Imaan, Islaam, Ihsaan.


Written by ·deensister·

From the famous hadith (reported speech/actions of the prophet- peace be upon him) of jibril (angel Gabriel) as narrated by umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and Abu huraira (may Allah be pleased with him). A man came to the prophet (Pbuh); his hair was exceedingly black and his garment exceedingly white. (There was no sign of travel on him). He placed his knees against his knees and placed his palm on his thigh.and he said; “oh Muhammad, tell me about Islam. He (Pbuh) said, Islam is to make shahadah, to establish the Salah (5 daily prayer), to fast in the month of Ramadan, to give zakah (annual obligatory charity) and to perform hajj (pilgrimage) for one who can afford to do so. He (jibril) said; you have spoken the truth. He (jibril) said; tell me about imaan. He (Pbuh) said; it is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His prophets, the last day and destiny, be it good or bad. He (jibril) said; you have spoken the truth. He then said, tell me about ihsan. He (Pbuh) said; it is to worship Allah as though you see Him. For if you do not see Him, He sees you…” {The hadith goes on}
This hadith summarizes the gist and essence of Islam as a religion! In another hadith; “Islam is built upon five pillars. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God (shahadah), to observe Salah, to fast the days of Ramadan, to give zakah and to perform hajj for the one who can afford to do so.”
As said earlier, there are three levels of faith; Islam, imaan, ihsan. And they are all associated with certain parts of a human being. In Islam, it is believed that the human being is made up of three parts. The body, mind and soul.
In the narration of Abu huraira, imaan is asked before Islam. This shows that a person must possess a certain level of imaan before they become Muslim.
It can be seen then that the body will be connected to Islam. As Islam, is built around amal (actions). Salah (ritual prayer), siyaam (fast), zakah and hajj are actions that are done with parts of the body or the body as a whole. The testification (shahadah) as well is done with the tongue which is a part of the body.
Imaan is associated with the mind. As, it is the mind which believes.
Ihsan on the other hand which is the level of excellence one can reach is associated with the soul. And pertaining the soul, Allah says what is translated as; “and they ask you (oh Muhammad) about the ruh (soul). Say; the soul is one of the commands of my Lord, and you are not given aught of knowledge but a little.”{Q18:85}. Thus a person who has ihsan has reached a level of excellence!
A Muslim is one at the level of Islam. He does the bare minimum required of him and does not do any extra. He performs only the five daily prayers, only fasts in Ramadan, gives only the 2.5% of zakah and probably does hajj once and that’s it. This does not make him less of a Muslim, in fact, a Bedouin came to the prophet (Pbuh) and said; “oh Muhammad, what is required of me?” the prophet (Pbuh) said the 5 daily prayers, fasting the days of Ramadan, 2.5% of your wealth at the end of the year, and pilgrimage to the house of God if you are able to (and have the means) to do so. The man said I will do this and add nothing more. The companions of the prophet (Pbuh) where surprised at the man’s saying he would do no more than that. The prophet then said:”if you are truthful, you will be successful.”
A Mu’min (one who reaches the level of imaan) is only ahead of a Muslim by the quantity of deeds and actions. He does fulfill the obligations and that required of him and does extra. So, he prays the fard (obligatory) Salah of the day and does the recommended as well. He does not only fast in Ramadan but outside of Ramadan as well (see post on fasting the Sunnah). He gives in sadaqah (voluntary charity) apart from the fard zakah. So he does more actions than the Muslim.
A Muhsin, he is at a level of excellence. He does not necessarily do more good deeds than a Mu’min, but he precedes him by the quality of his heart. At the level of ihsan, a new frame of mind exists. The Muhsin views every single act or action he does as an act of ibaadah (act of worship). So every action he does is as though He sees Allah, if not, he is conscious that Allah watches him. So, for a Muhsin, there is no dichotomy between secular and religious activities. All actions are done fisabilillah (for the sake of Allah) and with taqwa (consciousness) of Allah. So, when a Muhsin goes to school, he thinks “I have been created by God and I have to earn a halal (permissible) living. This I can only do by going to school” or “As a Muslim, it is obligatory upon me that I seek knowledge’ so it is not a secular activity anymore, but an act of ibaadah (worship). So when such a person goes shopping for his family, he thinks more than just getting diapers and food but as fulfilling the responsibility to Allah and giving his family their rights. And beautiful Islam, merciful Allah, he gets rewarded for it.
May Allah make us from the Muhsin.
The famous aabid (worshipper) and aalim (scholar) imam Hassan Al-Basri (radiyallahu anhu-may Allah be pleased with him) said to the tabi’un (the successors of the companions of the prophet(Pbuh)) Abu-Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) has not preceded you by the quantity of his actions. But by something which came and settled in his heart.”
And Allah knows best! Peace be upon those who stick to the haqq (truth)

Abu-Bakr; he is Abdullah ibn Abu Quhafa, As-siddiq (the truthful). The closest friend of the prophet (Pbuh). The first successor of the prophet as a khalifah (leader). A very wealthy man who gave a lot in charity and was devoted in worship.
Umar; umar bin al-khattab was the second khalifah after the death of Abu-Bakr. He was known for his generosity, Unadulterated Justice and Firmness in executing the command of Allah.
Abu huraira: literally; Father of kittens. That’s a nickname though.  His real name was Abdur-rahman Ibn Sakhar. He is known to have narrated a lot of ahadith (plural of hadith). A companion, of the prophet too.

For more on these great companions (may Allah be pleased with them) see a book titled “men around the messenger of Allah”….

Post inspired by Sheik Yasir Qadhi and Sheik Abu Abdissalam…May Allah reward them immensely!

Don’t forget to leave your comments! 🙂
First published on



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s