The Third Component of Din al-Islam – Ihsan (Perfection of Character)
The third aspect of the Din is known as the spiritual aspect of the heart, to make one aware when combining the first pillar–which is worship, and the second–which is belief, to keep the state that you are in the Presence of Allah, as if seeing Him, in all your actions and thoughts. And if you cannot see Him–because no one can see Allah in this life–then it means you must keep the continuous awareness of Allah’s Presence in your heart, knowing that He is Aware of every atom and every particle in your worship and in your belief–the states and qualities of your ‘Ibadaat (worship) and Iman. As a result it will produce in you a state of excellence, a state of high quality, by keeping awareness of Allah’s vision on oneself and making one taste the spiritual pleasure and that spiritual light of knowledge that Allah will direct to your heart from His favors and His grants. That is what scholars have termed the Science of Truth, ‘ilm al-Haqiqat, and it was known by this name in the time nearest to the Prophet, during the lives of the Sahaba, as as-Siddiqiyya, the Path of the Siddiqs. Only later did it become known by the name of Tasawwuf.
We can summarize this by saying, Islam prescribes the behaviour of a Muslim, Iman relates to his beliefs and defines them, and Ihsan refers to the state of the heart which determines whether one’s Islam and Ihsan will bear fruit in this life and the next.The evidence (daleel) for this is found in the hadith mentioned above:
“alaa wa inna fil-jassadi mudghattan, idhaa saluhat saluhal-jassadu kulluh wa idha fassadat fassad al-jassadu kulluhu, alaa wa hiya al-qalb.”
“Surely there is in the body a small piece of meat; if it was good the whole body is good and if it is corrupted the whole body is corrupted and that is the heart.”
So from the hadith of Jibril (as), known as “Umm al-ahadith”, we see that Din consists of three states: Islam, Iman and Ihsan.The first pillar, Islam is divided into five components: shahada, salaat, zakat, sawm, hajj. Iman is divided into six: al-Imanu billahi, malaa’ikatihi, kutubihi, rusulihi, Yawm al-aakhir, Qadar. Ihsan is divided into many parts, including all good character and qualities of a believer under its umbrella. These parts include but are not limited to:
God-consciousness (taqwa), Fear of God (wara’), Abstention (zuhd), reverence and humility, (khu’shu and khudhu), patience (sabr), Truthfulness (sidq), Trust in God (tawakkul), morality and good character (adab) which the Prophet (s) emphasized when he said: “adabanee Rabbi fa-ahsana ta’deebee,” [My Lord taught and trained my in good manners and He perfected my manners], Forbearance (hilm), Compassion (ruhma), Generosity (karam), Humbling one’s self (tawada’a), Modesty (haya), Courage (shuja’a) and many other qualities which were dressed on the Prophet (s) by Allah Almighty.
Hazrat ‘Ayesha (r) said, ‘khuluquhul Qur’an’ – “His character was the Qur’an” And the Prophet (s) in his turn, dressed these qualities on all his Sahaba (r) such that they became perfect and shining examples to mankind of how human beings should exist in perfect harmony with the Creator and with each other.
Later we intend to translate Imam Nawawi’s explanation of Umm ul-ahadith, which consists of over eight pages. There he speaks at length on the subject of Ihsan under the terms ‘Ilm al-Mushahada (the Science of Witnessing) and ‘Ilm al-Haqiqa (the Science of Reality) which are some of the branches of Tasawwuf. However we don’t have time or space here to do that now.
© 2016 As-Sunnah Foundation of America