Question: Is it possible for a person to know that (s)he is a Mumin [Believer]? What are the signs of īmān?
Īmān [faith, belief] is to believe in the six tenets of belief expressed in the Āmantu. As a matter of fact, it is declared in a hadīth-i sharīf:
(Īmān is to have faith in Allah, in His angels, in His books, in His prophets, in the Last Day [that is, to believe in Doomsday, Paradise, Hell, Judgement, and Mīzān] in qadar and that good (khair) and evil (sharr) are from Allah, and in death and Resurrection. It is to bear witness that there is no ilāh except Allah and that I am a human slave and Messenger of His.) [Bukhārī, Muslim, Nasāī]
(You have to certify all mentioned ones in your heart as well.)
There are many qualities signifying that one has a strong īmān. Some hadīth-i sharīfs on this matter are as follows:
(He who has a feeling of happiness upon doing a good deed and who feels sorry upon committing a sin has īmān.) [Tabarānī]
(The Mumin with the strongest īmān is he who has good morals. Everybody can approach him easily, and he has many visitors. He gets on well with everyone. He who does not get on well with people around him is not a good one.) [Tabarānī]
(He who does not forget Allahu taālā no matter where he is has a strong īmān.) [Bayhaqī]
(He who loves Allah and His Messenger more than he loves all else, who loves another for the sake of Allah alone and who fears reverting to disbelief much more than being thrown into the Fire relishes the flavor of īmān.) [Bukhārī]
(You will not truly believe until you love one another.) [Tabarānī]
(Hayā [bashfulness, modesty] is a branch from īmān.) [Bukhārī]
(Cleanliness is half of īmān.) [Muslim]
(Fulfilling ones promises is from īmān.) [Hākim]
(Being just, even if the outcome results in ones own detriment, is from īmān.) [Bazzār]
(Showing patience in time of disasters is from īmān.) [Bazzār]
(He who has īmān in his heart loves Allahu taālā.) [Daylamī]
(Īmān is naked. Piety is its dress; bashfulness is its adornment; fiqh is its capital; deeds are its fruits.) [Daylamī]
(Īmān has seventy-odd branches, the highest of which is to say Lā ilāha ill-Allah, the lowest of which is to remove something harmful from a road. Hayā, too, is a branch from īmān.) [Tirmudhī]
(Īmān means namāz. He who performs namāz minutely and by observing its due times and sunnats [and other precepts] is a Mumin.) [I. Najjār]
(These three things are from īmān: to spend in charity when you are in straits, to greet any Muslim you come across, and to act justly even if the outcome results in your own detriment.) [Nasāī]
(A person possessing these qualities has a strong īmān: He does not fear becoming known in the slightest degree in deeds that he does for the sake of Allah; he does amāl [deeds] free from ostentation; and between two deeds, if one of them were beneficial to the next world and the other were beneficial to this world, he would prefer the one beneficial to the next world.) [Daylamī]
(He who backbites, who curses, who says vulgar words and who does not feel hayā is not a perfect Mumin.) [Bukhārī]
(None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his parents, his children and all humanity.)
(He who does not wish for others what he wishes for himself cannot reach īmān.) [Abū Yala]
When we have a look at the aforementioned hadīth-i sharīfs in a literal sense, they may give rise to such a misunderstanding that every clean person is a Believer. However, it is possible that a disbeliever may be clean, bashful, just, or abstain from from ornaments. To avoid this confusion, it is necessary to read the hadīth-i sharīfs in light of the explanations given by the scholars of hadith. If we read them without explanations, then we may misunderstand them.
So is the case with committing sins. It is not permissible to call a sinful Muslim a disbeliever. The true meaning of the hadīth He who carries words among people will not enter Paradise is that such a person cannot enter Paradise before bearing the penalty of his sins or without receiving forgiveness or intercession (shafāat). In the same way, what is intended in the hadīth He who backbites deserves Hell is that if ones thawāb weighs less than ones sins, in such a case, backbiting leads a person to Hell.
The meaning of the hadīth A person who has an iota of conceit in his heart will not enter Paradise is that the relevant person cannot enter Paradise without suffering its punishment first or without receiving forgiveness or intercession (shafāat).
Furthermore, in a hadīth-i sharīf it is declared that a Mumin can commit any sin with the exception of three sins, one of which is telling a lie. Outwardly, it can be inferred from this hadith-i sharif that one who tells a lie is not a Mumin. However, it means such a person is not a perfect Mumin. Also, it is stated that mendacity is one of the characteristics of hypocrisy. One who lies is not a hypocrite, but one will have displayed one of the characteristics of hypocrisy.
Once, in response to such a question, O the Prophet of Allah! Will a child who does not get the consent of his parents go to Hell even if they behave unjustly towards him? our Prophet declared three times, Yes, he who does not get the consent of them will go to Hell, even if they behave unjustly towards him. From this hadīth-i sharīf, it may be concluded that those who do not attain the consent of their parents become disbelievers. But the situation is not so. It means they cannot go to Paradise without first suffering the punishment proportioned.
We should read such hadīth-i sharīfs as A stingy person cannot enter Paradise and Stinginess is an act of kufr with their explanations. Or else, they cause misapprehensions. Although stinginess is one of the vices, it is not an act of kufr [disbelief] after all. In fact, it means that a stingy person cannot enter Paradise without being subjected to the penalty of this sin. However, if ones thawāb weighs more than ones sins, one enters Paradise without entering Hell at all. It is also possible that one can go to Paradise through receiving forgiveness and intercession.
The sign of true īmān
Hadrat Imām-i Rabbānī declares:
The symbol of true īmāns existence in the heart is to bear hostility against disbelievers and to annihilate the things that are peculiar to them and that are the symptoms of disbelief. For Islam and kufr [disbelief] are opposites, antonyms of each other. To esteem one of them means to insult, to blame the other. To love the enemies of Allahu taālā and to cooperate with them draws one towards being hostile against Allahu taālā and His Prophet. A person thinks of himself as a Muslim, expresses the word tawhīd, and says, I believe, and performs namāz and every kind of worship, but on the other hand, cooperates with disbelievers. Yet one does not know that these loathsome actions of ones will extirpate ones being a Muslim and īmān. (First Volume, 163rd Letter)
It is purported in āyat-i karīmas:
(Those who believe in Allahu taālā and the Day of Resurrection do not like the enemies of Allahu taālā and His Prophet, even if they are their fathers, brothers and other close relatives.) [Sūrat-ul-Mujādala 22]
(O you who believe! Do not take My enemies and yours as friends, and do not love them.) [Sūrat-ul-Mumtahina 1]
The following are stated in hadīth-i sharīfs:
(Three things intensify the flavor of īmān: to love Allah and His Prophet more than everything else; to love for the sake of Allah a Muslim who does not love you, and not to love the enemies of Allah.) [Tabarānī]
(The basis and the most dependable symptom of īmān is hubb-i fillah and bughd-i fillah.) [Abū Dāwud]
(Bughd means disliking and feeling hostility. Bughd-i fillah means disliking and feeling hostility for the sake of Allah. Its antonym, hubb-i fillah, means loving and making friends for the sake of Allah.)
(He who does not consider the enemies of Allah as enemies does not believe truly.) [I. Ahmad]
(He who loves the friends of Allah and considers His enemies as enemies has a perfect īmān.) [Abū Dāwud]
The sign of īmān
Question: I commit many sins but repent of them later. I am saying to myself, Am I without īmān? Isnt there an infallible criterion indicating that I have īmān?
Performing five daily namāzes is an infallible criterion to judge that one has īmān. The following hadīth-i sharīf is also a criterion:
(He who has a feeling of happiness upon doing a good deed and who feels sorry upon committing a sin is a true Mumin.) [Tirmudhī, Hākim]
Regretting ones sins later is a sign of īmān as well.