Islam: Beliefs & Actions
Those who have believed and did good deeds (Aamanu Wa ‘Aamilu as-Salihat)
The Components of the Deen of Islam:
The Deen of Islam is composed of two components:
1. Inner Component: Beliefs.
2. Outer Component: Actions (Works, Deeds).
Deen of Islam gives importance to both inner beliefs as well as outer works.
Being a Muslim does not mean that one merely carries out acts of ritual worshipand does not have a srong faith. Also. it doen not mean that one only hold a certain belief in the heart and does not carriy out actions.
Some incorrectly believe that Islam places works over and above inner faith. Others incorrectly believe that the first and the last thing is to to have faith in your heart.
Islam is both inner belief as well as outward action
To understand the relationship between beliefs and actions we have three analogies:
1. The analogy of a Building.
2. The analogy of thr engine & the body of a Car.
3. The analogy of a Tree.
1. The analogy of a building:
A. Any building is composed of two parts: one that is visible and the other that is not.
B. Invisible part:
· It is known as the foundation.
· It is underground (buried).
· It is not visible to anyone.
· It gives stability to the building: the strength of the building depends a great deal upon the design construction of the foundation.
· It is the most important component: the wider, the deeper, and well-grounded the foundation, the taller, the larger and the elegant structure of the building.
· It should be noted that a lot of work goes into laying the foundation.
C. Visible part:
· It is above the ground.
· It is visible to everyone.
· It has many components: pillars, rooms, walls, roof, windows, etc.
D. Using the same analogy:
· Islamic Beliefs are like the foundation of a building
1. They are in the heart and mind.
2. They are not visible to anyone.
3. All Beliefs altogether make up the foundation of Deen of Islam.
· The remaining teachings of Islam, the good works are the visible components of the building: the pillars, walls, roof, etc.
2. The analogy of a car:
A. Any car is composed of an engine and a body.
B. The engine of a car is invisible just as Beliefs of a person are invisible.
C. In a running car the visible part is the body, as for a person, is his words, his works, and activities.
D. A car having a defective engine may not run well or not run at all.
E. Similarly, a person having defective or the wrong kind of beliefs will be an unhappy and a spiritually sick person having no moral code or standard to follow.
F. A society composed of such sick persons will be weak, society committing all kinds of legal and moral crimes. Such a weak community will eventually degrade itself and fall into a moral, social, economical and political abyss.
3. The analogy of a Tree:
A. To explain this analogy, Muslim scholars have likened faith to a tree. Belief in the heart is considered the root; it is hidden beneath the surface, not visible to the eye. Yet, the root is what gives the tree a firm foundation, without which there can be no tree. Works then are considered what is apparent above the surface, such as the trunk and branches of the trees. This is one of the reasons why it is improper to debate “faith versus work”; a person may compare one tree to another, but it would be invalid to compare a tree (faith) with its branches (works). However, if we compare belief in the heart to actions of the limbs, then we know that the former is the root or foundation, whereas the latter is the branch; the root or foundation is always more important than a branch. A branch can fall off and the tree still stands, or sprouts a new, but if one breaks the root, then the entire tree falls and ceases to exist.
B. Belief in the heart is the foundation of the tree of faith, without which it dies. Good works are the trunk and branches of this tree; if there were no branches and only a root, there would in essence be no tree. The more the branches, the more perfect the tree is. Therefore, we say that the base of faith is belief of the heart, but it is incomplete without good works. While a tree is not a tree without its trunk and branches, a tree cannot stand without its foundation or root.
C. Therefore, the Islamic position is stated thus: faith (Iman) is the fundamental and most important pillar of Islam. Faith consists of both the (belief of the) heart and the (actions of the) body. The former is more important than the latter, and faith ceases to exist if it is absent.
D. The importance of belief in the heart can be demonstrated by the fact that seemingly good deeds can be negated if belief in the heart is not present. For example, giving money in charity to seek the Pleasure of God is a good belief accompanied by a good action, and as such there is a reward from God for it. Yet, if one were to donate money in charity in order to boast of one’s generosity to the people, then this is a seemingly good action with an evil intent and corrupt inner belief, and as such, this does not earn God’s Good Pleasure at all. The Prophet Muhammad (May the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) said: “Actions are judged by their intentions.” (Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim). What is meant by this is that actions of the tongue or the limbs are of no avail if they are not rooted in the belief of the heart.