|Sufism and the Perennial Conflict of Good and Evil|
|What the Prophet Brought|
|Umm ul-Ahadith, The Hadith of Jibril|
|The Relationship between Shari‘ah and Haqiqat|
Umm ul-Ahadith, The Hadith of Jibril
We cite here the well-known hadith of Jibrīl ¡ which all scholars recognize as the source of the Sunnah and the source of all hadith (Umm as-Sunnah wa umm al-aħādīth). As one of the most important hadiths in Islam, it needs no additional support:
قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي اَبِي عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ قَالَ بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ اِذْ طَلَعَ عَلَيْنَا رَجُلٌ شَدِيدُ بَيَاضِ الثِّيَابِ شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ الشَّعَرِ
لاَ يُرَى عَلَيْهِ اَثَرُ السَّفَرِ وَلاَ يَعْرِفُهُ مِنَّا اَحَدٌ حَتَّى جَلَسَ اِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَاَسْنَدَ رُكْبَتَيْهِ اِلَى رُكْبَتَيْهِ وَوَضَعَ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى فَخِذَيْهِ وَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ
اَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الإِسْلاَمِ . فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم " الإِسْلاَمُ اَنْ تَشْهَدَ اَنْ لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَاَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلاَةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ
وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ اِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ اِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً . قَالَ صَدَقْتَ . قَالَ فَعَجِبْنَا لَهُ يَسْاَلُهُ وَيُصَدِّقُهُ . قَالَ فَاَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الإِيمَانِ . قَالَ " اَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ
وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ " . قَالَ صَدَقْتَ . قَالَ فَاَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ الإِحْسَان . قَالَ " اَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَاَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ فَاِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ
تَرَاهُ فَاِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ " . قَالَ فَاَخْبِرْنِي عَنِ السَّاعَةِ . قَالَ " مَا الْمَسْئُولُ عَنْهَا بِاَعْلَمَ مِنَ السَّائِلِ " . قَالَ فَاَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ اَمَارَتِهَا . قَالَ " اَنْ تَلِدَ الأَمَةُ رَبَّتَهَا وَاَنْ تَرَى
الْحُفَاةَ الْعُرَاةَ الْعَالَةَ رِعَاءَ الشَّاءِ يَتَطَاوَلُونَ فِي الْبُنْيَانِ " . قَالَ ثُمَّ انْطَلَقَ فَلَبِثْتُ مَلِيًّا ثُمَّ قَالَ لِي " يَاعُمَرُ اَتَدْرِي مَنِ السَّائِلُ " . قُلْتُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ اَعْلَمُ . قَالَ
" فَاِنَّهُ جِبْرِيلُ اَتَاكُمْ يُعَلِّمُكُمْ دِينَكُمْ
From Umar who said, “While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, there appeared before us a man with a very white garment, and very black hair. No traces of journeying wee visible on him and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet, rested his knees against his and put his palms on his thighs and said, ‘O Muhammad inform me about Islam.’ Said the Messenger: ‘Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should say the prayers, pay the zakāt, fast during Ramadan and go on Hajj to the House if you can find a way to do so.’ He said, ‘You have spoken truly.’ We were astonished at his first questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say: ‘Inform me about Īmān.’ Muhammad answered: ‘It is that you believe in Allah and His angels, and his books and his messengers and in the last Day and that you should believe in the Decreeing of both good and evil.’ He said: ‘You have spoken truly.’ Then he said: ‘Inform me about Iħsān [perfection of character].’ The Messenger answered: ‘It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him, yet He sees you.’
Thereupon the man went off. I waited a while and then the Prophet said: ‘O Umar do you know who that was?’ I replied: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘That was Jibrīl. He came to teach you your religion.’”
In this hadith, the archangel Jibrīl divided religion into three categories or main branches, from which everything else – all ahādīth and all Sunnah – flows. He also emphasized the divisions between each branch by asking about each one separately. The first is Islam, the practical side of the religion that includes worship, deeds and other obligations. It relates to the external aspect of the self, the body and the community. Scholars call this Shari'ah. It is the subject of Ilm al-Fiqh, the Science of Jurisprudence.
The Second Component of Din al-Islam - Iman (Belief)
The second category, Imān, is the expression of belief through the mind and heart. This means belief in Allah, His Messengers, His Books, the Angels, the Last Day, and Destiny. This became known to scholars as Ilm at-Tawħīd, the Science of Divine Unity, or Ilm al-aqā’id, the Science of Doctrine. The meaning of Imān is elaborated on elsewhere in the Holy Qur’ān:
قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَإِن تُطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَا يَلِتْكُم مِّنْ أَعْمَالِكُمْ شَيْئًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
The desert Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, “Ye have no faith; but ye (only)say, We have submitted our wills to Allah, For not yet has Faith entered your hearts. But if ye obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught of your deeds: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
Here, Allah informs the desert Arabs that they have yet to attain true belief. Rather, they have achieved the level of Islam. They became Muslims, but faith did not yet enter their hearts. Faith entails belief in the Unseen, al-Imān bi ’l-ghayb, and the highest level of faith is to testify to the truth of the Prophet’s statements, as Sayyidina Abū Bakr did when the Quraysh confronted him saying, “Your companion claims to have ascended to heaven and returned in one night. What do you say to that?” and he replied, “The Messenger of Allah spoke the truth.”
The Third Component of Din al-Islam - Ihsan (Perfection of Character)
The third aspect of religion is known as Iħsān, Perfection of Character. It combines the first category, worship, and the second, belief, to reach the State of Presence. This is why the maqām al-Iħsān is described as worshipping Allah “as if you are seeing Him.” The qualifier “as if” is necessary, because in reality we cannot see Allah. However, we can reach a level where we realize that Allah is seeing us. That is a colossal perception, and it is sometimes termed al-yaqīn, certainty. One who has reached this state of perception is granted a taste of spiritual pleasure and illuminated with the light of knowledge by Allah. The heart of the seeker is filled with His Favors and Grants.
The path to this high station of spiritual awareness has been termed by scholars the Science of Truth, ilm al-Haqīqat. In the time nearest to the Prophet , during the lives of the Sahaba, it was known as aš-Šiddiqīyya, the path of the veracious. Later, it become known as ilm at-tašawwuf, the Science of Sufism.
We see then that Islam prescribes the behavior of a Muslim, Īmān relates to his beliefs and defines them, and Iħsān refers to the state of the heart which determines whether his Islam and Iħsān will bear fruit in this life and the next.