The Issues Pertaining to Imaan and
Refutation of the Murji’ah
The false beliefs of the Murji’ah
The belief that Imaan is affirmation of the heart only (tasdiq), meaning
that one need only to affirm the existence of Allaah, His Tawheed, the
message of His Messengers and related matters in his heart.
Amongst the adherents of this belief
are those who include the actions of the heart – which is the majority
of the Murji’ah and also those who do not include the actions of the
heart in the definition of Imaan – and this the view of Jahm Ibn Safwaan
and his followers.
The position of the Jahmi type of
Murji’ah who do not include actions of the heart in the definition of
Imaan, is also described as ‘ma’rifah’ meaning acquaintance only. What
is meant here that one only need to have knowledge of Allaah, His
Messenger etc. to be considered a believer.
The belief that Imaan is proclamation of
the tongue only, this is the view of the Karraamiyyah.
The belief that Imaan is affirmation of the heart and proclamation of
the tongue only.
Some proofs for this:
The statement of Shaikh ul-Islaam in
Kitab ul-Imaan: "The Murji’ah were of three views: The first was that
Imaan is merely what is in the heart. Most of them believed that works
of the heart contribute to Imaan, as indicated in the book of Abu
al-Hassan al-Ash’ari. He also mentioned many other sects whose listing
would be lengthy, although the author states that he has mentioned most
of their statements. This view does not include works as part of Imaan.
This was the opinion of Jahm and of those who followed him, such as as-Salihi,
who, along with his followers, were great supporters of him [Jahm]. The
second view states that Imaan is a mere utterance of the tongue. This
position was not known prior to the opinions of the Karramiyyah sect.
The third view states that Imaan is tasdiq, assent, of the heart and a
saying of the tongue. This was the most well-known position among them.
Indeed, this was the prevailing belief among the jurists and the
worshipers of the Murji’ah."
And from the Imaam Wakee Ibn al-Jarraah
ar-Ru’usi who said: "Ahl us-Sunnah are the ones who say Imaan consists
of speech and action. The Murji’ah say Imaan is speech (only)! And the
Jahmiyyah say Imaan is acquaintance (ma’rifah)!" (Al-Laalikaa’ee reports
in as-Sunnah (1837) and al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee’ah, no.342)
So in summary we have the following:
Based upon these false assumptions, the
view of these stray sects with respect to the various issues related to
Imaan can be understood. Some of the false beliefs arising from these
- That Imaan is constant – it cannot
increase or decrease.
- What naturally follows from the
point above, that the Imaan of all those tasked with obedience to
Allaah (Angels, Prophets, and Muslims in general) is equal, their
being no disparity between any of them.
- That sins can do no harm
whatsoever to Imaan, and cannot cause it to diminish.
- That one must be certain that he
is a perfect Believer, complete and perfect in his Imaan.
- That the most vile of disbelievers
and rejectors can be considered to be Believers, such as Iblis,
Fir’aun and others.
- That the hypocrites are considered
perfect believers due to the mere utterance of their tongues.
The Imaam and Establisher of the Sunnah
Abul-Qasim al-Asbahani said in explanation of the beliefs of Ahl us-Sunnah
concerning the issues of Imaan:
"Imaan, in the legislative sense (i.e.
Sharee’ah usage) is a term which signifies all of the acts of obedience,
both internal and external.
The Ash’aris say that Imaan is assent,
tasdiq, and that actions follow on from it, but are not from Imaan
The benefit of [the existence of] this
difference is that the one who is devoid of actions and commits the
forbidden acts, will not have the name of ‘believer’ applied to him
absolutely and it is said in this regard that he is deficient in faith,
since he has neglected some parts of it. And in the view of those (i.e.
the Ash’aris) the name of ‘believer’ can be applied to him absolutely
because [in their view] Imaan signifies assent, tasdiq and such a person
has fulfilled this.
Our evidence for this is the saying of
Verily the Believers are
those whose hearts tremble when Allaah is mentioned… (Anfal 8:2)
Up to His statement:
…they are the Believers in truth. (Anfal
So he described them with the real and
true Imaan due the presence of these actions. And the Most High said:
And never would Allaah
cause your Imaan to be lost (Baqarah 2:143)
Meaning, your prayer. So he applied the
term Imaan to the prayer, yet it is an action.
What also gives evidence to this is
what is reported from Abu Hurairah – may Allaah be pleased with him –
that he said, "The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)
said: Imaan consists of seventy odd branches" and in another narration,
"sixty odd branches: the most superior of them being the declaration
that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and the lowest of
them being the removal of something harmful from the path. And modesty
is a branch of Imaan"
[What also constitutes our evidence is
that] the one who is compelled into Imaan, his entrance into Imaan is
correct and acceptable. Because if Imaan was something unique to the
heart [alone], his entry into Imaan would not have been correct, since
that is not possible with compulsion. It can be attained from the
perspective of the outward sayings and deeds. And because Imaan is
actually what constitutes the deen (religion) of a Muslim, and the deen
is a term that signifies acts of obedience, then likewise [is] the Imaan
that is characteristic of him. And also [the fact that] the term
‘perfect in faith’ cannot be applied to the one who abandons fasting,
zakaah, and who commits the obscene acts.
Issue: [Increase and Decrease in Imaan]
And it is possible for Imaan to
increase and decrease. Its increase is by performance of the acts of
obedience and its decrease is by abandoning them and doing acts of
disobedience. This is in opposition to the one who says that Imaan is
[merely] the knowledge of the heart and its assent and that these two
are indicatives, and that increase and decrease cannot take place in the
case of indicative matters.
And it is reported from Ibn Abbaas, Abu
Hurairah and Abu ad-Dardaa – may Allaah be pleased with them, "Imaan
increases and decreases". So when he neglects some of it and performs
the forbidden acts then he has neglected some of the actions of Imaan.
Hence, it is permitted that Imaan be described with increase and
Issue: [Is the Imaan of the Mukallifeen
And the Imaan of all those tasked (with
obedience) from amongst the Angels, Prophets - and those besides them
such as the Martyrs and Truthful ones – is not equal. Rather they excel
one another to the extent of their level in performing acts of
obedience. This is in opposition to the one who says that Imaan is
[merely] the assent, tasdiq, of the heart and that superiority only
takes place with respect to knowledge and the variety in its evidences!
And we have already mentioned that acts of obedience are from Imaan. It
is also known that people excel each other in the acts of obedience. So
some of them increase over others, hence it is necessary that
superiority be acquired with respect to it.
Issue: [The Difference Between Islaam
And Imaan and Islaam are two terms
referring to two [distinct] meanings. Islaam is a term that refers to
the two Shahadahs (testimonies of belief) and assent, tasdiq, of the
heart. And Imaan is a term that signifies all of the acts of obedience.
This is in opposition to the one who says that Islaam and Imaan are the
And the evidence for the difference
between them is the statement of the Most High:
Verily the Muslims, men
and women, the Believers men and women… (Ahzab 33:36)
So he placed Imaan after Islaam (next
to it) and something is not placed straight after itself. So it is known
from this that Imaan has a meaning which extends that of Islaam.
What gives evidence to this is the
hadith of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab – may Allaah be pleased with him – and
the saying of Jibreel (alaihis-salaam): "Tell me about Islaam" … and
then he said: "Tell me about Imaan". So this gives evidence to the
separation (in meaning) between the two.
What has been reported from ‘Amir bin
Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, from Sa’d from the Prophet (sallallaah alaihi
wasallam) also gives evidence to this. The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi
wasallam) gave something to a group of men but left one of them out. So
Sa’d said to him, "You gave to them yet you left him out? By Allaah I
consider him to be a Believer!" The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu
alaihi wasallam) said, "Or a Muslim?!"
So he differentiated between Islaam and
And we already mentioned that Imaan is
a term that signifies all of the acts of obedience and that Islaam is a
term that signifies the two testimonies along with the ease of the heart
(i.e. its acceptance). So when it is like this then it is obligatory to
differentiate between them.
Issue: [Excepting oneself from having
perfect Imaan, Istithnaa]
And is disliked for the one who has
acquired Imaan that he should say, ‘I am a believer in truth!’ or ‘I am
a [true] believer in the sight of Allaah’. Rather he should say, ‘I hope
I am a beliver’ or ‘I am a believer if Allaah wills’ or ‘I believe in
Allaah, His Angels, Books, and His Messengers’. And none of this is from
the angle of doubtfulness in his Imaan, but it is from the aspect that
he cannot be absolutely sure that he has fulfilled every single thing
with which he has been order and has left everything that he has been
forbidden from. This is in opposition to the one who says that when a
person knows from himself that he is a believer, it is permissible for
him to say ‘I am a believer in truth!’
And the evidence for the impossibility
of making this absolute claim [of perfect Imaan] and the necessity of
making exception (istithnaa) is the consensus, ijmaa’, of the Salaf.
It was said to Ibn Mas’ud – may Allaah
be pleased with him: "This person claims that he is a Believer? He
replied, "Ask him whether he is in Paradise or in Hellfire?" So they
asked him and he replied, "Allaah knows best". So Abdullaah [Ibn Mas’ud]
said to him, "If only you had entrusted the affair of this life as you
have entrusted the affair of the Hereafter [to Allaah]!
And because it has already been
established that Imaan is characterised by all the acts of obedience and
the abandonment of the prohibited matters, then in that situation a
person cannot be resolute that he as fulfilled all that is binding upon
him and has avoided all that has been prohibited to him. Therefore, it
is no possible for him to know that he is a Believer who is deserving of