hadith 8

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful

The book of faith

Chapter: The saying of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم: “Islam is based on five (principles)”

Eemaan (belief) consists of statement and action, it increases and decreases. Allah the Almighty says:

  • That they would increase in faith along with their [present] faith.” (48:4)

  • and “We increased them in guidance” (18:13)

  • “And Allah increases those who were guided, in guidance.” (19:76)

  • “And those who are guided – He increases them in guidance and gives them their righteousness.” (47:17)

  • and those who have believed will increase in faith.” (74:31)

  • “Which of you has this increased faith?” As for those who believed, it has increased them in faith, while they are rejoicing. (9:124)

  • Those to whom hypocrites said, “Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But it [merely] increased them in faith (3:173)

  • Allah says, “And it increased them only in faith and acceptance.” (33:22)

Loving for the sake of Allah and hating for the sake of Allah is part of belief.

‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz wrote to ‘Adiy ibnu ‘Adiy, “Belief includes obligations, doctrines, boundaries, and preferred ways. Whoever fulfills all of them has perfected his belief, and whoever does not fulfill them has not perfected his belief. If I live, I will make them clear to you so that you can act on them. If I die, however, I am not eager for your company.”

(The prophet) Ibrahim said,But [I ask] only that my heart may be satisfied.” (2:260)

Mu’adh said, “Let us sit for some time [to renew and increase our] belief.”

Ibn Mas’ud said, “Certainty is complete belief.”

Ibn ‘Umar said, “A slave cannot attain the reality of righteousness (taqwa) until he removes all doubt from his chest.”

Mujahid said (in regards to the verse), He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah (42:13) means: ‘O Muhammad! We commanded you with the same religion we commanded him (Noah) with.

Ibn ‘Abbas said explaining the words of Allah:,

{لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا}

To each of you We prescribed a law and a method (5:48)

شِرْعَةً means path (sabil) and مِنْهَاجًا means the way and method (sunah)

8. It is related from Ibn ‘Umar, that the Messenger of Allah

صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “Islam is built upon five: the testifying (shahada) that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; establishing the prayer (salat); paying the zakat (obligatory charity), the Hajj and the fasting (sawm) of Ramadan.

Ibn Hajar’s explanation

His saying, “The book of Belief”

The term book was commonly used to introduce an area that combines chapters and sections of similar topics.

Eemaan linguistically means belief, and the Islamic definition of Eemaan is the belief in what the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم came with from his Lord.  This part of the definition is agreed upon by the people of knowledge.  They, however, differed on whether or not additional conditions should be added in regards to declaring the belief of the heart with the tongue, and in regards to acting upon that belief by performing the orders (of Allah) and abandoning the prohibitions (of Allah) as will be discussed in depth. It has been said that Eemaan (إيمان) is derived from the root word أمن meaning safety, however this is debatable due to the difference in the meanings of the two words. The different narrations also differed as to whether or not the author (Al-Bukhari) placed البسملة, (In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful) before or after the book title “The book of faith”.  Most of the narrations came with البسملة after the book title, and the meaning behind this would be that he positioned the book title in the place of the chapter title (سورة) in the Quran, then the البسملة (as in the Quran after the سورة title), and finally the hadith is mentioned after the البسملة just as the verses are mentioned after البسملة in the Quran.

His saying: Chapter: The saying of the Prophet: صلى الله عليه و سلم “Islam is based on five”:

This is an example of naming something by sufficing with only a portion of it.

His saying: Belief (Eemaan) is statement and action, and it increases and decreases

The meaning of “statement” here is the utterance of the two testimonies (شهادتين)[1]. The meaning of “action” here is more general than just the action of the heart and limbs, as it encompasses the creed, and the acts of worship. The predecessors said that eemaan is the belief of the heart, the utterance of the tongue, and the actions of the limbs.  What they meant by that was that actions are a condition for the completeness of eemaan, and from this originates the increase and decrease of eemaan.

  • The murji`a say that eeman is only a belief and an utterance (not action).

  • The karamiyyah say that eemaan is only an utterance.

  • The mu’tazila say that eemaan is actions, utterances, and belief. They, however, differed with the pious predecessors by considering the actions as a condition for eeman to exist, while the predecessors considered actions as a condition for the eeman to be complete.

This is in relation to what is judged by Allah; however upon us is to accept the utterance (of tawheed) as a sufficient evidence (of eeman).  Hence, the rulings that apply to the believer fall upon whoever utters the testimony of faith and he cannot be ruled as a disbeliever unless he is associated to actions of disbelief such as performing sujood (prostration) to an idol etc.  If the action does not connote disbelief, such as fisq (sin and transgression) then he is considered a believer due to his declaration (of the words of Islam). The negation (of faith) would apply only to the completion of faith (meaning that his faith is not complete). Disbelief only applies in the sense that the person has done actions of disbelief.

The mu’tazila tried to take a middle ground by saying that the fasiq (sinner, transgressor) is neither a mu’min (believer) nor a kaafir (disbeliever). The salaf (pious predecessors), on the other hand, stated that eemaan increases and decreases (the person however remains a believer).  Most of the people of kalam (theologians) denied this, stating that accepting this would be dubious.

*Shaykh Muhyee Ad-Deen said, “What is most correct is that belief (eemaan) increases and decreases, this becomes clear through research and the clarity of the proofs. For this reason, the eemaan of As-Siddiq (Abu Bakr) was stronger than the eemaan of others, as his was not afflicted with doubt. This position is strengthened by the fact that each person knows that what is in his heart is of varying levels (comprising of what is good and what is better), at times the eemaan is stronger in certainty, ikhlaas (sincerity), and tawakkul (reliance upon Allah) then it is at other times.”  Muhammad Ibn Nasr Al-Marwaze narrated in his book, “Honoring the Status of the Salaat”, similar statements from a large group of scholars.

What was relayed about the Salaf (eemaan comprising of statement and action,  increasing and decreasing) was mentioned by Abd Ur-Razzaaq in his Musannaf from Sufyan Ath-Thawree, Malik Ibn Anas , Al-Awzaa’ee, Ibn Jurayj, Ma’mar and others and these people were the Fuqaha of the land of their time. Al-Bukhari said, “I came across over one thousand scholars in various countries and I didn’t find any of them differing with the fact that the eemaan is comprised of statements and actions, and it increases and decreases”.  This was also narrated from large groups of the sahaaba (companions of the Prophet) and taabi’een (the generation following the companions) and reached the level of consensus (إجماع). It was also narrated that Ash-Shaf’ee said, “Eemaan is speech and action, it increases and decreases”, in another narration he added, “it increase with obedience (to Allah) and decreases with disobedience.” Then he recited the words of Allah,

{وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِيمَاناً}

That the believers may increase in Faith

And everything that has the potential to increase also has the potential to decrease.

His saying:  “To love for (the sake of) Allah, and to hate for (the sake of) Allah is from eemaan.”

This is the wording of a narration that was recorded by Abu Dawood.

  • In Abu Umamah’s narration, “Whoever loves for the sake of Allah and hates for the sake of Allah, gives for the sake of Allah, and refrains for the sake of Allah has completed eemaan.”

  • Ahmad added in the narration that he recorded, “and advised in the way of Allah”, and in another narration for him (Ahmad) “and his tongue is busy with the remembrance of Allah.” In yet another narration, he recorded from ‘Umar Ibn Al-Jamooh, “The servant will not attain true eemaan until he loves for Allah and hates for Allah.”

  • In Al-Bazzaar’s narration, “The firmest strand of eemaan is loving for Allah and hating for Allah.”

We will come to the author’s (Al-Bukhari) narration, “The sign of eemaan is loving the ansaar” and he used this as proof that the eemaan increases and decreases because loving and hating is of levels or degrees. [2]

Ibn ‘Asakir recorded that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz wrote to ‘Adiy ibnu ‘Adiy, “Belief includes obligations, doctrines, boundaries, and preferred ways. Whoever fulfills all of them has perfected his belief, and whoever does not fulfill them has not perfected his belief. If I live, I will make them clear to you so that you can act on them. If I die, however, I am not eager for your company.”

His saying, “Whoever fulfills all of them has perfected his belief, and whoever does not fulfill them has not perfected his belief.”

This indicates that eemaan increases and decreases.

His saying, “If I live, I will make them clear to you so that you can act on them.”

Meaning I will clarify the branches of eemaan not eemaan itself, as the origin of eemaan was apparent and known to them.

His saying, “(The prophet) Ibrahim said,But [I ask] only that my heart may be satisfied.” (2:260)

Sa’eed Ibn Jubayr and others said that this verse means “so that my certainty will be increased.” Mujahid said it means, “so that I will be increased a level of eemaan upon the eemaan that I already have”

His saying, “Mu’aath Ibn Jabal said to him, “Let us sit for some time [to renew and increase our] belief.”

They used to sit and made remembrance of Allah and praised Him.  This is proof that he was increased in eemaan by making remembrance of Allah. Abu Bakr Ibn Al-‘Arabe said that Mu’aath wanted to renew his eemaan. The believer acquires faith and then remains in a constant state of renewing his eemaan whenever he contemplates or thinks.

His saying, Ibn Mas’ood said, “Certainty is complete eemaan.”

This is part of a narration that At-Tabarani recorded with an accurate chain. The continuation of this narration is, “and patience is half of eemaan.” He used this as proof that eemaan has parts.

Imam Ahmad recorded by way of Abdullah Ibn ‘Akeem with an accurate chain from Ibn Mas’ood that he used to say, “Oh Allah increase us eemaan, certainty, and understanding.”   Those who said that eemaan only consists of belief (without speech and action) used Ibn Mas’ood’s narration as proof, however Ibn Mas’ood intended that certainty is the foundation of eemaan, so if the heart becomes certain all of the limbs become inclined (to act) towards the meeting with Allah with good deeds.  So much so, that Sufyan Ath-Thawri said, “If certainty penetrates the heart as it ought to, it (the heart) would ascend yearning for paradise, fleeing from the fire.”

His statement, Ibn ‘Umar said, “A slave cannot attain the reality of righteousness (taqwa) until he removes all doubt from his chest.”

What is meant by taqwa here is protecting oneself from shirk and evil doing, while persisting in righteous actions. This narration shows that some believers reach the reality of righteousness and some of them don’t reach its reality (i.e. differing in levels of righteousness and eemaan). Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya recorded in the “book of Taqwa” a narration from Abu Ad-Dardaa’ stating, “The completion of taqwa is to fear Allah until you leave what you see as halal out of fear that it may be haram.”

Mujahid said (in regards to the verse), He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah (42:13) means: ‘O Muhammad! We commanded you and him (Nuh) the same deen.

Ash-Shaf’ee, Ahmad, and others used the words of Allah:

{وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ} إلى قوله: {دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ}

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion.

As proof that actions are a part of eemaan.  Ash-Shaf’ee said, “There is no proof clearer than this verse (i.e. Allah mentioned actions such as establishing the prayer and giving the zakah as being part of eemaan)

Chapter; Your du’a (supplication) is your eemaan.

Abdullah Ibn Musa said that Handhala Ibn Abi Sufyan informed us from ‘Ikrimah Ibn Khalid from Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar that Allah’s messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s messenger.

2. To establish the salaat (prayer)

3. To pay Zakat (obligatory charity)

4. To perform Hajj. (Pilgrimage to Mecca)

5. To fast (during the month of) Ramadan.

The author (Al-Bukhari) titled this section “Your Du’a (supplication) is your eemaan” This is related to the statement of Ibn ‘Abbaas regarding the words of Allah:

{قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلا دُعَاؤُكُمْ}

Say, “What would my Lord care for you if not for your supplication?”

Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “If not for your supplication” means if not for your eemaan.

Allah informs the disbelievers that He shall pay no attention (concern) to them, and that if it wasn’t for the eemaan of the believers Allah would not have concern for them either. The correlation here is that supplication is a form of action (عمل), and he (Bukhari) said, “Your Du’a (supplication) is your eemaan” So it can be deduced from this that actions are from eemaan, as explained by Ibn ‘Abbaas.

Some said that what is meant by supplication here is the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم calling the people to the faith. So the meaning is “You have no excuse with Allah after the Prophet has called you to the faith, however you have considered him a liar so the punishment has become incumbent upon you.

It has also been said that the meaning of du’a (supplication) in this situation is obedience (to Allah). This view is supported by the hadith narrated by Nu’maan Ibn Basheer, “Verily Du’a is ‘Ibadah (worship)” as was recorded by the collectors of the sunan (Abu Dawood, Tirmithi, An-Nasa’ee, Ibn Majah) with a sound chain and also by Muslim.

If it is said that the four 4 pillars mentioned after the shahada are based upon the shahada (i.e. there is no need to mention them as individual pillars) then how can Islam be defined as five separate pillars when the last four actually stem from and are completely reliant upon the first pillar?

The answer is that this is comparable to a house built upon five pillars, one being the central column while the other four are supportive pillars.  The structure stands as long as the central column exists even if one or more of the supportive pillars fell, however if the central column is broken the structure ceases to exist.


  • Jihad is not mentioned because it is fard kifayah (a communal obligation), [3] and is only binding under certain circumstances. For this reason, when Ibn Umar was asked, “Don’t you invade (the enemy)?”  He answered that Islam is built only upon five, and in the narration of Abd Ul-Razzaq he added, “And verily jihad is from the good deeds.” (This shows that although jihad was already revealed Ibn ‘Umar didn’t consider it from the pillars of Islam) Strangely, Ibn Battal claimed that this narration (Islam being built upon five) occurred before jihad became an obligation; however this is a mistake because jihad, in fact, became an obligation before the incident (battle) of Badr which took place during Ramadan in the 2nd year H. which was before siyam, zakat, and hajj became obligated.

  • If it is asked, why didn’t the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم mention belief in the prophets, the angels, and the other pillars of eemaan that were  included in the answer to the question of Jibriel (“what is eemaan?”) The answer is that the purpose of the shahada (testimony of faith) is belief in all that the Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم came with which includes  the articles of faith. Al-Isma’eele said, “this is an example of mentioning part of the whole, while intending the whole, like saying, I read ‘al-hamd’ meaning the entire ‘fatiha’”

  • What is meant (in the hadith) by establishing the salat is either being persistent upon it or the general establishment of it.

  • What is meant by the zakat is giving a portion of one’s wealth in a specific way.

  • Al-Baaqilaane stipulated for the correctness of one’s Islam that the recognition of tawheed should precede the belief in the message (revealed to Muhammad)

  • Hajj was mentioned ahead of fasting in this narration and Bukhari categorized them according to this, however Imam Muslim recorded the narration of Sa’d Ibn ‘Ubaydah by way of Ibn ‘Umar that mentioned fasting ahead of the hajj. This seems to indicate that Bukhari’s narration was reported by meaning (rather than by specific wording), either because the narrator didn’t hear Ibn ‘Umar’s correction when he heard someone say, “hajj and siyam Ramadan”, he corrected him saying “No, siyam then Hajj is what I heard from Allah’s messenger” or he heard it but forgot it. The fact that there are a number of narrations with fasting mentioned before hajj shows that this wording was narrated by meaning (rather than exact wording).

[1] الشهادتان في الإسلام هما الشهادة بأن “لا إله إلا الله” والشهادة بأن “محمدا رسول الله”

The two testimonies are: testifying that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and testifying that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah

[2] i.e. some may love the ansaar more than others, thus possessing a stronger sign of eemaan.

[3] An obligation that once fulfilled by some members of the community is no longer required from the rest i.e. there has to be some members in the community who follow this duty, but if the entire community wishes to follow it, they can.


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