How can we Strengthen our Belief? Will you give information about the Increase and Decrease of Belief, Tahqiq (Investigative) and Taqlid (Imitative) Belief and the Importance of Belief?

The Details of the Question

How can we Strengthen our Belief? Will you give information about the Increase and Decrease of Belief, Tahqiq (Investigative) and Taqlid (Imitative) Belief and the Importance of Belief? Will you give Information about Investigative and Imitative Belief? Is there a weak or strong belief, how can we understand this?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Faith is a light, a blessing from Allah. However, faith is knowledge at the same time, which must be necessarily learnt. There are two ways to strengthen our faith:

The first and the primary one is to learn the rules of the sunnah and to investigate it in accordance with the Quran and the sunnah, as required by our time.

The second one is to advance in spirituality through performing good deeds, purifying the heart and soul by avoiding sins.

However, the course of this century makes the second way really difficult to take. For this reason, it is very important to read books which teach investigative faith. It has also become essential to study science as a feature of our century, besides studying religious knowledge. This is because ‘the light of the mind is science as the light of the heart is religious knowledge.’  We can state that one of the most important books which teach both of them together is Risale-i Nur Collection. In addition, one can benefit very well from books of significant people such as Imam Ghazali, Imam Rabbani, Imam Mawardi and Imam Qushairi.

Protecting and strengthening faith is a Muslim’s most important issue. It is necessary to attach importance to taqwa (God-Consciousness) in order to protect faith. Faith can only be protected within the castle of taqwa. Without taqwa, faith tends to deteriorate. It is necessary to read and make research on books about faith a lot in order to strengthen faith. Issues about faith which result from knowledge do not have an effect on one’s feelings unless it is filtered through reasoning. Firstly, mind must be satisfied.

Contemplation is very important. The fact that Prophet Abraham found his Lord by watching the moon and stars and contemplating is narrated in the Quran. Faith improves with thinking. For this reason, it is stated in a hadith that “One hour of contemplation is superior to one year of nafilah (supererogatory) prayer.”

Environment has a great influence on human beings. Sins suggest people infidelity. Suggestion has a great influence on human beings. It infuses infidelity into one’s sub-conscious while people are unaware of it. For this reason, one must keep away from sinful places as much as possible. Sins committed outside carelessly suggest people that there are no hereafter and punishment. To be protected from the negative effects of such suggestions, one must keep away from sinful places as much as possible and try to suggest people goodness and prevent them from evil as much as s/he can. One needs to study issues about faith a lot and pay attention to delivered messages in order to compensate for the damages of the negative suggestions which s/he has been exposed to. It is necessary to meet often with people who care about good deeds and live in accordance with taqwa. In this sense, the importance of a community (jama’ah) becomes more obvious. Just like sins suggest infidelity, good deeds suggest faith.

What is the Nature of Belief?

Belief is the greatest blessing and grant of Allah to humans. Allah gives it to His slaves that He wishes. However, it cannot be claimed that the slave has no role in receiving it. On the contrary, the slave should use his preference and will first and be willing for belief and guidance. Allah will give him belief and guidance upon his demand and request. Therefore, some Islamic scholars and saints described belief as, “It is a light that Allah Almighty puts into the heart of a person He wishes after that person uses his partial will and preference in that way.”

Is an increase and development in belief in question?

A seed grows and develops greatly until it becomes a tree; belief is like a tree too. Islamic scholars divide belief into two levels first:

1– Taqlid (imitative) belief,
2– Tahqiq (investigative) belief...

Imitative belief: It means adhering to the fundamentals of belief traditionally without reasoning on the issue as one hears from his parents, teachers and environment. Since imitative belief is a kind of believing that is not based on a detailed belief in the fundamentals and consciousness of belief, it may be exposed to some doubts and delusions and face the risk of faltering and breaking down especially in this age.

Investigative belief: It means knowing all of the issues about belief with evidence and in detail, to approve and believe without hesitation. A belief like that can protect itself from faltering and breaking down when faced by doubts and delusions. There are various degrees of investigative belief. Islamic scholars divide those degrees into three:

1 – Certainty at the degree of knowledge: It means knowing and believing in Islamic issues scientifically and in detail.

2 – Certainty at the degree of witnessing: It means knowing and believing in Islamic issues as if seeing them or as if observing their truthfulness personally.Seeing through eyes and knowing scientifically are very different from the aspect of giving a person an idea. Man can know something definitely, without hesitation but when he sees it, his belief increases. For instance, knowing the existence of America and seeing America personally. Certainty at the degree of witnessing is believing in the fundamentals of belief as if seeing through the eyes.

3 – Absolute certainty: It means accepting and realizing the issues concerning belief by entering into them and experiencing them personally.

The following example can be given to explain the three levels of belief: When smoke is seen somewhere it is known that there is a fire there. To know the presence of fire by seeing the smoke is certainty at the degree of knowledge. To go near the fire and to know the existence of fire by seeing it is certainty at the degree of witnessing. To go near the fire and to put your hand into the fire and feel the burning property of the fire and to know the existence of fire like that is absolute certainty.

Is imitative belief sufficient today?

As we have mentioned above, today, imitative belief faces many delusions and doubts and they are exposed to be shattered and break down. Ali Fuad Başgil explains the reasons why imitative belief was sufficient in the past but not sufficient today as follows:

“People needed the strength of religion and spirituality in every period. However, that need became an obligation today. In the past, our ancestors lived comfortably with quite simple knowledge of religion and “imitative belief” in the form of tradition because the whole environment presented them with spirituality. Today, the situation has changed completely. The feeling of religion has weakened; the former religious respect has been replaced by an arrogant disrespect. The family has diminished and the family ties have loosened. The burden of the family has been placed on the shoulders of the father and mother; they have not been able to take care of the religious education of their children due to the economic needs.”

“On the other hand, schools and universities have become centers of anti-religious propaganda. In an environment that has become more blurred with the derisions and obstinacy of the stubborn deniers, simple knowledge of religion is not enough today.”

“Questions like “What is religion? What is its relation with science? What should religion do in the presence of science and what kind of attitude should it assume?” have been occupying minds more than ever. Especially the intellectual young people should know the answers to those questions.”

Indeed, the religious knowledge and the belief lesson to be given today should have an investigative content that will make the mind and logic accept the issues about belief. Otherwise, a simple lesson of religion, some knowledge about belief in the form of tradition will not be satisfactory for the people, especially the youth of today.

What is the Importance of Belief for Man?

1. Belief is the reason why man was created.That is, he was created in order to know his Creator with belief and to worship Him. If man acts in accordance with the reason of creation, he will attain the endless bliss in the hereafter and enter Paradise; otherwise, he will be sent to Hell and will be exposed to endless trouble and unhappiness.

In this regard, belief is the means of gaining the endless bliss and the key to Paradise. One cannot enter Paradise without belief. Therefore, it is more important than anything in the world for a man to believe and to preserve his belief without losing or weakening it until his last breath. Because of the great importance of belief, our Prophet said: “Renew your belief by saying la ilaha illallah” : there is no god but Allah”; he attracted our attention to renewing and preserving belief. A question like, “the belief is repeatedly ordered to be renewed; is there a continuous possibility of belief to weaken and be lost?” may come to one’s mind.

Badiuzzaman, interprets the issue of renewing belief as follows by giving also the answer to that question:

“Since man himself and the world in which he lives are being continuously renewed, he needs constantly to renew his belief. For in reality each individual human being consists of many individuals. He may be considered as a different individual to the number of the years of his life, or rather to the number of the days even to the hours of his life. Since a single individual is subject to time, he is like a model and each passing day clothes him in the form of another individual.”

“Furthermore, just as there is within man this plurality and renewal, so also is the world in which he lives in motion. It goes and is replaced by another. It varies constantly. Every day opens the door of another world. As for belief, it is both the light of the life of each individual in that person, and it is the light of the world in which he lives. And as for la ilaha illallah (there is no god but Allah), it is a key with which to turn on the light.”

“Then, the instinctual soul, desire, doubts, and Satan exercise great influence over man. In order to damage his belief, they are much of the time able to benefit from his negligence, to trick him, with their wiles, and thus to extinguish the light of belief with doubts and uncertainty.”

“Also, man is prone to act and utter words which apparently oppose the Sharia, and which in the view of some religious authorities are no less than unbelief.Therefore, there is a need to renew belief all the time, every hour, every day...” (Letters The Twenty-Sixth Letter)

In the passage above, the necessity of renewing belief is underlined from three different points:

First point: The time and place man lives, his spiritual mood, psychology, thought and understanding can change very often due to the environment he is in. The things that he is exposed to, the things that he does and the people that he contacts leave positive or negative marks on him. Our Prophet states the following about the issue:

“The heart of the son of Adam is like a sparrow; it turns seven times a day; it is turned continuously.” (Jamiu’s-Saghir, 2342)

“Doubtlessly, all of the hearts of the sons of Adam are like one heart in the powerful fingers of Allah, who is Rahman (the most Compassionate); Allah turns His slave wherever he wants to turn.” (Jamiu’s-Saghir, 2344)

“The heart of the son of Adam is more changeable than a saucepan; when it boils, the water moves.” (Jamiu’s-Saghir, 7300)

“The heart is like a feather in the desert. The wind turns it inside out continuously.” (Jamiu’s-Saghir, 8135)

“The reason why the heart (qalb) is called so is that it turns all the time. The heart is like a feather stuck in a tree in the desert; the wind turns it inside out continuously. (Jamiu’s-Saghir, 2595)

Due to the fact that the heart of man and his psychological mood is so vulnerable to outside effects, our Prophet ordered us to renew or beliefs often by saying “la ilaha illallah.”

Second Point: It is the fact that there are negative feelings like the soul, desires and delusion in man, and the devil constantly tries to tempt and deceive him. In a moment of heedlessness, those negative thoughts may cause doubts in man about belief. It is necessary to renew belief so as not to fall into a dangerous situation like that. 

Third Point: Man cannot keep himself away from some words and sentences that are contrary to religion seemingly and that are even regarded as unbelief by some scholars. Therefore, it is necessary to say “la ilaha illallah” and renew belief. 

Another way of strengthening and preserving belief is to upgrade it from the level of imitative belief to investigative belief. It can only be achievedby reading the books about belief that teach the truths of belief investigatively and answer the doubts and delusions that can come to the mind and by taking part in talks about belief.

If man upgrades his belief from imitative to investigative level, it will be out of question for him to lose his belief and to die without belief in the last breath. Islamic scholars say that the devil will come to deceive man and take away his belief in his deathbed using all of his tricks and delusions. Therefore, they say that they are afraid of the time of death. Man can be freed from dangers like that in deathbed through investigative belief. It is because in investigative belief, belief is not only in the mind; it is distributed over the heart, spirit and other feelings and settled there. Even if the devil damages the belief in man’s mind, it cannot remove the belief settled in other feelings. Thus, he remains a believer and dies as a believer.

2. Belief is a great source of morality and a strong supporting point for man. A person who attains the real belief can challenge the whole universe and can get rid of the pressure of the troubles that he undergoes to the extent of the strength of his belief. Our victories that made history and caused people write legends are good examples of the strength that belief gives to man.

A believing person, no matter how big a disaster happens to him, may face those troubles and sorrows with trust in Allah and surrendering, and with the feeling of consent to predestination and confront them with patience and endurance. He does not fall into hopelessness and pessimism. He does not resort to rebellion and screaming. It comes from the strength that belief gives a man. We see very often that people with no belief give way to despair so much that they think of committing suicide when they face very small problems. The fact that we witness almost no suicides in Islamic countries and that suicides increase in the most civilized and wealthy countries with high level of welfare confirm it.

Our Prophet pointed out to the power of strength and resistance that belief makes man gain as follows:

The example of a believer is that of a fresh green plant. The leaves of it move in whatever direction the wind forces it to move. When the wind becomes still, it stands straight. Such is the similitude of the believer: He is bent by calamities (but does not fall down). And the example of an unbeliever is that of a pine tree which remains hard and straight till Allah pulls it down when He wishes." (Bukhari, Tawhid, 32)

"The state of a believer is very nice. If a misfortune hits him, he shows patience; it is good for him. If something good happens to him, he thanks God; it is good for him." (Muslim, Zuhd, 64)

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