All Praise is due to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds and Prayers and Peace upon
His Messenger, Muhammad.
This lesson will help us to have a proper understanding
of the definition and meaning of Eemaan. What is eemaan? How do we understand
"Eemaan consists of Speech and Action"
This is the saying of the Salaf regarding this topic,
and this statement needs further clarification and explanation.
What is "Speech" and what is
"Action"? What is meant by them? How did the Salaf explain this?
When we say eemaan is speech, we mean two things:
the speech of the heart
the speech of the tongue
When we say eemaan is action, we mean three things:
For this reason we find that the Scholars of the Salaf
(such as Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyyah etc.) have statements similar to the
Eemaan is the speech of the heart and tongue, and the
actions of the heart, tongue and limbs.
The following diagram should help us to see this more
We will now explain precisely what each one is:
As for the speech aspect of eemaan:
The speech of the heart:
This actually refers to the belief of the heart with respect to Allaah and
the other pillars of eemaan (such as the Angels, Books, Messengers, Qadr,
the Last Day etc.). In other words it refers to the knowledge that the heart
contains and its firm belief in this knowledge. So this would include
Tawheed and its two categories of Ruboobiyyah and Asmaa was-Sifaat because
both of these are related to knowledge. (The other category of Tawheed,
al-Uloohiyyah will come later under the Action section).
The speech of the tongue: This refers to the tongues confirmation of what the heart
contains. In other words the tongue professes what the heart contains. When
a person says with his tongue; "I testify that none has the right to be
worshipped except Allaah, alone without any partners and I testify that
Muhammad is His servant and messenger" then he is confirming what is in
his heart. So note how the speech of the tongue still relates
As a summary of this first section on
Speech, we should notice that it relates to knowledge and the
specific details of faith such as having the correct belief in Allaah, His
Tawheed and the matters of the Unseen, such as Hellfire, Paradise, the Bridge
over Hellfire etc. and the hearts belief and conviction in these things.
As for the action part of eemaan:
The actions of the heart: This refers to the various states and feelings of the heart such
as love, fear, hope, sincerity, reliance, submission etc. So you should now
realise that the heart is firstly, a place of knowledge and belief (and this
is its speech as discussed above) and it is also a place for these feelings
and emotions which actually constitute its worship (and these are known as
the actions of the heart). You should also now realise how Tawheed
ul-Uloohiyyah comes under the actions aspect of eemaan.
Because these acts of worship should only be for Allaah and for no one
The actions of the tongue: This refers to things such as dhikr (remembrance of Allaah),
enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, seeking forgiveness from Allaah,
etc. This is because these are acts of worship which are performed by the
tongue. Notice how this also relates to Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah because these
actions should be for Allaah alone. And notice also, just like the heart,
how the tongue has two roles; firstly, to affirm what is in the heart with
respect to its belief, so the tongue says what is in the heart (i.e. its
belief in Allaah etc.) and secondly to perform the various acts of worship
which are specific to it such as remembrance of Allaah, enjoining good and
forbidding evil, seeking forgiveness. So this is very similar to what we
discussed for the speech of the heart and the
actions of the heart.
The actions of the limbs: And this refers to doing all the commanded things and keeping
away from all the forbidden things. And this refers to the physical acts of
worship, such as prayer, fasting, giving zakah, performing pilgrimage,
removing something harmful from the floor, not stealing, not cheating, not
backbiting, not disobeying parents etc. and the other acts which are
physical in nature. Notice how the actions of the limbs are also related to
Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah in that they should be performed for the sake of
As a summary of this Action aspect of
eemaan, we should realise that it relates to the actual acts of worship, whether
internal or external, of the heart, tongue or limbs.
At this stage we should, inshaaallaah have a good
understanding of the definition and meaning of eemaan. We should also be able to
see how it relates to the three categories of Tawheed, two of which are related
to Knowledge and Belief and the third of which is related to
Actions. For this reason Ibn al-Qayyim understood Tawheed to be of
The Tawheed of Knowledge and Acquaintance (which
would be both Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah and Asmaa was-Sifaat, because they
are both knowledge-based)
The Tawheed of Purpose and Intent (which is
Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah or Ibaadah because it is related to the sincerity
of the actions, what is the reason and motive behind them, who are they
done for etc.)
In other words, there is no contradiction when we say
that some of the Salaf understood Tawheed to be of two types (like Ibn
al-Qayyim) and others understood it to be of three types, because Ibn al-Qayyim
simply combined two of the categories of Tawheed and made them into one category
- so in essence it is the same understanding. If we go back and revise the
diagram we showed earlier, we can include this point in it as well:
Important Note: Be aware that using
the terminologies Speech of the Heart, Speech of the Tongue,
Actions of the Heart etc. is to help us to understand the solid principles
and concepts that are found in the
Quraan and the Sunnah. And by using these terminologies we have not
innovated any principle or concept into the religion. Rather these terms are
simply identifying and labelling the actuals and principles and concepts found
in the Quraan and the Sunnah, to help us to understand them easily. So
dont be fooled by the meanderings of the foolish!
Now we will move onto another related issue to further
increase our understanding.
If we have understood that eemaan consists of these five
things (and that we cannot remove any one of them from the definition and
understanding of eemaan), i.e.
then we should realise that is
possible for eemaan to "increase and decrease" and that for any
Muslim or Believer, it will not remain constant. This is because, from year to
year, or month to month, or week to week, or day to day, or hour to hour or even
minute to minute, a persons strength of belief changes, his feelings of love,
fear and hope decrease or increase, his level of sincerity to Allaah changes,
how much he remembers Allaah, seeks his forgiveness or enjoins good and forbade
evil changes, how perfect he performed his prayers, how many voluntary good
deeds he did, all of this changes and therefore a persons eemaan will always be
"increasing or decreasing." It will be increasing or decreasing for
numerous reasons and factors. For example, a persons success or failure in
facing the trials that Allaah has decreed for him A persons persistence
or abstinence from sins and other forbidden actions, and so on.
For this reason we will go back and revise our statement
so it now becomes:
Eemaan Consists of Speech and Action, it increases with
(acts of) obedience and it decreases with (acts of) disobedience
And this what the Salaf used to say.
Now we shall mention some proofs for all of this - and
this is the way of the Salaf - to always mention the proofs and to stick to the
Quraan, the Sunnah and the Aathaar (sayings) of the Companions and of the
two generations after them.
The Speech of the Heart:
When the hypocrites come to you
(O Muhammad SAW), they say: "We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of
Allâh." Allâh knows that you are indeed His Messenger and Allâh bears witness that
the hypocrites are liars indeed. [Munaafiqoon 63:1]
Here the hypocrites are treated as liars, even though
they expressed with their tongues their testification that Muhammad is indeed
the Messenger of Allaah. When someone testifies to something then there must be
two conditions present: a) The hearts firm knowledge of, belief, and certainty
in that for which it is testifying, b) the tongues expression of that
which the heart is certain of.
So the hypocrites were liars because their tongues
uttered something different to that which their hearts contain. Another proof
for the Speech of the Heart is the saying of Allaah,
They were that day, nearer to
disbelief than to Faith, saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts. And
Allâh has full knowledge of what they conceal [Aali Imraan 3:167] See also al-Fath 48:11
So what we understand as Speech of the
Heart is explained in the Quraan
The Speech of the Tongue
Both of the above two verses are also an indication of
the requirement of the Speech of the Tongue.
The Actions of the Heart, Tongue and Limbs
The Quraan is overwhelming with descriptions of
the acts of worship, whether related to the Heart, Tongue or Limbs and the
purpose here is to be brief and not prolong the discussion. See for yourself how
Allaah describes, the love, fear and hope of the believers, their enjoining the
good and forbidding the evil, their remembrance of Him and seeking forgiveness
from Him and also their physical exertion in worshipping Him, such as constancy
in prayer, fasting, etc.
Eemaan Increases and Decreases
From the Quraan:
The believers are only those who,
when Allâh is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Qur'ân)
are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their
trust in their Lord (Alone) [Surah Anfaal 8:2]
This is one of many verses mentioning the increase in
eemaan. Others are 74:31, 48:4, 3:173, 9:124
From the Sunnah:
The hadeeth: "The most
perfect of people with respect to his eemaan, is the best of them in his manners." (Bazzaar, all of its narrators are reliable and al-Haithamee
mentioned it in Majmoo az-Zawaaid)
And the hadeeth: "Whoever
loves for Allaah (alone), hates for Allaah (alone), gives for Allaah (alone) and withholds
for Allaah (alone), then he has perfected eemaan." (Abu
Daawood - saheeh).
These two hadeeth show that eemaan can be complete or
incomplete and therefore it can go up (in order to be complete) and it can go
down (so that it is incomplete). Notice how the first hadeeth contains actions
of the tongue and actions of the limbs (speaking and behving well with people)
and how the second hadeeth contains both actions of the heart (loving and
hating) and actions of the limbs (giving and withholding).
The hadeeth: "Eemaan
consists of seventy-odd branches, the highest of which is to testify None has the
right to be worshipped except Allaah and the lowest of which is to remove something
harmful from the floor, and modesty is a part of eemaan." (Bukhaaree, Muslim Abu Daawood, Ahmad, Ibn Maajah, and
Did you notice how this hadeeth contains
"speech" and "action"? It mentions the testification
None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah which is the
speech of the heart and the speech of the tongue (To testify to something means
to have firm knowledge of it - which is in the heart - and to believe that this
knowledge is true and correct, and then also to speak with it so that you are
testifying to it). And it mentions some actions, one which is to
do with the limbs (removing something harmful from the floor) and one which is
to do with the heart (modesty).
From the Salaf:
Al-Laalikaa'ee (d. 418H) reports in his Sharh Usool
I'tiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah (5/958) that Abdur-Razzaaq (as-San'aanee) said: "I
met sixty two Shaikhs, amongst them were: Ma'mar, al-Awzaa'ee, ath-Thawree,
al-Waleed bin Muhammad al-Qurashee, Yazeed ibn as-Saa'ib, Hammaad bin Salamah,
Hammaad bin Zaid, Sufyaan bin Uyainah, Shu'ayb bin Harb, Wakee' bin al-Jarraah,
Maalik bin Anas, Ibn Abee Laylaa, Isma'eel bin Ayyaash, al-Waleed ibn Muslim and
those I have not named, all of them saying: "Faith consists of speech and
action, it increases and decreases."
Al-Laalikaaee also reports in his Sharh Usool
Itiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah (5/959) that Uqbah bin Alqamah
said: "I asked al-Awzaaee about eemaan, can it increase? He replied;
Yes until it becomes like the mountains. I said: Can it decrease?
He said: Yes, even until nothing remains of it."
So this is proof, from the Quraan, Sunnah and the
Salaf, that eemaan increases and decreases.
Inshaaallaah this much is sufficient for a good
understanding of this topic
All praise is due to Allaah, prayers and peace upon His
Final Messenger, Muhammad, his family and his companions.
Try to answer the following questions to make sure you
have understood all of this;
Give the definition of eemaan.
What is meant by speech and
Explain each of the following: the speech of the
heart, the speech of the tongue, the actions of the heart, the actions
of the tongue, the actions of the limbs. Please give an example for each
Why does eemaan increase and decrease.
Quote two verses of the Quraan which
highlight the necessity of the Speech of the Heart.
Quote three verses of the Quraan to show
that eemaan increases and decreases.
Quote two hadeeth to show that eemaan increases
What is the link between Tawheed and the
components of eemaan? (See if you can reproduce the diagram to help you
Finally, an astray sect appeared around the time
of the taabieen who claimed that eemaan is constant, it does not
increase or decrease. Do you know its name? The effects of the false
understanding of this group are still present today so if you think over
this lesson, can you recognise some of the signs of this misguided group
and can you see how many groups and individuals still have some aspects
of the understanding of this astray group?
See if you can answer all of these questions
inshaaallaah. If you have follow up questions, you can ask them next