Faith (iman) in the dictionary means ‘belief’, ‘verification’. The meaning of this word as a terminology we can learn from the following hadith: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) narrated: The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to the question about iman: ‘Believing in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Hereafter, the good and bad destiny’ .
The abovementioned hadith reflects the meaning of the term iman as accepted by Sharia. So, believing in all of the mentioned in the hadith is considered as faith.
In order to further clarify the nature of faith, scholars define iman also according to content. Imam Abu Hanifa (RH.) describes faith in short form as: “Faith is confession and confirmation” . In other words, faith is expressed by tongue, and confirming it with heart. It is said in the 83-85th verses of Maida chapter of the Qur’an: “And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses. And why should we not believe in Allah and what has come to us of the truth? And we aspire that our Lord will admit us (to Paradise) with the righteous people. So Allah rewarded them for what they said with gardens (in Paradise) beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of doers of good”. The verse suggests, faith is confirmation in heart (you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth) and to make a confession with tongue (So Allah rewarded them for what they said with gardens (in Paradise) beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally).
In Maturidi’s ‘Kitab at-Tawhid’ as well, it is reiterated that faith is confirmed with heart, and without confirmation of heart the word of faith will not become truth . Imam Maturidi’s successor Abul Yusr Pazdawi also says that faith is a confession with tongue and belief with the heart . Imam Maturidi provides as evidence to “practice is not principle to faith” with the following words of Allah. Allah separates faith and actions, as He reveals: “Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve…” (Surat al-Baqara, 277). In this verse it is spoken about the necessity to always do good deeds. It is not difficult to comprehend the separation between belief and actions from the following verse: “But he who does of righteous deeds while he is a believed – he will neither fear injustice nor deprivation.” (Taha, 112). Allah Almighty called them mumin (believer) in these verses even before they practiced. Furthermore, as mentioned in the story of Pharaoh and Moses (pbuh) in the Qur’an, magicians believed in Moses although they did not practice. There is no contradiction of opinions about the rightness of their belief among the scholars.
Whether practice is part of faith or not, has caused a lot of debate among scholars. Logical continuation of the debate on this topic, raises next debate on strengthening of faith and it being deficient. Theological groups which think that practice is part of belief, consider iman as one strengthening and being deficient. According to them increasing or decreasing of practice which is integral part of iman leads in its turn to increasing or decreasing of faith. However, Imam Maturidi and scholars of maturidi thought do not add practice to iman, for that reason in his view iman neither increases nor decreases (nor is it deficient), and every Muslim is a flawless believer. Maturidi comments on this: belief in the heart of a human-being is as single as a moon in the sky. If it decreases, it should become half, or if increases it should become one and a half or two units. This is contrary to the truth. Only the ray of belief in heart can become brighter or dimmer owing to good deeds. Also, committing sinful acts leads to the light of belief become dim . This approach is fully in line with the Qur’an and Sunnah. Because there is neither an evidence nor indication in the Qur’an about the possibility of faith becoming deficient or weaker.
One of the few differences of Maturi and Ash’ari schools concerns the precepts of increasing of faith and it being deficient. Two views are reported from al-Ash’ari: First, iman increases and is deficient, because practice is part of seamless faith. Second, iman does not increase and is not deficient. But with the passage of time the former view occupied an important place in the Ash’ari school. But Ash’ariyya school also asserts that despite holding the view of increasing of faith through practice and deficiency of faith, as well as accepting as true the fact that only perfect belief requires practice, do not consider a believer (mumin) who does not practice as one transgressing the faith.
False Salafists promote the ideas close to the ideas of Mu’tazilis, according to which a person who committed a grave sin (kabirah) does not have a complete belief, as well as a person who left out worship is tantamount leaving of the faith.
But there is another sensitive issue, unfortunately false Salafists have employed this aspect as their weapon in easily coining Muslims as faithless, i.e. an unbeliever. According to them, if practice is part of the iman, in which case Muslims who do not comply with Islamic tenets or partially perform them are unbelievers – kafirun. As a result of this, they have made the destructive idea of killing those “nonbelievers” their agenda and retaking their property as “halal”. Such a superficial approach is reflected not only in issues considering belief, but also other theological matters.
However, according to the belief of Ahl al-Sunna and Jama’a, if somebody has believed, but does not practice fully, and does not stay far from sins, such a person is recognized as “ahl qiblah” and considered a mumin: “O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you our misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow (on) the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him…”(Tahrim, 8). It is a significant fact that committers of sins are referred to as “O you who believe” in the above verse of the Qur’an.
The Prophet had (pbuh) said: “Three things are the foundation of faith: not touching a person who confessed ‘There is not God, but Allah’, not accusing him of blasphemy due to his sin, not excommunicating from Islam for his practice” . Hadith shows that, contrary to the fake teachings of the Salafists, it is considered the basis of the faith not to disturb person who has pronounced ‘La ilaha illa Allah’, not to coin this person an infidel, and not to excommunicate him. Although, Al-Ash’ari considered practice part of complete belief, did not identify people who did not practice as “infidels”. Only the kharijis identified non-practicing sin committers as infidels.
Today among the Muslims erratic theological notion is being spread faith, similar to the concept of faith as fools, weak or strong error propagation. This, in turn leading to the Muslims and the ranking of mutual faith in one another, and a non-Muslim is a concept that leads to the production relied upon. This concept, that your faith may be weak or foolish there is no evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah. May be a weak faith that is revealed in the Quran and Sunni, and the content is against the principles of the Hanafi- maturidiy school relied on religious concepts are being developed.
Teacher of the Islamic college for women “Khadija Kubra”