President's Blog January 2017
In Islam there are three degrees of faith, namely: Islam, Iman and Ihsan. In order to understand the highest level of Ihsan, one must have a good understanding of Islam and Iman. Iman is the very conviction that resides in the heart. For the longest time the Prophet (peace be upon him) was introduced to the base concepts of taqwa (God consciousness), Ikhlas (sincerity) and Iman (conviction). Only after the Muslims were well trained in Iman and their actions symbolized that conviction in the hearts, were the rituals of Islam slowly and wisely introduced.
After the seed of one’s personality is entrenched in the rich soil of Iman and is watered and nourished regularly by the wahi of the Quran, does true submission to Allah SWT take place. Muslims are generally to pray at the age of seven because the preliminary years are spent in nurturing the Iman. Once parents have ensured a child’s personality steeped in faith in Allah SWT and His Prophets (S), His Jennah, His books, His angels and the Last Day, they are to now teach their children about ritual worship. Once the land of the hearts is softened and seeded with Iman, it is now ready for actualizing the acts of worship, blooming like a harvest.
One third of our deen comprises of Ihsan. At this level there is not an iota of doubt in the heart of a person concerning the divine message. Once firm foundation of Iman and Islam are in place, Ihsan acts as the ‘icing on the cake’. It is the fruit which blossoms from our planted trees and emerges when the roots are strong and well nourished. If we fail to nurture our Iman by complete submission to Allah, our souls would ultimately and inevitably suffer death. Our prophetic and saintly legacy is rich with Ihsan as seen in different facets of life. We see Ihsan of the great Islamic civilization in its arts, science, architecture, literature, geography, politics, economics, philosophy and more. Ihsan truly is our lost treasure that needs an urgent revival.
Hence, Ihsan is perfection; it is, in a nutshell, excellence, beauty, balance, harmony and will power. Ihsan is a reflection of the 99 beautiful names of Allah SWT in His Creation. Surah ar-Rahman contains the verse ‘fabi-ayyi alaa’i rabbikuma tukadhhibaan’ as a rhetorical question 31 times out of a total of 78 verses. In the middle of the surah however, Allah SWT questions whether there is any reward for Ihsan except Ihsan? In other words, let those who worship Allah SWT earnestly rest assured of a reward to be given to them by their Lord. As they commit Ihsan, so will they receive Ihsan as a reward. Moreover, they would also receive Ihsan in this world as well. In other words, a believer is to practice Ihsan in this world as well in all his activities and roles. He is to exhibit Ihsan at his workplace as well as during his pastime. He is to actualize Ihsan in his human relations, as well as in any act or responsibility that is placed upon his shoulders. Allah SWT does not merely like that we practice Ihsan, Allah SWT loves that we practice it at all times.
May Allah SWT make us an ummah given to Ihsan in all our affairs, and if we falter, may He guide us to what is best for us here and in the hereafter. Ameen.
Imam Sheharyar Shaikh