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On Imaan and Kufr
  Shaikh ul-Islam on the Increase and Decrease of Iman
Author: Shaikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah
Source: Kitab ul-Iman (trans. S. Ahmed Tel)
Article ID : GSC050001  [42856]  
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Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said:

If it is said: If absolute Iman includes all that Allah and His Messenger commanded, then, if some of the Iman diminishes, the sinners must be charged with unbelief as the Kharjites claimed, or abide forever in Hell and be deprived of Iman, as the Mu’tazilites claimed. The claims of the Kharijites and the Mu’tazilites were more erroneous than the claims of the Murji’ites. For there is a group among the Murji'ites who were considered good and praiseworthy people. However, the Kharijites and the Mu’tazilites were condemned by the consensus of the Orthodox Muslim community.

It is said: It should be known that the views of Mu’tazilites and Kharijites, with which none of the Orthodox Muslims agreed, implied that the people who committed major sins would abide forever in Hell. This claim was one of the important innovations because the Companions and Successors of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), their followers, and all religious Muslims agreed that whoever has an atom's weight of Iman in his heart will not abide forever in Hell. They also agreed that our Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would be among those who would intercede to seek Allah's permission for His intercession for the major sinners from his community. Indeed, both Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari relate that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Every prophet is allowed one answered prayer. As for me, I delayed my request in order to intercede for my community on Judgment Day."

This hadith will be mentioned in its proper place. However, some people have falsely related some sayings on the authority of the Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). For example, it was falsely related on the authority of Ibn Abbas that there is no repentance for anyone who intentionally kills, and this is a further false claim about the Companions. For none of the Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ever related that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) either said that he does not intercede for major sinners or that he said that they [major sinners] will abide eternally in Hellfire. However, it was recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas, in one of his two narrations said: "There is no repentance for anyone who intentionally kills [a Muslim]." A similar error was related on the authority of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. However, the debate over repentance is different from the debate over eternal punishment in Hell. For killing involves a human right; that is why it was debated.

However, the saying, "If part of it [Iman] is lost, then the whole of it is lost," is rejected, and it represents the essence from which many innovations concerning Iman emerged. Moreover, Mu’tazilites and Kharijites argued that if part of Iman is lost, the whole of it is lost as well; and thus, the major sinner will abide forever in Hell. In contrast, the Murji’ites argued that neither committing a major sin nor abandoning an obligatory deed results in losing Iman. The sayings of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions indicate that part of it is lost while the other part remains, as illustrated in the Prophet's (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) saying: "He [Allah] will remove from Hell whoever has an atom's weight of belief." That is why the Orthodox Muslims said: "Iman exists in varying degrees among different people. It also may increase and diminish." However, some of their followers said: "Iman increases but does not decrease," as related on the authority of Malik in one of two accounts. Some [namely, Abd Allah Ibn al-Mubarak] said: "Iman exists in varying degrees." But all the Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned both the increase and the decrease of Iman. For example, people related on the authority of Hammad Ibn Salamah, on the authority of Abu Jafar, on the authority of his grandfather Umayr Ibn Habib al-Khatmi, one of the Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), that he [the Prophet] said: "Iman increases and diminishes." He was then asked: "How does it increase and diminish?" He replied: "If we hold Allah in remembrance, praise Him, and glorify Him, our Iman increases. But, if we hold Allah little in remembrance, our Iman diminishes. Similarly, Ismail Ibn Ayyaash relates on the authority of Jarir Ibn Uthman, on the authority of al-Harith Ibn Muhammad, on the authority of Abu al-Darda, who said: "Iman increases and diminishes."

According to Ah mad Ibn Hanbal, who said that Yazid related, on the authority of Jafar Ibn Uthrnan: "Some or of all our scholars heard Abu al-Darda' saying:

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