كل شيءٍ قدير
“Say O Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam): ‘O Allah! Possessor of the Kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honor whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.’”
How many kings have their kingdom taken away from them within the span of a day and night? And how many ordinary people have become kings overnight? Because the matter is in Allah’s Hand. Such is the Might of Allah. To Him belongs the kingdom. And it is solely His decision to give the kingdom to whom He pleases and to snatch it from whom He wills. No one can question His decision.
How many honored and powerful people became humiliated in a day and a night. And how many humiliated persons became honored in a day or a night? The kingdom and the decision is with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).
Also the legislations (the laws) are with Allah and none else. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is the One Who decides and ordains what is lawful and what is unlawful. No one of His creation has the merit of that. The exclusive right of making a thing or a matter obligatory, lawful or forbidden belongs only to Allah. Therefore, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) forbade His slaves from making anything lawful or unlawful without His permission. He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat an-Nahl (16:16-17):
ولا تقولوا لما تَصفُ أَلْسِنَتِكُم الكَذِبَ هذا حلالٌ وهذا حرامٌ لتَفْتَرُوا على الله الكَذِب. إنّ الذين يَفْتَرون على الله الكَذِب لا يُفْلِحون. مَتَاعٌ قليلٌ ولهم عذاب أليم .
“And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: ‘This is lawful and this is forbidden,’ so as to invent lies against Allah. Verily, those who invent lies against Allah will never prosper. A passing brief enjoyment (will be theirs), but they will have a painful torment.”
In conclusion, belief in Allah is a very broad issue, if a man starts to talk about it, he will never end for many days.
- Means of Forgivness & deliverance from Hellfire
- The Rights of Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) on his nation.
- The Merits of the Statement: لا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله (Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah)
- Pondering over the Parables in the Qur'an