In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Compassionate
وَكَمَالُ التَّصْدِيقِ بِهِ تَوْحِيدُهُ وَكَمَالُ تَوْحِيدِهِالاِخْلاصُ لَهُ
‘The perfection of faith in Him is to believe in His Oneness the perfection of believing in His Oneness is purity towards Him’
This extraordinary part of Imam Ali’s sermon sheds light on some crucial matters.
Firstly, this passage shows that faith is on many levels. This is in fact supported by certain verses in the Quran and many narrations by the Holy Imams peace be upon them. Thus not all levels of faith will necessarily make you a monotheist!
هُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ فِي قُلُوبِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِيمَانًا مَّعَ إِيمَانِهِمْ
It is He Who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the Believers, that they may add faith to their faith. (48:4)
This is also evidenced daily in our prayers when we ask God اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (Guide us to the straight path) which is indicative of levels of guidance.
In fact, every organ in one’s body has levels of faith which one needs to obtain. Allah has prescribed faith to each organ, that is distinct from each other. One organ may have faith whilst the other may not. For example one may not commit the sin of back biting on his tongue, but his mind if full of suspicions and doubts. Interestingly, It is said that the ‘aql (intellect) is the the prince of your organs, which means if one wants to conquer his body, he must strive to control and make the mind and heart submissive first.
How does one begin to know if faith is established?
كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. (14:24-25)
If ones actions are consistent one can begin to realise the establishment of faith. The presence of stability indicates that faith resides in the heart and is having its wonderful effect. It brings forth its fruits at all times!
Secondly, not all levels of faith will necessarily make you a monotheist! Similarly, not all levels of monotheism will necessarily make you truly sincere and pure towards God! How is it possible that one can have faith and also at the same time associate with God? As incredible as it seems, the association with God can be two fold; manifest (jali) or it can be concealed (khafi). ‘the concealed kind of shirk pertains reliance on means and dependence on anything other than God. To allow other-than-God to enter the heart is considered concealed shirk’ (Fourty Ahadith – Imam Khomeini)
We see this beautiful point indicated by the verse in the Quran:
وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُم بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُم مُّشْرِكُونَ
‘And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him!’ (12:106)
In the upcoming posts, we will finally discuss what is meant by Tawhid and the facets that must be understood in this matter.