Traditions on the Status of a Believer in the Hereafter

Selections from Ahadith from an Upcoming compilation – Miftah al-Ma’ani – by Syed Iqbal Zaheer

Hadith No.3.

3. `Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) says: “On the day of Khayber, some of the Companions of the Prophet came up and began to say, ‘So and so is a martyr, so and so is a martyr,’ until they passed by a man and said the same. The Prophet (saws) said, ‘Not so. I saw him in the Fire because of a cloak, or shirt, that he stole from the war spoils.’ Then the Prophet told me: ‘O `Umar ibn al-Khattab! Go about and announce among the people that none but believers will enter Paradise.’” (Muslim)

4. Anas (ra) reported the Prophet: “Whosoever declared, ‘There is no deity but Allah (swt)’ will come out of the Fire, even if he had the weight of a barley seed of goodness (1) in his heart. Whosoever declared, ‘There is no deity but Allah (swt),’ and he had goodness in his heart of the weight of a grain of wheat will come out of the Fire. And whosoever declared, ‘There is no deity but Allah (swt),’ and he had the weight of the littlest of ants of goodness in his heart, shall come out of the Fire.” (2) (Bukhari)


(1) The allusion by the word ‘goodness’ is to Iman (testimony or attestation) – that is, belief in all that the Prophet (saws) has brought from his Lord. (Qastalani)

(2) The hadith implies that: (a) Believers could enter Hellfire, (b) Their stay therein would not be everlasting, and (c) Major sins would not be a cause of everlasting stay in the Fire. (Qastalani)

In this hadith, the allusion is to the testimony. Now testimony cannot increase or decrease. Therefore, by the words: “weight of” “barley,” “grain of wheat,” and “littlest of ants” etc., the allusion can only be to deeds.

Increase in good deeds leads to firmness of the testimony, not increase in testimony itself. Nonetheless, it can also be argued – as did Mahlab – that, by the terms ‘barley,’ ‘littlest of ants,’ or ‘a grain of wheat’ are the reference is to the attestation since the verbal testimony, ‘There is no deity except Allah (swt),’ is not complete without the heart’s testimony.

People are of various grades in their belief in accordance with their knowledge or ignorance. He whose knowledge is little, will have an attestation of weight of a barley seed, while he who has knowledge of an upper level will be of stronger attestation. Consequently, the attestation of a heart cannot suffer lessening, but only gain increase.

As for increase in testimonial strength with increase in knowledge, its evidence comes from the verse: “To, which of you, then, did this cause increase in faith?” (9: 24) The above was revealed when Surah Tawbah was sent down demonstrating that strength of testimony can increase. As for increase in testimonial strength with increase in observation, it is supported by the verse: [Allah (swt) asked Ibrahim (asws):] ‘Do you not believe?’ He replied, ‘I do, but in order for my heart to be at rest.’” (2: 260) – Ibn Battal

Another possible interpretation is that the man in question did not, after his declaration of belief, come up with any good deed, except for as much as the weight of a barley seed (Manar al-Qari), and what destroys the belief is apostasy, that is, disbelief in Islam, or in Allah (swt), whether such disbelief is verbal or at the heart level, or through deeds.

And, Ibn Hazm has defined ‘Kufr’ as applicable to him who disputes one of the commandments of Allah (swt), after he has known their place in Islam. Such disputation being either at his heart level or directly by his tongue; or he commits a deed which he knows as one of those which will remove him from Islam.

Subki has, however, removed the condition of ‘disputation.’ He says a man who denies an article that is an integral part of Islam, is an unbeliever, whether he disputed or not.

Ibn Taymiyyah added that denial of that over which there is consensus in the Ummah as an integral part of Islam also entails Kufr. (`Ali b. Nayef, Al-Mufassal… Riddah)

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