The Book of Belief And Action (kitaab ul-Imaan Wal A’mal)

Disagreement among the scholars of Islam has centred on whether action is part of Imaan or something based on Imaan. Some of the scholars of Islam have held the view that belief is simply an inward adherence (`aqd bi’l-qalb ) and verbal confession ( shahadah bi’l-lisan ). Other scholars, such as Abu Talib al-Makki in Qut-al-Qulub , have maintained that action is a part of belief and Imaan is incomplete without works according to the pillars of Islam.

Imam al Ghazzali in “The Foundations of the Articles of Faith” says there is no disagreement at all that anyone who combines in himself all three, i.e., inward adherence, verbal confession and works according to the pillars of Islam, will have his final abode in Paradise. Disagreement has occurred as to whether inward adherence and verbal confession is sufficient to bring men forth from Hell and prevent them from remaining there forever, in accordance with the hadith: “Whoever hath in his heart the weight of an atom of belief will be brought forth from Hell-Fire.”[al-Bukhari, al-Tirmidhi]

The Khawarij:

Those that say action is a part of Imaan contend that the person who does not perform the action, like prayer, is a disbeliever. For this reason the Khawarij sect considered a person who did not perform an obligatory duty (wajib) or who performed a forbidden action ( haram ) as a disbeliever. In arriving at this opinion they made ta`wil (allegorical type of interpretation) of the verse of Quran “He who kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein forever” [al Nisa` 4:93] and the authentic tradition of the Prophet: “A fornicator is not a believer when he does it, a drinker is not a believer when he drinks.” [Muslim]. These evidences appear to support the view that committing a sin makes one a disbeliever. This opinion has been rejected by the scholars of Ahlal Sunnah. The verse quoted was revealed, according to Imam al-Ghazzali, for the particular situation of a person killing a believer because of his belief. As for the tradition, Ibn al Qayim al-Jawziya quotes Imam Ahmad as saying the subject of the tradition is that the person in committing the sinful act is no longer a believer, but he is still a Muslim. It does not mean a disbelief that takes a person out of the community of muslims. It is not like believing in part of the revelation and disbelieving in another part of it; this is real disbelief, about which there is no doubt in anyone’s mind.

The Mutazilah:

The Mutazilah school of thought said that the person who commits a major sin (kaba’ir), but performs some works according to the pillars of Islam, departs from true belief but does not become an unbeliever. He becomes a fasiq (reprobate), neither a believer nor an unbeliever, and will reside in Hell forever. The Mutazilahs opinion has been rejected by the scholars of Ahlal Sunnah on the grounds that they failed to understand the real meaning of the verses of God, such as “Surely I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them.” [Ta-Ha 20:82]; and “And for such as will rebel against God and His Messenger for him is the fire of Hell, he shall dwell therein forever.” [al-Jinn 72:23] These verses, and others wherein God couples good works with belief, are general statements, which also include specification, as proven by the verse: “Verily! God forgives not setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom he pleases other sins than that.” [an-Nisa 4:116]. Thus freedom to forgive men sins, other than shirk (setting up partners with God), must be left to God. This is proven by the tradition: “Whoever hath in his heart the weight of an atom of belief will be brought forth from Hell fire.”, and the verse : “As to those who believe and do righteous deeds, verily! We shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who do a righteous deed.” [al-Kahf 18:30] In the context of this verse how would God suffer the reward, not only of good deeds, but the belief itself because of one sin?

The Murjiah:

The Murjiah considered the sinner to be full of Imaan , making ta`wil (allegorical type of interpretation) of such verses as: “And whoever believeth in his Lord, need not fear either loss or wrong.” [al-Jinn 72:13]; and “And they who believed in God and His Messenger are the men of truth, and the witnesses in the presence of the Lord; they shall have their reward and their Light; but as for the disbelievers and those who give the lie to Our signs, these shall be the inmates of Hell.” [al-Hadid 57:19] they said that no believer would enter Hell fire, although he might commit every possible sin. Their fundamental doctrine consisted of the suspension ( irja’ ) of judgement against believers who committed sin. For the Murjiah the sinner was a sinner because of his major sin, and the believer a believer because of his Imaan . The opinion of the Murjiah has been completely rejected by the scholars of Ahlul Sunnah. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever hath in his heart the weight of an atom of belief will be brought from Hell fire.” How could anyone be brought forth from Hell fire if he had not first entered therein?

The People of Sunnah (Ahlul Sunnah):

The people of the sunnah and the majority of the muslims consider that action is a fruit of the belief and the person who commits a sin is not a disbeliever unless the sin is in the creed itself, i.e., it contradicts the faith such as the worship of idols, ridiculing the Quran, denying prayer or fasting, or permits adultery or usury etc. The person who does not pray is a sinner, the person who denies the duty of prayer is a disbeliever [1] . In other words, there is a distinction between conviction and action. Imam al
Nawawi says in his introduction to Sahih
Muslim, “The school of thought of the true believers is that no one from the people of the Qibla becomes a disbeliever through a sin or innovation ( bida ) or through following a desire. Only if he denies what is known by Islam of necessity does he at that time become an apostate and disbeliever, unless that is he is new to Islam.”

Sheikh Ali al-Tantawi in his book “The Faith” says: “Scholars of Ahlul Sunnah are unanimous in their opinion that a person who commits a forbidden act without denouncing its prohibition or a person who neglects to do a duty but does not deny that it is a duty and expresses no contempt for it will no doubt be punished in the other world. But he will not be accused of blasphemy nor will he be condemned to the eternal fire of hell.” [3] .

The Fruit of Belief :

Those that say that action is neither a pillar of Imaan nor a part of it, but rather a fruit of Imaan, they also acknowledge that sometimes action is a part of Imaan; Imam Qurtubi in his explanation of : “Surely the (true) faith with God is Islam.” [al Imran 3:19] quotes, for example, the Prophet having said, “Faith consists of seventy-odd aspects, the lowest of which is removing an obstacle (off the road), and the highest the profession that `There is no God but Allah.’ and modesty is an aspect of faith.”[Bukhari, Muslim] In this regard Qurtubi also quotes the hadith concerning the Abd al Qays delegation. This delegation came to the Prophet from the Island of Bahrain during the conquest of Makkah. They represented the tribe of Rabi’ah. The Prophet enjoined that they have faith in God alone. He then asked them, `Do you know what faith is?’ They answered, `God and His Messenger knows best.’ He said, `It is the witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, observing the regular worship, giving the obligatory alms, and observing the fast of Ramadan. It is also that you give in alms the fifth of the booty.”

Imam al-Ghazzali says: “It is not unlikely that good works be considered a part of belief, because they perfect and complete it, just as it is said that the head and hands are part of man. it is evident that a person will cease to be human if his head no longer exists; but he will not cease to be a human being if one of his hands is lost through amputation. Similarly both the magnificent ( takbir ) and the praise ( tasbih ) [at the beginning of prayer] are considered a part of prayer, although it is not annulled with their omission. Therefore acceptance with the mind stands in relation to belief as does the head in relation to the existence of man [in this life], since the one depends for its existence upon the other and ceases to exist when the other no longer is. The remaining good works are like the limbs of the body, some are more important than the others. The Messenger said, `A believer is no longer a believer when he commits fornication.’ Furthermore the Companions held the same opinion as the Mutazilah concerning the fact that a person ceases to be a believer when he commits the sin of fornication. What this really means is that such a person is no longer a real believer possessing a complete and perfect belief, just as the deformed individual whose limbs have been amputated is described as being no longer a human being; in other words he lacks that perfection which is beyond actual humanity.” [4] .

Does Belief Increase and Decrease?

Accordingly, if we look deeply into the texts it is apparent that actions are the fruit of the belief, i.e. the result of Imaan. When we say actions are a part of Imaan we mean it in the figurative sense because, unlike the Khawarij, those scholars who have said that actions are a part of Imaan never called sinners disbelievers. As actions are the fruit of Imaan so too is obedience, thus the scholars have described Imaan as going up and down; meaning that if the obedience increases Imaan increases and if obedience decreases Imaan decreases. Imam Nawawi in his introduction to Sahih Muslim quotes al Bagwi al Shafii as saying ” Imaan from the point of view of the language means the belief, and by this meaning it neither increases or decreases, but according to the sacred law ( shar’ ) Imaan is the belief with the heart and actions of the limbs; when it is explained this way Imaan increases and decreases and this is the opinion of the people of sunnah.” Nawawi quotes Ibn Battal (an Imaan of the Maliki school) as saying ” The school of thought of the people of sunnah, from the early and later generations, is that Imaan in speech and actions increases and decreases, the evidence for which is : “For Believers are those who, when God is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His revelation rehearsed, find their faith increased and strengthened.” [al Anfal 8:2] Also God said: “Whenever there comes down a surah (chapter of Quran), some of them say: `Which of you has had his faith increased by it?’ Yea, those who believe their faith is increased and they do rejoice.” [at Tauba 9: 124] Imam Malik said: “If anyone has plenty of good deeds and strong obedience to God he is full of Imaan, and anyone who is short of obedience, who commits plenty of sins and is heedless in remembering God, his Imaan is diminished.” [5] . Even the Companions found this matter in themselves until they began to consider this hypocrisy. Ibn -abi-Mulaykah said, “I have known one hundred and thirty of the Companions of the Prophet, all of whom feared hypocrisy. “A certain person told Hudhayfah, “Verily I fear I am a hypocrite.” To which Hudhayfah replied, “Fear not. If you were a hypocrite you would not have feared hypocrisy. Verily hypocrisy does not fear hypocrisy.” [6] . Imam Ahmed, Tirmizi and Ibn Hibban have reported Abu Huraira as saying “We said O Messenger of God: Why is it when we are with you our heart is soft, our Imaan is increased, and we are from the people of the Hereafter. But as soon as we leave your company and see our wives and smell our children we deny ourselves? The Prophet said, “If you were to leave me and continued as if you were in my company the angels would visit you in your places and in your ways. If you did not commit sins God would bring other people to replace you with them , because they would sin and ask His forgiveness; and God would forgive them.” Ibn Battal said: “When the good work of the muslim decreases his Imaan is little, but when it increases his Imaan is full. But the belief in God and His Prophet (saw) does not decrease nor increase. Imam
Malik did not accept this on account that if the belief decreased it would become mere conjecture and doubt, and the man would cease to be muslim.” Thus Imam Malik, and others of the scholars, have made it clear that Imaan increases with obedience, which is the fruit of belief. But the Imaan in Allah, His Books, His Prophets, and the Day of Judgement must be complete, definitive, and certain (i.e. with yaqeen ) otherwise the Imaan would become doubtful and speculative.

The Companions and the early generations of the Muslims, known as al-salaf al-salih agreed that belief is subject to increase and depreciation – increasing with obedience and good works, and decreasing with disobedience and sin. The meaning of this, according to Al-Ghazzali, is “It proves that good works are not an integral part of belief nor a basic thing for its existence. Rather they are a superaddition ( mazid ) which augments belief. Both the surplus and the deficit exist, but nothing increases in itself….belief as such does exist, and that once it exists, it may vary, subject to increase and depreciation.” [7] . Actions performed with sincerity of the heart are the fruits of belief.

Those actions which strengthen our faith and are a means to approaching God, known in Arabic as al-Wasila [8] , include the following:

Belief (Imaan):

We can approach God directly through our belief and to ask Him to grant us a good position in Paradise and to save us from Hell, such as: “Our Lord! We have heard the call of one calling (us) to faith, `Believe ye in the Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Thyself our souls in the company of the righteous.” [al-Imran 3:193] ” `Our Lord! we have indeed believed: forgive us, then, our sins, and save us from the agony of the Fire.” [al-Imran 3:16-17]

Prayer (Salah):

God says: “Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers.” [al-Muminun 1-2] ” And who pay heed to their prayers. These are the heirs who will inherit Paradise. There will they abide.” [al-Muminun 9-11]. Abu Umamah narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “God does not listen to anything from His slave as He does to the two rak’at (units of prayer) that he offers. Mercy descends over the servant’s head as long as he remains in prayer.” [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi]. Malik narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…the best of your deeds in the prayer ( salah ).” [al-Muwatta].

Fasting (as-Siyam):

Abu Umamah reported: “I came to the Messenger of God and said: `Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.’ He (saw) said: `Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.” [Ahmad, an-Nisa’i, al-Hakim]. Abu Said al Khudri reported that the Messenger of God, peace be upon him, said: “No servant fasts on a day in the path of God except that God removes the hellfire seventy years further away from his face.” [Bukhari, Muslim]. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of God said: “Three peoples supplication cannot be rejected, the fasting man until he breaks his fast, the just man and the oppressed.” [at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad]. Abdullah ibn Amr reported that the Messenger of God said: “The fast and the Quran are two intercessors for the servant of God on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: `O Lord I prevented him from his food and desires during the day, let me intercede for him.’ The Quran will say: “I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” [Ahmad].

Sadaqat and Zakat:

Sadaqah – is a gift offered to someone from one’s rightfully owned wealth given with a sincere intention for the pleasure of God. Zakat – is an obligatory alms tax and constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam. “And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends of one another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, they perform prayer and pay the zakah, and they obey God and His Messenger. Upon them, God will have mercy.” [at-Taubah 9:71]. “Take sadaqah from their property in order to purify and sanctify them.” [at-Tauba 9:103] Mu’adh ibn Jabal reported that the Messenger of God, (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said: “…as-Sadaqa extinguishes the sins as water extinguishes the fire.” [Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi]. God says: “And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be successful.” [al-Hashr 59:9] Abu Huraira has reported that the Messenger of God said: “When a person is dead, his deeds are ceased except three: Deeds of continuous sadaqah, e.g., an orphan home or a well for giving water to drink; knowledge which mankind gets benefit; a righteous, pious son who begs God to forgive his parents.” [Muslim].

Hajj and Umrah (Pilgrimage):

Hajj is the once-in-a-lifetime obligation of pilgrimage to the holy Ka’bah in Makkah. Umrah is a pilgrimage to the Ka’bah performed at any time. Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of God said: “He who makes hajj and he who makes umrah are guests of God. If they invoke Him, He responds to them; and if they beg forgiveness of Him, He forgives them.” [Ibn Majah]. Abdullah ibn Masud reported that the Messenger of God said: “Make hajj and umrah follow one after another, because they both remove poverty and sins, just as a hammer removes rusts of iron, gold and silver; there is no reward except paradise.” [at-Tirmidhi, Nisai’, Ahmad]

Jihad (Fighting In The Way Of God):

Verily, God will help those who help His (cause). Truly, God is All-Strong, All-Mighty.” [al-Hajj 22:40]. Abu Sayeed reported that the Messenger of God said: “Whosoever is pleased with God as Sustainer and with Islam as religion and with Muhammad as a Messenger, Paradise becomes sure for him. Abu Sayeed was astonished at this and said; O Messenger of God repeat it to me. So he repeated it to him. Afterwards he said: `And there is another thing for which God raises up a servant to one hundred ranks in Paradise. The difference between two ranks is as the difference between heaven and earth.’ He asked: O Messenger of God! What is it? ‘He said: `Jihad in the way of God, Jihad in the way of God, Jihad in the way of God.” [Muslim]. Fuzalah bin Obaid reported that the Messenger of God said: “A seal is put over the actions of every dead man except one who dies guarding in the way of God, and verily his actions will increase for him upto the Resurrection Day, and he is safe from the punishment of the grave.” [at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud]. Abdullah bin Amr reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Fighting in the way of God atones for everything except debt.” [Muslim] Salman reported that the Messenger of God said: “Guarding for a day and a night in the way of God is better than fasting for a month and praying it.” [Muslim]. Khuraim bin Fatek reported that the Messenger of God said: “Whoso incurs an expenditure in the way of God, there is written for him 700 merits.” [at-Tirmidhi]

Reciting the Quran (Tilawat ul-Quran):

Abu Umamah reported that he heard the prophet say: ” Keep reading the Quran for it will intercede for its readers on the Day of Judgement.” [Muslim]. Ayesha has reported the Prophet (saw) as saying: “He who recites the Quran fluently will be in the company of the noble and virtuous; and he who recites the Quran with difficulty will have a double reward.” [Bukhari, Muslim]. Ibn Masud reported the Prophet (saw) saying: “When a person recites one letter from the Book of God that is one good deed equal to ten good deeds the like of it. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Meem is a letter, but A is a letter, L is a letter and M is a letter.” [at-Tirmidhi]

Dhikr: Remembering, Glorifying and Praising Allah (SWT):

Dhikr is to remember God i.e., glorifying and praising Him. In surah al Ahzab God says: “O you who believe! Celebrate the praises of God, and do so often; and glorify Him morning and evening.” [33:41], and in surah al-Baqarah God says: “Remember Me, I shall remember you.” 2:152]. In a hadith qudsi, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him narrated: “God says: `I am to my servant as he expects of Me, I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly better than his, and if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw nearer to him an arm’s length, and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw nearer to him a fathom length, and if he comes to Me walking, I rush to him at (great ) speed.” [Bukhari, Muslim]. Muadh reported that the Messenger of God said: “No other act of man is a more effective means for his deliverance from the chastisement of God than the remembrance of God.” [Ahmad]

Doing Good And Asking For Forgiveness (Istighfar):

“…For God loves those who do good: And those who, having done an act of indecency or wronged their own souls, remember God and ask for forgiveness for their sins.” [al-Imran 3:135]

As to the righteous, they will be in the midst of Gardens and Springs, taking joy in the things which their Lord gives them, because, before then, they have done good deeds. They were in the habit of sleeping but little by night, and in the hours of early dawn, they were praying for forgiveness.” [az-Zariyat 51:18]

Anas reported that he heard the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, saying that God says, “O son of Adam, whatever you asked Me and expect from Me I forgave – respecting that which you owed to Me – and I don’t care [how great this was]. O son of Adam, even if your sins pile up to the sky and then you seek My forgiveness I will forgive you, and O son of Adam, even if you have an earthful of sins but you meet Me without associating any other thing with Me I will forgive you.” [at-Tirmidhi]

Supplication (Dua’):

Nu’man bin Bashir reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, said ,”Verily supplication is worship.” Then he recited the Quranic verse, `And your Lord says, `Call on Me. I will answer your prayer, but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves humiliated in Hell!'” [Ahmad, the verse is 40:60] God says in surah al BaqarahWhen My servants ask you (O, Muhammad) concerning Me, I am indeed close to them. I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls upon Me.”[2:186]

Tawassul (Supplication Through An Intermediary):

Tawassul is to supplicate God through an intermediary, there are three types of tawassul :

1.Tawassul of someone to God through His names and attributes; “The most beautiful names belong to God: so call on Him by them.” [al-A’raf 7:180]. Buraidah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) heard a man saying, “O Allah, I ask You, I bear witness that there is no god but You, the One, the Eternal, Besought of all, Who begets not, nor is begotten; and there is none like unto Him.” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You have asked God By His Greatest Name. When one asks Him by this name, He gives, what one desires, and when supplicating by this name He answers.”[ at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud]. Mu’adh bin Jabal reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, heard a man saying, “O Lord of Majesty and Honour!” At this the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Your supplication will be heard, so ask for what you want to ask.” [at-Tirmidhi]

2. Tawassul through The messenger Muhammad: Tirmidhi relates from Uthman ibn Hunayf that a blind man came to the Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, and said, “I’ve been afflicted in my eyesight, so please pray to God for me.” The Prophet, God bless him and give him peace, said: “Go make ablution, perform two rakat of prayer, and then say: “O God, I ask You and turn to You through my prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy; O Muhammad, I seek your intercession with my Lord for the return of my eyesight [and in another version, `for my need, that it may be fulfilled. O God, grant him intercession for me.” This hadith proves the legal validity of tawassul through The Messenger person. to supplicate to God asking him wasila through the positive meaning attached to the Messenger (saw).[9]

3. Tawassul of a person through his own good deeds, as in the hadith of the three people trapped in a cave by a great stone. A hadith related by Imam Bukhari.


Invoking God’s Blessings Upon The Prophet (As-Salatu A’lan-Nabie):

“God says: “God and His angels send blessings to the Prophet, O you who believe! send blessings to him, salute him with all respect.” [al-Ahzab 33:56]

Abdullah bin Amr al-As reported that the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), said: “If anyone invokes blessings upon me once, God will bestow blessings upon him ten times over.”[Muslim]

For any action to be accepted by God as a wasila it must observe the following conditions:

1. The person performing the wasila must be a practising Muslim;

2. The action must be one permitted by the sacred law as a wasila, i.e., it must not be an innovation (bida) [10] or forbidden action (haram).

All actions in Islam are governed by the sacred law and illegal means cannot be used to achieve desirable aims. For example, it would be forbidden for someone seeking wealth to take a life so as to benefit from inheritance; [“Whoever intentionally kills a believer, his recompense shall be hell.”
an-Nisa 4:93]; or for a person to go to a person skilled in magic to request that a spell be placed on a women whom he wishes to marry: [“…But the devils disbelieved, teaching people sorcery.” al-Baqarah 2:102]; or for someone to visit the grave of a religious man to ask that the dead man to cure a sick relative [“Verily, God makes whom He will hear, but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.” al-Fatir 35:22] .

The action should accord with what the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, performed as a wasila. The wasila is recommended to be performed at all times and everywhere and can concern the hereafter or this life of the world.


1. A Muslim who holds the prayer to be obligatory but through lack of concern neglects to perform it until its proper time is over has not committed unbelief; the Hanafis, Malikis, and Shafiis all hold this to be the case. Imam Nawawi says: “This is what the vast majority of early and later scholars have held. [al-Majmu]. The Hanbali scholars have held two views: the first being that such a person becomes an unbeliever while the second view is that he does not become an unbeliever, and this is what Ibn Qudama, in al-Mughni, has declared to be the soundest opinion. The Prophet , peace and blessings be upon him and his family, said: “God has made five prayers obligatory: whoever performs their ablution well and prays them in their time, completing the bowing, the humility, and the awe that is due to them, has entered a solemn pact with God to forgive him. And whosoever does not, has no pact with God: should He want, He will forgive him, and should He want, He will torment him.” [Abu Dawud, Malik]. It is necessarily established that unbelievers will be tormented and enter Hell, yet the hadith indicates that God may chose not to punish the person who does not pray, a clear indication that someone who neglects to pray is not a disbeliever. The Muslims from the earliest times have considered the person who misses the prayer to be entitled to inherit by way of estate division and be inherited from, and washed and prayed over on death; this would not be the case for an unbeliever. [Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, pp.881-884].

2. Imam Nawawi, p.150.

3. Tantawi, The Faith, p.69.

4. al Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum al-Din, The Foundations of the Articles of Faith, Translated by Nabih Amin Faris, pp115-116.

5. al Aajeri, p131.

6. al-Ghazzali, The Foundations of the Articles of Faith, pp129-130.

7. al-Ghazzali, The Foundations of the Articles of Faith, pp.116-117.

8. Al Wasila according to the sacred law is an action or deed performed by a believer as a means to achieving an aim or purpose. Al Wasila is to approach God with a good deed and to ask Him to grant us a good position in the hereafter, as in the verse: “O you who believe! Do your duty to God, seek the means of approach (wasila) unto Him, and strive in His cause: that you may prosper.” [al-Maida 5:35]. Al-Wasila has three pillars:

a) Al Mutawasil ilay – the one you are asking wasila from, i.e., God, the one who grants reward and forgiveness;

b) Al Mutawasil – the one who is asking the wasila, i.e., the servant of God, the needy who is seeking to approach God, seeking salvation or the fulfilment of a desire;

c) Al Mutawasilbihi – the means being used as a wasila.

9. It is not acceptable for someone to believe that those called upon can cause effects, benefit or harm. If someone makes tawassul thinking that the absent or dead religious person can benefit or harm him as God does, then such a person has made shirk, i.e., to associate a partner with God.

10. Linguistically the word bida’ means to come up with something that does not have a precedence, i.e. an innovation. The Prophet, peace be upon him said: “Every innovation is bida’ and every bida’ is a misguidance (dalalah) and every misguidance is in hell fire.” [Muslim]. The sacred law meaning is defined by Imam Shatibi, in his book `al-Itisam’, p.37, as being: “a made up method in the matters of the deen (religion) in order to match the sacred law [method]. The purpose of this innovated method is to accomplish the same as what the sacred law method accomplished.”


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