Question: Upon which thing is it conditional to achieve salvation in the Hereafter?
Some people suppose that every person having belief in the existence of Allah will go to Paradise, but this is a complete fallacy. The îmân [belief, faith] of a person who does not believe in one of the six tenets of belief in the Âmantu is not valid. For this reason, what matters is not to have belief but to have a correct belief. To achieve salvation in the Hereafter is conditional upon having a correct belief, not upon the amplitude of acts of worship. Those with the tiniest correct belief in their heart will enter Paradise in the end, even if they have a few or no acts of worship performed with ikhlâs. It is stated in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(He who has a mote of îmân in his heart will not remain in Hell.) [Bukhârî, Muslim]
Getting on a vehicle, all people are traveling on a way destined for the Hereafter. While traveling, what is important is not to get on a vehicle but to get on a right vehicle. People who get on a wrong one will head for the place where it is en route, not where they want. For example, those who board a plane to Paris with the intention of going to the Kâ’ba cannot arrive at the Kâ’ba no matter how pure intentions they may have.
Allahu ta’âlâ has promised that He will grant the right path, that is, real Islam, to those who have been prompted by simple curiosity over it and who are in search of the truth [Sűrat-ul-‘Ankabűt 69, Sűrat-ush-Shűra 13]. Allah never breaks His promise. [Sűrat-u Âl-i ‘Imrân 9].
This means to say that people following the aberrant ways do not ask for the truth, let alone have little curiosity. Allahu ta’âlâ has guaranteed the sustenance for His creatures. However, He is not the Guarantor of the îmân [belief]. Before rectifying one’s credal state according to the Islam’s true credal tenets termed “Ahl as-Sunnat belief,” performing acts of worship will be of no avail. We can conceive of the true belief (the belief of Ahl as sunnat) as the number 1. Acts of worship performed with sincerity are like number 0 placed on the right of number 1. When placed one 0, it is 10. If placed two zeroes, then it is 100. The more zeroes we place on the right of it, the more valuable it will become. However, when we remove the number 1, the result is 0. By the same token, acts of worship performed with insincerity, that is, for ostentation, are worthless like zeroes placed on the left of 1. After people have corrected their i’tiqâd [belief] in accordance with the true credal tenets of Ahl as-Sunnat, to increase their acts of worship is up to their perseverance, sincerity, and knowledge. They can indulge themselves to their hearts’ content. But if they do not have correct belief, namely, Ahl as-Sunnat belief, their acts of worship are worthless like zeroes on the left.
According to the Mu’tazila and such rationalistic groups, worships are part of îmân. They assert that a person who does not perform the fards or who commits sins becomes a disbeliever. In other words, they establish such a link between îmân and acts of worship: îmân x acts of worship. In this multiplication, they say, if one of them is zero, then the result is zero. That is to say, îmân without acts of worship or acts of worship without îmân are not valid. However, according to the Ahl as-Sunnat belief, îmân without acts of worship is valid, but acts of worship without îmân are not valid. According to the Ahl as-Sunnat belief, it can be defined as: acts of worship x ikhlâs. Without doing the deed itself, if one thinks of sincerely, “If I had money, I would help that poor person,” one will earn thawâb due to one’s sincere intention, even if one does not do that deed. More ikhlâs in one’s heart will bring in more thawâb when it is multiplied by one’s acts of worship. For example, if our ikhlâs is symbolized by the number 1, and if we give a loaf of bread to 1,000 poor people each, the result is 1x1,000 = 1,000 (thawâb). Since the ikhlâs of the Ashâb-i kirâm [the blessed Companions of our Prophet] is so strong, for example, suppose it is one million, if one of them gives a loaf of bread to a poor person, he earns one million thawâb.
Therefore, it is declared in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(I swear that if one gave a piece of gold as big as Mount Uhud in the name of alms one would not earn the thawâb equal to the amount that one of my Ashâb would be given for alms worth a handful of barley.) [Bukhârî]
As the îmân of the Ashâb-i kirâm is so strong and their ikhlâs is so much, they gain such amounts of thawâb. Among the Ashâb-i kirâm, some of them have superiority over the others. For example, the thawâb of a handful of dates given in the name of alms by Hadrat Abű Bakr and the thawâb earned by any other Sahâbî with the same alms are poles apart.
Again, it is declared in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(I asked about the matters over which my Ashâb would fall into disagreement with each other. My Rabb informed me, “Your Ashâb are like the celestial stars in My Sight. Some of them are more luminous than the others. He who adapts himself to any one of them is on the right path.”) [Daylamî]
Question: In order to have a correct belief, what are the requisites?
Some of the requisites of the correct belief are as follows:
1. To remain steadfast in your îmân: Anyone who desires to become a disbeliever three years later will become a disbeliever as soon as one says this.
2. To take a middle path between khawf [fear] and rajâ’ [hope]: That is, one must have fear of Allahu ta’âlâ’s punishment as well as hope of His mercy.
3. To have îmân before the soul reaches to the throat: When submitting the soul, upon seeing the events pertaining to the life to come, the then îmân of a disbeliever is not valid. However, at that time, the tawba [repentance] of Muslims for their sins is acceptable.
4. To have îmân before the sun rises in the west: When the sun rises in the west, the door of repentance will be closed.
5. Only Allahu ta’âlâ knows the ghayb: If Allah informs His prophets or His dear slaves, then they also know it.
6. You must avoid using or saying things which Islam dictates as signs of kufr [disbelief]: For example, a Muslim must not wear a cross or must not say, even as a joke, “I am a disbeliever.”
7. Not to have doubts about things that are to be believed: For example, one must not have such doubts as, “Is it fard [obligatory] to perform namâz?” or “Is it harâm [prohibited] to drink wine?”
8. You must base your belief on Islam: Your belief must be as Hadrat Muhammad (‘alaihis-salâm) stated, not as historians and philosophers stated.
9. To love for the sake of Allah [hubb-i fillah] and to dislike for the sake of Allah [bughd-i fillah]: One’s love and hatred must be only for the sake of Allah. It is a sign of kufr [disbelief] to feel hostility towards the friends of Allah and to love and make friends with the enemies of Allah, e.g. to love Socrates but to have hatred towards Hadrat Imâm-i Ghazâlî.
10. You must rectify your belief according to (Islam’s true credal tenets termed) Ahl as-Sunnat wa’l-jamâ’at.
Some essential matters in the aqeedah (creed, faith) of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah are as follows:
1. Allahu ta’ala is free from time and space. It causes disbelief (kufr) to say, “Allah has sat on the ‘Arsh.”
2. Allahu ta’ala does not resemble anything. It causes disbelief to attribute human features and characteristics (anthropomorphism) to Him, such as hand, feet, walking, descending, ascending etc.
3. Muhammad ‘alaihis-salam is the last prophet. No prophet will succeed him. To say “No prophet [nabi] will succeed him, but a messenger [rasul] will succeed him” is an act of kufr (disbelief) that expels the person saying it from the fold of Islam.
4. We must not declare Ahl al-qibla (a Muslim who performs salat) a kafir (disbeliever) owing to his/her sins because acts of worship (ibadah) do not form an integral part of faith (iman). That is, a Muslim who does not do acts of worship and commits sins must not be declared a kafir. In the Hereafter, Allahu ta’ala may torment a person in return for a minor sin, and He may forgive major sins.
5. The Muslims in Paradise (Jannah) will see Allahu ta’ala. The Mu’tazila sect does not believe this fact.
6. A person either has iman (faith) or not. Faith does not increase or decrease. However, the brightness and strength of it increases or decreases.
7. The Qur’an al-karim is not something created (makhluq).
8. It is permissible to do masah (wiping with wet hands) over khuffs (waterproof shoes covering the part of the foot which is obligatory to wash in wudu’). Whoever says that it is not permissible is not considered a member of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah.
9. The Mi’raj was an event that involved both soul and body.
10. Mu’jizah and karamah are haqq (true and established).
11. We must love all of the Sahaba (Blessed Companions of our Prophet) and must not speak ill of any of them because all of them will be in Paradise. (Al-Hadid 10)
12. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq is the most superior and best of the Sahaba.
13. The soul does not die. After death, the souls of disbelievers and those of Muslims hear.
14. It is permissible to visit a grave, and it is permissible, too, to ask prophets, martyrs, and awliya’ in the grave for help.
15. The questioning and torment in the grave are haqq (true and established). The torment in the grave will be inflicted on both the soul and the body.
16. In the Hereafter, there will be shafa’ah (intercession), the Sirat Bridge, Reckoning, and Mi’zan (for weighing deeds and conduct).
17. When one reads the Qur’an al-karim or gives alms, it is permissible to present the thawab (reward) of them to the deceased. It will reach them and cause their torment to be lightened or to be removed altogether.
18. When a person dies because of murder or committing suicide, s/he has died because his/her appointed time of death (ajal) has come.
19. No sin, whether minor or major, issues from prophets.
20. Both Paradise and Hell exist now, and they will exist endlessly in the Hereafter. Sinful Muslims will not dwell in Hell eternally. It is disbelievers (kuffar) who will dwell in it eternally.
21. Today, a Muslim must adopt one of the four madhhabs. Whoever does not follow one of them has deviated from Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah. (Hashiyah Durr-ul-Mukhtar)
22. It is of the main points of the aqeedah of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah to believe the signs before Doomsday, e.g., Dajjal, Dabbat-ul-ard, and Hadrat Mahdi will appear; Hadrat ‘Isa (Jesus) will descend from the sky; the sun will rise in the west.
23. It is not permissible to rebel against a sultan or a caliph.
All of the abovementioned facts have been quoted from the books Fiqh al-Akbar, Nuhbat al-Laali, Riyad an-Nasihin, Maktubat-i Rabbani, and Faraid al-Fawaid.
Doubt and Fear
Question: Is there any difference between having such doubts as, “Do I have îmân now?” or “Will my îmân continue?” and being fearful of dying without îmân at one’s last breath?
Yes, there is a difference. It is not permissible, an act of kufr [disbelief], to have doubts as to whether one has îmân or one’s îmân will be permanent. Mu’mins [Believers] must not be dubious about their îmân, and they must resolve that they will have îmân until they die.
As for their last breath, they must be between hope and fear. It is not a doubt, a sign of îmân, to be fearful of dying without îmân at one’s last breath.
How to protect our îmân (faith)?
Question: Since the most valuable blessing that has been granted is îmân, what should we do to protect it?
You have to comply with the following in order to protect it:
1. You have to believe in the ghayb. If we saw angels, Paradise, and Hell with our eyes, it would not be îmân to say “There are Paradise and Hell” because we would see them with our eyes then. Seeing Paradise and Hell at the time of death, all disbelievers will say, “We believe in them,” but their îmân will not be valid. When Mu’mins are praised in the Qur’ân al-karîm, it is said, “They believe in the ghayb” (Sűrat-ul-Baqara 3).
2. You have to believe that only Allahu ta’âlâ knows the ghayb. Prophets, angels, or genies cannot know the ghayb. However, if Allahu ta’âlâ wills, He lets them know. Therefore, it is not permissible to deny the mu’jizat and karâmat.
3. You have to believe, that is, accept, a harâm as harâm, and a halâl as halâl. A person who calls deliberately a prohibited act permissible or a permissible act prohibited becomes a renegade.
4. You must be very fearful of the wrath of Allahu ta’âlâ and must not feel secure from His torment. It is declared in the Holy Qur’ân that those who are fearful of the chastisement of their Lord are not safe from it. (Sűrat-ul-Ma‘ârij 27-28)
5. Whatever the number of your sins, you must not consider that your abode will certainly be Hell. Allahu ta’âlâ declares in a sacred hadith:
(If My slave commits so many sins as to reach skies, but if he does not despair of My mercy and begs Me for forgiveness, I forgive him.) [Tirmudhî]
A Qur'anic verse says (what means):
(O My slaves who have committed a great many sins! Do not despair of Allah’s Mercy! Allah forgives all sins of His slaves. He is the One with infinite forgiveness and mercy.) [Sűrat-uz-Zumar 53]
6. You must not feel safe from the torment of Allah, but at the same time, you must not despair of His Mercy! A hadîth-i sharîf declares:
(If a Mu’min takes a middle path between khawf [fear] and rajâ’ [hope], Allahu ta’âlâ gives him what he hopes for and makes him secure from from what he fears.) [Tirmudhî]
7. It is the essence of iman to love someone for the sake of Allah (hubb-i fillah) and to dislike someone for the sake of Allah (bughd-i fillah). It is said in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(The basis of îmân is to love Muslims and to have a dislike for the enemies of Allah.) [Imam-i Ahmad]
Allahu ta’âlâ said to Hadrat ‘Îsâ:
(Even if you do acts of worship that equal those done by all creatures on the earth and in heavens, it will be of no value unless you love My friends and unless you feel hostility towards My enemies.) [Kimya-i Sa’âdat]
8. In order for the îmân to be valid and for us to protect it, some of the necessary conditions are as follows:
* Allahu ta’ala is wajib al-wujud (the One whose existence is necessary), real ma’bud (the One worshiped), and the creator of all things.
* It is Allahu ta’ala alone who created whatever is in the world and in the Hereafter without material, time, and similarity, out of nonexistence.
* Tawakkul is fard (obligatory). [Tawakkul means expecting from Allahu ta’ala the effectiveness of the cause (sabab) after working and holding on to the cause.]
* One is not allowed to perform qiyas (analogy) in those matters pertaining to belief that are known indispensably and through ijma’ (consensus). Thus, one who makes a wrong ijtihad or qiyas on such matters becomes a kafir (disbeliever). However, one who performs an incorrect ijtihad in those matters pertaining to belief that have not been conveyed indispensably and through ijma’ will not become a disbeliever, but ahl al-bid’at (exponent of heresy).
[By indispensably, (daruri is the word used in the original text), we mean a tenet of belief or practice which is so obvious that it is believed and practiced commonly by Muslims.]
* Faith (iman) does not increase or decrease. That is, it does not increase or decrease with respect to tenets of belief that must be believed in. However, its brightness and strength increases or decreases with respect to yaqin and confirmation. All Muslims are equal in faith and tawhid, but they differ from one another in their deeds.
* One must take one’s belief from the Islamic religion and believe in the same way as the Messenger of Allah prescribed.
* If a sinner dies a Muslim without repenting of his/her sins, Allahu ta’ala, if He wants, will torment him/her in Hell, or He, if He wants, may forgive him/her and will not inflict any torment on him/her.
* Angels, unlike what disbelievers claim, are not Allahu ta’ala’s partners or daughters. They do not commit sins. They are neither male nor female.
* One must have no doubts about a ruling stated in the Qur’an al-karim or in our other Islamic books. For example, one must not have such a doubt, “I am not sure whether it is fard for a woman to cover herself.”
* No matter through which means (halal or haram) one obtains, it is still one’s rizq (sustenance). Everyone eats his or her own rizq. No one can eat the rizq allotted to someone else.
* One who says something which Islam dictates as a sign of disbelief (alfaz-i kufr) becomes a disbeliever even though one does not accept its meaning. [That is, if it is said to make a joke or to make others laugh, it will still result in disbelief. For example, if one says for a joke, “I am a prophet,” one becomes a disbeliever.]
* If a drunk says something that constitutes disbelief, (s)he must not be declared a disbeliever (kafir).
* The universe was created when it was nonexistent. [Philosophers do not accept this fact, and they become disbelievers as they say, “This is the way it has been, and this is the way it goes.”]
* We must not call Ahl al-qibla (a person who performs salat) disbelievers because of his/her sins. [However, if a belief of a person who is Ahl al-qibla goes against a definite evidence whose meaning is very clear, then this belief will be kufr. This one is a disbeliever, even though (s)he offers salat and performs the other acts of worship.]
* Sufism (tasawwuf) should not be denied. (Awarif-ul-ma’arif)
* After prophets, the highest and the best of all human beings is Hadrat Abu Bakr. After him, the highest of all human beings is the other three caliphs in successive order.
* All the Blessed Companions (Sahaba) will go to Paradise. (Surat al-Hadid 10)
* It is stated in the Qur’an al-karim that Allahu ta’ala is pleased with the Sahaba. To speak ill of any of them means disbeliving the Qur’anic verses in question. (Tathir-ul-Janan)
* Good and evil, advantage and harm coming upon human beings are all by Allahu ta’ala’s decree.
* Qadar means Allahu ta’ala’s knowing with His Eternal Knowledge and willing all deeds of human beings and of other creatures that they will do. Qada means the [instance of] creation of anything just compatibly with qadar. Both are termed qada and qadar.
* Allahu ta’ala guides whomever He wills to the right way as a favor to that slave of His. Similarly, He guides whomever He wills to aberration out of His Justice because all deeds of human beings are created by Allahu ta’ala. Yet He has given partial will to human beings and has thus held them responsible for what they have done.
* The time of death (ajal) of a person who has been killed or who has committed suicide is the moment when that person has died. A death does not take place before the appointed time for it comes.
* The Salat al-Janaza for a Muslim who has committed suicide is performed. (Durr-ul-Mukhtar)
* All people will be resurrected after death.
* Questioning, the return of the soul to the body, and torment for disbelievers and sinful Muslims are true and take place in the grave.
* All Muslims will enter Paradise by the grace of Allah because no one can deserve it thanks to his/her deeds.
* On the Day of Resurrection, all people will give accounts of their deeds, and their deeds will be weighed on Mi’zan.
* Prophets, scholars, and pious Muslims will intercede (shafa’ah) for the forgiveness of sinful Muslims. Likewise, the shafa’ah of our Prophet is for those who have committed major sins. People with numberless sins, too, will benefit from the shafa’ah, little or much. All sinners, except those who will become beneficiary of forgiveness and shafa’ah, will be punished for their sins. It is declared in a hadith-i sharif:
(Every prophet has a du’a [supplication] that is fulfilled. I have reserved my du’a to make intercession for my Ummah in the Hereafter.) [Bukhari]
* Beware of denying shafa’ah because it is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(Whoever does not believe in my shafa’ah will not benefit from it.) (Shir’a)
* Believe in the portents of Doomsday.
It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(Doomsday will not take place until these signs appear: the sun will rise in the west; three places will sink into the earth; Isa will descend from the sky; Smoke, Dabbat al-ard, ad-Dajjal, Ya’juj [Gog] and Ma’juj [Magog] will appear; a fire will break out in Aden.) [Muslim]
* It is one of the essentials of the aqeedah of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah to believe that Mahdi will appear.
A hadith-i sharif says:
(Before Doomsday, Allahu ta’ala will create one of my descendants, whose name and father’s name will be the same as those of mine. The earth, which will have been filled with cruelty before him, will be filled with justice during his time.) [Tirmidhi, Ibn ‘Asakir]
[All the abovementioned facts have been quoted from Fiqh al-Akbar, Amali, Riyad-un-Nasihin, Maktubat-i Rabbani, and Faraid-ul-Fawaid.]
The importance of correct belief
Question: What is the reason for your laying great emphasis on the importance of correct belief?
The reason it is so because acts of worship will be of no avail unless people correct their beliefs. The correct belief is the Ahl as-Sunnat belief. We can conceive of the true belief (the belief of Ahl as sunnat) as the number 1. Acts of worship performed with sincerity are like number 0 placed on the right of number 1. When placed one 0, it is 10. If placed two zeroes, then it is 100. The more zeroes we place on the right of it, the more valuable it will become. However, when we remove the number 1, the result is 0. By the same token, acts of worship performed with insincerity, that is, for ostentation, are worthless like zeroes placed on the left of 1. If people do not have a correct belief, namely, “Ahl as-Sunnat belief,” their acts of worship are worthless like zeroes on the left. This matter being so crucial, Hadrat Ubaydullah-i Ahrâr “quddisa sirruh” said, “If they gave me all the karâmats, yet if our creed were not correct, I would deem myself destroyed, ruined. If they piled up all the disasters and desolations upon me, yet if my creed were correct, I would never worry.”
A person with a correct belief
Question: It is said that the Muslims who have correct belief will not go to Hell. What will their sins be then?
A person who avoids prohibited acts and who carries out acts of worship is a friend of Allah. Allah does not put His friend into Hell-fire. It is purported in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(I swear (by Allah) that Allah does not put His friend into Hell-fire.) [Jâmi’us saghîr]
If one does not commit an act of kufr, sufferings one has endured in this world will be atonement for one’s sins. Also, one benefits from the shafâ’at, and so one does not enter Hell at all.
Two bases of the Ahl as-Sunnat path
Question: What is the reason that Ahl as-Sunnat belief has survived intact up until now?
It has remained in its original form and has come so thanks to the perseverance of Ahl as-Sunnat scholars. They strictly abided by these two things:
1. They preserved its original form and did not omit anything from it.
2. They did not add anything to it. That is, they obeyed sunnat and opposed bid’ats.
Obeying sunnat means obeying Islam, but one must obey it as it was communicated, without making any changes. Therefore, Ahl as-Sunnat scholars did not make any removal or any addition to what came to us from the Messenger of Allah. They accepted the text verbatim, and they made commentaries, that is, explanations, to it. For this reason, the tenets of Ahl as-Sunnat belief, both pertaining to belief and practice, has remained intact up until now.
Protecting the îmân
Question: What are the points to follow in order to protect the îmân?
Îmân is like a five-storey castle. It consists of copper storey, iron storey, bronze storey, silver storey, and gold storey.
1. Copper storey is âdâb.
2. Iron storey is sunnats.
3. Bronze storey is fards.
4. Silver storey is ikhlâs.
5. Gold storey is spiritual closeness to Allahu ta’âlâ.
If you do not observe âdâb, you cannot find a way to sunnats. If you do not observe sunnats, you cannot find a way to fards. If you do not observe fards, you cannot find a way to ikhlâs. If you do not have ikhlâs, you cannot find a way to attain the love of Allah.
This means to say that in order to reach the top, that is, the fifth storey, you should pass the first, second, third, and fourth storeys one by one. One cannot reach the top in a flash without passing the others.