Ibn Hajar on the Definition of Faith

Here’s an interesting quote I came across; may Allah reward the brother who directed me to it with good.

In explaining Imam al-Bukhârî’s statement, “It is statement (qawl) and action (fi’l), and it increases and decreases,” Hâfidh Ibn Hajar states (emphasis added),

His statement “It” i.e., faith, “is statement and action, and it increases and decreases,” and in al-Kushmîhanî’s narration [it is] “statement and deed (‘amal),” it is the mentioned wording from the Predecessors who applied that … . As for statement, then the intent of it is the utterance of the two testimonies. As for the deed, then the intent of it is what is more general from the deed of the heart and limbs. So the belief and the acts of worship are included.

The intent of those who included that in the definition of faith, [as well as] those who negated it, was certainly in view of what is with Allah, exalted is He. So the Predecessors said it is belief with the heart, utterance with the tongue, and deed with the pillars (i.e., the limbs), and they meant by that, that the deeds are a condition in its perfection. From here, the statement for them results in addition and subtraction, as will come.

The Murji’ah said it is belief and utterance only, the Karrâmiyyah said it is utterance only, while the Mu’tazilah said it is the deed, the utterance and the belief. The difference between them and the Predecessors is that they made the deeds a condition in its validity while the Predecessors made it a condition in its perfection. All of this, as we said, is in view of what is with Allah, exalted is He.

As for the view of what is with us, then faith is confirmation (iqrâr) only. So whoever confirmed [faith], the rulings are applied to him in the worldly [life] and he is not judged with disbelief except if an action that indicates his disbelief is connected with him, such as prostration to the idol. So if the action does not indicate disbelief, such as wickedness, then whoever faith is applied to, it is in view of his confirmation, and whoever faith is negated from, then it is in view of its perfection. Whoever disbelief is applied to, then it is in view that he did the action of the disbeliever, and whoever it is negated from, then it is in view of its reality; the Mu’tazilah established a median and said the wicked person is neither a believer or a disbeliever.

Source: al-‘Asqalânî, Ibn Hajar. Fat·h al-Bârî bi Sharh Sahîh al-Bukhârî, Cairo, Egypt: Dâr ar-Rayân lit-Turâth, 1987. vol. 1, pg.61.

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About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

12 Responses to Ibn Hajar on the Definition of Faith

  1. Shariq says:

    Assalaamu alaikum. I am sorry, but is Ibn Hajar saying that eemaan according to him is Iqrar only? Sorry, but could you please just clarify his point here.

    jazakAllahukhairan.

    shariq

  2. Assalaamu alaikum. I am sorry, but is Ibn Hajar saying that eemaan according to him is Iqrar only? Sorry, but could you please just clarify his point here.

    Wa ‘alaikum as-salâm wa rahmatullah Shariq.

    May Allah reward you for your post and question.

    Hâfidh Ibn Hajar is speaking about faith from two perspectives a) from Allah’s perspective (i.e., what faith actually consists of), and b) from our worldly perspective. Since we cannot see the Hidden affairs (e.g., what is in the hearts of people), we judge things by what is obvious and apparent. So with respect to faith, for us to accept someone as a Muslim is outward confirmation, whether that comes in the form of the two testimonies of faith, some other sort of verbal admission to being Muslim (i.e., explicitly saying I’m Muslim), or by performing an action that is known to be done by Muslims only (e.g., ritual prayer). This confirmation is all that is needed for us (at least initially) to say that this individual is a Muslim and a believer if Allah wills.

    I hope this answers your question sufficiently. May Allah bless you.

    Your brother,
    Rasheed.

  3. Pingback: Abū ‘Ubaid al-Qâsim bin Sallâm on Faith « Rasheed Gonzales

  4. Shariq says:

    Jazakallahukhairan for your clarification yakhi i really appreciate it, however still a bit confused.

    Ibn Hajar said: “The difference between them and the Predecessors is that they made the deeds a condition in its validity while the Predecessors made it a condition in its perfection”

    Arent actions part of the validity of eemaan (atleast salat?), or is this same stance taken by shaikh al-albaani and the subtle difference between him and the many of the saudi scholars in this issue?

    Sorry, am i making sense here? Please expound on it if you can. jazakAllahukhairan.

  5. Arent actions part of the validity of eemaan (atleast salat?), or is this same stance taken by shaikh al-albaani and the subtle difference between him and the many of the saudi scholars in this issue?

    According to Shaikh al-Albânî (as well as many others), for one’s faith to be valid, the root of faith must be present in the heart; this is the two testimonies of faith. So long as a person has this root, his faith is valid. All other branches of faith (i.e., everything other than the two testimonies) add to faith’s perfection and completion, hence why they say that actions are a condition for the perfection of faith. The more branches of faith you have, the more complete and perfect your faith is. The less you have, the more deficient and incomplete your faith is.

    As for the prayer, for some of the scholars who hold that the abandoner of the prayer is a disbeliever, it is a condition for the faith’s validity (as has been mentioned by Shaikh Abul-Hasan al-Ma’ribî in his book Sabîl an-Najâh fî Bayân Hukm Târik as-Salâh).

    The main contention many have with Shaikh al-Albânî’s explanation of faith is the use of the word “condition” (shart). In jurisprudential terminology, the word condition usually refers to something that is outside (i.e., not part) of the action, which is needed for the action to be valid (e.g., ablution is a “condition” for the prayer’s validity). Thus, to those who have contention with his explanation, it is as if the shaikh is saying actions are not part of faith, which is not what the shaikh is saying at all. He has stated explicitly in many places that he believes actions to be part of faith; his use of the word “condition” is in its linguistic meaning, not its jurisprudential meaning.

    Keeping this in mind, Shaikh of Islam Ibn Taimiyyah has stated that, “from what one should recognize is that much of the contraversy between the People of the Sunnah in this issue is a semantic dispute” (emphasis added).

  6. Shariq says:

    JazakAllahukhairan. your explanation helps yakhi. I was just making sure if this is what Ibn Hajar is expressing as well.

    jazakAllahukhairan.
    takecare

  7. No problem, brother. Wa iyyakum.

  8. al-Boriqee says:

    akhee rasheed

    do you or can you refer to me where I can get those works that are beneficial from Ashaykh Abu Hasan al-Misri, like that book you mentioned. barakallahu feek

    asalamu alaikum

  9. Wa ‘alaikum as-salâm wa rahmatullah,

    You can download Sabîl an-Najâh here. I’m pretty sure if you run Google searches on his name you’ll be able to find some of his other books that have been transcribed and posted on the internet.

  10. al-boriqee says:

    barakallahu feek but I wanted his sharh of hukmu tarik as-salah whcih you referenced and as well that other manhaj book, i forget the name, siraaj al-wahaaj or soemthin like that

    masalama

  11. Brother Ali,

    Wa fîka bârakallah.

    Sabîl an-Najâh, the book I linked to, is the book I referenced above. It’s not an explanation of Hukm Târik as-Salâh. It’s a book on “hukm târik as-salâh” (the ruling of the abandoner of the prayer).

    As for as-Sirâj al-Wahhâj fî Bayân al-Minhâj, I don’t know where it’s available on the net, nor do I have it (hard or soft copy). I’m sure if you run a search on it though, that you’ll find bits and pieces of it posted to various forums online.

  12. Pingback: Is the Limbs’ Deed Included in Faith’s Root? « Rasheed Gonzales

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