Claim: “We should reform the religion. We should begin with îmân first. Îmân could not be mere belief with the heart and affirmation with the tongue. The religion distinguishes good from bad, beautiful from ugly. Goodness should be the fundamental of îmân and evil should be the cause of disbelief. As a fard has various fundamentals, so îmân should have fundamentals such as justice, direction, patriotism, honour and honesty. The six fundamentals of Âmantu could not be Islam. Islam, which is a perfect social religion, causes misery merely for this reason. Îmân should be corrected in such a manner as to value the Muslim.”
Answer: Is îmân solely to believe or should it include beautiful a’mâl (deeds, conduct or practice) as the reformer claims? Islamic scholars examined it centuries ago and parted into groups for this reason. According to the Ahl as-Sunna, îmân is only to believe with the heart, and if one cannot express it with the tongue, he will be forgiven. The Mu’tazila and especially the Khawârij, said, “Îmân could not be apart from deeds; he who commits a grave sin loses his îmân.” However, the disagreements between these groups were always based on the knowledge they understood from the Qur’ân and Hadîth. As for religion reformers, who know nothing about religious knowledge, they attempt to change îmân with their defective minds and corrupt intentions. They try to imbue the youth with this sophism, which sounds quite right but which in fact bears a very secret danger. By pretending to compare a Muslim who both believes in Allâhu ta’âlâ’s religion and follows it with the Muslim who only believes in it but does not follow it, they try to make îmân lose its value and to distort Muslims’ belief, rather than trying to defend following Islam. As a matter of fact, it is written in the book The Evidences of Divine Mercy by the excessive Russian reformer Baykiyev, “Muslims who have remained behind versus the disbelievers who have advanced cannot be called believers, and since every religion or faith is right, a polytheist or disbeliever cannot be considered bad.” Obviously, such writings are intended to belittle îmân, which is peculiar to Muslims. The excessive reformer tries to envenom Muslims all over the world with the idea of reforming the religion.
Religion reformers in Muslim countries cunningly pretend to be Muslims. They say that they want to strengthen and improve the religion. When due attention is paid to their words, it is seen that they take the religion as a man-made system put forth by Muhammad (’alaihi ’s-salâm) but not as a religion sent by Allâhu ta’âlâ.
The above-cited idea of reformers that good conduct must be added to îmân is not intended to reveal the knowledge discussed by Muslim scholars for centuries but to hold good deeds superior to îmân, that is to reshape Islam by discarding the religious fundamentals of îmân and ’ibâdât and mixing what they believe to be good conduct and beautiful morals with the contemporary educational methods in the name of Islam. However, this new system will be a religion believed only for worldly considerations.
Religion reformers think only of ethics and the order of the world. As quoted at the beginning of this book, they say that though the religion is without foundation, it will be good to believe it superficially and to make the people believe as if it were true, since it is a useful force correcting moral values. They want deeds to be a part of îmân, but they cannot provide any naqlî (narrated, traditional) or ’aqlî (mental) document for this. They only make statements having nothing to do with knowledge and reason but sensations fit for the understanding of the ignorant, such as, “What’s the use of îmân without a’mâl? By excluding a’mâl from îmân, the scholars of kalâm have reduced Islam to a theoretical religion, though it is a perfect social religion.” They rave these words among the smoke which the fire of their hostility against Islamic scholars heaps before their reason. Because they know nothing about the books of the scholars of kalâm, they attack Islam under the pretext of criticizing the immoralities which they witness in those carrying the Muslim names. In order to expose to view how much unright and immoral they themselves are, the words of the Ahl as-Sunna scholars, especially of the specialists of kalâm, are explained briefly in the following:
According to the Ahl as-Sunna, he who commits a grave sin does not lose his îmân, that is, he does not become a disbeliever. A Muslim who commits a sin is called “fâsiq”(sinner). Sinners with sound îmân or i’tiqâd may or may not be subjected to torture in Hell in the next world. If they are subjected to torture later they will attain the Divine Mercy and will go out of Hell. The basis of Islam is to believe in the Oneness of Allâhu ta’âlâ and in all the rules, that is, the commandments and prohibitions which were brought by Allâhu ta’âlâ’s Prophet Muhammad (’alaihi ’s-salâm) certainly from Him. Though it is not a condition of îmân to carry out the commands and to abstain from prohibitions, belief in the necessity of doing the commands and avoiding the prohibitions is a condition of îmân. He who does not believe as such is not a Muslim and is called “kâfir”. However good work and inventions useful to humanity disbelievers may do, they will not escape punishment in the next world. ’Ibâdât and all good deeds, valuable as they are, remain secondary in comparison with belief in them. Îmân is essential and all good deeds are accessory. Îmân and the deeds done by one who has îmân are useful to him both in this world and in the next world. They make man attain salvation. Good deeds done without having îmân may make one attain happiness only in this world but not in the next world. The religion reformers think of good deeds only, probably because they do not believe in the next world. Because they think only of worldly ease and happiness, they regard good deeds superior to îmân. In the book Kavm-i Cedîd (Modern People), which was published in the time of the Party of Union, real Muslims, having îmân and good deeds are called “Kavm-i Atîk” (Ancient People). It derides Muslims and says, “They say that a man who has îmân will be rescued in the next world, no matter how much evil he commits, and the person without îmân will get no good in the next world, even if he does every kind of goodness in the world.” However, Allâhu ta’âlâ declares, “Disbelievers’ good deeds[and inventions useful to men] in this world are like a mirage seen distant in the desert. A thirsty man supposes it to be water from the distance. But when he gets near it, he cannot find what he expects. On the Day of Judgement, he will find Allâhu ta’âlâ and give his account to Him, who makes the good deeds done by disbelievers in this world look like a mirage, that is, who annihilates them” (sûrat an-Nûr, 19); “The good deeds of those who disbelieve in Allâhu ta’âlâ are like ashes blown about by the wind on a stormy day. In the next world, they get no use from those deeds” (sûrat Ibrâhîm, 18); “On the Day of Judgement, We will turn their good deeds into thin dust flying towards those for whom they do them, since they do not do for us,” (sûrat al-Furqân, 23) and “Shall we declare those whose labours prove most vain? They suppose they do good actions in the world. However, they are people who strive in vain. They have not believed the âyats of their Rabb and that they would enter His presence in the Judgement. We annihilate their favours. We do not neutralize their evils with their favours.” (sûrat al-Kahf, 103-4) These âyats show that the Ahl as-Sunna belief is right.
Although the âyats stating the worthlessness of the favours done by disbelievers in this world show that they will be given no reward, they will cause the punishment to be alleviated according to some Islamic scholars. For the âyat, (Their punishment will not be alleviated,” (sûrat al-Baqara, 86; sûrat âl ’Imrân, 88) these scholars said, “It will not be alleviated in respect of time; they will be tortured eternally.” These scholars based their view upon the âyats, “On the Day of Judgement, we will put forward the balance of justice. No one will suffer. He who does goodness as small as a mustard seed will attain its reward.” (Sûrat al-Anbiyâ, 47) and “He who does goodness in the slightest degree will get its reward.” Furthermore, there are the hadîths stating that Hâtim Tâî who was very generous, and Abû Lahab, who emancipated his jâriya Suwaiba, who had given him the good news of the Prophet’s birth, will be tortured lightly. And the hadîth reporting that the punishment of Abû Tâlib, who loved the Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salâm) very much, will be light is very famous. Disbelievers living in dâr al-Islâm have to follow the mu’âmalât part of Islam, and following Islam causes one to earn reward or one’s punishment to be alleviated. Since there is no reward for disbelievers in the next world, it is probable that their punishment will be alleviated. Moreover, one who embraces Islam will attain the rewards of the good deeds he has done before becoming a Muslim. As it is reported in the Sahîhain of al-Bukhârî and Muslim, Hakîm ibn Hazâm, when he embraced Islam, asked the Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salâm) about the good deeds he had done before embracing the true faith. The Prophet said, “You became a Muslim, the auspicious and useful deeds you have done before being acceptable.”
[When an unbeliever becomes a Muslim, all the sins he has committed are forgiven. Similarly, when a Muslim (Allah forbid!) loses his îmân and becomes an apostate, all the favours he has done become void.]
The Qur’ân al-kerîm and the Hadîth ash-sherîf show that îmân is the belief within the heart, that is, its affirmation by the heart.
The âyats “Those who believe and those who do pious deeds,” and “Those who perform pious deeds after having believed,” indicate that belief and deeds are separate. If deeds were a part of îmân, they would not be declared separately. When something is attributed to something else, it will be understood that the two things are different. In the âyat, “When two groups of Muslims fight each other, reconcile them,” (sûrat al-Hujurât, 9) those Muslims who commit sins, like fighting each other are still called “Muslims”. The âyat, “Certainly Muslims are brothers. Reconcile your brothers!” (sûrat al-Hujurât, 10) declares that they are Believers. Allâhu ta’âlâ says,“Certainly Allah does not forgive polytheism. He forgives the sins except polytheism of whomever He wills,” (sûrat an-Nisâ, 47, 115) and the hadîth says,“Hadrat Jabrâ’îl(Gabriel) came to me. He brought the good news; he who dies without having attributed anything as a partner to Allâhu ta’âlâ, that is, without being a disbeliever, Paradise is the place where he will go at last, even if he has committed adultery, even if he has committed theft.”
The âyats and hadîths above indicate that belief and practice are different from each other. The Mu’tazila and the Khawârij, who said that practice was a part of belief, put forth as documents the âyats, “If one becomes a disbeliever, it does not harm Allâhu ta’âlâ who needs nothing,” (âl ’Imrân, 97) and “Allâhu ta’âlâ made you love îmân. He placed it into your heart and He made disbelief, sins and disobedience seem ugly to you.” (al-Hujurât, 7) They further said that the following words of ’Umar (radiy-Allâhu ’anh) also emphasized the meaning they understood from the former âyat: “I wish I could send official inspectors out to find those who have properties but do not go on hajj and to make them pay jizya, for they are in disbelief.” However, the word ‘disbelief’ in the âyat and in this quotation means the ‘denial of hajj’. In the last âyat, îmân and sins are classified in different classes, but it does not mean that they are opposite. There are many things which may be together though they differ in respect of beauty and ugliness. The âyat, “What a bad quality it is to be sinful after having believed,” in the same sûra very openly defines the places of îmân and sins. It tells that sinfulness is a bad quality unbecoming to Muslims and that the sinner has îmân. The latter is understood from here, because real evil and atrocity is in bringing îmân and sinning together, hence a believer’s sinning is worse than a disbeliever’s sinning.
A Muslim, who affirms the Existence and Oneness of Allâhu ta’âlâ and the rules He has declared through His Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salam), certainly feels sorry if he somehow fails to follow these rules. Someone else who does not acknowledge Allâhu ta’âlâ and His Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salâm) and does goodness not as a command of Allâhu ta’âlâ but for some other reason does not even accept to be a human slave to Allâhu ta’âlâ. Allâhu ta’âlâ’s treatment of these two surely will not be the same. A lazy son useless to others but decent and thinks of his faults and feels shame in the presence of his father and another son, who is studious, clever and helpful to everybody but one day opposes his father and utters offensive terms such as, “Who are you? I don’t recognize you,” are to be treated differently by the father. The first one is tolerated, while the other’s every goodness comes to naught at once and he is dismissed; begging to be pardoned is the only thing he can do. The Muslim sinner and the disbeliever are like these children.
It simply is not right to get a Muslim, who believes and likes Islam, out of Islam just because of his faults. Îmân, 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 îmân, every sinner would be a disbeliever. There would be no Muslim in the world. In the Hadîth, some good acts are associated with îmân and some evils with disbelief, but such analogies are intended to tell about the extent of goodness or badness of those good acts and evils. Other âyats and hadîths show that they are apart from îmân and disbelief. The hadîths, “Modesty is a branch from îmân”; “Cleanliness is half of îmân”; “Îmân is salât”; “A Muslim is a person in whom people will trust”; “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,” must be interpreted in the same sense. By likening the absence of the good qualities such as modesty, cleanliness, salât, trustworthiness, chastity and rectitude and the existence of the evils such as mendacity, perfidy and adultery to the absence of îmân, these hadîths point out their importance. By esteeming some actions as highly as îmân, their importance is emphasized. For the religion reformers who say, “How can the Ahl as-sunna scholars separate from îmân the things which the Prophet included in îmân?” the hadîth, “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 âyat, “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” (sûrat al-Ankabût, 2) points out the great importance of enduring troubles.
The eighteenth âyat of the sûrat al-Ahzâb declares that the people who prevented others from going to jihâd with Rasûlullah (’alaihi ’s-salâm) and who, in the battles which they occasionally joined hypocritically, did not help him and his companions and who stayed deadly motionless at moments of danger in the battles and whose tongues were sharper than their swords and longer than their spears during the sharing of booties and who escaped from charitable deeds, were not Muslims. It is meant that the people of real and firm îmân would not be so and that all the worship and useful deeds of those who did so were unacceptable. Hadrat Hasan al-Basrî, one of the distinguished among the Tâbi’ûn, has a well-known saying: “One simply does not insert his hand into a hole in which it is known that there is a snake. If he does, it means that he does not believe that there is a snake there.” Likewise, a person who believes in Allâhu ta’âlâ and in Hell should not do things prohibited by Islam. A sinner’s saying, “Allah is the most generous, He likes to forgive. I sin because I rely on this,” is like inserting his hand thinking that the snake will not bite.
Sins taste sweet to the nafs. A Muslim may commit sins being deceived by his nafs, but his reason and îmân make him feel distress while sinning. Man believes with his reason, and he is dragged into sins because they taste sweet to the nafs. Therefore, îmân and disobedience are different. If inserting one’s hand into the snake’s hole tasted sweet to the nafs, or if this action caused something that would taste sweet to the nafs, for example, if he were told he would be given a certain sum of money if he inserted his hand, perhaps then he would follow his nafs and insert his hand.
Deficiency in a’mâl (deeds) does not cause man to depart from the religion. When a sin destroys îmân in the heart, for example, if the sinner denies that it is a sin then it becomes disbelief. Actions peculiar to disbelievers and considered as signs of disbelief, such as wearing rope girdle called “zunnâr” worn by Christian priests and worshipping idols, have been regarded as signs indicating denial and removing îmân from the heart. The religion reformer says, “Why should a Muslim become a disbeliever just because of using something? Why should an action done with the hand, foot or head take away îmân from the heart?” These actions themselves are not disbelief, but they are signs indicating that îmân in the heart is corrupt. Throwing the Qur’ân into dirty places and making up words, writings, caricatures, plays and motion pictures ridiculing one of the commands and prohibitions of Islam are actions which cause disbelief themselves.
When the religion reformers who want good deeds to be included in îmân are observed carefully, there is next to none among them who performs salât, fasts and abstains from alcoholic drinks and pork. They believe they should not commit these evils so they may be called Muslims. This shows that their proposals are insincere and that they in fact want not to do good actions but to demolish îmân. Moreover, if good actions or conduct were a condition of îmân, all of those who do evils wold necessarily be non-Muslims except prophets who do no evil, and no one on the earth could be called Muslim. Religion reformers choose some good habits to be conditions of îmân, since, according to them, men make the religion. Therefore, whatever they want is good to them. In fact, they indirectly say that it is not evil to commit adultery, to have alcoholic drinks, to ignore zakât and salât, and indeed they do not regard observance of these as conditions of îmân. They probably do not know that Islam has punishments for many crimes also in this world and that it urges people to do good; it is fard to perform al-amru bi ’l-ma’rûf wa’n-nahyu ’ani ’l-munkar, that is, to give advice, for the ‘ulamâ’ to the cruel and for ordinary Muslims to one another. While Islam enforces performance of good deeds and abstention from evil things in this manner, reformers do not regard this sufficient, or, rather, they want none of the Islamic commands but some other concepts to be fundamentals of îmân so that they may call most Muslims disbelievers; what might be the purpose of such an attempt?
Islam considers wearing rope girdles worn by Christian priests and worshipping idols and similar acts as signs of disbelief. A person does not necessarily become a member of another religion because of having done something peculiar to that religion, yet it comes to mean that he admits that the thing peculiar to that religion be seen on him, and îmân in his heart may be thought to have been sapped. Hadrat al-Imâm-al-a’zam Abû Hanîfe said, “One may go out of Islam through the same way whereby he enters Islam.” Here, the ‘way’ means ‘believing of the heart’, that is, when îmân goes into the heart one becomes Muslim, and when îmân goes out of the heart one departs from Islam.
A person who says he is a Muslim should not do or use the things peculiar to disbelievers unless there is strong necessity, and he should try not to give the impression of a disbeliever. He should think not that he will be mocked when He does the things peculiar to Islam but that he will be respected, and he should feel honour in doing them. It is not permissible to slight the things which are reported by the scholars of Islam to be important by saying, “What do these have to do with îmân in the heart?” For, there is a way leading to each organ from the heart. The acts which Islam commands are good, and those it prohibits are evil. This is true, though people may not understand it today. When the things Islam prohibits are done, the heart darkens and hardens. When grave sins are committed frequently, îmân may go away.
As it is necessary to carry out the duties commanded in Islam, so it is necessary to believe that each of them is a duty. A Muslim who believes so will for certain carry out these duties willingly.
Believing with the heart is not only the basis of Islam but it is also the highest worship. As it is written in the Sahîh of al-Bukhârî, when Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) was asked what was the highest deed, he said, “It is to believe in Allâhu ta’âlâ and His Messenger.”and he recited the Âmentu.
That îmân is essential in Islam does not reduce the importance of deeds (a’mâl, ’ibâdât ), for it is îmân that causes the performance of deeds. Strong means secures the result. A Muslim whose îmân is strong lays more stress on the importance of a’mâl. Since Muslims have to believe every duty to be a duty separately, those who commit sins fear that their îmân may be harmed and even gone. As a matter of fact, he who slights a sin, for example, by saying, “What if I do it,” will become a disbeliever even if he does not commit that sin. I wonder if religion reformers, who want to add some a’mâl to îmân, can realize the importance of a’mâl 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 Allâhu ta’âlâ and for attaining the next world but for the world and worldly happiness.
It is equally wrong to say, “Accept and believe the commands and prohibitions of the religion and then nothing else could make you better off, whether you perform them or not,” since he who slights these commands and prohibitions becomes a disbeliever.
Îmân means believing with the heart. For achieving this, first of all knowledge is necessary. Knowledge and practice are two different things. Though knowledge necessitates practicing strongly, the two are not the same. They are separated in the French proverb, “Bien penser et bien dire ne sert rien sans bien faire” (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, sole îmân, is useful.
In summary, the good deeds performed without believing in Allah or not because they are His commands but for some other reasons are of no value. Îmân without comprising deeds, however, is valuable and useful. Muslims carry out the rules of Islam in order to escape the probability of being punished in the next world. In fact, the attainment of worldy happiness is possible for them by observing these rules. Deeds are an essential part not of îmân but of the perfection of îmân. In one respect, îmân is knowledge. While every kind of improvement and happiness in the world is expected from knowledge, why should one be surprised at that in the next world man will attain happiness owing to îmân, which is based on powerful knowledge? Îmân, which is so valuable, should not be supposed to be unimportant. Those who despise it despite the greatness of the eternal reward it will bring to man are the wretched people who have not been honoured with the fortune of attaining it.
While people give so much consideration to worldly advantages and spending most of their energy for them, they do not pay attention to the fact that they are near an endless happiness or calamity. They never think about this. Allâhu ta’âlâ has given men reason and imposed useful duties on them. In order to inform them, He sent prophets (’alaihimu ’s-salâm). If one does not know about the laws of life and how to struggle for life, or if he knows but does not work in accordance with them, he will suffer harm. Similarly it will certainly be harmful not to know or not to follow the religious laws pertaining to the next world, the laws which were put and commanded by Allâhu ta’âlâ more importantly, though you know them. As such questions as “Why did He create the miserable and the destitude? What fault do they have?” are out of place and do not help such people, so it is useless to say, “Why has He created the men whom He will torture in the next world?” Man, whose birth and death are not in his own power, has no right to speak ill of Allâhu ta’âlâ’s laws pertaining to this world and the next. He can attain happiness only by following these laws.
Some ignorant people who have believed in the lies of communists and freemasons say, “What is religion on earth? Who has seen Paradise and Hell? Such words are the stories of early people and bigots; they are false.” If they understood scientific knowledge and Islamic history by learning them from conscientious teachers and if they saw that scientific improvements and new inventions strengthen and prove Islamic beliefs they would cling to Islam tightly, or at least be respectful, decent towards it. If they learned Muhammad’s life (’alaihi ’s-salâm) from books written correctly, they would fall in love with his intellect, beautiful habits and accomplishments. The events showing that hundreds of thousands of people have been attached to him very sincerely, their manners, obedience and excessive love towards him, and that they would sacrifice their possessions and lives for his sake, fill thousands of pages of history all over the world. It is as obvious as the existence of the sun that such a person, who is the source of all knowledge and the master of all beautiful habits and goodness, is Allâhu ta’âlâ’s Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salâm). The Hero, who began alone, defeated the two great empires of the world down to the ground with his intellect, patience and keen sight, established a devoted nation within twenty-three years and left behind an unchangeable book that would make people attain ease, happiness and civilization until the end of the world: these suffice for reasonable and just people to embrace Islam. There is no need for another miracle or witness. To deny the words of this exalted Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salâm) means to deny history and events. He who knows but does not believe him is a slave to his nafs, to his sensual desires, or an eccentric person who does not wish goodness, working, progress, mutual love, social justice, and who does not think of his and all people’s happiness, or an utterly ignorant person who knows nothing about science and history. Every reasonable and just man who learns the beautiful life of Rasûlullah (’alaihi ’s-salâm) and the subtleties and uses in the commands and prohibitions of Islamic faith should believe him at once, like him and become a Muslim willingly, as humanity requires. It was true that Abû Lahab and Abû Jahl did not believe him though they saw him and the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and Persian Shah Perviz did not believe him though they read his letters. Their denying him was a sign of their ignorance, stupidity, ill spirit, or foul heart and persistence.