Islam and Eemaan are inseparable and interrelated
Fatwa No: 26368

  • Fatwa Date:8-3-2012 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 15, 1433
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Question

What is the difference between Islam and Eemaan [faith]?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds.  I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Islam literally means submission and adherence to the commands of Allaah The Almighty. In this sense, Islam includes apparent acts of worship, as stated by the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in the Hadeeth of Jibreel (Gabriel)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) stated that Islam testifies that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, involves performing Salah (prayer), giving Zakah (obligatory almsgiving), fasting the month of Ramadan and perform the Hajj (pilgrimage), for those who can afford it. [Muslim]

Eemaan [faith] refers to belief and the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) defined it in the same above Hadeeth. He  stated that Eemaan is to believe in Allaah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Hereafter and Fate, whether good or bad. Eemaan in this sense is hidden. If both are mentioned separately they refer to one another, in other words, if we call someone a Muslim, it means that this person is a believer, and vice versa.

Scholars conclude that if both Islam and Eemaan are mentioned in the same context, each has its distinctive meaning, as mentioned in the Hadeeth, whereas each term has the meaning of both terms if mentioned alone in a context. Therefore, Islam and Eemaan (faith) are interrelated as well as inseparable. The deeds of the person who declares the two testimonies of faith, performs Salah (prayers), gives Zakah (obligatory almsgiving) etc. are of no significance unless he has  innermost belief in Allaah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Hereafter etc. Otherwise, the person will be a hypocrite who says with his tongue what is not in his heart. Similarly, a person's belief in Allaah, His angels, His Books etc. will be useless and not avail him if he does not act according to the two testimonies of faith, perform his prayers etc. Allaah the Almighty Says (what means): {And they rejected them, while their [inner] selves were convinced thereof, out of injustice and haughtiness. So see how was the end of the corrupters.}[Quran 27:14]

A Muslim may be described as a disbeliever if a person practices Islamic rituals before people but his heart is not convinced about what he does or does not believe in what he does. This is similar to the case of the hypocrites and the Bedouins at the dawn of Islam  who embraced Islam and said that there  were believers just to gain protection for themselves and their wealth. Allaah the Almighty Says (what means): {The Bedouins say, "We have believed." Say, "You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], 'We have submitted,' for faith has not yet entered your hearts.}[Quran 49:14]

A person cannot be described as a believer unless he is originally a Muslim, because Eemaan is a special degree, whereas Islam is a general description for every person who declares the two testimonies of faith and applies the apparent ordinances of Islam. Furthermore, a Muslim may not be a believer, but a believer is certainly a Muslim.

Allaah Knows best.

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