Islamic Concepts Database – ICD

1.1 Explanation: Human Acts of Those Morally Responsible – af’âl al-mukallifiin (according to the Shâfi’i school where there is no distinction between fard and wâjib except concerning the pilgrimage)



How has Allah, the Lawgiver defined the act:

someone who performs it:

someone who refrains from it:

obligatory act


that which the Lawgiver strictly requires be done

he is rewarded, if it is performed out of obedience to Allah

a person who refrains from it without excuse deserves to be punished

sunna / recommended act


that which the Lawgiver asks be done, but does not strictly require it

he is rewarded, if it is performed out of obedience to Allah

someone who refrains from it is not punished

permissible act


that which the Lawgiver has neither requested nor prohibited

the person who does it is not rewarded nor is he punished

though if a person does it to enable him to perform an act of obedience to Allah, then he is rewarded for it

the person who refrains from it is not rewarded or punished

though if a person does such an act to enable him to perform an act of disobedience – he is sinning

offensive act


that which the Lawgiver has interdicted but not strictly forbidden

the person who commits it does not deserve to be punished

the person who refrains from such an act out of obedience to Allah is rewarded

unlawful act


that which the Lawgiver strictly forbids

someone who commits an unlawful act deserves punishment

someone who refrains from it out of obedience to the command of Allah is rewarded RT-30

1.2 Some Explanations on action – ‘amal:

1.2.1) We must look at each action that we do, or are about to do, and make sure that it will be pleasing to Allah, or His Prophet :

1.2.2) hadith: weighing actions:

Our Prophet says: It is more lovely for Allah that a man sits for an hour thinking and weighing his actions, than if he prays for seventy years! MOO 129

1.2.3) The Highest Form of Action

The highest form of action is the invocation of the Divine Name associated with the prayer of the heart which requires the complete participation of man’s will and concentration of mind. KS 315-6 (the word: invocation

1.2.4) Two Kinds of Actions

“What a difference there is between two kinds of actions – an act whose pleasure passes away but its (ill) consequence remains and an act whose hardship passes away but its reward stays.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-515 no.121

1.2.5) Neither Actions Nor Alms

Whoever falls short of actions gets into grief, and Allah has nothing to do with him who spares nothing from his weath in the name of Allah.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-517 no.127

1.2.6) More on the time for action.

1.2.7) Islam and action.

2. Some Explanations on Belief – iman:

2.1) Iman (faith / belief) is of two kinds:

– The simple expression of faith in the teachings of the Quran and ahadith (or traditions);

– The formal declaration of belief in the six articles of Muslim creed:

  1. in Allah
  2. the Angels of Allah
  3. the holy books of Allah
  4. the Prophets of Allah
  5. the Day of Judgement
  6. Predestination to good and evil

In the traditions, iman includes practice (`amal), and all that belongs to the religious life of the Muslim. DI 204ii

2.2) Belief

The Muslim believes in One God, who is all-powerful and has no partner; believes in his messengers, sent to mankind for their guidance from the beginning of time; believes that Muhammad closed the cycle of messengers and that there can be no further revelation of the divine Law after him; believes that the Quran is the Word of God, unaltered and unalterable, and believes in the obligation to conform to the ‘Five Pillars’, which are the confession of faith, the five daily prayers, payment of the poor-due, the fast of Ramadan, and performance of the Pilgrimage to Mecca by those physically and financially able to undertake it. A Muslim may neglect one or more of the pillars (except the first) and still be counted as a believer, but if he denies their necessity he has placed himself outside the community. IDM3u

2.3) Ali (ra) was asked concerning belief (îmân) and he said: “al-îmân ma`rifatun bil-qalb, wa iqrâr bi-lisân wa `amal bi-l arkân”

Belief (îmân) is appreciation / gnosis by the heart, acknowledgement (iqrâr) with tongue (*) and action (`amalun) with limbs.

Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-536 no.227

3. Explanations on Good Behavior – adab:

3.1) Adab embraces the consideration of all those moral excellencies which are enjoined by the Quran and Traditions (ahadith), as sincerity (ikhlâS); trust and confidence in God (tawakkul); humility (tawâDu’); resignation (tafwîZ); keeping down one’s expectation (qaSru-l amal); renunciation of the world (zuhd fi-ddunyâ); giving good counsel and advice (nasîha); contentment (qanâ’ah); liberality (sakhâwah); love to God and man (Hubb); patience (Sabr); &c. DI 285ii

3.2) hadith: Righteousness And Sin

Narrated An-Nawwâs (r): I asked the Prophet of Allah about righteousness and sin, and he said:

Righteousness / piety is good character and sin is that which disturbs your heart, about which you do not want people to know. Al-birru Husnu-l khalqi, wa-l ithmu mâ Hâka fî Sadrika, wa karihta an yaTTali’a ‘aleihi-nnâsu Muslim

3.3) It is related that Ibrahim Khawwas said:

I desire Allah to give me an everlasting life in this world (dunya), in order that, while mankind are engrossed in the pleasures of the world and forget Allah, I may observe the rules of religion amidst the affliction (fitnah) of the world and remember Allah.

4. Some Explanations of this lower life – dunyâ:

4.1) hadith:
“ad-dunyâ sijnu-l mumini wa jannatu-l kâfiri”

The Prophet said: This (lower) life is the believer’s prison and the unbeliever’s paradise. ( more hadith on dunya – in Arabic and German)

4.2) “al-dunya sa`atun fa ij`alha ta`atan” “This world lasts for an hour: Spend it in obedience.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) related by Ibn al-Jawzi in “Sifat al-safwat”

4.3) The islamic teaching concerning dunya:

Surely those who do not hope in Our meeting and are pleased with this world’s life and are content with it, and those who are heedless of Our communications/ verses: (As for) those, their abode is the fire because of what they earned. sura Yunus 10, verses 7/8

One of the enormities [ which can be committed ] is wanting the life of this world more than the next and being satisfied and contented with it. RT

4.4) Two Kinds of People: “This world is a place of transit, not a place of stay. The people herein are of two categories: One is the man who sold away his self (to passions) and thus ruined it, and the other the man who purchased his self (by control against passions) and freed it. ”

Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-520 no.133

4.5) Like A Serpent

“This world is like a serpent. It is soft in touch but its inside is full of venom.

An ignorant person who has fallen in deceit is attracted towards it but a wise and intelligent man keeps guard from it.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-514 no.119

4.6) Reality Or Imagination?

This world is maintained by [Divine] imagination. You call it ‘reality’, since it can be seen and perceived and those meanings of which the world is an offshoot you call ‘imagination.’ The true situation is the reverse. The imagination is this world itself, for that Meaning [by Allah] brings into existence a hundred worlds like this, and they rot and disintegrate and become naught. Then It [Allah] produces a new world and better… RUM-250

5. Some Explanations on Heart – qalb / Sadr:

5.1) The heart is the principle of both the mind and the body. KS 311+11

5.2) hadith: Compassion In The Hearts:

Narrated Usama bin Zaid:

The daughter of the Prophet sent someone to the Prophet requesting him to come as her child was dying (or was gasping), but the Prophet
( told him to convey his greeting to her and say: ” Whatever Allah takes is for Him and whatever He gives, is for Him, and everything with Him has a limited fixed term (in this world) and so she should be patient and hope for Allah’s reward.” She again sent for him, swearing that he should come. The Prophet got up, and so did Sad bin ‘Ubada, Muadh bin Jabal, Ubai bin Ka’b, Zaid bin Thabit and some other men. The child was brought to Allah’s Apostle while his breath was disturbed in his chest … On that the eyes of the Prophet )

started shedding tears. Sad said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is this?” He replied, “It is mercy which Allah has put in the hearts of His slaves, and Allah is merciful only to those of His slaves who are merciful (to others).” “wa innamâ yarHamu-LLahu min ‘ibâdihi-rruHamâ.”

5.3) Traditional doctrine states that sacred knowledge is being attainable not through the mind but the heart once it is purified and the ‘eye of the heart ‘… opened.KS 28-5

5.4) hadith: What Whispers In The Hearts:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah has accepted (my invocation) on behalf of my community not to take into account of what whispers in their hearts, unless they put it to action or utter it.” Bukhari vol 3, book 46, no. 705

5.5) “Hearts are imbued with passion and power of advancing and retreating. Therefore approach them for action at a time of their passionateness and when they are in the mood of advancing, because if hearts are forced (to do a thing) tey get blind.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-531 no.193

6. Some Explanations of Islamic Law – shari’ah:

6.1) The Law of Islam is also called the “Way or Road” in Islam, which Allah has established for the guidance of mankind, both for the worship of God and for the duties of life.

6.2) The occidental tends to see the shari’ah as a straightjacket rather than as a framework, unaware that it has within it adequate space for free movement (and for individual differences), and unwilling to accept the psychological implications of the fact that a physical body disintegrates when placed in a vacuum. IDM170

See also below: shari’ah – haqîqah and the difference between them

See also below: the good chance of the shari’ah.          

7. Some Explanations on jihâd:

7.1) striving hard for Allah’s countenance and pleasure.(*)

7.2) The universal principle that in order to do good one must be good; in order to conquer the world one must first conquer oneself which means one’s lower passions. This universal truth needs to be reasserted today more than ever before when so many wish to reform the world without having reformed themselves.SH Nasr

7.3) (It has to be noted) also that the verses of jihâd were revealed in the Meccan period when military action was impossible, proving that the first and foremost jihad meant by Allah Most High is the jihad against the self, without which the second is a corrupt jihad (jihâd al-fasâd) – of which, unfortunately, there is abundant illustration nowadays. GF Haddad          

8. An Explanation of Human Norm – fitrah

8.1) Man is fully responsible for his actions, in that Islam does not adhere to the concept of original sin. He has been created in the ‘most perfect of forms’ (sura 95 verse 4) and it is only later, when he veers from his inherent path to which he was called by God that he falls very low. As the the Messenger of Allah has said, everyone has been created pure and that sins are first committed in adolescence. Another tradition by him, which is often told in this context, says that every child is born according to its natural disposition (fitrah) and it is the parents who bring him up to become a Jew, Christian or Magian.

This concept of fitrah, or human norm, which in a way comes close to the concept of conscience, means that man has an inborn awareness of what is true and good, for the simple reason that he was born as a human being.

This conscience, though unclear with most of the people, has to be actuated by the light of revelation and the pattern of the Prophet who clearly represents the perfect norm for the whole of mankind.

The unbeliever, however, inhibits his fitrah through his deliberate denial. It is ultimately the source which would enable him to recognize the truth emanating from revelation. In order to excuse himself he would have to declare his innocence which only increases his responsability. DEC   See our page: What Is Norm And What Normality?

9. An Explanation on protection, to seek ~, (also: the awe of God) taqwa:

9.1) To seek protection from losing Allahs pleasure. OD

9.2) “O people, have taqwaa (fear) of Allah, who is such that when you speak He hears and when you conceal (a secret) He knows it. Prepare yourself to meet death which would overtake you even if you run away, catch you even if you stay and remember you even if you forget it.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-532 no.199 (a: 201)

9.3) external pages:
• search in page for: taqwa
•   Imperative for the Ummah, by Dr. Israr Ahmad; search in page for: taqwa

10. Some Explanations on religion – dîn:

10.1) The function of all religions is to save man from the imperfections implied by their terrestrial state. KS 230 c (more on diin) [ This is a general statement about all true religions, it does of course not imply that all religions are somehow the same or equal. ]

10.2) The ‘ill’ of religion certainly does not lie in the hypothetical vanity of all doctrine, but solely in the fact that too many men either have not followed, or do not follow, true doctrines. (The word: doctrine (x)UI112/3

10.3. The personal accomplishment and fulfillment in religion is ihsân, ( spiritual excellence ). ( See external page on ihsân )

11. Some Explanations on remembering, invocations, recitations – dhikr:

11.1) To remember or recite aloud or either with a low voice or mentally the name of Allah, or the shahadah: la ilaha illa-LLah, Muhammadan rasuulu-LLah, or a surah or some verses from the Holy Quran. OD

11.2) Dhikr or invocation … is related to the eternal present and which transforms, sanctifies, and delivers man from both daydreaming about the future or the past and by facing Reality, which resides in the present. KS 246fn10

11.3) hadith qudsi: Mentioning Allah’s Name:

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet said: Allah the Almighty said: “I am as My servant thinks I am*. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s** length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”

*«anâ ‘inda Zanni ‘abdî bî»

* Another possible rendering of the Arabic: “I am as My servant expects Me to be”.

** Fathom: Width of two outstreched armsIt was related by al-Buhkari (also by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah).

12. Some Explanations on sin – dhamb, khaTi.ah, ithm:

12.1) Islam sees the cardinal sin of man in his forgetfulness (ghaflah) of who he is, although he still carries his primordial nature (al-fitrah) within himself, the man as such to which in fact the Islamic message addresses itself. (the words: primordial (x), cardinal (x)
KS 185fn14

12.2) It is generally held that there are 17 ‘kabirah’ – greater – sins:

  1. kufr – infidelity
  2. Constantly committing little sins
  3. Dispairing of Allah’s mercy
  4. Considering oneself safe from the wrath of God
  5. False witness
  6. qadhf – falsely charging a Muslim with adultery
  7. Taking a false oath
  8. Magic
  9. Drinking wine
  10. Appropriation of the property of orphans
  11. Usury
  12. Adultery
  13. Unnatural crime
  14. Theft
  15. Murder
  16. Fleeing in battle before an infidel enemy
  17. Disobedience to parents DI 594ii

12.3) Islam sets out to abolish both uncertainty and hesitation and especially both error and sin; error in holding that the Absolute is not, or that it is relative..; (whereas) sin places these errors on the level of the will or of action.UI 13

12.4) hadith: piety / sin

12.5) hadith: Faith Taken Away From Believer:

Narrated ‘Ikrima from Ibn ‘Abbas: The Messenger of Allah said, “When a slave (of Allah) commits illegal sexual intercourse, he is not a believer at the time of committing it; and if he steals, he is not a believer at the time of stealing; and if he drinks an alcoholic drink, then he is not a believer at the time of drinking it; and he is not a believer when he commits a murder,”

‘Ikrima said: I asked Ibn Abbas, “How is faith taken away from him?” He said, “Like this,” by clasping his hands and then separating them, and added, “But if he repents, faith returns to him like this,” by clasping his hands again. B8-800 b

12.6) hadith: The biggest sin:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud: I said, ” O Messenger of Allah! Which is the biggest sin?” He said, “To set up rivals to Allah though He alone has created you.” I asked, “What is next?” He said, “To kill your child so that it should not share your food.” I asked, ” What is next?” He said, “To commit illegal sexual intercourse with the wife of your neighbor.” B8-802

12.7) “Abstention from sin is easier than seeking help afterwards.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-527 no.170

13. An Explanation of An Unbeliever – kafir

13.1) He who directs his hostile attitude against Islam or muslims, with hand, tongue or pen, whether he belongs to some religion or is an atheist, is a kafir.

14. An Explanation of The Levels of The Unlawful – Harâm:

Scholars distinguish between three levels of the unlawful:


(1) minor sins (saghira, pl. sagha’ir), which may be forgiven from prayer to prayer, from one Friday prayer (jumu’a) to another, and so forth, as is mentioned in the hadith.

(2) enormities (kabira, pl. kaba’ir), those which appear by name in the Koran or hadith as the subject of an explicit threat, prescribed legal penalty, or curse.

(3) and unbelief (kufr), sins which put one beyond the pale of Islam and necessitate stating the Testification of Faith (Shahada) to reenter it.

See also list of the 17 kabira sins.

Repentance is obligatory for all three. RT-31

15. An Explanation of Islam

15.1) Islam

“I am defining Islam as no-one has defined (it) before me:

Islam is submission (taslîm), submission is cinviction (yaqîn), cinviction is affirmation (tasdîq), affirmation is acknowledgement (iqrâr), acknowledgement is discharge (of obligation) (adâ.u), discharge of obligation is action (`amal). ” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-517 no.125

16. Some Explanations of Truth, Sincerity – haqîqah:

16.1) The essence of a thing as meaning that by being which a thing is what it is. DI 162i

16.2) islamic haqîqah: Islam in its aspect of divine truth and knowledge

16.3) The profound truth of everything created

16.4) shari’ah – haqîqah and the difference between them:

These terms are used … to denote [the] soundness of the outward state and [the] maintenance of the inward state.

Two parties err in this matter:

firstly, the formal theologians, who assert that there is no distinction between shari`at (law) and haqîqat (truth), since the Law is the Truth and the Truth is the Law; secondly, some heretics, who hold that it is possible for one of these things to subsist without the other, and declare that when the Truth is revealed the Law is abolished. This is, the doctrine of [some sects].

The proof that the Law is virtually separate from the Truth lies in the fact that in faith belief is separate from profession and the proof that the Law and the Truth are not fundamentally separate, but are one, lies in the fact that belief without profession is not faith, and conversely profession without belief is not faith; and there is a manifest difference between profession and belief.

Haqiqat, then, signifies a reality which does not admit of abrogation and remains – in equal force, from the time of Adam, to the end of the world, like knowledge of God and like religious practice, which is made perfect by sincere intention; and shari`at signifies a reality which admits of abrogation and alteration, like ordinances and commandments. Therefore shari`at is man’s act, while haqîqat is God’s keeping and preservation and protection, whence it follows that shari`at cannot possibly be maintained without the existence of haqîqat, and haqîqat cannot be maintained without observance of shari`at. Their mutual relation may be compared to that of body and spirit: when the spirit departs from the body the living body becomes a corpse and the spirit vanishes like wind, for their value depends on their conjunction with one another.

Similarly, the Law without the Truth is ostentation, and Truth without the Law is hypocrisy. God hath said: “Whosoever strives hard for Our sake, we will assuredly guide them in Our ways ( sura al-`ankabut 29, verse 69): striving hard (jâhada) is Law, guidance is Truth; the former consists in a man’s observance of the external ordinances, while the latter consists in God’s maintenance of a man’s spiritual feelings. Hence the Law is one of the acts acquired by man, but the Truth is of the gifts bestowed by God. KAM-383/4

17. Some Explanations of Alms – sadaqah:

17.1) Give voluntary charity as much as possible, for you owe more than merely the zakat obligatory. Make provision from the afterlife by giving while you have health and want to cling to your money out of fear of poverty, seeing life before you. Sura 59-9. RT-803

17.1) ittaqû-n nâra wa lau bi-shaqqi tamaratin

“Protect yourself against the fire (of Hell), even by giving away half a piece of a date (in charity). ”

`Adiyy bn Hâtim relates that he heart the Messenger of Allah say it.

17.2) “Seek livelihood by giving alms.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-520 no.137

17.3) “He who is sure of a good return is generous in giving.” Saying of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) in NB-520 no.138  

Some English Words:

Cardinal sin: great sin, strongly disapproved
concept: idea or abstract principle
doctrine: a set of principles or teachings
primordial: before birth and after death; eternal
invocation: a spoken request to God for help or forgiveness; here: remembrance of Allah: dhikr.


Last upd: 2001-04-19

living ISLAM / Islamic Texts and References, Islamic Tradition – — 107


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