Bismillaah. Assalaamu Alaikum! All praise is to Allaah Lord and Cherisher of the worlds. I testify that none and nothing has the right to be worshiped except Allah alone and Muhammad is His Final Messenger.
The greatest blessing Allaah, the Most High, can bestow upon a person in this world is the blessing of eemaan. It is as the author points out in his introduction the source to all the good in this world and Hereafter However; as the texts unequivocal show and as a simple glance at the various types of people will show, eemaan is of levels. It is of degrees and forever fluctuating. This is a matter that a person can witness in himself: when he is active and obedient, he senses a strength of eemaan and when he is falling short of the mark and disobeying Allaah he feels that his eemaan is weak.
Anyhow, this discussion before you is not to establish the fact that eemaan is of parts and that it increases and decreases – the evidences that point to this fact in the Quraan and Sunnah are numerous – even though this matter is extremely important as there does exist amongst Muslims the belief that eemaan is something whole and solid, which is not made up of parts and that everyone holds the same eemaan. The severity of this corrupt belief can be comprehended when one realizes that the holder of this belief will not therefore seek to find out the ways that will increase his eemaan in order to implement them and nor will he averse himself with the matters that can weaken his eemaan so that he can avoid them because of his lack of belief in the increase and decrease of eemaan! This person has therefore sealed this tremendous door and bars himself from entering to succeed in obedience and shun disobedience. This is exactly what happened to the groups who held such a belief. One group held that since eemaan does not increase and decrease, actions do not affect it and hence, they concluded that sins have no bearing upon ones Eemaan whatsoever. Another group did hold that eemaan is affected by action but as they again did not recognize that it was of levels and parts, they held that a person who commits a major sin is no longer a Muslim and he will reside in the Fire forever since his eemaan completely vanishes on account of the sin as it cannot decrease! Look at how Shaytaan deceives and plots against humankind to drive them towards disobedience in belief and action; we seek Allaah’s protection from the constant bombardment of his whispers.
The discussion before you is directly connected to practical issues that relate to this subject: How does one actually increase in his eemaan? How can one safeguard himself from those matters that would otherwise weaken his eemaan? It is indeed a lofty discussion, which calls out to its reader to comprehend and implement it
1. Lexically, let alone from the Shareeah viewpoint, eemaan is not synonymous with tasdeeq (belief or faith).
2. It is much closer in meaning to the word iqraar, which embodies the belief of the heart, which is tasdeeq as well as the action of the heart, which is inqiyaad (compliance and submissiveness).
3. One can understand this even more so if he were to examine the contents of the Shareeah. The scrutinizer will find that it consists of two categories: (khabr) information and (amr) command. When Allaah tells us in the Quraan that we will be raised up after we die and that we will face him, this is information and one responds to it with belief in the heart (tasdeeq). However when Allaah orders us to fast the month of Ramadaan, we do not respond by saying: Yes we believe. Rather, what is required is compliance, since this is a com-mand. The compliance intended here is the willingness in the heart to accept the command and enact it. It is inconceivable for someone to actually remain holding Eemaan if his heart is void of any willingness to obey the commands of Allaah. Whether the actual obedience takes place or not is not the issue here*, what is intended here, is the minimal level of compliance for eemaan to exist which is the general willingness of the heart to enact the commands; to want to obey Allaah.
4. Eemaan has a core or basic level, which if it is not in the heart, then eemaan cannot exist in such a heart. The last point is exactly this basic level: the belief of the heart and the basic levels of certain actions of the heart, such as the minimal level of compliance, love of Allaah, fear of Allaah, hope in Allaah and so on. Added to this, is the articulation by the tongue of the Shahaadah for the one who wishes to embrace lslaam and has the ability to speak. The reasons and wisdom behind this ruling are beyond the scope of this brief discussion. This type of Eemaan is what is termed as being a condition for the correctness and validity of eemaan.
5. Eemaan has higher parts and levels, above the core level. This is where those who possess Eemaan become of different ranks and this is where the increase and decrease occurs. Hence, with regard to the actions of the heart, some have a greater love of Allaah than others, while others fear him more and rely on him more. Others are superior in their sincerity and glorification of Allaah in their hearts and so on. Again, concerning the actions of the tongue, some recite Qur’aan more than others, some engage in much remembrance, speak only good etc. Likewise, people differ in the actions of the limbs: some pray tahajjud, perform jihaad etc in contrast to others. This type of eemaan is what is termed as being a condition for the perfection of one’s eemaan.
6. Eemaan in the Sharee’ah is defined how the Prophet – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – defined it when questioned by jibraa’eel: Eemaan in Allaah, the Angels, the Books, the Messengers, the Last Day and al-Qadar. As for the nature of eemaan and where it manifests itself this is where the scholars have defined it with five important matters: it manifests itself in the heart the tongue and upon the limbs and it increases and decreases.
7. Lastly, know that a misconception or error concerning the term eemaan is not like any other error concerning most other terms, because the rulings of this world and the Hereafter are connected to the terms of eemaan, lslaam, kufr, nifaaq etc. This important field of study, which embodies all of this, is referred to by some of the scholars as Baab al-Asmaa wa al-Ahkaam (the field of names and rulings) and Allaah knows best.
* The issue of not praying is seen to be an exception here to those of the noble scholars who hold that it is a requirement for the establishment of the basis of eemaan. Indeed, it is a serious issue where a difference of opinion is present and Allaah knows best, therefore pray my brother and sister so that you come away from the point of contention.
The lofty rank and high station eemaan possesses is not something obscure, as it is unquestionably the most important duty as well as being the most imperative of all obligations. It is also the greatest and most glorious of them. All the good in the world and the Hereafter is dependent upon the presence of eemaan and on its soundness and integrity.
Eemaan holds such a multitude of benefits, ripe fruits, delicious produce, constant food and continual goodness.
It is within this context, that those certain folk embarked upon and competed with each other in directing their attention to trying to actualize and fulfill eemaan. For the Muslim who is granted the tawfeeq, his concern for his eemaan is greater than any other concern he may have – and this must be so. When this became evident to the Salaf of this Ummah, the first and best of this ummah, their concern for their eemaan was very eminent and the attention they gave to it was enormous.
They may Allaah be pleased and have mercy upon them, used to tend to their eemaan, inspect their actions, and give each other advice. Reports of this nature from the Salaf are numerous:
1. ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattaab may Allaah be pleased with him, used to say to his companions: ‘Come on, so that we may increase our eemaan’.
2. ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to say: ‘Sit with us, so that we may increase in eemaan.’ He used to say in his supplications: ‘O Allaah increase me in Eemaan, certainty and understanding.’
3. Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to say: ‘Sit with us, so that we may have eemaan for an hour.’
4. ‘Abdullaah ibn Rawaahah, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to take some of his companions by the hand and say: ‘Come on, so that we may have eemaan for an hour. Come on, let us remember Allaah so that we increase in eemaan by obeying him; He may remember us by forgiving us:
5. Aboo Dardaa’, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to say: ‘It is from the intelligence of the servant to know whether he is increasing or decreasing, and indeed, it is from the intelligence of the servant to know how, where and when the whispers of Shaytaan appear to him.’
6. Umayr ibn Habeeb al-Khatmee, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to say: ‘Eemaan increases and decreases.’ Someone asked: ‘What increases it and what decreases it?’ He replied: ‘lf we remember Allaah, praise Him, and declare His perfection; that is what increases it. If we are heedless, squander and forget; that is what decreases it.’
7. Alqamah ibn Qays an-Nakba’ee, may Allaah have mercy upon him, who is one of the senior and revered of the taabi’een, used to say to his companions: ‘Come with us, so that we may increase in eemaan.’
8. ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn ‘Amr al-Awzaa’ee, may Allaah have mercy upon him, was asked about eemaan: ‘Does it increase?’ He replied, ‘Yes, until it becomes like mountains. He was then asked, ‘Does it decrease?’ He answered, ‘Yes, up until there is nothing left of it.’
9. The lmaam of the Ahl as-Sunnah Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allaah have mercy upon him, was asked as to whether eemaan increases and decreases. He replied: ‘It increases until it reaches the highest part of the seventh heaven, and it decreases until it reaches the lowest part of the seventh plane.’ He also used to say: ‘Eemaan is speech and action. It increases and decreases. If you perform good deeds, it increases, and if you do wrong, it decreases.’
Narratives of this sort from them are numerous.
If one also reflects on their biographies and reads their tales, one will notice the intense concern they attached to the issue of eemaan and the great attention they gave to it.
These virtuous people knew that eemaan has many causes, which increase it, strengthen it, and make it grow, and likewise, that it has several other causes, which decrease it weaken it and undermine it.
Accordingly they strove to comply with that which strengthens and completes the eemaan and they warned, very strongly against everything that weakened and decreased the Eemaan. Thus, they became as a result, a righteous and virtuous people. The knowledge therefore, of these causes, i.e., causes for the increase and decrease of eemaan, entails great and abundant benefits.
In fact, the knowledge and personification of these causes and focusing on them is of dire necessity. This is because eemaan signifies perfection for the servant, and it is the way towards his success and happiness. By eemaan, the servants rank rises in this world and the Hereafter. It is the reason and route to all worldly and heavenly good, and it does not come about, obtain strength, or become complete, without knowledge of it’s ways and causes.
Hence, it is very appropriate for the Muslim servant, the adviser to his own self and the one eager over his own happiness, to.14 strive to acquaint himself with these causes. He should ponder over them and then apply them in his life, so that his eemaan increases and his certainty strengthens. He must also distance himself from the causes that decrease eemaan, and safeguard his self from committing them, so that he delivers himself from their ill end and painful consequences. The one who is granted the tawfeeq to this has indeed been given the tawfeeq to all good.
The great scholar ibn Sadee, may Allaah have mercy upon him, says, ‘The servant, Muslim, who has been granted the tawfeeq, does not cease from working towards two things:
The first, fulfilling Eemaan and its subsidiaries, and establishing it in speech, action and state.
The second, striving to repel the apparent and hidden forms of fitan, which negate, invalidate or decrease eemaan.
The Muslim employs sincere repentance as a remedy for the short comings he has in the first mailer as well as for that (i.e., the fitan) which he boldly embarked upon in the second matter in addition to taking steps to make amends before it is too late. [At-Tawdeeh wa al-Bayaan li Shajarah al-Eemaan, page 38]
Hence, the discussion before you contains an explanation and clarification of the most important causes for the increase and decrease of eemaan.
Causes for the Increase of Eemaan
Allaah has set a cause and a way with which, one arrives at anything desired and anything sought after. For a surety, the greatest of all pursuits and the one that holds the most extensive of benefits, is none other than eemaan. Allaah has devised many constituents for it that bring it about and strengthen it, and many causes that increase and develop it. If the servants act on them, their certainty strengthens and their eemaan increases. Allaah has elaborated on these in His Book, as has His Messenger – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – in his Sunnah. Possibly the more important of these causes are the following:
1. Learning the Beneficial Knowledge Derived From the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam -.
Ibn Rajab defines this knowledge, saying: “Beneficial knowledge is to define, accurately and meticulously, the texts of the Book and Sunnah and to understand them. It is to confine oneself in regard to this, to the reports transmitted from the Companions, their successors and their successors in turn which pertain to the explanation and understanding of the Quraan and Hadeeths, as well as the discourse related from them on issues of the lawful, unlawful, zuhd (i.e., asceticism), raqaa’iq (i.e., matters that soften the heart), the (various) branches of knowledge and so on.
It is also, to firstly exert efforts towards distinguishing the authentic reports from the unauthentic, then secondly to exert efforts towards seeking out their meanings and gaining an understanding of them. This is sufficient for the intelligent and (enough) labor for the one who is concerned and preoccupies himself with the beneficial knowledge…” [Fadl Ilm as-Salaf alaa Ilm al-Khalaf, page 45]
Whoever has been granted the tawfeeq to this knowledge has been granted the tawfeeq to the greatest cause for the increase of eemaan. Anyone who contemplates on the texts of the Book and Sunnah will realize this: Allaah says:
“Allaah bears witness that none deserves the right to be worshipped but He, and the Angels and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining His creation with justice…”[Qur'an Soorah Aal-Imraan (3): 18]
“But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge and the believers, believe in what has been sent down to you and in what was sent down before you, and those who establish prayer and give zakaah and believe in Allaah and the Last day, it is they to whom we shall give a great reward.” [Qur'an Soorah an-Nisaa (4): 162]
“Verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. And they say, ‘How perfect is our Lord! Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled: And they fall down on their faces weeping and it adds to their humility.’” [Qur'an Soorah al-Israa (17):107-109]
‘And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it (i.e., the Quraan) is the truth from your Lord, and that they may believe therein, and their hearts may submit to it with humility. And verily, Allaah is the Guide of those who believe, to the straight path:’ [Qur'an Soorah al-Hajj (22):54]
‘And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and that it guides to the path of the Exalted in might, Owner of all praise.’ [Qur'an Soorah Saba (34):6]
‘It is only those who have knowledge amongst His slaves who fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.’ [Qur'an Soorah Faatir (35):28]
“Allaah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allaah is well acquainted with what you do.” [Qur'an Soorah al-Mujaadilah (58):11]
Recorded in the Saheehayn, is the hadeeth of Mu’aawiyah, may Allaah be pleased with him, in which he says. “The Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: “Whomever Allaah desires good for, He imparts upon him understanding of the religion.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree, (1/164, 6/217, 12,294 Fath) and Muslim, 4/1524]
Related in al-Musnad and other sources, is the hadeeth of Aboo ad Dardaa’, may Allaah be pleased with him, in which he says, The Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: “He who treads a path in search of knowledge Allaah will direct him to tread a path from the paths of Paradise. The Angels lower their wings for the student of knowledge in approval of what he does. All in the heavens and earth and the fish in the depth of the water seek forgiveness for the scholar, and the superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon at night over the rest of the stars. Verily the scholars are the heirs to the Prophets. Verily, the Prophets did not bequeath deenars or dirhams. All they left behind was knowledge, so whoever takes it, has indeed acquired a huge fortune.” [Al-Musnad, 5/196. Also related by Aboo Daawood, 3/317; at-Tirmidhee 5/49; Ibn Maajah 1/81, ad-Daarimee, 1/98 and ibn Hibbaan, 1/152 (al-Ihsaan). It was declared saheeh by al-Albaanee; see Saheeh al-Jaami 5/302. Ibn Rajab has provided a commentary to this Hadeeth in a small work of his, so one should refer to it.]
In at-Tirmidhee and other sources, is the hadeeth of Aboo Umaamah, may Allah be pleased with him, in which he says, ‘The Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: ‘The excellence of the scholar over the worshipper is like my excellence over the lowermost of you. Indeed, Allaah, His Angels, the inhabitants of the heavens and earth, even the ant in its hole and the fish, supplicate for one who teaches good to the people” [Related by at-Tirmidhee, 5/50. AI-Mundharee mentioned it in at-Targheeb wa at-Tarheeb 1/10 and he related from at-Tirmidhee that he said: "The hadeeth is hasan Saheeh". It has been declared saheeh by al-Albaanee, see Saheeh at-Tirmidhee, 2/343]
The aforementioned texts manifest the rank and status of Knowledge, and its great standing and importance. They also show the commendable effects and noble qualities in this world and the Hereafter, which are a consequence of knowledge, as well as the results they bear, such as humility and submission to the Laws of Allaah and compliance and adherence to His commands.
Thus, the scholar knows his Lord, his Prophet and the commands and boundaries set by Allaah. He distinguishes between that which Allaah loves and is pleased with, and that which He hates and rejects. Thus, he acts in accordance to the commands of Allaah with respect to that which he approaches and refrains from. This is true for the one who s given the tawfeeq towards acting upon that which He knows, if however the case is the opposite, his knowledge will be a curse for him.
Al-Aajurree states in the introduction to his book Akhlaaq al-Ulamaa, “Allaah, sanctified are His names, singled out those of His creation whom He loved and then guided them to eemaan. He further singed out from amongst the believers those whom He loved and favored them by teaching them the Book and Hikmah. He granted them the tawfeeq in the religion, taught them the explanation and favored them over the rest of the believers. This is the case in every age and place. Allaah elevated them with knowledge and adorned them with forbearance. Through them, the lawful is known from the unlawful, the truth from falsehood, the harmful from the beneficial, and the good from the bad.
Their virtue is enormous and their standing is great. They are the heirs to the Prophets and a pleasure to the eyes of the righteous. The fish in the sea seek forgiveness for them, the Angels lower their wings for them and they are second after the Prophets who will intercede on the (Day of) Resurrection. Their gatherings impart wisdom. Through their actions, the heedless are restrained and scolded.
They are the best of the slaves and are higher in rank than the zuhaad (i.e., ascetics). Their life is a treasure and their death is a calamity. They remind the negligent and enlighten the ignorant. Trouble and ill treatment is not expected or feared from them. By their fine instruction, the obedient ones dispute and by their eloquent sermon, the slack ones return. Everyone is in need of their knowledge… so they are the lamps for the servants, the landmarks of communities, the backbone of the ummah, and the sources of wisdom. They are the subject of Shaytaan’s rage. Because of them, the hearts of the people of truth come to life and the hearts of the people of deviation die.
Their similitude upon this earth is that of the stars; they guide one in the darkness of the land and sea. If the stars blacken out, people become confused and when the darkness unveils the stars, they see.” [Ahklaaq al-Ulamaa, page 13 &14]
Al-Aajurree then related texts from the Book and Sunnah, as well as statements of the people of knowledge, which support what he mentioned.
Thus, knowledge possesses a lofty rank and a very high status. Knowledge has only been granted this great status, as it is a means to the greatest of all aims: that is the worship of Allaah alone, without any partner, and the establishment of Tawheed of Him in the required way.
Knowledge is therefore, not sought after in itself but for something else, [Publisher's Note: From a more detailed discussion of this issue refer to Adorning Knowledge with Actions by Shaykh Husayn al-'Awaayishah. (Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, UK, 1999)] and that is action. Consequently, every type of knowledge within the Sharee’ah that the law of Islam calls for is demanded because it is a means to the worship of Allaah and for no other reason. This is proven by the following facts:
The first: The sharee’ah has not brought anything but worship, this is the reason behind the dispatching of the Prophets (‘alayhim as-salaam). Allaah says: – “O Mankind! Worship your Lord…” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):21]
“Alif Laam Raa. (This is) a Book, the aayaat whereof are perfected, and then explained in detail from One who is All-Wise and Well-Acquainted, that you worship none but Allaah…” [Qur'an Soorah Hood (11):1-2]
“And We did not send any messenger before you but We inspired him (saying),’None has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me (alone)” [Qur'an Soorah al-Anbiyaa (21):25]
“Verily We have sent down the Book to you in truth. So, worship Allaah by making your religion sincerely for Him alone. Surely, to Allaah alone belongs the sincere religion.” [Qur'an Soorah az-Zumar (39):2-3]
Likewise, there are so many other aayaat that cannot easily be enumerated without some effort. They all point towards the fact that the intention behind knowledge is worship of Allaah and to direct all acts of worship and obedience to Him.
The second: The evidences that indicate the spirit of knowledge to be action and that without action, knowledge is bare and of no benefit. Allaah has said:
“…It is only those who have knowledge amongst His slaves who fear Allaah…” [Qur'an Soorah al-Faatir- (35):28]
“Is one who is obedient to Allaah, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord (like one who disbelieves)? Say,’ Are those who know equal to those who know not?’ It is only people of understanding who will remember.” [Qur'an Soorah az-Zumar (39):9]
These and other evidences show that knowledge is a particular type of means and is not in the view of the Sharee’ah, sought after in itself. It is none other than the way to action, Furthermore, all the reports related on the excellence of knowledge are only established from the perspective that the person is obliged to act upon this knowledge.
It is of common fact that the best branch of knowledge is knowledge of Allah. Nevertheless, this knowledge is not regarded a virtue for it’s holder unless he remains true to its dictates and that is (to actually possess) eemaan in Allaah.
The third: The severe warnings, threats and harsh reprimands mentioned in the texts of the Sharee’ah for the one who does not act in accordance to hits knowledge. The fact that the scholar will be questioned on what he did with his knowledge, and that it will be a source of grievance, regret and (the) curse (of Allaah) for the one who does not act upon it.
Allaah says: -
“Do you enjoin righteousness upon the people and forget yourselves (to practice it) whilst you recite the scripture? Have you then no sense?” [Qur'an Soorah al-Baqarah (2):44]
“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allaah that you say that which you do not do.” [Qur'an Soorah as-Saff (61):2-3]
Allaah says relating what Shu’ayb declared to his community:
“…I wish not to contradict you and do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform as far as I am able to do so, and my tawfeeq cannot come about except by Allaah. In Him I trust and Unto Him I repent.” [Qur'an Soorah Hood (11):88]
There are many other texts of this nature. In addition, there exists numerous reports from the Salaf on this issue; they are of great benefit and sublime value, scholars have related and passed on these reports in their works. [Refer to some of these statements in al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee's work, Iqtidaa' al'llm al-'Amal and the treatise by al-Haafidh Bin 'Assayer, Dhamm man laa ya'mol bi 'Ilmih. Both works are published.]
Shaykh al-Islaam lbn Taymiyyah states: “…this is why it is said, ‘Knowledge is of two types: knowledge in the heart and knowledge upon the tongue. The knowledge in the heart is the beneficial knowledge and the knowledge upon the tongue is the proof of Allaah upon His slaves’ [This is a statement of al-Hasan al-Basree, may Allaah have mercy upon him, and it is recorded by ad-Daarimee (1/102). Shaykh al-Islaam mentioned this in al-Fataawa and attributed it to al-Hasan, see: 7/23] ‘ so the faqeeh whose heart has acquired understanding and enlightenment is not like the khateeb who addresses with his tongue. The heart may attain great matters of knowledge and understanding and its occupier may not speak of it to anyone. Similarly, one may speak about many issues concerning the heart and its states and the person may be at the same time void and bare of such matters.” [Dar' at-Ta'aarud 7/453-454]
By what has preceded, one can now comprehend the rank and status knowledge possesses as well as its immense benefits and returns. One can apprehend the powerful effect it has on the strength and steadfastness of eemaan, and the fact that it is the greatest cause for the increase, growth and strength of eemaan. This holds true for the one who acts in accordance with this knowledge.
In fact, actions themselves differ, with respect to their increase, decrease, acceptance and rejection, in proportion to their agreement and conformity to knowledge. Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, mentioned this: “Actions differ with respect to acceptance and rejection in proportion to their agreement or opposition to knowledge. Thus, the action that conforms to knowledge is the acceptable type, whereas, the action that opposes knowledge is the rejected type. Knowledge is the scale and it is the criterion.” [Miftaah Daar as-Sa'aadah, page 89]
He also said: “Any knowledge or action that does not increase eemaan in strength is diseased…” [Al-Fawaa'id, page 162]
The increase of eemaan brought about by knowledge is achieved in many ways: to travel in search of knowledge; to sit with people of knowledge in their gatherings; to study issues of knowledge in company; to increase in knowledge of Allaah and His Sharee’ah; to practice what one learns and as for those who acquire knowledge, there is a reward. These are some of the ways in which eemaan increases as a result of knowledge and its attainment
As for the branches of sharee’ah knowledge that can cause an increase of eemaan, they are abundant. The following is a summarized selection of them:
Knowledge of Allaah’s Most Beautiful Names and Most Exalted Attributes
The knowledge of the names of Allaah and His attributes that are mentioned in the Book and Sunnah, which signify Allaah’s absolute perfection from all angles, is one of the greatest branches of knowledge that causes the increase of eemaan.
To occupy oneself with learning them, understanding them, and fully investigating them embodies many great benefits, such as:
1. The knowledge of Tawheed al-Asmaa wa as-Sifaat is without exception the most noble and glorious of all types of knowledge. Therefore, to engage oneself with understanding it and investigating into it is an engagement of the highest of pursuits and the attainment of such knowledge is of the most noble of gifts (from Allaah).
2. Knowledge of Allaah leads to love of Him, fear and reverence of Him, hope in Him and sincerity of action for Him alone. This is the cornerstone of the servant’s happiness. There is no way towards knowing Allaah except by way of knowledge of His names and attributes and to acquire the understanding of their meanings.
3. Allaah created creation so that they may know and worship Him. This is the purpose that is demanded of them. Thus, to occupy oneself with this is in effect to occupy oneself with that which one was created for. To leave and make waste of this, is none other than a disregard for that which one was created for. It is indeed distasteful of the servant, who never ceases to reap the many bounties of Allaah upon him and whom the favor of Allaah upon him is enormous from every aspect, that he remains ignorant of his Lord and averse to wanting to know Him.
4. One of the articles of eemaan, or rather, the most excellent and origin of them all is eemaan in Allaah. Eemaan is not merely the proclamation of the servant, ‘I have eemaan in Allaah’ without him possessing any knowledge of his Lord. In fact, the reality of eemaan is for him to know the One that he has eemaan in and to exert ones efforts to knowing His names and attributes until he reaches the level of certainty. The level of the slave’s eemaan lies in proportion to the knowledge he has of his Lord. The more he knows of his Lord, the more his eemaan will increase. Likewise, the less he knows of his Lord, the less his eemaan will be. The closest way that will lead him to this is by contemplating over His attributes and names.
5. Knowledge of Allaah is the origin of everything, to the extent that even the one who truly knows Allaah concludes from his knowledge of Allaah’s attributes and actions with regard to that which Allaah does and the rulings that He legislates. This is because Allaah only does that which is conformant to the dictates of His names and attributes. His actions center on justice, favor and wisdom, so the laws that Allaah legislates are only done so in accordance to the dictates of His praise, wisdom, favor and justice. Thus, the information Allaah relates is all true and truthful and His commands and prohibitions are all just and wise.
Amongst these benefits is also the fact that the knowledge of the most beautiful names of Allaah and of His most exalted attributes brings about their effects of servitude and humility. Every attribute has a specific form of servitude connected to it, these are the requisites of this attribute and the requisites of possessing knowledge and correctly understanding the attribute. This covers all forms of worship that are manifested upon the heart and limbs.
To elaborate, the knowledge of the servant that Allaah alone is able to harm and benefit, give and withhold, to create, sustain, to give life and cause death, will produce the worship of tawakkul it its inner form (i.e., in the heart) and the requisites and fruits of tawakkul in its apparent form (i.e., upon the limbs).
If the servant realizes that Allaah hears, sees and knows, and the fact that not a single atom in the heavens and earth escape Him, and that He knows the secret and hidden, and what the treacherous eyes behold and what the breasts conceal, this will make him preserve his tongue, limbs, and the notions of his heart from anything which displeases Allaah. He will make these limbs devoted to what Allaah loves and is pleased with.”
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