by Amaliah Anonymous in Ramadan on 16th March, 2023
In an episode of the “Quran 30 for 30” series hosted by the Yaqeen Institute, Sheikh Abdullah Oduro posed the question “Do you believe in Allah? And do you believe Allah?”. This question has been on my mind since then, particularly because it was one of the first times I thought about that distinction. He highlighted how we can be on Tawheed – believing in the oneness of Allah ﷻ and worshipping Him alone, but believing Allah ﷻ, is an aspect of religion we also need to be aware of (1).
This differentiation between believing in Allah ﷻ by adhering to the pillars of Islam and believing Allah has been expanded on in scholarly explanations of Hadith Jibril (2). In this hadith, Angel Jibril asks the Prophet ﷺ to tell Him about Islam, Iman and Ihsan. The Prophet ﷺ explained:
“Islam is to testify there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (ﷺ) is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to give charity, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to the House if a way is possible.”
“Imaan (Faith) is to believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in Predestination, its good and its harm”.
“Ihsan (Excellence) is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He surely sees you.” Sahiḥ Muslim 8
From this hadith, the three levels of religion are derived: Muslim – the one who practises Islam, Mu’min – the believer who has Imaan, and Muhsin – the one who pursues and practices excellence (Ihsan).
Islam in the context of Hadith Jibril is seen as the physical actions of submission including professing the Oneness of Allah ﷻ (Shahadah), giving charity, prayer, pilgrimage etc. Iman (faith) in comparison to Islam points to the more internal aspects of our relationship with Allah ﷻ including the physical aspects of Islam.
Imaan is the aspect of faith that is compounded by believing Allah ﷻ. It is what moves the hearts, what transforms and makes you feel held and supported by the Most Loving. Imaan is the knowledge of the heart about its Lord, then its purpose and its destination. It is what further beautifies the external aspects of our worship. Imaan is the difference between seeing the prayers as a ritual to be completed and seeing the prayers as a sacred sanctuary of conversation and safety with The Most Merciful.
Allah ﷻ in the Quran describes the Mu’min as follows:
“The Believers are only they whose hearts tremble with awe whenever God is mentioned, and whose faith is strengthened whenever His messages are conveyed unto them, and who in their Sustainer place their trust”. (Qur’an 8:2)
Building this belief in Allah ﷻ is simply impossible without knowledge. How can you believe in what and Who you do not know? The knowledge that builds trust and faith in Allah ﷻ comes from the Quran, the Hadiths, the Messengers (ﷺ) etc. The Quran is for us. Every single Surah, every single ayah has a message for us. Ayahs speaking on the Might, the swift retribution and the All-Encompassing Mercies of Allah ﷻ are reminders for us. Ayahs about the disbelievers and hypocrites who were WIPED off the surface of the earth leaving no trace are for us, reminding us of the certain consequences of disbelief. Ayahs where our limited perception secludes the meaning from us (الۤمۤ), are also for us. Through understanding the Quran and developing our relationship with the Quran, we gain knowledge of Allah ﷻ which adds to our Faith in Him.
“Indeed, He is the One Who sends down tranquillity into the hearts of the Believers in order to add more Faith to their Faith.” (Qur’an 48:4)
In understanding that every single word of Allah ﷻ in the Quran is for me specifically as it is certainly also for you, we bridge the gap between believing in Allah and believing Allah ﷻ – a matter which is both transformative and healing. Believing Allah ﷻ – Iman – is actualising the words of Allah ﷻ, almost seeing them and applying them in real-time. Believing Allah ﷻ is using the knowledge you have of Him as a means of living a life that is Most Pleasing to Him. It is the intentional form of submission that is liberating.
To me, the differentiation between believing in Allah ﷻ, His existence, the Unseen and believing the speech of Allah feels profound and although I could firmly say that I am a Muslim, I found deficits in being a Mu’min. I had to dig deeper and think of what believing Allah ﷻ looks like and how believing Allah ﷻ manifest in our lives. I implore you to reflect on the following:
If we say we believe, is this reflected in our deeds, in our interactions, in how conscious we are of Allah ﷻ?
If we say we believe in Allah, do we strive to fulfil our desires in accordance with the guidance of the message?
If we say we believe, is this reflected in how we act and in our self-accountability?
If we say we believe, do we continuously race towards seeking forgiveness?
If we do Believe in Allah, it manifests as us tying our camel and putting all our Trust in the Most Trustworthy, relying on Him alone for the best outcome.
Aisha reported, The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Follow the right course, be devoted, and give glad tidings. Verily, none of you will enter Paradise by his deeds alone.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “Not even me, unless Allah grants me His mercy. Know that the most beloved deed to Allah is that which is done regularly, even if it is small.” (Sahiḥ al-Bukhārī 6467, Sahiḥ Muslim 2818)
If upon reflection you notice some defects in your belief, hold yourself under the mercy of Ar-Rahman. Know that the journey to Islam is one of progression rather than perfection. And know that with every step you take towards Allah, He takes a step towards you, when you draw close to Allah ﷻ by an arm’s length, He draws close to you by the length of a fathom and When you go to Him Walking, He comes to You running (Sahiḥ Muslim 2687). Indeed, He is Ash-Shakur, the Most Appreciative, Al-Kareem-The Most Generous!
This is a reminder first and foremost to me to beautify my religion with Imaan and heartfelt trust and belief in Allah ﷻ. May Al-Mu’min, the Affirmer of Truth make it easy for me, for you and for us all. Allahumma Ameen.
This piece was written by a member of the Amaliah community. If you would like to contribute anonymously, drop us an email us on firstname.lastname@example.org