As-Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakaatuhu,
I would kindly request an answer from you to my question which is: 'Does the Imaan increase and decrease?'
And I would like to add to this a second follow on question which is: 'Does the Imaan vary between one believer and another?'
From Al-Waathiq BiNasrullah
Wa Alaikum us Salaam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakaatuhu
1. Imaan is Tasdeeq Al-Jaazim (decisive belief) that conforms to reality and emanates from evidence. Tasdeeq Al-Jaazim means the definite conviction (Qanaa'ah Al-Qaati'ah) that does not allow within it the possibility of doubt or can doubt find a way into it. This is the linguistic meaning itself for Imaan i.e. At-Tasdeeq Al-Jaazim. And conforming to the reality means that the sensed realities affirm it and do not contradict with it. And in order for it to be Tasdeeq Jaazim and in conformity with reality it is necessary for it to come from; and evidence that is definite in terms of its correctness and this is whether the evidence (Daleel) is:
'Aqliy (rational) i.e. the result of a rational study of the sensed realities like the study of the sensed created things so as to deduce by them that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is their creator. Or by studying the revealed speech of Allah (Al-Qur'aan Al-Kareem) so as to deduce that it is the speech of Allah and not the speech of human beings and from there deduce that the one (Muhammad) who came with the speech of Allah is the Messenger of Allah.
Or it can be Naqliy (transmitted) i.e. by way of definite transmission from Allah سبحانه وتعالى in His Kitaab Al-Kareem or from His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم in his Hadeeth that have been related from him by Tawaatur (Mutawaatir) and this includes matters like having Imaan (belief) in the unseen matters, angels, previously revealed books, the previous Prophets, the day of judgement and the Qadar, its good and bad.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا آمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا
"O You who believe, believe in Allah, His Messengers, the Book that He revealed revealed to His Messenger and the book that He revealed before that. And whoever disbelieves in Allah, His Angels, His books, his Messengers and the Day of Judgment has gone far far astray indeed."
ويقول صلوات الله وسلامه عليه في حديث مسلم عن عبد الله بن عمر قال حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ قَالَ: بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ، إِذْ طَلَعَ عَلَيْنَا رَجُلٌ شَدِيدُ بَيَاضِ الثِّيَابِ، شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ الشَّعَرِ... وقَالَ: يَا مُحَمَّدُ... فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الْإِيمَانِ، قَالَ: «أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللهِ، وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ، وَكُتُبِهِ، وَرُسُلِهِ، وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ، وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ»... ثُمَّ قَالَ لِي: «يَا عُمَرُ أَتَدْرِي مَنِ السَّائِلُ؟» قُلْتُ: اللهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ، قَالَ: «فَإِنَّهُ جِبْرِيلُ أَتَاكُمْ يُعَلِّمُكُمْ دِينَكُمْ».
And the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said in a Hadeeth recorded by Muslim from 'Abdullah Ibn 'Umar who said: My father 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab said: "While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. He then said: "O Muhammad, Inform me about Imaan (belief)." He answered, "It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in Qadar both in its good and in its evil aspects."... Then he said to me: "O 'Umar, do you know who that questioner was?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better." He said: "That was Jibreel. He came to teach you your Deen."
2. This is Imaan (belief) and in this meaning it is the opposite of Kufr (disbelief) and the non-believer is definitely a Kaffir (disbeliever) and there is no such thing as half a believer or half a disbeliever. Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in relation to contrasting between Imaan and Kufr (belief and disbelief):
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَنْ يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَذَا مَثَلًا
"Verily, Allah is not shy to set forth a parable of even a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger (or less when it is smaller) than it. And as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord, but as for those who disbelieve, they say: "What did Allah intend by this parable?"
And He سبحانه وتعالى said:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْكُفْرَ بِالْإِيمَانِ لَنْ يَضُرُّوا اللَّهَ شَيْئًا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
"Verily, those who purchase disbelief at the price of Faith, not the least harm will they do to Allah. For them, there is a painful torment."
And He سبحانه وتعالى said:
وَلَكِنِ اخْتَلَفُوا فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ آَمَنَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ كَفَرَ
"But they differed so some of them believed whilst others from them disbelieved."
And there are many additional Ayat that contrast Imaan and Kufr.
3. Imaan according to this meaning that we have mentioned (At-Tasdeeq Al-Jaazim (decisive belief) that conforms with the reality based on evidence) does not increase or decrease because it is Tasdeeq Jaazim (decisive belief) and decisiveness cannot be except complete. So there is no 90% Imaan which then increases to 95% or 100% and then decreases to 95% or 90%. This is because this decrease means that it is not decisive i.e. that it is doubtful. And if this is the case then it is not Imaan (belief) but rather Kufr (disbelief).
4. And for the picture to be clarified we say:
The increase (ziyaadah) and decrease (nuqsaan) are from the Alfaazh Al-Mushtarakah (worded expressions that have a multiple application of meanings), they have come with the meaning of a marginal increase or marginal decrease in regards to expansion and size and it has come with the meaning of strength and weakness. It is the Qareenah (indication) that specifies which of its meanings is intended and therefore if the increase and decrease is linked to Imaan then this indicates that it is related to strength and weakness because it is not correct to attach the marginal increase and decrease to the Tasdeeq Al-Jaazim (decisive belief). And it is upon this basis that we understand the Ayat:
الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
"Those unto whom the people said: "Verily, the people have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them." But it (only) increased them in Imaan, and they said: "Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the best Disposer of affairs (for us).""
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
"The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His verses (this Qur'aan) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the verses) increase their Imaan; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone)."
وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا
"And when the believers saw AlAhzaab (the Confederates), they said: "This is what Allah and his Messenger had promised us, and Allah and his Messenger have spoken the truth, and it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness (to Allah)."
This means that the Imaan of the believers could strengthen and intensify as a result of these matters that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has explained in the above Ayat. This means that the Imaan increases and decreases through acts of obedience, abiding firmly to the Shari'ah rules, by fearing Allah and performing Jihaad in His سبحانه وتعالى's Way. This is all because the Imaan according to the meaning that we have explained (At-Tasdeeq Al-Jaazim confirming to the reality from evidence) is not correct to attribute to it marginal increase or decrease. Otherwise it would not be Jaazim (decisive) and it would change to being doubt and questionable and thus become disbelief.
It is worth noting that when Imaan is mentioned without Qaraa'in (indications) then it indicates that which has been mentioned above and if it has come in other than this meaning then it is the Qareenah that clarifies what it means.
For example the statement of Allah سبحانه وتعالى:
وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ
"Allah would never make your Imaan to be lost."
Here 'Imaan' means your prayers as it was revealed after the Muslims changed the direction of their Qiblah (direction in prayer):
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنْتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَنْ يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّنْ يَنْقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ
"Thus we have made you a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And we made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your Imaan to be lost (i.e. Your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind."
This was to reassure the Muslims that the prayers that they had offered previously in the direction of the first Qiblah were accepted and that they would attain the reward for them.
And it is also illustrated in the Hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم extracted by An-Nisaa'i and narrated by Abu Hurairah who said: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
الْإِيمَانُ بِضْعٌ وَسَبْعُونَ شُعْبَةً، أَفْضَلُهَا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَأَوْضَعُهَا إِمَاطَةُ الْأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ
"The Imaan is seventy and a few parts, its best is Laa Ilaahah Illallah and its least is to remove the obstruction from the roadway/path."
And it is known that not removing the obstacle from the road does not make that person a disbeliever and as such the Imaan in this Hadeeth means the acts of obedience to Allah in a general manner.
We ask Him سبحانه وتعالى to shape our hearts in full contentment with Imaan and that we abide by the Ahkam of Islam in our words and deeds and that Allah سبحانه وتعالى raises us with those whom He has favoured from the Prophets, truthful, martyrs and righteous. And what good company they are.
Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah
18 Shaban 1434 AH
27 June 2013 CE