Relationship between Faith, Knowledge and Deeds

بسمه تعلى

Faith is to believe in a thing and to abide by its code, and in the Qur’anic doctrine it is the faith in Allah (swt), His Divine Unity, His Prophets and their messages, and the Last Day; faith not just with words, but must be accompanied with the correct deeds as per the laws of the religion of Islam.

When the believers are mentioned in the Qur’an, it is always followed by the link between faith and good deeds, as in the following, and many similar, verses:

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do.[1]

and

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ طُوبَىٰ لَهُمْ وَحُسْنُ مَآبٍ

Those who believe and do right: Joy is for them, and bliss (their) journey’s end.[2]

There are also those that knowingly refuse to believe in what they accept as the truth, due to their pride, arrogance and self-love:

جَحَدُوا بِهَا وَاسْتَيْقَنَتْهَا أَنفُسُهُمْ ظُلْمًا وَعُلُوًّا ۚ فَانظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُفْسِدِينَ 

And they denied them, though their souls acknowledged them, for spite and arrogance. Then see the nature of the consequence for the wrong-doers![3]

  فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم مَّا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ

and when there cometh unto them that which they know (to be the truth) they disbelieve therein.[4]

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّـهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god, and Allah sendeth him astray purposely, and sealeth up his hearing and his heart, and setteth on his sight a covering? Then who will lead him after Allah (hath condemned him)? Will ye not then heed?[5]

In short, it is not enough to know and be certain of the truth, and then expect faith to enter one’s heart, but it is essential to act upon what one knows, so that the desired effect upon one’s heart and external character becomes manifest.

To explain this further we need to look at the meaning of nearness to Allah (swt) and ascending to Him, nearness not in the spatial or temporal sense, like of A is close to B, B will be close to A in the material sense, yet in the immaterial it is possible that one of the two could be near and the other far, and this is called spiritual or metaphysical nearness. From this point of view we can compare a person’s nearness or distance from Allah (swt), where Allah (swt) is near to His servant, yet His servant could be distant, as in the verses:

وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ 

and He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah is Seer of what ye do.[6]

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ وَنَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِهِ نَفْسُهُ ۖ وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ

We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.[7]

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ

and know that Allah cometh in between the man and his own heart, and that He it is unto Whom ye will be gathered.[8]

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.[9]

The reality of closeness to Allah (swt) is absolute submission and awareness of His presence at all times.[10]

In Man’s path to perfection, when he travels from creation to the Real, and from the material intellect to the active intellect, he comes in contact with the Names and attributes of Allah (swt). In other words he attains his goal and true happiness. The depth and faculties of his existence are strengthened and he becomes one of Allah’s (swt) great signs or manifestations. He thus attains the state of sanctity and Divine vicegerency. This spiritual state can be called “nearness to Allah (awj).” [11]

________________________________________________________________

[1] 16:97

[2] 13:29

[3] 27:14

[4] 2:89

[5] 45:23

[6] 57:4

[7] 50:16

[8] 8:24

[9] 2:186

[10] By narration of Is’haaq ibn Ammar who said: Abu Abdullah Al Hussein (as) said:’ Fear Allah as if you see Him, and if you don’t see Him, verily He sees you.’; Al Kafi, Vol.2, pg.68.

[11] Philosophers divide the intellect into four levels:

Material or Passive Intellect (passive intellect or nous pateticos): In this stage, the intellect is at a potential state of understanding.

Intellect by Proficiency: In this stage, the intellect understands the self-evident concepts and judgments.

Active or Agent Intellect (intellectus agens or nous poietikos): The stage when the intellect understands concepts or judgments needing speculative reasoning through self-evident concepts and judgments.

Acquired Intellect: This is the stage when the intellect understands all self-evident concepts and judgments and those needing speculative reasoning corresponding to the metaphysical and physical worlds in such manner that it keeps them present and is actually attentive of them.

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