Hadrat Jabrâ’îl (’alaihi ’s-salâm) asked ‘O Rasûl-Allah! Now tell me what is îmân.’” Having asked what was Islam and the answer having been given, Hadrat Jabrâ’îl (’alaihi ’s-salâm) asked our master Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’alaihi wa sallam) to explain the essence and reality of îmân. Literally îmân means ‘to know a person to be perfect and truthful and to have faith in him.’ In Islâm, ’îmân’ means to believe the fact that Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’alaihi wa sallam) is Allâhu ta’âlâ’s Prophet; that he is the Nabî, the Messenger chosen by Him, and to say this with the heart; and to believe in brief what he transmitted briefly and to believe in detail what he transmitted in detail from Allâhu . ta’âlâ; and to say the Kalimat ash-shahâda whenever possible. Strong îmân is such that, as we know for certain that fire burns, serpents kill by poisoning and we avoid them, we should deem Allâhu ta’âlâ and His attributes great, be fully certain of this by heart, strive for his consent (ridâ’) and run to His beauty (jamâl), and beware of His wrath (ghadab) and torture (jalâl). We should write this îmân on the heart firmly like an inscription on marble.

Îmân and Islam are the same. In both, one is to believe the meaning of the Kalimat ash-shahâda. Though they differ in general and in particular, and have different literal meanings, there is no difference between them in Islam.

Is îmân one thing, or is it a combination of parts? If it is a combination, how many parts is it made of? Are deeds or ’ibâdât included in îmân or not? While saying, “I have îmân,” is it right to add “inshâ-Allah” or not? Is there littleness or muchness in îmân? Is îmân a creature? Is it within one’s power to believe, or have the Believers believed under compulsion? If there is force or compulsion in believing, why was everybody commanded to believe? It would take a long time to explain all these one by one. Therefore, I will not answer them separately here. But it should be known thus far that, according to the Ash’arî madhhab and the Mu’tazila, it is not jâ’iz (probable) for Allâhu ta’âlâ to command us to do something that is not possible. And according to the Mu’tazila, it is not jâ’iz for Allâhu ta’âlâ to command something which is possible but which is not within man’s power. According to the Ash’arî, it is jâ’iz, yet He has not commanded it. To command people to fly in the air is of this sort. Neither in îmân nor in ’ibâdât did Allâhu ta’âlâ command His creatures to do what they would not be able to do. For this reason, a person who goes mad or becomes ghâfil (forgetful, oblivious), or sleeps or dies while he is Muslim is still a Muslim, though he is not in a state of confirmation.

We should not think of the literal meaning of ’îmân’ in this hadîth-i-sherîf, for, there was not one ordinary man in Arabia who did not know its literal meaning: ‘considering truthful, belief.’ Certainly the Sahâbat al-kirâm (radiy-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’anhum ajma’în) knew it, too, but Jabrâ’îl (’alaihi ’s-salâm) wanted to teach the meaning of îmân to the Sahâbat al-kirâm by asking what îmân meant in Islam. And Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’alaihi wa sallam) said that îmân was to believe in six certain facts:


“First of all, to believe in Allâhu ta’âlâ,”

“to believe in His angels.” 

to believe the Books revealed by Allâhu ta’âlâ.

to believe in Allâhu ta’âlâ’s prophets

to believe in the Last Day (al-Yawm al-âkhir)

to believe in qadar, [that is] that good (khair) and evil (sharr) are from Allâhu ta’âlâ