Question: Are actions a part of iman? That is, does a person who does not perform a fard or who performs a haram become a disbeliever (kafir)?
No, they do not become a disbeliever. If actions were a part of iman, every person committing a sin would become a disbeliever. Then there would be no Muslim on earth.
The Mu’tazilah sect, Wahhabites, and other heretical groups claimed that actions are a part of iman. The truth is that actions are not a part of iman. The opposite of disbelief is belief, and the opposite of sins are acts of worship. One who leaves iman becomes a disbeliever, while one who omits an act of worship becomes sinful. Iman without deeds is valid while deeds without iman are invalid. While it is permissible and necessary to leave salat and sawm when a woman is menstruating, it is never permissible to leave iman.
One can enter Paradise due to iman alone, but one cannot enter it just due to deeds.
Iman without acts of worship is valid while acts of worship without iman are invalid. Acts of worship performed by a disbeliever will be of no use in the Hereafter. Iman cannot be donated to someone else, but the thawab in return for acts of worship can be donated to others. Iman cannot be bequeathed, but one can bequeath that certain deeds should be performed for one after death. While one who omits deeds does not become a disbeliever, one who leaves iman becomes a disbeliever instantly. While one who has an excuse is absolved of deeds, one is never absolved of iman.
Hadrat Imam-i Ghazali stated:
Deviant sects said that deeds are a part of iman basing their argument on the 29th verse of Surah ar-Ra’d that says (what means), “They believed and did good deeds.” In fact, this and such like verses prove that deeds are not within iman, but outside of iman. If it were the contrary, the words “wa amilussalihat” would be repeated unnecessarily. The Mu’tazilah [and Wahhabiyah] say that a person who commits a sin will remain in Hell eternally, which is wrong, because a hadith-i sharif says, “One who does not deny what one has confirmed does not become a disbeliever.” A sinner has not denied the fundamentals of faith that they confirmed. In the Hereafter, it is only disbelievers who will not benefit from Shafa’ah, which shows that those who get Shafa’ah are not disbelievers. It is stated in a hadith-i sharif, “I will intercede for those who commit grave sins. Hadrat Abuddarda asked, “O the Messenger of Allah, will those who commit fornication or theft benefit from Shafa’ah?” He answered, “Yes, I will intercede for those who committed fornication or theft.” Everyone who has died with iman will enter Paradise sooner or later. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs:
(I will intercede for every Believer who did not die in shirk.) [Bazzar, Hakim, Bayhaqi]
(Even a Believer who has committed fornication or who has committed a theft or who drank alcohol will enter Paradise.) [Bukhari]
(A person who has a mote of iman in his heart will not remain in Hell.) [Bukhari]
A sinful Believer will enter Paradise after undergoing torment in Hell. The hadith-i sharif “Iman leaves him who has committed fornication or has drunk alcohol” states that sinful Muslims are not perfect Muslims. The statement “Iman is confirmation in the heart, confession by the tongue, and actions by organs” means that iman in a person is like the head on the body. Organs, such as hands and arms, are like actions. A person may live without hands and arms, but they cannot live without a head. When we describe a human, we describe them with all of their organs. That is, even if one is without some organs, one is still a human. Likewise, when a perfect Believer is described, actions are included, too. Just as a person without hands and feet is called a dead man walking, so a person who commits a grave sin is described as a non-Believer in the meaning of an imperfect Believer. (Ihya)
When wine enters, does iman exit?
Question: It is written in Islam Ahlaqi that Hadrat Uthman said, “I swear by Allahu ta’ala that while a person is drinking wine iman says to him, ‘O accursed, wait! Let me get out first and then you may enter.’” Some pertinent hadith-i sharifs are as follows:
(One cannot drink alcohol while one is a Believer.) [Nasai]
(The iman of a wine drinker goes away like a shirt’s taking off from the body.) [Hakim]
(Alcoholic drinks and iman cannot come together; one of them makes the other go away.) [Bayhaqi]
(The light of iman within the heart of an alcohol drinker fades away.) [Tabarani]
My question is: does the iman of a wine drinker go away? That is, does such a person become a disbeliever?
No. In our religion, deeds are not a part of iman. In other words, we cannot call wine drinkers or those committing evils disbelievers. If they were a part of iman, every sinner would become a disbeliever. Then there would remain no Muslim on earth. Moreover, even deviants themselves who maintain “Acts of worship are included in iman; sinners become disbelievers” would not be Muslims because being ma’thum, that is being sinless, is peculiar to prophets alone.
Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states:
Hadrat Imam-i A’zam said, “A Believer’s iman does not go away no matter how grave the sin committed.” If a Believer with a lot of sins has died without making tawba [repentance], if Allahu ta’ala wishes, He will forgive all their sins, or He will torment them as much as their sins necessitate. But at last He puts them in Paradise. It is only disbelievers who will not attain salvation in the Hereafter. Those with the tiniest iman will be saved. (Second Volume, 67th Letter)
Hadrat Imam-i Ghazali states,
A person committing a sin cannot be labeled as a disbeliever. It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
“Those with perfect iman cannot drink alcoholic drinks. If they drink, it is understood that their iman is weak.” It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(Jabra’il alaihissalam said that every Muslim who died without having attributed anything as a partner to Allahu ta’ala would go to Paradise. I asked, “Even if he has committed theft and adultery?” He answered, “Yes.” I asked this of him three times. In the third one, he answered, “Yes, he will enter Paradise [after he is forgiven or becomes beneficiary of intercession or if his thawab surpasses his sins or after undergoing torment as much as his sins deserve], even if he has drunk wine.”) [Bukhari, Muslim, Bazzar]
Are deeds a part of iman?
Question: We know that deeds are not a part of iman. Then what is meant by the hadith-i sharif “Iman is pronouncement by the tongue, confirmation by the heart, and deeds by limbs”? Can we call a sinner a disbeliever?
No, never can we do it. Hadrat Imam-i Ghazali said that it is stated in a hadith-i sharif, “One who does not deny what one has confirmed does not become a disbeliever.” When a person commits a sin, they do not disbelieve the pillars of faith they have confirmed. In the Hereafter, it is only disbelievers who will not get benefit from intercession, which means that sinners are not disbelievers. The meaning of the statement “Iman is pronouncement by the tongue, confirmation by the heart, and deeds by limbs” is as follows:
Iman in a person is like the head on the body. Organs, such as hands and arms, are like physical actions. A human may live without hands and arms, but they cannot live without the head. The human is described with all of the organs. Even if they do not have some organs, a human is still a human. Likewise, a perfect Believer was described with the inclusion of physical actions. Just as a person without hands or feet is likened to a dead man walking, so a person committing a grave sin is described as a non-Believer in the meaning of an imperfect Believer. (Ihya)
If deeds were a part of iman ...
Question: Does a sin committed take one out of the fold of Islam?
It simply is not right to get a Muslim, who believes and likes Islam, out of Islam just because of their faults. Iman, since it means accepting the Muslim program and respecting it even if none of its rules is carried out, is the basis of Islam. If deeds were a part of iman, every sinner would be a disbeliever. There would be no Muslim in the world. In hadith-i sharifs, some good acts are associated with iman and some evils with disbelief, but such analogies are intended to tell about the extent of goodness and badness of those good acts and evils. With the assistance of other verses and hadiths, it is understood that they are not a part of belief or disbelief. The hadiths “Modesty is a branch from iman,” “Cleanliness is half of iman,” “Iman is salat,” “The Believer is he whom people feel safe with,” “A Muslim does not commit adultery while being a Muslim,” “Every habit, every disposition may exist in a Muslim. Only perfidy and mendacity do not exist in him” are in this category. By likening the absence of the good qualities such as modesty, cleanliness, salat, trustworthiness, chastity and rectitude and the existence of the evils such as mendacity, perfidy and adultery to the absence of iman, these hadiths point out their importance. By esteeming some actions as highly as iman, their importance is emphasized. For the religion reformers who say, “How can Ahl as-Sunnah scholars separate from iman the things which the Prophet included in iman,” the hadith “The person who dies as a Muslim will go to Paradise at last even if he has committed adultery and even if he has committed theft,” is a good answer. The second verse of Surat al-Ankabut (what means) “Men will not be freed after just having said ‘We believe’, but it will be understood whether their word ‘We believe’ is true or false from their enduring the troubles they meet on the way of religion” points out the great importance of enduring troubles.
Question: Just as it is necessary to perform acts of worship, so is it necessary to believe that they are commandments?
Just as it is necessary to perform the acts of worship commanded by Islam, so it is also necessary to believe that each is a duty and commandment to do. A Muslim believing this way will certainly do acts of worship willingly.
Though iman is basis...
Question: It is written in Islamic books that one is admitted into Paradise due to iman. If iman is the basis, then is it unnecessary to do acts of worship or to abstain from prohibited things?
Believing with the heart is not only the basis of Islam, but it is also the highest worship. When the Messenger of Allah was asked what the highest deed was, he said, “It is to believe in Allah and His Messenger,” and he recited the Amantu. This hadith-i sharif is written in Bukhari.
That iman is essential in Islam does not reduce the importance of deeds, for it is iman that causes the performance of deeds. Strong means secures the result. A Muslim whose iman is strong lays more stress on the importance of deeds. Since Muslims have to believe each fard, each haram, each deed, and each duty separately, those who commit sins fear that their iman may be harmed and even gone. As a matter of fact, those who slight a sin, for example, by saying, “What if I do it,” will become a disbeliever even if they do not commit that sin. I wonder if religion reformers who want to add some deeds to iman can realize the importance of deeds that well. Those who say that one cannot become a Muslim only by believing with the heart and one must have good actions think of such deeds not to be for love of Allahu ta’ala and for attaining the next world but for the world and worldly happiness.
It is equally wrong to say, “Accept and believe commandments and prohibitions of the religion and then nothing else could make you better off, whether you perform them or not,” because those who slight these commandments and prohibitions become a disbeliever.
Iman means believing with the heart. For achieving this, first of all knowledge is necessary. Knowledge and practice are two different things. Though knowledge strongly necessitates practicing, the two are not the same. They are separated in the French proverb, “Bien penser et bien dire ne sert rien sans bien faire.” That is, unless done well, pondering well and saying well are useless. Contrary to this proverb, Islam says that thinking well without including doing well, that is, only belief, is useful.