This reminder is from a beloved teacher of mine.. I hope it benefits you as it has for me
How do I know if my Iman is increasing?
The above question was asked by our beloved Bilal.
Instead of speaking about the signs of iman increasing, it is better to speak about how one can increase ones iman, as there is no limit to how much iman can increase. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said in a hadith “Having a good thought of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is by itself having the best form of ibadat,” (Imam al-Hakim) and mentioned for us to “renew our iman” (Imam Ahmad).
Iman is like a tree; if you water it with a good source and care for it, the tree bears fruit, however, if you do not water it or water it with a corrupted source and do not care for it, the tree will fruitless.
With regards to increasing iman, there are a few points to mention:
– When reading the Qur’an, we should read it with contemplation. In Surah Taubah verse 124, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says “When a surah is revealed, some people will say ‘Whose iman has increased by reading this part,’ and for those who believe it will increase them in iman and happiness”. When reading the Qur’an, the best way to read is to stop in every ayah, and to contemplate its meaning. If the ayah is about Jannah, we should ask for it; if the ayah mentions a command from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) we should ensure that we are doing it; if the ayah prevents us from something, we should ask ourselves if we have refrained from it; if the ayah asks us to make tasbih, to check that we are making tasbih; if the ayah commands us to make salawat, to reflect on how much salawat we make; if the ayah describes the universe and the creation of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) to reflect and to think about the Greatness of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).
– In order to increase iman we should seek Allah’s (subhana wa ta’ala) help. In Surah Baqara verse 186 Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says “And if My servants ask you about Me, then I am very close”. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) loves dua, and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said “dua is ibadat itself” (narrated in an authentic hadith by Nu’man ibn Bashir radiAllah anhu). “Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is the most shy when His servants ask Him”. When we make dua to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) it shows our humility, dependency, ibadat of the heart and focuses everything on Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) by giving up from asking anyone else. Inherent in dua is also the fear of whether or not the dua will be accepted, full reliance on Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), glorification of His Greatness, dhikr, choosing Him over others, seeking Him over others and shows our love towards Him, as you would never asked one you did not love. Also, even when we physically raise our hands in dua, it shows that we are begging Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and are fully reliant on Him.
– Also to send salawat and to love Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) increases iman. As we know from the hadith that no ones iman can be complete unless they love Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) more than their money, their children and all of creation. Not only does iman increase with this love, but it is iman itself! There are three things that if achieved, are also related to increasing iman: 1) to love Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) more than love for anything (including Jannah), 2) to love your brother and sister for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), and 3) To hate your past bad deeds as you hate the fire of Jahannum.
– Also, what increases iman is, dhikr-Allah. The examples of which are those who remember versus those who do not are similar to those who are alive and those who are dead. The real life is iman. As Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) mentions in Surah Ra’d verse 28 “Verily, only by the remembrance of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) do hearts achieve peace and tranquillity”. And in Surah Anfal verse 2 Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says “Verily the believers are those who when Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is mentioned their hearts become fearful, and when the verses are recited to them their iman increases, and they rely on Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) fully”. And in Surah Muhammad verse 17 Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says “And those who are guided, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) will increase them in guidance and He will grant them taqwa (awareness of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)/piety)”.
– That which also increases iman is to love to be in the company of the righteous ones; either to be with them or to love to be with them. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says in Surah Taubah verse 119 “Oh you who believe, be aware of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and be in the company of the righteous ones”. Look at them, be with them – this is ibadat. Being in their company and believing they are the best company and better than you, is ibadat and increases iman. Syedina Umar (radiAllah anhu) said to the companions “Let us come together and increase our iman”. Hadhrat Mu’adh (radiAllah anhu) said “Let us sit together and be mu’mins for an hour”.
– Also in increasing our iman, we should give importance to completing our fard (obligatory) actions on time and to carry out the sunnah, as “the most loved forms of ibadat to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) are the continuous forms of ibadat, even if they are small”.
– Another way to increase iman is through tafakkur, or reflection and contemplation. Tafakkur shows us the Greatness of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), and additionally, we should try to avoid people who speak of inconsequential things. Hadhrat Umar (radiAllah anhu) said if it were not for two things, I would not want to be alive; the first, salah, and the second to be in the company of people who choose their words as people choose the best of food. Also, in this Dunya, we dwell on instruction manuals for things that we do, but if we were to look and reflect on our body and composition, we would see Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and His Greatness.
– We should also use our time wisely and try to always be in a state of dhikr, as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says in Surah Al Imran verse 191 “Make dhikr while standing, walking or laying, and keep thinking about the creation of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), whose contemplation will lead you to realize that all this was created for a purpose which will lead you to one reality.” After this ayah, there is no excuse for free time!
– And from the things that increase iman, is to visit the graveyard as it reminds us of the Akhira. As Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) mentioned that hearts become rusted like metal, the companions asked Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) how their hearts can be cleansed of this rust, to which he (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) responded to remember death and to read the Qur’an. Also, to make taubah is from the acts that increase iman. In addition, to be in a state of rida, complete satisfaction, with Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Those in the state of rida know that whatever situation they are in or that which is around them is the best and has been placed in front of them from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) who wants the best for them.
– When you go through tests, know that these tests are from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), and to face them with patience increases your iman. In Surah Al Imran verse 173 Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says speaking about the believers “people will come to them and tell them that all are against them and that they should move away in fear, the believers will instead not respond in fear, but rather this will increase their iman! And their response will be ‘Sufficient for us is Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), and He is the best Sponsor”. For the believers, regardless of the test, nothing will happen to them. Yes, maybe their physical bodies may be affected, but their heart and soul is not harmed and does not waver in the face of any test, but rather it is strengthened with iman!
– Lastly, the best thing we can implement to increase our iman is to have the best of characters, as the best iman is of those who have the best of characters, and as we know,
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) praised Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) for having the best of characters in the Qur’an.
May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) guide us and strengthen our iman.
Allahumma salli alaa Syedina Muhammad wa alaa Ahli Syedina Muhammad.