Meaning of True Belief
Fatwa No: 83437

Question

Will a Muslim still be a Muslim if his faith is not complete? For example the Prophet has said that cleanliness is a part of faith. If a person never stays clean in his lifetime will he be a Kafir because his faith is not complete? I think the Prophet has said about that you will not truly believe unless you love for your brother what you love for your self. If a person does not love for his brother what he loves for him self will he be a Kafir? If a persons faith is not complete (for e.g. his clothes, body, house were never clean will he enter Jannah?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

One should know that belief (Imaan) consists of many branches and every branch is called Imaan (belief). Therefore, prayer is part of belief, Zakaah is part of belief, and all other forms of worship and good acts are considered from belief. The deeds that are peculiar to the heart such as, trust in Allah, and Hayaa’ (self-respect, bashfulness) etc. are also part of faith. Some of these branches of faith are so important that if they are abrogated the faith itself is nullified such as the branch of pronouncing the Two Testimonies of Faith. Some of them are not so important such as removing what is harmful from the road, which is also part of the faith. Between these two branches of faith, there are many other different grades of branches. Some of these branches are as important as the branch of the Two Testimonies of Faith while others are not so important like the act of removing harmful things from the road.

Therefore, whoever neglects desirable acts, Sunan, or even some recommended or obligatory acts, or commits some offensive deeds, then such a person is not considered an apostate. He is still considered a Muslim but a Muslim who commits sins or a dissolute Muslim.

This ruling is made very clear in the Quran where Allah Says (what means):

• {…that they would increase in faith along with their [present] faith.} [Quran 48:4]

• {The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely -} [Quran 8:2]

• {Those to whom hypocrites said, "Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them." But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said, "Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs."} [Quran 3:173]

The above verses prove that the belief of a person sometimes increases and sometimes decreases. This is the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa’ah (adherents of the Sunnah). From the above verses and Ahadeeth, the Muslim scholars believe that those Ahadeeth which negate belief when certain actions are committed, mean that only the perfection of the belief is negated, but not the belief itself. For example the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “When an adulterer commits illegal sexual intercourse, then he is not a believer at the time he is doing it; when a drinker of an intoxicant (alcoholic drink) drinks it, he is not a believer at the time of drinking it; when a thief steals, he is not a believer at the time of stealing; and when a robber robs and the people look at him, he is not a believer at the time of doing robbery." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) also said: “(I swear) By Him in Whose Hands my life is, none of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children, and all mankind.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Another Hadeeth reads: “There is no belief for the one who does not have faithfulness and there is no religion for the one who does not fulfill his promise.” [Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan]

All these and similar Ahadeeth prove that the person who has perfect belief does not commit such sins. The expression of negating something and meaning the negation of its perfection is common in the Arabic language and in the sayings of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) as well. For instance, the expressions like “no knowledge except what benefits”; “no property except camels” and “no life save the life of Hereafter” are common expressions in Arabic language.

No doubt that the person who avoids evils is more perfect than the one who commits sins, and the one who performs Sunnah and voluntary acts beside obligatory acts is more perfect than the one who performs only obligations. For this reason, Muslims have many grades as far as their belief is concerned, some of them have strong and much belief in their hearts while some others have weak and little belief. The belief of the steadfast affirmers of truth (As-Siddiqeen) is not like the belief of a common Muslim. The belief of As-Siddiqeen is so strong that they believe in the unseen as they believe in the seen while the common Muslim's faith is exposed to doubts.

Faith increases and becomes stronger by carefully reciting the Quran and pondering over its meanings besides looking into the Signs of Allah in this world and thinking about them. This point is made clear in the Quran in many places while Allah Urges the people to ponder His Signs. Allah Says (what means):

• {Do they not look into the realm of the heavens and the earth and everything that Allah has created and [think] that perhaps their appointed time has come near? So in what statement hereafter will they believe?} [Quran 7:185]

• {And thus did We show Abraham the realm of the heavens and the earth that he would be among the certain [in faith].} [Quran 6:75]
• {The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely -} [Quran 8:2]

Finally, the Muslims who commit major sins will not stay in Hellfire forever as will the non-Muslims. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of belief shall not enter Hell.” [Muslim, Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi, and Ibn Maajah]

The Hadeeth means that such a person does not stay in Hellfire forever.

For more benefit on Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa‘ah please refer to Fataawa 2496, 22613, 33503, and 351652.

For more benefit on the branches of Faith (belief), please refer to Fatwa 107210.

Allah knows best.

Related Fatwa