Explaining how faith includes actions
Fatwa No: 323191

Question

Asslaamu alaykum. There is something that I am confused about. I heard that Ahl As-Sunnah (the People of the Sunnah) say that imaan (faith) also includes actions. But what is the evidecne for this? Allaah uses the word imaan for prayer in the Quran, so, yes, we include that, and it is known that not praying is kufr (disbelief), but I see people using so many other hadiths to show that imaan includes actions, like when the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, "Remove the harmful from the road," or, "Modesty is a branch of imaan." What I am confused about, however, is that if we are not modest or do not remove harmful stuff from road, our imaan is still intact, so the only evidence that I see is that verse (talking about imaan being the prayer). So, I am thinking, when we say that imaan includes actions, should we include all the other hadiths (which if you do not do them do not make you a kafir [disbeliever]) in the defintion of imaan, or should we just refer to the prayer, as not doing that nullifies your imaan? The reason is that if those hadith are included, then we are saying that not doing actions such as those means that your imaan is not valid, and the only action that I can see to be valid with proof is the prayer, but as for all the others, I cannot see them to be kufr or not part of imaan (meaning that if you do not do them you are a kafir). I hope that you understand my question, I am really confused about this. Could you please explain this in a specific fatwa?

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 ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

The apparent indication of your questions about the definition of eemaan (faith) and whether actions are included in it reflect your confusion; it may be the result of waswaas (obsessive whisperings) that have overwhelmed your heart and mind.

Our advice to you is to repel and disregard such whispers and pay absolutely no attention to them. If you are confused about certain misconceptions raised by the advocates of religious innovations in this regard, then you should know that fataawa will not be of real benefit to you in terms of eliminating doubts from your heart. Rather, you need to consult with a reliable versed scholar to refute these misconceptions and eliminate your doubts.

In general, the Companions and Tabiʻoon (followers of the Companions) unanimously agreed that actions are a part of eemaan. Imaam Ash-Shaafiʻi  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, “The consensus of the Companions and Tabiʻoon and the scholars who succeeded them was that eemaan is made up of three elements: words, deeds, and intention; one single element of the three is not sufficient in place of the other...” This statement was cited on the authority of Al-Laalakaa’i in his book Sharh Usool Iʻtiqaad Ahl As-Sunnah.

Imam Al-Baghawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “The Companions and Tabiʻoon and their successors unanimously agreed that action is an essential part of eemaan ... They said that eemaan consists of word, deeds, and conviction...” [Sharh As-Sunnah]

You should know that the failure to do the actions that fall under the concept of eemaan does not entail accusing the Muslim of kufr, contrary to what your question implies. The scholars who deemed forsaking the prayer an act of kufr, taking the doer out of the fold of Islam, relied on the relevant ahaadeeth reported to this effect in particular.

Allaah knows best.

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