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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 02: Iman and Islam (Hadith -- The Traditions)


Chapter 02:
Iman and Islam (Hadith -- The Traditions):


 


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(Note: The superscript-numbers [e.g., intention2] that appear in the text [in pink] refer to the numbers of the explanatory footnotes that appear at the end of each Hadith [Tradition].)


1 Abu Hurairah reported that The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah 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.)

1 This hadith 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 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).


2 `A'ishah reported that,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, entered upon her and with her was woman. He asked, "Who is this?" (`A'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 Allah, Allah 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.)

2 `A'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.


3 `Abd Allah ibn `Amr reported,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said to me, "O `Abd Allah! 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 Allah. He said:

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

3 There are many versions of this hadith 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.


4 Nu`man ibn Bashir said,
I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah 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 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 Allah 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.)

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 hadith shows that religion does not consist in the devotional exercises which a man may perform but in the presence in him 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'an says: "Except him who comes to Allah with a sound mind." (26 : 89).


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

"Faith is that thou believe in Allah 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 Islam? (The Prophet) said:

"Islam is that thou shalt worship Allah and not associate aught with Him and (that) thou keep up prayer and pay the zakat as ordained and fast in Ramadzan."

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

"That thou worship Allah 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 hadith it is added that the Holy Prophet said that it was Gabriel who had come to reach people their religion. The hadith is related with slight variations by `Umar, but Bukhari does not accept it. In `Umar's version, describing iman (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 Bukhari does not accept the version attributed to `Umar. Another variation in `Umar's version is that in describing what Islam is, the pilgrimage to Makkah is also spoken of; this is evidently an omission in Abu Hurairah's version. And further, instead of "that thou shalt worship Allah and not associate aught with Him" in Abu Hurairah's version, we have in `Umar's , "That thou bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

This hadith makes a distinction between Iman (faith) and Islam, showing that the former relates to matters of conviction and the latter to matters of practice. The third term ihsan is not a technical term and indicates the state of sincerity in one's conviction or practice--to feel oneself in Divine presence. Iman and Islam are often used interchangeably but, as distinguished from each other, iman means a belief in Allah, the angels the messengers (which includes the Books or the messages). liqa'-Allah (which means meeting with Allah), and in a life after death; while Islam means the worshipping (`Ibadah) of Allah, keeping up prayer, fasting in the month of Ramadzan, paying zakat (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.


6 Ibn `Umar said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Islam is built on five (things), the bearing of witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and keeping up of prayer and the payment of zakat and the pilgrimage and fasting in Ramadzan."6 (B. 2 : 1.)

6 This hadith corroborates the definition of Islam as given in the previous one. In fact, the first requisite of Islam--the bearing of witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah--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.


7 Abu Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Iman (Faith) has over seventy, or over sixty, branches; the most excellent of these is the saying, There is no god but Allah, and the lowest of them is the removal from the way of that which is harmful; and modesty (haya') is a branch of faith."7 (M. 1 : 58.)

7 The word seventy is used in Arabic as a perfect number and signifies a large number. This hadith shows that Iman (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.

Iman is represented as a big tree with branches extending in all directions. The confession of Divine Unity which is the basic principle of Islam 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. 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. Haya' translated here as modesty, is specially mentioned because it originally signifies that quality which makes one shun all evil things (R).


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

"None of you has faith unless I am dearer to him than his father and his son and all mankind."8 (B. 2 : 7.)

8 Though here only love for the Prophet is spoken of, yet what is meant is love for Allah 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 for 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 today has proved 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 little finger to remove the misrepresentations and carry the true teachings of Islam to a world which is groping in the dark.


9 Anas reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah 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.)

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 Allah and His Prophet and by their love for humanity.


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

"There are three qualities, in whomsoever they are met with he has tasted the sweetness of faith--that Allah 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 Allah, 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 Allah ibn `Amr reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, He said:

"A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe,10 and a muhajir (lit., one who flies from his home) is he who forsakes what Allah has forbidden."11 (B. 2 : 3.)

10 Here is another definition of Islam. 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 Islam and quite another to live it. Such life of peace not only raises the individual's character to a high level; it 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 hadith 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 hadith in which the word "people" is used instead of "Muslims" : "A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand people are safe" (Ibn Haban).

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


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

"To abuse a Muslim is transgression and to fight him is unbelief."12 (B. 2 : 35.)

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 Islam, for in the Holy Qur'an itself two parties of 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 kafir, so long as he professes faith in the kalimah, the Unity of Allah and the messengership of Muhammad, which is the basic principle of Islam.


13 Mar`ur said,
I met Abu Dharr at Rabadhah and he wore a garment and his slave wore a (similar) garment. I questioned him about it. He said,

I abused a man and called him by a bad name on account of his mother; so the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah 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.)

13 I have omitted here the portion of the hadith 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. Abu Dharr had used the words Ibn al-sauda', 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 kafir is the confession that God is one and that Muhammad is His Messenger--La ilaha illallah Muhammad-un Rasul Allah.


14 Abu Hurairah reported on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah 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 charged with a trust, he is unfaithful."14 (B. 2 : 23.)

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 Islam, and his profession of faith is simply hypocrisy.


15 Anas said,
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah and the covenant of the Messenger of Allah; so do not violate Allah's covenant."15 (B. 8 : 28.)

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 Allah and the covenant of His Messenger--and to call him a kafir is violation of the covenant of Allah. The Holy Qur'an 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-salamu `alaikum to show thereby that he is a Muslim, he cannot be called a disbeliever or kafir. The author of the Mawaqif says:

"The 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 kafir (Mf. p. 600).


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

"There is none who bears witness with sincerity of heart that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah but Allah has forbidden his going to fire." (B. 3 : 49.)


17 `Uthman said:
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

"Whoever dies while he knows that there is no god but Allah enters paradise."16 (M-Msh. 1.)

16 This hadith 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.


18 "Religion is faithfulness to Allah and His Messenger and to the leaders of Muslims and Muslims in general."17 (B. 2 : 42.)

17 Faithfulness to Allah 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 Allah 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 Islam.

This saying of the Holy Prophet is quoted by Bukhari in the heading of his chapter.

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Hadith Section > A Manual of Hadith > Chapter 02: Iman and Islam (Hadith -- The Traditions)

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