Are you a believer?
You’ve taken the Shahada.
You fasted during Ramadan.
You make your five Islamic prayers a day.
You paid your zakah.
You have plans to make Hajj.
Great. Without a doubt you are certainly a Muslim. You have entered Islam. But have you become a true believer? Until you accept the six articles of faith in Islam, you’re not quite there yet.
Becoming a Muslim is relatively easy. You complete the five pillars of Islam, thereby signing your contract with Allah and entering the fold of Islam. But these acts are all mechanical. They involve little more than movements of the body and tongue. They mean very little if not strengthened by the sincerity of faith.
There are three levels of belief that Muslims should aspire to. They are:
- Islam – The easiest level attained by simply taking Shahada and fulfilling the five pillars. This person is called a Muslim.
- Imaan – The second level is when we sincerely and truly accept the articles of Islamic faith. This person is called a Mu’min.
- Ihsaan – The most difficult level to achieve. This is when we actually worship Allah as if we see Him, knowing that although we can’t, He surely sees us. This person is called a Muhsin.
These levels of Islamic belief were outlined in the famous Hadith of Jibreel (peace be upon him). In this narrative related by Umar Ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), the angel Gabriel visited Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and some of his companions.
Jibreel (peace be upon him) came to Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) disguised as a man wearing pure white clothes with dark, black hair. Jibreel (peace be upon him) then proceeded to ask Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) a series of questions.
“O Muhammad! Tell me about Islam.”
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Islam is to bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; and to perform the prayer; pay zakat; fast Ramadan; and to perform Hajj to the House if you are able.”
Jibreel (peace be upon him) verified Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke the truth and then asked:
Then, he asked, “Tell me about Imaan.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “It is to believe in Allah; His Angels; His Books; His Messengers; the Last Day; and in destiny—its good and bad.”
Once again Jibreel (peace be upon him) verified he spoke the truth and asked then asked:
“Now, tell me about Ihsaan.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “It is to serve Allah as though you behold Him; and if you don’t behold him, (know that) He surely sees you.”
There’s much more to this hadith but it goes beyond the scope of this article. Inshallah, the rest of this narration will be covered later. For now, let’s focus on Imaan, or Islamic faith.
From the replies given by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) above, we can see that there are six parts, or articles, of Islamic faith. They are as follows:
- Belief in Allah
- Belief in His Angels
- Belief in His Books
- Belief in His Messengers
- Belief in the Last Day
- Belief in Divine Destiny/
There is no way I can do justice to each article of faith in just this one page. Each one of them rightly deserves their own page, and can take volumes to explain. But I will give very brief explanations, and you can then click on the links to visit the full articles as they are posted.
I highly recommend you bookmark this page as new information will be added frequently, Inshallah. Here are brief explanations of the six articles of faith in Islam.
- Belief in Allah – This is covered fairly well in my article about Monotheistic Islam. In short, this belief requires us to have the correct understanding and belief towards the oneness of Allah. This concept is called Tawheed in Arabic. It’s much more than just believing Allah exists. It means believing that only He deserves to be worshiped and believing in His Divine Attributes.
- Belief in His Angels – The Islamic concept of angels is very different than other religions, including Christianity. There has been a lot of scholarly analysis on angels in Islam, and our belief in angels is much more realistic and mature than the cute, winged babies you see in popular myth. Angels are really magnificent, powerful creatures made of light that do nothing but Allah’s bidding.
- Belief in His Books – Some people may try to argue that believing in Allah’s books entails believing in the scriptures of other faiths like the Jewish Torah or Christian Bible. Instead, we believe in the original scripture brought by Prophet Moses, Jesus, David, AND the Quran which was revealed through Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them all).
- Beliefs in His Messengers – The Jews accept Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and several other prophets of the Old Testament. But they reject Jesus and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Christians accept the Jewish prophets and Jesus (though in a twisted manner as they think he is God) but they reject Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). As Muslims, we believe in ALL of Allah’s prophets and messengers and make no distinction between any of them.
- Belief in the Last Day – This is really what it’s all about. The reason we devote ourselves to worshiping Allah and following His commandments is because one day, we know we will die. Even the atheist knows he will die one day. But Muslims know that we will all be raised up before Allah and will face His judgment. We all know that this life is limited, and the next life is eternal.
- Belief in Divine Destiny – Truthfully, this is one of the most difficult concepts for most people, myself included. Here in the west, we are taught to take charge of our own destiny and make our way in the world. In reality, we have very little control over any of it. Accepting divine destiny, known as Qadar in Arabic, is the ultimate act of submission to Allah’s will. This belief means we accept and are patient with what Allah has decreed for us.
It’s easy to spot a Muslim. If you witness someone take Shahadah, if you see them pray, or see them make Hajj, you can be pretty sure that they’re Muslim.
But it’s impossible to spot a believer. We can’t see into someone’s heart. I can’t even be certain that I am a believer. I hope and pray to Allah that He makes me a true believer. But only He knows the true condition of my heart.
But I can guarantee you, without a doubt, I am Muslim.
Anyone can be a Muslim. Many people have accepted Islam with their tongues, but haven’t become believers in their hearts.
When a Muslim accepts these six articles of faith, then they have gone beyond just Islam. They have become Mu’min. Believers.
The next step, Inshallah, is Ihsaan. And, like we say here in the U.S., that’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.