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Islam: A Scientific View of God's Message to Humanity

By Hassan El-Najjar

Table of Contents  

I. Introduction: Basic Information   

1. Islam: A Brief Introduction    

2. Three Levels of Faith: Islam, Eiman, and I'hsan    

3. The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Qur'an Is His Message to Humanity    

4. Creation and Evolution in the Holy Qur'an   

5. Humans, As God's Caliphs on Earth   

6. Adam's Contest With the Angels, and Getting Out of Paradise  

7. Worshippers By Choice Or Forced Slaves?    

8. The Relationship Between the Spiritual and the Physical Aspects of Islamic Teachings   

9. Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective  

10. Heart-Mind Relationship in the Holy Qur'an    

II. Islam: The Five Pillars of the Faith Structure  

1. Islamic Proclamation of Faith  

2. Performing Islamic Prayers  

3. Giving Zakat, Charity, The Third Islamic Duty  

4. Fasting and Ramadhan, Great Gifts from Allah to Muslims  

5. Haj, Pilgrimage, the Fifth Pillar of Islam       

III. Iman: Allah, His Angels, Messengers, Messages, Latter Day, and Qadar  

1. Allah, As He Described Himself in the Holy Quran    

2. Angels  

3. Noo'h, Noah, in the Holy Quran    

4. Ibrahim, Abraham, in the Holy Quran  

5. Moussa, Moses, in the Holy Quran  

6. 'Eissa, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Quran    

7. Muhammed in the Holy Quran  

8. Prophet Muhammed's Night Journey and Ascent to Heavens, Al-Issra Wal Mi'raj  

9. .The Last Day, The Hour, Resurrection, Reckoning, and Judgment

10. God's Precise Measurement and His Just Decree, Al-Qadar Wal Qadha

IV. I'hsan: Watching Allah in What We Say and What We Do  

1. Introduction to Islamic Law, Shari'a, Part I, Prohibition, Don't Do, and Do Commands in the Holy Quran

2. The La (No) Commands  

3. The Imperative Commands  

***

Articles with Islamic Perspective:

Health Care Crisis in the US: An Islamic Perspective

"Terrorism" & "Islamo-Fascism" Propaganda Campaigns: An Interactive Lecture

Six Questions About Islam, Muslims and Jews

Five Islamic Issues: Predestination and choice, position toward other religions, angels, and the End of Days

Food Islamic Rules and Teachings
 

Are Muslim women second-class citizens  

The French Ban on Islamic Headscarf, an Interview with

Links to Islamic Topics 2007-2010

Links to Islamic Topics 2007

Links to Islamic topics 2006

Links to Islamic topics 2005

Links to Islamic topics 2004

Links to Islamic topics, 2003

2002 Links to Islamic topics

 

 

Islam:

A Scientific View of God's Message to Humanity

 2

Three Levels of Faith:

Islam, Eiman, and I'hsan

By Hassan El-Najjar

First published on 5th of Jumada Al-Oula, 1428 - 21st of May, 2007

Revised During Ramadhan 1439, May 2018 

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:

1428 - 2007

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ٰ

I seek refuge with God from the Stoned Shaytan

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful 

 

Introduction

One day, the Angel Jibril (Gabriel), peace be to him, appeared as a man to the Messenger of Allah, Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him (pbbuh), and his companions in the Medina mosque. The encounter became a very well-known 'Hadith (saying), narrated by the Second Caliph, Omar, may Allah be pleased with him.

Jibril asked the Messenger of Allah five questions about the meaning of Islam, Iman, I'hsan, the Hour, and the Hour signs. As he answered each question, Jibril complimented him saying that he told the truth. When Jibril left, the Messenger of Allah told his companion, who did not know the man, that he was Jibril who came to teach them their religion.

This 'Hadith not only summarized the major principles of Gods message of guidance to humanity, but it also attracted our attention to the three levels of faith: Islam, Iman, and I'hsan, which are the focus of this Chapter and the basis for organizing this book into its main parts. [1]

Text of the Prophet's 'Hadith (saying) about the subject:

On the authority of Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:*One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (i.e. Prophet Muhammed, pbbuh), there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet (pbbuh). Resting his knees against his (the Prophet's) and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said:

O Muhammed, tell me about Islam?

The Messenger of Allah  (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the Zakat (charity), to fast in Ramadhan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House, if you are able to do so.

He said: You have spoken rightly, and we were amazed at him asking him (the Prophet pbbuh) and saying that he had spoken rightly (told the truth).

He said: Then, tell me about Iman?

He (the Prophet) said: It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in God's precise measurement and His just decrees on everything, including (what maybe perceived as) good or evil.

He said: You have spoken rightly (told the truth).

He said: Then, tell me about I'hsan? [2]

He (the Prophet pbbuh) said: It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.

He said: Then, tell me about the Hour? [3]

He (the Prophet pbbuh) said: The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.

He said: Then, tell me about its Signs? [4]

He (the Prophet pbbuh) said: That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, and that you will see the barefooted, naked, destitute herdsmen competing in constructing lofty buildings.

Then, he took himself off and I stayed for some time. Then he (the Prophet bpuh) said: O Omer, do you know who the questioner was? I said: Allah and His Messenger know better. He said: It was Jibril (Gabriel), who came to you to teach you your religion.

The Messenger of Allah (pbbuh) told the truth (This Hadith is recorded in Muslim). [5]

Islam:

Thus, according to the above-mentioned Hadith, there are three levels of the faith structure, a person can reach. The first level is Islam, which was explained by Prophet Muhammed (pbbuh) as observing the five major ways of worship ('Ibadat).

It follows that to be a Muslim, a person has to proclaim that there is no other god but Allah (praise to Him) and that Muhammed (pbbuh) is His Messenger. The importance of this proclamation of faith is that a person acknowledges the existence of Allah (God), praise to Him, as the Creator of the Universe, and that Muhammed (pbbuh) is the Messenger of God. This means that a person accepts the message of God revealed to humanity through him, as expressed in the Word of God (the Holy Quran) and the Sunna (his sayings, actions, and what he approved of).

Once a person pronounces the Islamic proclamation, then he/she proceeds to observe the Islamic obligations, namely to perform the five daily prayers, pay the annual Zakat (charity), fast during the month of Ramadhan, and make the pilgrimage to the House of Allah in Makkah, if he/she is capable to do so physically and financially (These ways of worship were introduced in Chapter 1, Islam: A Brief Introduction but addressed in more details in the second part of this book). 

It is important to note that these are ways of worshipping Allah ('Ibadat), as He wanted and commanded Muslims to do. He promised to reward those who worship Him and to punish those who don't do that on purpose.

In analyzing these Islamic ways of worshipping God, one discovers that all of them benefit the worshipper directly and his/her society in this life, then they are rewarded with Paradise in the hereafter (Such benefits are discussed in more details in Chapter 8, The Relationship between the Spiritual and the Physical Aspects of Islamic Teachings and in the second part of this book).

Before performing each one of the five prayers, a Muslim has to clean himself/herself through wudhu', by washing the mouth, nose, face hands, arms, ears, hair, and feet. Muslims also have to take showers after sexual intercourse and must keep their clothes clean.

By praying five times a day at specific times, Muslims live in orderly fashion, budgeting their time, and literally exercising five times a day, doing certain movements that range between standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting down on the floor. These unique movements function as an exercise for various body organs, by stretching muscles, tendons, and backbone. Bowing and prostrating, in particular, push more blood to certain areas of the body, like the brain.

By paying the Zakat (charity) a Muslim assists the needy and contributes to the well-being of society. It is, at least, 2.5 percent of a persons wealth. When properly given, the poor and the needy will not be left alone and behind in society. It is a systematic expression of compassion and social solidarity. The Zakat does not replace government taxes. However, it contributes to the welfare and well-being of society in areas not covered by government-funded projects.

Fasting during the month of Ramadhan, by abstaining from food, drinks, and sexual activity from dawn to the sunset, has tremendous benefits for the body and the soul of a worshipper. Fasting strengthens the control of the self over the body desires. It allows the rich to feel the suffering of the hungry poor and prompts them to share food with them when they break the fast at the sunset. By eating moderately then, many people lose weight, get rid of some of the accumulated fats throughout the year. In addition, fasting gives a break to the digestive system, after eleven months of continuous hard work.

Finally, pilgrimage (Haj) to the House of God in Makkah, is the climax of being a Muslim. It is a personal journey for God first, but it also gives great satisfaction to the pilgrim (Haaj), as he/she leaves everything in this life behind. Moreover, the pilgrimage to Makkah is a worldwide conference of Muslims, where they meet there representing all nations, racial groups, and ethnic divisions. They are instructed by God to be loving, caring, and tolerant of each other, as well as praising Him for His countless benefits and bounties they have been enjoying. 

Iman:

By being a Muslim, as explained above, a person is promised God's rewards in this lower life and in the hereafter. Properly practiced, the Islamic ways of worship are beneficial to Muslims as individuals and as communities. However, for those who are more ambitious to be closer to God, to gain a higher level of his rewards, and to enjoy more intellectual happiness, they need to reach a higher level of faith than Islam, which is Iman, as we are told by verse 49: 14 of the Holy Quran:.

  ٰ  ( 49: 14).

The A'arab said, "We have believed." Say: "You have not believed, but say 'We have submitted, for faith has not yet entered your hearts (Al-'Hujurat, 49: 14).  

In this Verse, the A'arab (desert dwellers) said, "We have believed." They meant to say: "We have reached the level of Iman." But Allah, praise to Him, told His Messenger to tell them that they still have not believed. That's why they instead should say: 'We have submitted (to Allah by becoming Muslims) because the second level of faith (Iman) has not yet entered their hearts. 

So, what is that second level of faith (Iman)?

Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, as we read in verse 4: 136 of the Holy Quran:

ٰ   ( 4: 136).

O You who have believed, believe in Allah and His Messenger, (in) the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray (Al-Nissa, 4: 136).

Iman is also the belief in God's precise measurement and His just decrees on everything, as we learn from the 'Hadith of the Messenger of Allah, pbbuh, which is mentioned fully below:

( ) : ( ) :

" "

He (Jibril, peace be to him) said: Then, tell me about Iman.

He (the Prophet, pbbuh) said:

It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in God's precise measurement and His just decrees on everything, including (what may be perceived as) good or bad.

This means that the second level of faith (Iman) is more of an intellectual nature than the first level of faith (Islam), where a person is saved by worshipping Allah (God) through actions, that is, through performing the five obligations mentioned above.

To reach the second level of faith (Iman), higher and deeper degrees of knowledge and acknowledgement are required. This includes a belief in Allah (God) and what He said. He informed us in His Book that He has angels, and He sent previous Books to humanity, delivered through previous messengers.

Thus, a person reaching Iman (a Mumen) believes that not only Allah (God) exists but He, praise to Him, is capable of doing anything He wants. A Mumen believes in everything God told in the Holy Quran. He or she also believes that there are other intelligent creations of God than human beings, particularly angels. Among these are Jibril (Gabriel, the medium between God and His human messengers), Mika-il (Michael, the angel of sustenance), Ezra-il (angel of death), Israfil (angel of the Trumpet), Radhwan (custodian of Paradise), Malik (custodian of the Hellfire), Raqeeb and 'Ateed (the angels who keep records for our good deeds and bad deeds), Nakker, and Nakeer (the angels who question a human being briefly after death), and Sa-iq and Shaheed (the angels who organize people in groups and lead them during the events of the Last Day). A Mumen is a person who believes that these angels exist and we are affected by them.

A Mumen also believes that God revealed His guidance to humanity in other Books, before the Holy Quran. These included the Suhuf (Papers) of Ibrahim (Abraham), pbbuh; the Torah (the Old Testament), which was revealed to Moussa (Moses), pbbuh; the Zaboor (the Psalms), which were revealed to Prophet Dawood (David), pbbuh; and the Engel (the New Testament), the teachings of the Messiah, Eissa Bin Mariam (Jesus Christ, the son of Mary), pbbuh. These Books included the same message of guidance to humanity summarized in the Holy Quran. A Mumen, further, has the same respect and love for all messengers of God, and does not consider one of them as better than the others.

A Mumen believes that this life is a test, in which all our deeds and activities are recorded by angels. We will be held accountable for the entire test when we meet our Creator on the Reckoning Day. So, the belief in the Last Day is an acknowledgement of the inevitability of accountability and reckoning. It is an incentive for people to do good in this life in order to be rewarded in Paradise, and a warning against doing bad in order to avoid punishment in the Hellfire. For more discussion about the four main events of the Last Day, see Chapter 24 of this book.

Finally, a Mumen believes in Gods precise measurement and His just decrees, on everything, including what may be perceived as good or bad (Al-Qadar wal Qadha). For more discussion about this topic, see Chapter 24 of this book.

I'hsan:

I'hsan is the highest of the three levels of faith and the closest to pleasing God. It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing Him. While you do not see Him, He truly sees you. Then, I'hsan means that a Mu'hsin is sure that Allah is seeing him/her in everything he/she says or does. Therefore, a Mu'hsin does his/her best to say and do only what pleases God and conforms to His commands. This is the level of righteousness, perfection, as well as doing and saying the ultimate good for the sake of goodness, to the persons best knowledge and ability.

The word "I'hsan" in Arabic is a derivative of the verb "ahsana," which means doing things better. Thus, the literal linguistic meaning of I'hsan is saying the best, as expressed in verse 41: 33 of the Holy Quran. It is also doing the best, which is observing Gods commands (For more information about God's commands, see the first Chapter of the fourth part of this book, Islamic Law, Shari'a: Prohibition, Don't Do, and Do Commands).

Throughout His Book, Allah praises the Muhsins, announces His love for them, and promises them with the best rewards in the hereafter, as mentioned in the following examples. [6]

And who is better in speech than one who invites to (the path of) Allah, and does righteousness, and says, "Indeed, I am of the Muslims" (Fussilat, 41: 33).

Indeed, Allah commands justice, good conduct (I'hsan), and giving to relatives, (and He) forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded (Al-Na'hl, 16: 90).

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment (Al-Issra, 17: 23)

Yes, whoever submits his face in Islam to Allah, while being a doer of good, will have his reward with his Lord. And, no fear, will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve (Al-Baqara, 2: 112).

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw (yourselves) with your (own) hands into destruction. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good (Al-Baqara, 2: 195).

So Allah rewarded them for what they said with gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of doers of good (Al-Ma-ida, 5: 85). 

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Notes:

[1] This Hadith was originally translated by Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies (Abdul Wadoud). It is the second of "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths." 1976. Dar Al-Manar. However, this author is solely responsible for the changes he made in the translation for the purpose of more accuracy.

This Hadith is also number 60 in the paper version of Riyadh Al-Saliheen, by Imam Al-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on his soul, Dar Al-Arabiya, Beirut, Lebanon. Further, the Hadith is part of the Sahih Muslim collection. It can be accessed at the following links: 

https://ar.wikisource.org/wiki/_/_

http://hadith.al-islam.com/Loader.aspx?pageid=194&BookID=25

[2] The apostrophe used in 'Hadith, I'hsan, and Mu'hsen, refers to an Arabic glottal sound, which is not found in English.

The three Islamic terms of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan have a special religious significance. As such, any single rendering of each one of them would be inadequate. Therefore, the best way to understand them is by listing their meanings rather than giving just one word as a translation.

Thus, the terms Islam and Iman have a very specific meaning, as presented above. However, Ihsan is a term that includes all good deeds, right actions, goodness, charity, and sincerity. It can thus be translated as righteousness. Linguistically speaking, its infinitive verb (ahsana) means to master, do better, or be better (in words and deeds).

[3] The Hour is the first of the four main events of the Last Day, see Chapter 24 of this book, The Last Day: The Hour, Resurrection, Reckoning, and Judgment.

[4] These two prophecies, about the Hour Signs, have already come true. The Prophets first answer predicted an end to slavery, which happened all over the world during the second half of the 19th Century. The last generation of slave women gave birth to free daughters mistresses.

The Arabian Gulf Bedouins who were sheep herders until the first half of the 20th Century, managed to construct the highest building in the world (Khalifa Tower, in Dubai, UAE), during the second half of the Century, as a result of their huge oil wealth.

[5] The Arabic text of the 'Hadith: 

: : :

.

: . : .

: : . : .

: : .

: : .

: ǿ : .

: . : : .

: .

( - - ).

https://ar.wikisource.org/wiki/_/_

http://hadith.al-islam.com/Loader.aspx?pageid=194&BookID=25

[6] Here are the Arabic texts of the mentioned verses about hsan:

( 41: 33).

ٰ ٰ   ( 16: 90).

ٰ   ( 17: 23).

ٰ ( 2: 112).

    ( 2: 195).

 ٰ  ( 5: 85).  

 

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The author of this book has a Ph.D. in Sociology and a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology. He was born in Gaza, Palestine in 1369 Hijriya (1950) but he has been living in the United States since 1986.
 
The authentic Quran Arabic text is used as a reference for the translation of the meanings of the Quran verses, particularly from www.tanzil.net.

The works of the three renowned Islamic scholars Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Katheer, have been used throughout the chapters of this book, as these are the most credited interpretations of the Holy Quran, for their use of 'Hadith, companions' interpretations, and their thorough knowledge of the Arabic language.  


( 61: 8).   

They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it (Al-Saff, 61: 8).  

 

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.

editor@aljazeerah.info