Quarterly: Issue No 97

Muharram 1442 – August 2020




Islamic Scholars have discussed the difference between Imaan and Islam in many books of Aqeedah (belief).  In Islamic terminology, if one of these two terms is mentioned on its own, then it generally implies the entire religion of Islam, in which case there is no difference between Islam and Imaan.

However, if these two terms are mentioned together, then the following applies:

Imaan (Faith) is the inward deeds, which are actions of the heart, such as belief in Allah (may He be glorified and exalted), loving Him, fearing Him, putting one’s hope and trust in Him, and being sincere in worshipping Him alone. Imaan is actually a pact one has with ALLAH in His obedience; and the carrying out of good actions is the expression and manifestation of this pact. There is no possibility of increase or decrease in this pact.

Islam is the outward actions that must be accompanied by Imaan (firm Faith in the heart).  If the outward actions are not accompanied by Imaan, then the doer is either a Muslim whose Imaan is weak, or the doer is a hypocrite being looked upon as a Muslim outwardly, but a Disbeliever inwardly with regards to the heart.

Imaan is sometimes mentioned on its own - not in conjunction with the words Islam or righteous deeds. And sometimes it is mentioned in conjunction with the word Islam, as in the Hadith of Jibreel (AS), in which Jibreel asked our beloved Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): “What is Islam?... What is Imaan?” etc.; and in the many similar verses in which Allah (may He be exalted), says:

Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, …

 (Surah al-Ahzaab: 33:35)

“The Bedouins say, "We have believed." Say, "You have not (yet) believed; but say (instead), 'We have submitted,' for Imaan has not yet entered your hearts.” (Surah al-Hujuraat: 49:14)


When Imaan is mentioned in conjunction with Islam:

Islam refers to outward deeds, such as uttering the two testimony of Imaan (shahaadah), establishing salaah, giving zakaah, fasting and performing the Hajj.

Imaan refers to what is in the heart i.e. the belief in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, Predestination (taqdeer) and Resurrection after death.


When Imaan (Faith) is mentioned on its own, it includes Islam and righteous deeds, as in the Hadith about the branches of Imaan: “Faith has seventy-odd branches, the highest of which is saying Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god except Allah) and the least of which is removing a harmful thing from the road.”. There are many other Ahadith which also describe righteous deeds as being part of Imaan.

Imaan is to be understood as referring to inward submission, which is affirmation in the heart and deeds of the heart, which only comes from one who is a true Believer, as Allah (may He be exalted) says:

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in Imaan; and upon their Lord they rely – those who establish salaah, and spend from what We have provided them.  Those are the Believers, Truly” (Surah al-Anfaal: 8:2).


In this sense, Imaan is higher in status, so every Believer (Mu’min) is a Muslim, but the opposite is not true. This fact is confirmed by the verse just quoted above.  It is also confirmed with regard to the description of the family of Prophet Loot (AS), as they are described once as Believers and once as Muslims. What is meant by Islam here is outward Islam, and what is meant by Imaan is true faith in the heart. When Allah (may He be exalted) referred to the people of Prophet Loot’s family as a whole, He described them as being Muslims, because the wife of Prophet Loot (AS) was one of his family.  She was outwardly a Muslim, but in fact she was a Disbeliever. When Allah (may He be exalted) referred to those of the family who were brought out and were saved, He described them as Believers:

So, We brought out whoever was in the cities of the Believers.

And We found not within them other than a (single) house of Muslims.  (Surah adh-Dhaariyaat: 51:35-36).


Some people think that these two verses above imply that the words Imaan and Islam are one and the same thing.  But this is not the case.  The second verse is in harmony with the first verse, because Allah tells us that He brought out whoever in the city was a Believer. And He also tells us that He did not find any except one family of Muslims, because the wife of Prophet Loot (AS) was among the members of that one family.  But she was not among those who were brought out and saved.  Rather she was among those who were left behind and were punished.  Outwardly she followed her husband’s religion, but inwardly she adhered to her own people’s religion, and betrayed her husband, telling her people about his guests, as Allah (may He be exalted), tells us about her:

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them(Surah at-Tahreem: 66:10).

Thus, Allah differentiated here between the Believers and the Muslims, because the family that was in the city was outwardly a Muslim family, as it included the wife of Prophet Loot (AS), who betrayed him by disbelieving, and she was a disbeliever. As for those who were brought out from the city and saved, they were true Believers, for Imaan had entered their hearts.




Let us purify ourselves spiritually. How is that done? Do not think of evil things. Did not say evil things. Do not look at evil things. Once we have purified ourselves of these things, we will find within us a light, the enjoyment of which will surpass the cheap thrills of evil.


Many people constantly complain about being plagued with lustful thoughts and sexual fantasies. The solution to their problem is very simple: Go to the root of the problem. Stop looking at images that incite your lust and you will not get those many lustful thoughts.


The eyes are the gateway to the heart. When the heart is constantly being bombarded with pornographic and lust-inciting images, what else would we expect the mind to dwell on?


When the eyes are purified, the heart will be purified. When the heart is purified, then the limbs follow in suit.  The Prophet (SAW) said, “Lustful glances are the fornication of the eyes...” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)




Abdullah bin Umar (Radiyallu Anhu) said:

“The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) turned to us and said:

‘O Muhajirun, there are five things with which you will be tested, and I seek refuge with Allah lest you live to see them:

1.   Immorality never appears among a people to such an extent that they commit it openly, but plagues and diseases that were never known among the predecessors will spread among them.

2.   They do not cheat in weights and measures, but they will be stricken with famine, severe calamity and the oppression of their rulers.

3.   They do not withhold the Zakaah of their wealth, but rain will be withheld from the sky, and were it not for the animals, no rain would fall on them.

4.   They do not break their covenant with Allah and His Messenger, but Allah will enable their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands.

5.   Unless their leaders rule according to the Book of Allah and seek all good from that which Allah has revealed, Allah will cause them to fight one another.’”   

(Authentic Hadith from Sunan Ibn Majah)


Our beloved Prophet (SAW) used to pray: O Allah! grant to my soul (Nafs) the sense of righteousness and purify it, for You alone are the Best Purifier of my soul. You are the Protecting Friend (Waliy) of it and the Guardian (Mawlaa) of it as well. O Allah!  I seek refuge in You from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not fear (You), from the soul that does not feel satisfied and from a DU’AA that is not answered.” (Muslim)


O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.


Requesting your duas!


Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir

Johannesburg, Gauteng

South Africa