English - Ma'ariful Qur'an - Mufti Shafi Usmani RA - Vol - 1
Surah Al-Baqarah - 2 : Verses 1 - 5
Pages for Current Surah - Verse/s :-
Who are the God-fearing ?
The Definition of 'Iman
The Holy Qur'an has provided a comprehensive defination of 'Iman in only two words "Believe in the unseen". If one has fully understood the meaning of the words 'Iman and Ghayb, one will have also understood the essential reality of 'Iman.
Lexically, the Arabic word 'Iman signifies accepting with complete certitude the statement made by someone out of one's total confidence and trust in him. Endorsing someone's statement with regard to sensible or observable facts is, therefore, not 'Iman. For example, if one man describes a piece of cloth as black, and another man endorses the statement, it may be called Tasdiq (confirmation) but not 'Iman, for such an endorsement is based on personal observation, and does, in no way, involve any confidence or trust in the man who has made the statement. In the terminology of the Shari`ah, 'Iman signifies accepting with complete certitude the statement made by a prophet only out of one's total confidence and trust in him and without the need of personal observation.
[It would be helpful to note that in the everyday idiom of the west, and even in modern social sciences, "faith" has come to mean no more than an intense emotional state or "a fixed emotion". As against this, the Islamic conception of 'Iman is essentially intellectual, in the original signification of "Intellect" which the modern West has altogether forgotten.]
As for the word Ghaib, lexically it denotes things which are not known to man in an evident manner, or which are not apprehensible through the five senses. The Holy Qur'an uses this word to indicate all the things which we cannot know through the five senses or through reason, but which have been reported to us by the Holy Prophet . These include the essence and the attributes of Allah, matters pertaining to destiny, heaven and hell and what they contain, the Day of Judgment and the things which happen on that Day, divine books,
all the prophets who have preceded the Holy Prophet in
short, all the things mentioned in the last two verses of the Surah
Al-Baqarah. Thus, the third verse of the Surah states the basic creed
of the Islamic faith in its essence, while the last two verses provide the
So, belief in the unseen ultimately comes to mean having firm faith in everything that the Holy Prophet has taught us - subject to the necessary condition that the teaching in question must have come down to us through authentic and undeniable sources. This is how the overwhelming majority of Muslim scholars generally define 'Iman (See
al--`Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah, `Aqa'id al-Nasafi etc.).
According to this definition, 'Iman signifies faith and certitude,
and not mere knowledge. For, a mental knowledge of the truth is possessed by Satan himself, and even by many disbelievers - for example, they knew very well that the Holy Prophet , was truthful and that his teachings were true, but they did not have faith in him nor did they accept his teachings with their heart, and hence they are not Muslims.
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