Meaning of Iman

The word Iman comes from the Arabic language. In short, it means faith. The term Iman is not to be mistaken for Imam (leader in prayer) or Imane (female name).

The concept of Iman is important in Islam. It determines whether a person is Muslim or not. The possessor of Iman is described in the Quran as a Mu'min. The term Mu'min means 'believer'.

Merely believing is not enough. It must be followed up with actions and statements. For example, you cannot claim to be a Muslim without pronouncing the Shahada, or if you do not pray.

So it is not possible in Islam to claim to have faith while ignoring the five pillars. Similarly, there are other issues that are important in order to remain a believer.

Can Iman decrease and increase?

Faith in Islam can be strengthened and weakened based on a number of things. It increases with good deeds, and it decreases with evil deeds.

It has been clarified in various verses and traditions that Iman increases and decreases. Not every Muslim has a constant level of faith.

If a Muslim wants to increase Iman, then this is possible with good deeds. The more good deeds the Muslim does, the stronger the Iman will be.

So Iman does not remain constant, it changes from moment to moment. One moment the Muslim experiences a high level of Iman, and the next moment there is a dip or lowering of it. Fortunately, there are different ways to increase iman.

And when a surah descends, some of the hypocrites say, "Which of you has increased in faith because of this?" For those who believe, it promotes their faith and they rejoice.
(al-Tawbah 9:124)

But for those in whose hearts there is a disease: with them this (new) disbelief piles on their disbelief, and they will die disbelievers.
(al-Tawbah 9:125)

Awza'ee was asked about whether Emaan can increase. He replied, "Yes, it can become as high as the mountains, and it can decrease until there is nothing left of it at all."
[Sharh Usul I'tiqaad 5/1030 of Al-Lalikaee]

Iman: belief, statement and actions

There are various groups that attach a different interpretation to Iman. The correct understanding of this stems from the Sahaba (companions). We must therefore follow them.

With Iman comes actions and statements. For example, you cannot claim to believe in Islam if you mock Islam or worship any god besides Allah. So sayings and deeds are important in verifying Iman.

Does a person really believe in Islam? Or is it just a claim? You verify this by checking the actions and statements.

Imam Shafi'i said:
"It is according to the consensus of the Sahaba and their students that Iman consists of sayings, deeds and belief in the heart."
(Sharh Usool I'tiqaad 5/956)

Tips to maintain Iman

Allah bestows the blessing of Iman on whomever He pleases. Each person is responsible for himself. It is important to understand Iman in order to possess it. For example, one cannot be a believer (Mu'min) without understanding and practicing the Tawheed or the five pillars of Islam.

Maintaining Iman can be a major challenge. There are some destroyers of Iman that must be avoided.

The Muslim tries to maintain his Iman by putting in effort. Of course, the blessing of faith can always be withdrawn. Muslims try to avoid this by doing good deeds and staying away from bad deeds.

Tips to preserve Iman
  1. Keep practicing the Tawheed
  2. Keep learning about Islam
  3. Make righteous and God-fearing friends
  4. Do not blindly believe anything without considering evidence
  5. Adhere to the correct creed
  6. Continue to avoid committing major Shirk and major Kufr
  7. Keep practicing Kufr bit Taghut
  8. Continue to practice the five pillars of Islam, without letting go of any of them
  9. Continue to believe in the pillars of Iman

The Destroyers of Iman

A Muslim can destroy his Iman if he or she is not careful enough. This is done by adopting a different faith, for example. There are different beliefs, actions and statements that put a Muslim out of the folds of Islam.

Another great destroyer of Iman is to perform the major acts of Shirk and Kufr. This is now widely practiced among different groups of people.

It is important to stay away from all these destroyers in order to preserve Iman. If the Muslim falls into one of these destroyers, he becomes a Murtad (apostate).

To maintain Iman, the Muslim practises Tawheed, maintains the other five pillars of Islam, believes in the six pillars of Iman.

Main Destroyers of Iman
  1. Leaving of prayer
  2. Not practicing the Tawheed
  3. Mocking Islamic rituals or regulations
  4. Not practicing the Five Pillars of Islam
  5. Giving the right of Allah to make laws to someone or something else

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

Questions about Islam?

Do you have questions that came to mind while reading our pages? Or do you have general questions that you would like an answer to? We answer you within 48 hours.

Ask question