According to the Oxford Senior dictionary faith (Imaan) means “Belief in religious doctrine” or “Loyalty and sincerity.” (p. 219)
The Islamic meaning of Imaan is “To believe with sincerity all those things that are necessary in religion.” (Bahar-e-Shariat. Part: 1. p: 52. Behrur Raiq. Vol: 5. p202. Dur-e-Mukhtar. Vol: 6. p. 354)
The meaning of disbelief (Kukr) according to the Oxford Senior Dictionary is “To refuse or to unable to believe.” (p173) It also means “To cover” or “To hide.” (Qurtubi. Vol: 1. p. 165)
The Islamic meaning of disbelief is “To reject any one of the necessary of religion even if everything else is believed.” (Bahrur Rahiq. Vol: 5. p. 202. Tahawi. Vol: 2. p. 478)
Imaan is to accept with the heart all those things which are the necessities of religion. To reject any one of the necessities of religion is known as Kufr (infidelity), even if one accepts all the other necessities of religion.
Definition of Imaan in the light of the Qur’aan
“O believers! Keep faith in Allah and His Messenger and the Book which He has sent down upon His Messenger and the Book which has been sent down before. And who denies Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Last Day, then certainly he strayed far away.” (Surah Nisa. Surah No: 4. Verse: 136)
We learn from this that one should declare their faith sincerely and whole-heartedly; it could also mean remain firm on your faith at all times. Misguidance will keep you away from true guidance.
“Surely, We have sent you (O Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as a Witness and a bearer of good tidings and a Warner. So that O people! you may believe in Allah and His Messenger, and pay respect to him and honour him, and that you may glorify Him morning and evening.” (Surah Al-Fath, Surah No: 48. Verses: 8-9)
Allah (The Exalted) says here clearly that there are three aims of sending to you the faith of Islam and revealing to the Prophet the Quran: First that the people should believe in Allah (The Exalted) and His Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Second, that people should respect the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Third, that people should worship Allah (The Exalted).
What is Imaan?
Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: One day the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) appeared before the public that a man came to him and said: Prophet of Allah, (tell me) what is Iman? Upon this he replied: “That you affirm your faith in Allah, His angels, His Books, His meeting, His Messengers and that you affirm your faith in the Resurrection hereafter.”
He (again) said: Messenger of Allah, (tell me) what does Islam signify? The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied: “Islam signifies that you worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him and you establish obligatory prayer and you pay the obligatory poor-rate (Zakat) and you observe the fast of Ramadan….” (Sahih Muslim. Chapter 2, Book 001, Hadith No: 4)
What is necessary in religion?
Necessities of religion refer to all that which every individual Muslim is aware off. In other words, the Oneness of Allah, The Prophethood (Nabuwwah) of Prophets, Jannah (paradise), Jahannum (hell), Resurrection and Reckoning etc.
For example, he must accept the finality of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). This must be accepted without any doubt or reservations. Any Muslim who does not accept these principles of faith is no longer a Muslim. And to believe that everything in Islam is the truth and to bring faith in them. (Bahar-e-Shariat. Part: 1. p.52)
A Muslim who lives in a normal community has to be aware of the fundamental necessities of Islam. This however does not apply to those who live in mountains and forests etc. which is completely away from civilisation. (As the message of Islam has not reached them.) This category of people will not lose their faith if they are unaware of these aspects of faith. These people will be regarded to be out of the folds of Islam if they totally reject any basic Islamic beliefs. The above mentioned law is only for those who are away from actual civilisation. This law will not apply to those of us that live in civilised communities and are aware of all the necessities of religion. Such Muslims who live in civilised societies need to also follow the commands strictly through their practices and statements.
It must be noted that this refers to communities that are totally distant from civilisation, meaning that none from another community is able to go to them and none from their community is able to go to another place to attain proper knowledge of religion.
What is genuine Imaan?
The sincere conviction from the dept of the heart is the actuality of Imaan. The physical actions are not part and parcel of Imaan in reality. As for the announcement of Imaan through word of mouth, then if after accepting Islam, a person does not get time to say this with the tongue, then in the sight of Allah he is a believer. If he had the time to say it with the tongue and he was asked to do so and he still abstained from doing so, then he is still a Kaafir. If he was not asked to confirm his Imaan verbally or secretively, then according to the law in this world he will be recognised as a Kaafir. Neither will his funeral (Janaza) Salaah be performed nor will such a person be buried in the Muslim cemetery, but in the sight of Allah (The Exalted) he is a Muslim (as Allah is aware of him secretly accepting Islam in his heart), for as long as he does not portray any action which is against Islam. (Bahar-e-Shariat. Part: 1. p: 52. Behrur Raiq. Vol: 5. p202. Dur-e-Mukhtar. Vol: 6. p. 354. Tahawi. Vol: 2. p. 478)
Uttering the words of disbelief
To be a Muslim, it is also compulsory not to verbally reject anything which is from amongst the necessities of religion. Even if a person accepts all the other necessities and says that he is only rejecting it verbally but has faith in it in their heart. A Muslim can never utter words of kufr and only a person will utter such words of kufr, who has such thoughts in the heart, and says whatever and whenever one pleases. Imaan is such a firm conviction, that there is no room for disagreement present in it. (Bahar-e-Shariat. Part: 1. p: 52. Sharah Fiqh Akbar. P. 257. Dur-e-Mukhtar. p. 356. Shami. Vol: 6. p. 358. Alamgiti. Vol: 2. p. 283. Bazariya. Vol: 6. p. 347. Tatar Khaniya. Vol: 5. p. 458)
Once ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was performing a sermon. A person who was with him in the battle of Jamal stood up and asked, “O Leader of the Muslims! Tell us about destiny.” ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “It is Allah’s secret, do not burden yourself with it.” The person then asked, “O leader of the Muslims! Tell us. ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) replied, “If your not going to listen, then it is a matter between two matters, a person is not powerless nor has a person complete power.” The person said, “There is a person who says one does as one wills (has complete power) and he is amongst us.” The leader of the Muslims said to bring him in front, the people stood him up. When he saw him, he withdrew four fingers length of the sword from the casing and said, “Do you share the power to do things with Allah (The Exalted)? or separate from Allah (The Exalted)? Listen, dare you say any one of these or you will become a disbeliever (Kafir) and I will strike your throat!” The person said, “O leader of the Muslims! Then what should I say?” It was said, “Say I have the power given by Allah (The Exalted) that if He wills, He will give or if He does not will give me nothing.” (Taqdeer Wa Tadbeer. p. 12)
Meaning we are not useless like a stone nor with all power but there is a condition between that a person decides to do or leave. There are many other incidents similar to this that has been narrated in the same book.
Forced into disbelief
If (Allah forbid) a person was forced into uttering words of disbelief (kufr), in other words, his life has been threatened and those threatening say that they will cut off body parts etc. then one must be completely sure that those threatening certainly have the ability to do so, in this circumstance one is given free will. However, in the heart one should have sincerity of Imaan and should actually be stronger now. It is, however, more superior that one gets killed and does not utter these words of kufr. (Bahar-e-Shariat. Part: 1. p: 53. Ashba Wan Nazair. Vol: 2. p. 80. Sharah Fiqh Akbar. P. 275 and p. 316. fatwa-e-Khaniya. Vol: 3. p. 571. Alamgiri. Vol: 2. p276.)
There is also a condition that if for example someone was forced to say evil against the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) then one should think of a person called Muhammad and say evil against him and do not think or say this with the Prophet in mind. If one knew this could be done and was able but didn’t do it then the rule of disbelief will apply. (Bahar-e-Shariat. Part: 15. p: 15.)
Nifaaq (hypocrisy), in other words to make the verbal claim of Imaan yet reject it in the heart is also kufr. The lowest level of hell has been prepared for such people. There were also those in the time of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) who were hypocrites. These hypocrites were exposed through verses of the Qur’aan and the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) with his vast knowledge recognised every one of them and said each one of them to be hypocrites. Today, we can not call a person a hypocrite if he announces Islam and does not openly go against any principle beliefs, as we are not aware of their heart’s condition. There are so called Muslims in this era that look like Muslims and propagate Islam looking the business, however, with their Islam they also reject many things that are necessary in religion, (Bahar-e-Shariat. Vol: 1. p.54) throwing them out of the folds of Islam, however, to the ignorant is a it is a false impression. May Allah (The Exalted) give us the ability to learn about them so that we can stay away from us people and save our Imaan, Aameen!
If a person has evil thoughts which by saying is disbelief and one detests it then this is Imaan. (Sharah Fiqh Akbar. P. 675. Fatw-e-Tatar Khaniya. Vol: 5. p. 459. Alamgiri. Vol: 2. p. 283) This rule is for all types of evil thoughts be it regarding a person, one should remember this rule as it will be of good use as many people get all sorts of evil thoughts that makes a person anxious. When people are not aware of how to deal with evil thoughts people leave rewardable acts such as Salaah. When a person gets evil thoughts and disagrees with it and would detest from saying or carrying it out, the hadith has called this behaviour Imaan and when the Shari’ah has mentioned this there is no need to be concerned.
Careful in Takfeer
There are different meanings for a word some that go towards disbelief and others towards faith; hence there will be no Takfeer (disbelief without doubt) for such a person. If you know that a person meant to disbelief for instance the person said that I meant this then the doubt in the wording will not benefit. We find from this that by a word being Kufr is not necessary for a person to be a Kafir. (Sharah Fiqh Akbar. P. 315. Behrur Raiq. Vol: 5. p210. Alamgiri. Vol: 2. p. 283. Fatwa-e-Radhwiyya. Vol: 6. p. 90 Fatwa-e-Shami. Vol: 6. p. 357. Fatwa-e-Tatar Khaniya. Vol: 5. p. 458. Durre Mukhtar. Vol: 6. p. 368. Fatwa-e-Bazaziya. Vol: 6. p321.)
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Whoever calls a Muslim a Kafir then this will apply to either one, if the person being called is in reality a Kafir then be so or else it will apply to the one who said it.” (Sahih Muslim. Vol: 1. p.107. Sahih Bukhari. Vol: 2. p. 901. Muwatta Imam Malik. Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. Vol: 2. p. 18. Tirmidhi. Vol: 2. p. 88. Jam’i-ul-Hadith. Vol: 1. p. 105)
Mistakenly another word came out
If a person meant to say something and a word of disbelief came out instead such a person will not become a disbeliever this is when such a person detests what was said and that the people listening know that a mistake is made, however, a person who defends what is said this will be disbelief. (Fatwa-e-Khaniya. Vol: 3. p. 577. Alamgiri. Vol: 2. p. 276. Fatwa-e-Tatar Khaniya. Vol: 5. p. 459)
Out of Islam (Murtad)
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) observed: “Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. During (that stormy period) a man would be a Muslim in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening or he would be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning, and would sell his faith for worldly goods.” Allahu Akbar! (Sahih Muslim. Chapter 52: Book 001, Hadith No: 213)
Punishment of a Murtad
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Whoever changes their religion execute them.” (Sahih Bukhari. Vol: 1. p. 423. Tirmidhi. Vol: 1. p.176. Ibn Majah. Vol: 2. p. 185. Jam’i-ul-Hadith. Vol: 1. p. 99-100)
Who is a Murtad?
A believer who rejects any necessary in religion meaning such a person utters a word of disbelief were there is no room for interpretation. There are also some actions that throws a person out of the folds of Islam such as to prostrate to an idol or to throw the Qur’aan in filth etc.
Condition for a Murtad
1) Intellect: the order of disbelief will not apply to those who are insigne, a non-understanding child.
2) Sober: If uttered in the state of intoxication disbelief will not apply unless a person disrespects the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) disbelief will apply.
3) Authority: If under threat disbelief will not apply, this means life is in danger or are certain of loosing a bodily part, then just to say by the tongue is permissible, however, the heart must be firm on Imaan. (Bahrur Raiq. Vol: 5.p. 210)