What is the reality of Iman? Is it limited to belief only?

Islam 24 Mar 2021 Contributor
Today's Focus
Reality of Iman

Many translators translate the Arabic word ‘Iman’ as ‘belief’. But this translation does not fulfill the reality of Iman. This translation is like an incomplete solution to a very difficult problem. Unfortunately, incorrect translations are often found when translating from Arabic. One of the saddest examples of this linguistic breakdown is the word ‘Jihad’, which was once translated as ‘holy war’.

Muslims themselves are also translating Iman as ‘belief’. The translation of Iman’ as ‘belief’ is so problematic. Because if a Muslim thinks that the Quran only commands him to believe and believes only from the heart and does not perform any religious duty, it is for his destruction. Will become a terrible cause. The meaning of Iman is broader which is not fully expressed by the word ‘belief’.

The reality of Iman and belief

One way to distinguish between Iman and belief is to analyze the etymology of the two words. Anas ibn Malik (R) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “None of you can be a true believer unless you choose for your brother what you like” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The above hadith highlights the difference between Iman and belief. In this hadith, Muslims are told to choose for themselves what they like for their brothers. It is not limited to belief but must be performed with action. So Iman is not limited to faith or belief.

The word belief has nothing to do with performance. Think about how the word ‘belief’ is used in common parlance. When someone says, “I believe in you,” he is saying, “I think you are at least 51% more likely, to tell the truth.” Is there a connection between this belief and action? No. Imagine this conversation.

Belief has nothing to do with promise. On the other hand, Iman is related to promise. Iman makes a deposit. Iman makes the servant committed to Allah. These promises include learning Islam yourself, practicing Islam to the fullest, and teaching Islam to others.

The reality of Iman demands changes in life

Iman begins a life-changing process. Think of Abu Talib, the beloved uncle of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) started persuading his uncle Abu Talib towards Islam from the very beginning. But Abu Talib did not accept Islam till his death. If there is nothing but belief in Iman, would Abu Talib reject it? This is because Abu Talib probably really understood Iman more than many Muslims today, which is why he rejected it. Because he knew that Iman is a promise of action, a promise of life-change. So he refused because he was not ready to fundamentally change his life.

Iman demands belief as well as action

So having Iman means being committed to any action. A Muslim who has Iman is not limited to believing in Allah but is committed to following Allah’s instructions in every aspect of life. Iman is the key to success in religion, but it also has its applications in other areas. Good students have a kind of Iman; They believe in their success and as a result, they study regularly, attend classes, and are committed to reading.

There is a lot of work to be done with Iman. Then why would anyone be interested in it? Because the result of Iman is Aman. Aman means security, safety, and peace. Iman leads a person to peace. And despite the hope of this peace, the people of the world today are staying away from Iman. So, whether it is inner peace or external comfort, it can be achieved only by Iman.