Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What is Imaan? Focusing on Allah and His Angels

[Note: This is an edited version of our recent  Friday Khutbah that focused on the "Hadeeth Jibreel". We have omitted here the opening Hamd, much of the Arabic originally given,  as well as the division of the Khutbah into two sections.]

يُسَبِّحُ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ الْمَلِكِ الْقُدُّوسِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ

هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

One of the best qualities of the Prophet Muhammad [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] was his ability to see the needs or true questions of people and address them. There are many Ahadeeth which demonstrate this, in that the Prophet would be answer similiar questions in a slightly different fashion. Even within the differences, a common thread can still be found. 

We have a rather long hadeeth, itself having two different versions, which tells us a man came to the Prophet. This man was a stranger, unknown to the locals, yet he did not have the disheveled look of a traveler. 

The man asked four questions, but our focus today is the question "What is Imaan?" [Maa Al Imaan?] . The Prophet responds " Imaan is to have Imaan in God, his angels, meeting with him [Wa Liqaaa-ihi], his messengers, and to have Imaan in resurrection"

Imaan involves a surety within the heart! While it is tempting to think of the Prophet's statement as simply a theological formula, in fact much more is given here. To have confidence, not in governments, websites, politicians or the stock market, but rather, in Allah and Allah's angels! To know that Allah is real, that he sees and knows all, and that he his will is executed in the creation through the agency of his angels. So Imaan begings with Allah and the angels. 

 خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
"Allah created the universe with purpose, surely in that [exists] signs for those with Imaan." [Q 29:44]

Understanding that and basing one's life on that makes you an upholder of Imaan, or a Mu'min

Thus, the Prophet [Peace and blessings of God be upon him] said:

"None of you have Imaan, till he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."

His son in law, 'Ali Ibn Abi Taalib, Radee Allahu 'Anhu, is reported to have instructed a governor to be fair with those under his administration

"Because they are of two kinds, a brother in religion, or similar to you in [God's] creation" {Nahjal Balaaghah letter 54}

So the Mu'min is to remove animosities, jealousies, etc from his heart. If you love happiness and security for yourself and your family, you are to love the same for your brother- both your religious brothers as well as  your brothers in the wider human community.This is Imaan manifested

If Imaan was truly manifested, as given in the Prophet's many statements and the statement of 'Ali, the world's problems would disappear and universal peace and justice would be prevalent.

The teachings of the Prophet are comprehensive. They are to be firmly planted in the heart and shown in public via personal transformation and a character of enlightenment. 

Who was the stranger? A surprising lesson

Both narrations say it was a stranger who asked the Prophet these questions. The Prophet answered the questions, and the man would reply "You have spoken truthfully" [Sadaqta]. The companions found this odd. After all, the Messenger of Allah-Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam- does not need this man's validation. The man departs, and the Prophet informs the audience that this was in fact the Angel Gabriel, "who has come to teach you your religion". There is a lesson here. Angels can still come, and they can do so in human form.

So that is something to be conscious about. Prophets don't come anymore, neither do scriptures [See Q 33:40]. Yet, angels can come, to teach us lessons by the permission of God. So do treat people well, be open minded and-more importantly-have an open heart- a heart ready to be guided by Allah ['Azza wa Jall]. After all, Divine help and guidance can come from unexpected quarters.