Faith & Believers

article picked 4U by - Mohammad Shahrour

May 27, 2020

Faith and Believers

The Term Eman (Faith) in the Book this main topic, explores the distinction between Islam and Eman. So far, we have defined Islam and its fundamental pillars, so now we need to do the same with Eman. The following list of characteristics of Eman has been derived from our systematic search through the Book, in which we analyzed every single verse that is relevant to the topic. The outcome of this analysis can be summarized as follows:

  1. Islam always takes precedence over Eman: Historically and conceptually Eman proceeds from al-Islam or, to put it the other way, Islam always (and necessarily) precedes Eman.

The desert Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, “You have no faith; but you (only) say, ‘We have submitted our wills to God, for not yet has faith [al-Eman] entered your hearts. (Al-hujurat 49:14)

  1. Islam and Eman mean two different types of faith: The first, Islam, contains the tripartite belief in
  1. a) the existence and oneness of God,
  2. b) the Hereafter, and
  3. c) God’s command to ‘do what is righteous’.

Islam commands and incorporates all other types of faith, including al-Eman. It implies that any form of particular religious faith must conform to these three general pillars of belief.

Verse 4:137 below states that a system of faith that omits these pillars basically rejects beliefs and is called kufr. Those who believe, then reject faith then believe (again) and (again) reject faith and go on increasing in unbelief, God will not forgive them nor guide them nor guide them on the way. ( Al-Nisa” 4:137)

The second, Eman, is defined as belief in Muhammad and his messenger hood, including belief in the Book and its message as well as the books that were revealed before the Apostle as stated in 4:136 addressed to ‘those who believe’.

O you who believe! Believe in God and His Apostle, and the scripture which He has sent to His apostle and the scripture which He sent to those before (him)….( Al-Nisa” 4:136) Whereas the adherents of al-Islam are the Muslim-Assenters (al-muslimun), the followers of Eman are Muslim Believers (al-mu’minun).

  1. Al-Islam and al-Eman combined receive a ‘double portion’ of God’s mercy: According to verse 57:28, Allah promises to bestow on ‘those who fear God’ (the Muslim-Assenters) and on ‘those who believe in Muhammad’ (the Muslim-Believers) a double share of His mercy.

O you who believe! Fear God, and believe in His apostle, and He will bestow on you a double portion of His mercy: He will provide for you a light by which you shall walk (straight in your path), and He will forgive you ( your past)… ( Al-hadid 57:28)

In a more abstract way it looks like this: Those who assent to God—first type of faith— Islam—the first share of mercy; Those who believe in His Apostle—second type of faith— Eman—the second share of mercy.

  1. Divine reward is given to both types of believers: Those who believe in God and the Hereafter (the muslimun) will receive God’s reward, and those who in addition believe specifically in the Book revealed in Arabic (the mu”minun) will be rewarded twice: And when it is recited to them, they say: “We believe therein, for it is the truth from our Lord: indeed, we have been Muslims (bowing to God’s will) from before this.” Twice will they be given their reward, for that they have persevered… ( Al-Qasas 28:53–54)
  1. The term Eman is always linked to a relationship with a specific messenger: Whenever it is said in the text that someone ‘believed’ (amana) in a specific messenger, it implies that this person followed this messenger as a disciple, novice, or member of a specific religious community: And when Our Decree came, We saved Hud and those who believed with him, by a mercy of Ours… (Hud 11:58,)

And when Our Decree came, We delivered Shu’ayb and those who believed with him by a mercy of Ours… (Hud 11:94,) The Book calls ‘those who believed in Moses’ Jews, members of the Jewish community. It calls ‘those who believed in Jesus’ al-nasara (Christians), either because they supported and protected (nasaru) Jesus and became his followers (ansaruhu), or because they were from the city of Nazareth ( al-nasira)—in either case they were members of the Christian community.

((in my humble view god bestowed the name Christ -massih- upon Jesus alone as a title because Jesus is mostly mentioned as almasih Issa ibn Maryam – Jesus Christ son of Mary, and those whom believed in him are his supporters – ansar- from the word nasr- to uphold , support, advocate. So that’s my view on why in the Quran, the Christians are called nasarah.)) When the text mentions ‘those who believed in Muhammad’, they are referred to as the ‘believers’: O Prophet! Allah is Sufficient for you and so are the believers [ al-mu’minun] who follow you. (Al-Anfal 8:64).

  1. Eman is a specific type of piety: There exist three types of piety. The first type is the piety of Islam, expressed as belief in Allah, the Hereafter, and ‘doing what is righteous’. Muslims all over this world, including Christians, Jews, New Age groups, and followers of Muhammad and so forth, practice this type of piety.

The second type is the piety of faith (Eman), expressed as belief in a specific messenger and the book that was revealed to him; the ‘Muslim-Believers’ embody this type of piety. The third type is a combination of the first and second types of piety (Islam + Eman) that can be practiced through al-Ihsan (particular ethics), because the Book states Allah’s love for those who practice the piety of ‘doing what is fair and just’: On those who believe and do deeds of righteousness there is no blame for what they ate (accumulated/gained in the past), when they guard themselves from evil, and believe, and do deeds of righteousness, (or) again, guard themselves from evil and believe, (or) again, guard themselves from evil and do good. For God loves those who do good , [Allahu yuhibbu al-muhsinina]. (Al-Ma’ida 5:93).

The Pillars of Eman is next.