Kitab al-Iman

Ahadith from a forthcoming book Miftahul Ma`ani by Syed Iqbal Zaheer

Hadith No. 16:

Abu Huraira (ra) has reported the Prophet (saws) as having said: “Faith is upwards of seventy or of sixty portals. The lowest is to remove things of inconvenience on a path and the loftiest of it is to attest, ‘There is no deity save Allah.’ And, modesty is a branch of faith.”


Thus, both faith and practice are part of Iman, since attesting ‘There is no deity save Allah’ is a mere statement, whereas, removal of what causes inconvenience to the people on a path is a deed. And both have been counted among the portals of faith.

Some scholars have attempted at discovering the exact number of branches of faith. Abu Hatim b. Hibban said: ‘When I counted those acts that are approved by the Shari`ah, I found that they greatly exceed the number given in the hadith. So I turned to the Qur’an and tried to list down the deeds that it counts as part of faith. They were less than seventy. Then I took up the hadith literature and tried to list down the acts related to faith and found them also less than seventy and odd. So I put together the acts of faith of the Qur’an and Sunnah, cancelled out those that were repeated, and arrived at the figure of seventy or so. Thus, I knew that this was what meant.’ (`Umdatu al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafateeh)

About modesty, Qadi `Ayaad and other commentators have said that it can be both of the nature of God‑given as well as something earned. It can both be of weighty in nature or light. However, that modesty is meant here which is employed in matters of religion, that is, of the nature that will prevent a person from committing what is prohibited, and drive him to carry out what has been ordered. This is the modesty that has to be earned by every individual and conscientiously applied in matters of religion, that has been mentioned here as a branch of faith.

As for that modesty which comes in the way of forbidding the wrong or bidding the right, it is, according to Ibn Salah, not modesty, rather, it is a weakness of faith. A man, for instance, who does not stop another from committing a wrong in his presence, and believes that is out of modesty that is natural to him, is actually weak in faith.

Abu al‑Qasim al‑Qushayri has reported Abul Qasim al‑Junayd as saying that modesty (haya’) is that feeling or power that is generated by the acknowledgement of the blessings of Allah, and that of not having obeyed enough in response.

Hadith No. 17:

Abu Umamah (ra) says, “A man asked the Prophet (asws): ‘Messenger of Allah, what is (the reality of) faith?’ He replied: ‘When your good deeds please you and your evil deeds distress you, you are a believer.’1 He asked: ‘And what is sin Messenger of Allah?’  He answered: ‘When you are in suspicion about a deed (whether it is good or evil), give it up.”2 (Hakim)


1. This part of the hadith which says, “when your good deeds please you and your evil deeds distress you,” embodies another truth. True faith is that which does not simply dictate the right and wrong, but also makes a man happy at having done a thing the right way and distressed at having done it the wrong way. Thus, a good deed brings its own and immediate reward to the believer, and the evil deed brings him the immediate punishment of displeasure and distress to warn him that if he will not regret and make a firm promise to himself not to repeat it, then surely, he will face a harsher punishment in the Hereafter.

In contrast, an unbeliever feels no pleasure at a good deed nor remorse at an evil one. In some cases, his feelings can be just the opposite, so that he may feel sorry at a good deed (as for instance, regret over having given away something in charity) and happiness at an evil deed (such as at being dishonest in an affair).

2. This is to say that faith has a very deep effect on the life and personality of a person. It goes right deep into his soul to alter not only his behaviour and character but his very psychology, so that it gives the believer a sense and criteria of what is right and what is wrong which agrees and corroborates with what Allah (swt) has revealed through His Book. In other words, faith becomes the sixth sense of the faithful. Just as human beings and animals sense the oncoming danger much before its sudden appearance through their sixth sense, so does the faithful get the sense of right and wrong which tells him what is right and what is wrong in situations in which he has not received a clear injunction from Islam. He knows that he can take shield of the fact that the Shari’ah has not dictated a specific rule for a certain situation, but it would not be right to be expedient. He mustn’t do it because he feels that it is not right. He gives it up and that is a sign of faith.

Mu`adh ibn Jabal had remarked, “Let me warn you of the wise man’s error. For, sometimes, Shaytan speaks by the tongue of a wise man. Sometimes a hypocrite will speak out a word of truth.” Mu`adh was asked, “What will lead me to understand that a wise man can speak out an erroneous word, or that a hypocrite will speak out a word of truth?” He replied, “Beware of a wise man’s popular words, (about which the people’s initial reaction is), ‘What’s this?’ Let it not win your praise for it. For, he may withdraw it. (On the other hand, if it is true) you will recognize the truth when you hear it uttered. For, truth carries radiance with it.” (Abu Da’ud recorded this).

According to another version, he said, “Rather, what is ambiguous to you of the words of the wise man, so that you are compelled to say, ‘What could he have meant by these words.’ (Be warned of it).”

This should lead to the conclusion that truth and falsehood do not intermix for a believer of sight. But rather, he recognizes the truth by the radiance shining with it, so that his heart accepts it, or maybe his heart renounces the untruth, rejects it, not recognizing it.”

It is in the same sense that the Prophet warned: “There would be, at the closing days of this world, people speaking to you things you wouldn’t have heard – neither you nor your predecessors. Beware: you and them.” What he meant is that they would come with what the believers’ hearts would reject refusing to recognize it.

And, by his words, “neither you nor your predecessors,” the allusion is to the fact that what is well-established among the believers over the years and centuries, is the truth and that whatever is invented thereafter, of those that sound foreign, has no good in it.

Hadith No. 18:

Anas (ra) says he Prophet (asws) said: “There are three things that when found in a man, he will feel the sweetness of faith. (One), Allah and His messenger be dearer to him than everything apart from the two. (Two), he should love a man, not loving him but for the sake of Allah. And (three), he should dislike return to unbelief as he dislikes to be thrown into the fire.” (Bukhari and Muslim)


What is meant by the sweetness of faith? It is the feeling of joy accompanying acts of obedience, readiness to undergo hardships, in that cause, and to prefer obedience over any material gain of the world.

And what is the sign of love? Well, it is the inclination to prefer the beloved’s wishes over one’s wishes. The hadith also tells us that love of Allah, generates love in Allah.

Also, what is meant in ahadith of this nature which speak of love, is not the love that is indicated by the natural inclination that one finds in himself for someone or something. Rather, it is the inclination of conscientious efforts and deliberate choices. It is love of shara`ee consequence.

It is said that once the sweetness of faith enters the heart, it will never leave out. (Qari)

Thus, this contains the tiding of good ending. Further, ‘sweetness of faith’ is explained as experiencing pleasure in Allah’s obedience; preferring (His obedience) overall pleasurable things and carnal desires; bearing hardships for the sake of Allah’s and His Messenger’s approval; swallowing the bitterness that accompany misfortunes; remaining satisfied with the decrees, in all situations. (Qari)

It may be noted that in this hadith the Prophet combined two names in one pronoun by referring to Allah and himself (i.e., he said سواهما). It might be reminded that when a man had spoken to a small audience, on the Prophet’s direction, and happened to say, “… and whoever disobeyed the two…” (i.e., Allah and His Messenger), the Prophet disapproved the combining of Allah and the Messenger in one pronoun, and told him, “Sit down you are a poor speaker”. So, how do we reconcile the two? One answer is that what is lawful to the Prophet may not be lawful to us. Secondly, the man in question was delivering a talk, and the statement that he made could smack of Shirk. (Arna’ut)

Whoever loved Allah and His Messenger from the depth of his heart, will discover that it is the demand of his love that he should love what Allah and His Messenger love, and hate what Allah and His Messenger hate; to be pleased with what Allah and His Messenger are pleased with and be annoyed with what Allah and His Messenger are annoyed with. It is also expected of him that his limbs are in tune with this love and hate.

Contrarily, if he committed with his limbs something against it, committing what Allah and His Messenger disapproved, or forsook something Allah and is Messenger approved, despite he having the power over it, then, it is the sign of imperfection in his love of Allah and His Messenger. He ought to repent and return to the completion of the love which is incumbent on him. Abu Ya`qub al Nahrujury has said: “Whoever claimed love of Allah but did not agree with His commands, then, his claim is false. Every lover who does not fear Allah, is, actually, deceptively misguided.

All and every sin grows from the preference of base desires over the love of Allah and His Messenger. Accordingly, we find Allah (swt) describing pagans at several places in His book as those who follow their base desires. He said, “Therefore, if they do not respond to you, then, know that they follow their base desires. And, who can be more misguided than he who followed his base desires, without a guidance coming from Allah?” (Qasas: 50). And the Prophet said, “He who loved for Allah, despised for Allah, gave for Allah, and held back for Allah, surely completed his faith” (Arna’ut).

Nawawi has said, ‘This is a great hadith, and an important principle of Islam.’ I say, (i.e. `Ayni), ‘Why not? It mentions Allah and His Messenger’s love, which happens to be a central principle of Iman, rather, Iman itself. Allah’s love, and that of His Messenger would never be a reality, nor love of other than Allah, or hatred to go back to Kufr, except for him whose heart has opened up for it, inundating his blood and flesh. (Qari)