Islam is not the name of a caste or community so that anyone who is born in it automatically becomes a Muslim without having to do anything on his own part. Islam is not only the name of a faith but complete way of life, which was brought into the world from Almighty Lord, Allah through His true and devoted Apostle, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam)...The Islamic way of Life is preserved to this day in its pristine purity in the Quran and the holy Traditions (Ahadith). Those who accepts the correct Islamic beliefs and practices are called Muslims and those who practice upon them according to their ability are on their way to become true believer.
The Holy Prophet (Rasulullah )(Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has said, “Imaan has more than seventy branches* of which the most important is the recitation of Kalimah (Laa ilaha illallaho) "There is no one worthy of worship but Allah", and the least one is to remove some obstacle (stone, wood, thorn, etc.) from the way; and modesty also is a special requisite of Imaan.
According to some Imaan has Seventy Seven (77) branches.
Modesty has been specially mentioned, because it serves as a safeguard against many sins like adultery, theft, dirty talk, nakedness, abusive language, etc. Similarly, the fear of bad reputation leads to virtuous acts, in fact, fear of getting a bad name in this as well as in the next life actuates a man towards all good deeds including of course Salaat, Hajj, and is incumbent on every believer.
The least thing (in the order of merit) is the removal of anything that is likely to cause obstruction or inconvenience to anyone
The degree of importance of all the remaining essentials of Imaan lies in between the two; (i.e. Kalimah and removing obstacle) it is enough to believe in them in a general way just as it is necessary to believe in the angels in a general way without knowing their nearness and details. Some Mohaddiths (scholar of Hadith) have however written books about their details.
Abu Abdullah Halirni (Rahmatullah alaih) wrote a book, Fawaidul Minhaj on this topic,
Imam Behaqi (Rah-matull-ah alaih) and Shaikh Abdul Jalil (Rahmatullah alaih) wrote books which they called Shuabul Imaan.
Ishaq bin Qartabi (Rahmatullah alaih) wrote Kitabul N saaih and Imam Abu Hatim wrote `'Wasful Imaan wa Shuabehi."The commentators of Bukhari, the most famous collection of Hadith, have summarized the contents of these books at one place. The gist of this summary is that complete Imaan in reality consists of three components: firstly, confirmation by heart of all the essentials of Imaan, secondly, confirmation of word of mouth; and thirdly, confirmation by our physical actions. Thus, the branches of Imaan are divided into three categories, the first of which concern the intention, belief and action of the heart, the second concern the use of the tongue, and the third concern all the remaining parts of the body. All the things of Imaan are included in these three categories. The first category includes thirty articles of faith, as follows:
Articles of Faith; Confirmation of heart (30):
According to Allamah Ainee (Rahmatullah alaih) this list covers all the functions of the heart. If anything is found apparently missing, a little thought will show that it is covered by one item or the other of this list.
The second category includes the functions of the tongue, and there are Seven essentials in this respect, as follows:
Articles of Faith; Confirmation by tongue (7):
The third category includes bodily actions. In this respect, there are forty essentials which are divided into three parts. The first part includes actions that relate to the self or person of an individual. These are sixteen, as follows:
Articles of Faith; Bodily Actions “Personal Responsibility” (16):
The second part, which include actions involving treatment with ones relatives and others, has six essentials:
Articles of Faith; Bodily Actions “Family Responsibility” (6):
The third part includes eighteen essentials, which relates to our social obligations to society in general.
Articles of Faith; Bodily Actions “Social Responsibility” (18):
The seventy-seven branches of Imaan have been counted above. Some of these can be merged together, as for example, earning and spending can be put together under fair dealings. Careful consideration can enable one to cut down the total to seventy or sixty-seven, the numbers given in some Ahadith.
The above list has been prepared mainly from the commentary of Allama Ainee (Rahmatullah alalh) on Bukhari Shareef, wherein these things are mentioned in their order of merit. Selection has been made also from other books, i.e. Fathal-ul-bari of Ibn Hajar and Mirkat of Allarnah Qari. Scholars have written that the implied essential Imaan are as given above. One should ponder over and be thankful to Almighty Allah for the good acquired already, because all goodness is possible through His Grace and Mercy In case of deficiency in of any quality, one should strive for it and ask that Almighty Allah may grace him with His blessings.
. Article taken (with Thanks) from As-Sidq
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