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Islamic core teaching: 3 levels of faith


04-11-2016, 01:41 AM #1
Sunflower
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Salaam, peace, to all.
This is my first thread ever here, so please bear with me and be kind. I will not respond to any aggressiveness, attack, or insult.

Islam is the most misunderstood religion today. Many people in the west resent Islam based only on what they read or hear, either from MSM or from words of mouth.

Therefore, I'd like to start a thread here to explain/discuss the core teaching of Islam and what does a Muslim really mean.

I will start with a famous sahih hadith about Jibril alaihi salam, which was related by Umar ibn Khattab radiyallahu anhu:

"One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journey were to be seen on him and none of us knew him.

He walked up and sat down in front of the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam), with his knees touching against the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs he said: “O Muhammad, tell me about Islaam.”

The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Islaam is to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, to perform prayers, to give Zakaah, to fast in Ramadaan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so.”
He said: “You have spoken rightly”; and we were amazed at him asking him and saying that he had spoken rightly.

He (the man) said: “Tell me about Iman (Eemaan).”
He (the Prophet, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is to believe in Allaah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny (qadr), both the good and the evil of it.”
He said: “You have spoken rightly.”

He (the man) said: “Then tell me about Ihsaan.”
He (the Prophet, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is to worship Allaah as though you see Him, and if you do not see Him, then (knowing that) truly He sees you.”

He said: “Then tell me about the Hour.”
He said: “The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.”

He said: “Then tell me about its signs.”
He said: “That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, and that you will see barefooted, naked destitute shepherds competing in constructing lofty buildings.”

Then he (the man) left, and I stayed for a time. The he (the Prophet, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “O `Umar, do you know who the questioner was?”
I said: “Allaah and His Messenger know best.”
He said: “It was Jibreel [Gabriel], who came to teach you your religion.”

From this hadith, we, Muslims, understand that there are 3 levels of faith in our religion:
Level 1. Islam (submission to Allah)
Level 2. Imaan (faith)
Level 3. Ihsaan (perfection)

Level 1. Islam

Islam simply means submission (to Allah).
There are 5 pillars of Islam:

1. Syahada, testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
2. Salah, pray the 5 obligatory prayers a day
3. Zakah, give charity to the needy
4. Shaum, fast in Ramadhan (obligatory), for 29 or 30 days in a year.
5. Hajj, do the pilgrimage to Mekkah, at least once in a lifetime for those who are able to do it (it is not obligatory for those are not able).

Those who do these 5 pillars are called Muslim.

Level 2. Imaan

Imaan means faith or belief
There 6 pillars of Imaan:
1. Believe in Allah
2. Believe in His Angels
3. Believe in His Books (Qur'an, the original Injeel, the original Torah, Zabur etc.)
4. Believe in His Messengers, from Prophet Adam to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them all.
5. Believe in the Last Day
6. Believe in the divine destiny (qadr)

And those who do these are called Mu'min.

Level 3. Ihsaan

Ihsaan means perfection. There are 2 levels of Ihsaan:
1. Worshipping Allah as though we see Him. This is the highest level of Ihsaan.
2. Being aware that Allah always sees what we do even though we cannot see Him.

Those who reach the levels of Ihsaan are called Muhsin.

This is the highest level in Islam, the level of perfection. A Muhsin has purified his/her intention. He/She does everything and anything to please Allah only.

All Muslims should strive to be a Mu'min and ultimately a Muhsin.


So, to summarize,
- a Muslim may not be a Mu'min
- a Mu'min may not be a Muhsin, but 
- a Mu'min is certainly a Muslim and
- a Muhsin is certainly a Muslim and a Mu'min.

However, it is impossible to distinguish between these 3 levels, as only Allah and the person himself who knows what is in their heart.

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.

04-12-2016, 05:01 AM #2
Thy Unveiling
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Thank you, Sunflower. I was unaware of the three levels. It sounds like a lot of hard work! I'm not meaning this as a put-down, and I know you find it rewarding to show such devotion. Still, even remembering to do the prayers properly for the first, Muslim, level can prove rather challenging for those new to the faith. Heck, even remembering to do more than a quick "Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings!" can be hard to remember when Life sweeps you up in a moment or a mission!

Thank you for helping to educate others Smile

"Be the change you want to see in the world"

There's only one true judge and that's God; so chill and let Our Father do His job
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04-12-2016, 09:46 AM #3
Sunflower
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You are very welcome TU.

Faith in Islam is graded.

As Allah SWT said in QS Al Israa 17:21

“Look how we favored (in provision) some of you over others but the Hereafter is greater on degrees (of difference) and greater in distinction.”

The levels are also mentioned in the Qur'an QS Faatir 35: 32

“Then We caused to inherit the Book (Qur’an) those we have chosen of Our servants; and among them is he who wrongs himself, and among them is he who takes a medium course, and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah."

Among those who submit to Allah, there are:
- those who wrong themselves
- those who take medium course
- those who are foremost in good deeds by Allah's permission

Shahada is only the door to becoming a Muslim, but we cannot call ourselves a Muslim if we have not done the 5 pillars (or 4 depending on our means)

Then, only after we can be a true Muslim, can we continue the journey to becoming a Mu'min. The process is called Hijrah (emigration).

The faith in Islam requires not only the declaration by our tongue and the acts of our body, but also the surrender of our heart to Allah.
This post was last modified: 04-26-2016, 10:41 AM by Sunflower.

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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04-12-2016, 10:01 AM #4
Sunflower
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(04-12-2016, 05:01 AM)Thy Unveiling Wrote:  Thank you, Sunflower. I was unaware of the three levels. It sounds like a lot of hard work! I'm not meaning this as a put-down, and I know you find it rewarding to show such devotion. Still, even remembering to do the prayers properly for the first, Muslim, level can prove rather challenging for those new to the faith. Heck, even remembering to do more than a quick "Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings!" can be hard to remember when Life sweeps you up in a moment or a mission!

Thank you for helping to educate others Smile

Do not be put off by the seemingly a lot of works. Getting in the door and trying our best is the best thing we can do for ourselves. The journey can be slow, but remember that we will be judged by our intention.

And you are not alone, a lot of Muslims today are still struggling with keeping the 5 pillars, especially the 5 obligatory Salah. This is the most important pillar in Islam, as it is the first thing that will be asked and judged.

According to a sahih hadith by Al-Bukhaari (44) and Muslim (193):

narrated from Anas that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa salam) said: “Whoever says Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god but Allah) and has in his heart goodness the weight of a grain of barley will be brought out of Hell, then whoever says Laa ilaaha ill-Allah and has in his heart goodness the weight of a grain of wheat will be brought out of Hell, then whoever says Laa ilaaha ill-Allah and has in his heart goodness the weight of an atom (or a small ant) will be brought out of Hell.”

Some Muslims will still go to hell temporarily, but in the end, ALL Muslims will eventually end up in Paradise inshaAllah.
This post was last modified: 04-12-2016, 04:04 PM by Sunflower.

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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04-12-2016, 04:38 PM #5
Sunflower
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I will try to elaborate further on each level.

Level 1. Islam

The word “Islam” is never mentioned in the Qur’an as the name of religion exclusive to Prophet Muhammad pbuh. The word Islam in Arabic means submission to God. And the true religion, as far as God is concerned, is Submission to God, which is Islam.

Behold, the only [true] religion in the sight of God is [man's] self-surrender unto Him.” (QS Al-Imran:19)

The translation of the word God in Arabic is Allah, Al-Lah, the God, the Only God.  Hence, submission to God means submission to Allah.

All Messengers of Allah, from Prophet Adam, Prophet Nuh (Noah), Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), Prophet Musa (Moses), Prophet Isa (Jesus), to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them all, submitted to the Almighty Allah, and called their people to submit to the One and Only God, Allah Azza wa Jalla.

The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah--the which We have sent by inspiration to thee--and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely that ye should remain steadfast in Religion and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him) (QS Ash-Shuraa:13)

Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian but he was true in faith and bowed his will to Allah's (which is Islam) and he joined not gods with Allah. (QS Al-I’Imran:67)

In order to submit to God, there are 5 duties that any Muslim has to do. They are called the 5 Pillars of Islam, the basic foundation of Islam.

1. Shahada (Declaration of Faith)

Anybody who submits to Allah is called Muslim, and the first step to show this submission is by declaring Shahadah: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger.”

Any person who utters shahadah with sincere heart is Muslim. Shahada consists of two parts, and both parts are mentioned in the Qur’an. The first part is declaration of the Oneness of Allah (The God), and the second part is the declaration that Muhammad is just the Messenger of Allah, hence he is not divine.

There is no god but He: that is the witness of Allah His angels and those endued with knowledge standing firm on justice. There is no god but He the Exalted in Power the Wise.” (QS Al-I’Imran:18)

Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer) seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Torah; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade then makes it strong; it then becomes thick and it stands on its own stem (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result it fills the Unbelievers with rage at him. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds Forgiveness and a great Reward. (QS Al-Fath:29)
This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 12:47 PM by Sunflower.

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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04-20-2016, 12:49 PM #6
Sunflower
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2. Salah (Prayer)

The second pillar of Islam is salah or prayer. Salah is the first act of worship that Allah made obligatory to all Muslims. Neglecting salah is a major sin in Islam.

Allah commands Muslims, as He commanded Prophet Musa (Moses) pbuh to do prayer:

Verily, I - I alone - am God; there is no deity save Me. Hence, worship Me alone, and be constant in prayer, so as to remember Me! (QS Ta-ha:14)

Muslims are required to do 5 daily compulsary prayers or fard salah in Arabic.
- Subuh, or the dawn prayer
- Duhr, or the noon prayer
- Asr, or the afternoon prayer
- Maghrib, or the dusk prayer
- Isha, or the evening prayer.



And when you have finished your prayer remember God - standing and sitting and lying down and when you are once again secure, observe you prayers [fully]. Verily, for all believers, prayer is indeed a sacred duty linked to particular times [of day]. (QS An-Nisaa :103)

The times for salah are announced with adzan or call to prayer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_LN0hznp-A

The benefit of Salah is to keep us from the great sins and evil deeds, by remembering Allah constantly. Muslims pray 5 times a day, everyday, so we are constantly remember Allah and we become fearful of doing any sins or misdeed since we will stand before Him later on the day.

Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do. (QS Al-Ankabut :45)

“Indeed, mankind was created anxious: When evil touches him, impatient, and when good touches him, withholding [of it], Except the observers of prayer - Those who are constant in their prayer." (QS Al-Ma’arij :19-23)

The 5 compulsary prayers or fard salah should in no event be neglected, because salah is our first duty to Allah that will be judged on judgement day. 

According to a hadith narrated by Abu Dawood, 864; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 770
:
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The first thing among their deeds for which the people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be prayer. Our Lord will say to His angels, although He knows best, ‘Look at My slave’s prayer, is it complete or lacking?’ If it is complete, it will be recorded as complete, but if it is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether my slave did any voluntary (naafil) prayers.’ If he had done voluntary prayers, He will say, ‘Complete the obligatory prayers of My slave from his voluntary prayers.’ Then the rest of his deeds will be examined in a similar manner.”

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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04-20-2016, 12:51 PM #7
Sunflower
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3. Sawm (Fasting)

Sawm or fasting is the 3rd pillar of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah's commands through the highest degree of commitment, sincerity and faithfulness to seek Allah's mercy, to atone for sins, errors, and mistakes and to avoid condemnation to Hell.


In the Qur’an, Allah commands us, to fast. One who avoids fasting without genuine reasons is a sinner and transgressor according to Islamic law.

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know." (QS Al-Baqarah:183-84)

The fasting is done in Ramadhan:

"The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan), he must fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him" (QS Al-Baqarah: 185).

The spiritual and benefit of fasting:

- Becoming the pious one, those who fear Allah.

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)" (QS Al-Baqarah:183)

- Providing peace and tranquility

There are a peace and tranquality for those who fast during the month of Ramadan. Personal hostility is at a minimum, and the crime rate decreases. Muslims take advice from the Prophet who said,
"If one slanders you or aggresses against you, say I am fasting."

- Many health benefits, such as lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure, etc.

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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04-20-2016, 12:53 PM #8
Sunflower
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4. Zakah (Charity)

Zakah is the 4th pillar of Islam. The literal meaning of zakah is “purification”, because zakat is considered to purify one’s heart of greed.  Love of wealth is natural and it takes firm belief in God for a person to part with some of his wealth.  Zakat must be paid on different categories of property — gold, silver, money; livestock; agricultural produce; and business commodities — and is payable each year after one year’s possession.  It requires an annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets.

Zakah is an act of worship involving wealth. The command for zakah is of high and commendable standard that it is frequently coupled with prayer.

“Lo! Those who believe and do good deeds and establish salat and pay zakat, their reward is with their Sustainer; and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.” (QS Al-Baqarah:277)

“These are verses of the Book full of wisdom, a guide and mercy to the doers of good -those who establish salat and pay zakat and have the assurance of the Hereafter.” (QS Luqman:4)

Giving Zakat purifies the heart of the one who gives from selfishness and greed for wealth, and develops in him sympathy for the poor and needy.  For those who receive the Zakat, it purifies the heart from envy and hatred of the rich and prosperous, and fosters a sense of good will between brothers.  Zakat has a deep spiritual significance as well as an economic objective.

Islam is a religion that encourages generosity and Zakat is just one way of encouraging this in our everyday lives.  One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to Allah. Acquisition of wealth for its own sake, or so that it may increase a man’s worth, is condemned.  Mere acquisition of wealth counts for nothing in the sight of God.  It does not give man any merit in this life or in the hereafter. 

“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of God is that of a grain of corn.  It grows seven ears and each ear has hundred grains.  God increases manifold to whom He pleases.” (Quran 2:261)

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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04-20-2016, 12:56 PM #9
Sunflower
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5. Hajj (Pilgrimage)

Hajj is the 5th pillar of Islam. It is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, at least once in a lifetime, provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so.


"Indeed the first House (of worship) appointed for humanity is that at Bakka (Mecca): Full of blessing and of guidance for all the worlds.  In it are Signs Manifest; (such as), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to God,- those who have the ability." (QS Al-Hajj :26-27)


Those who are able to do hajj, but choose not to do it have sinned.

“... And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses (for conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves (i.e. denies Hajj, then he is a disbeliever of Allah), then Allah stands not in need of any of the ‘Alâmin (mankind and jinn).” (QS Al-I’Imran :97)


Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as in Hajj, as it involves the spirit of all the other pillars and demands a great sacrifice from the believers. It is also the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity.

The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built the Ka'bah, are observed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth day of the last month of the year, named Dhul-Hijjah (pilgrimage).

“Allah has made the Kabah, the Sacred House, an asylum of security and Hajj and Umrah (pilgrimage) for mankind, and also the Sacred Month and the animals of offerings and the garlanded (people or animals, etc. marked with the garlands on their necks made from the outer part of the stem of the Makkah trees for their security), that you may know that Allah has knowledge of all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and that Allah is the All-Knower of each and everything.” (QS Al-Maida:97)


Some of the benefits of Hajj:

-  Forgiveness of sins


“He who came to this House (the Ka’bah) (with the intention in performing Hajj) without speaking or committing indecencies, would return (free from sin) as on the day his mother bore him.” (Muslim, 2/3129)


-  Paradise

“Sound Hajj has no reward except Paradise” (Bukhari & Muslim)


- Acceptance of supplication

Abu Hurayrah (r.a., radhiallahu anhu, meaning: may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Those who perform the Hajj and those who perform the umrah are people who have come to visit Allah. If they supplicate Him He will respond to them, and if they ask Him for forgiveness He will forgive them.”
(Tirmidhi 2536 and Ibn Majah)
This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 01:19 PM by Sunflower.

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04-20-2016, 12:58 PM #10
Sunflower
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Level 2. Iman

Those in this level are called Mu’min. A Mu’min is a righteous Muslim. Allah describes in the Qur’an, who the righteous people are:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces toward East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him for your kin for orphans for the needy for the wayfarer for those who ask and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth the Allah-fearing.” (QS Al-Baqarah: 177)

But this doesn’t mean that a Mu’min has to spend all or most of his/her time in worship. Allah does not demand that from us, He knows it is impossible for our nature to do it. Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear.

On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray): "Our Lord! condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; help us against those who stand against faith."  (QS Al-Baqarah:286)

And indeed, for all blessings and mercy that we have received, are receving, and will receive, He only asks for very little.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 4240)


As described in QS Al-Baqarah:177, the Mu’mins adhere to the 6 pillars of Iman:

1. Believe in Allah

The need to believe in Allah, to worship Him, and to rely on Him is inherent as part of human nature, even from before we are born. The Qur’an tells us that all souls were asked to testify. This is the contract, the covenant between Allah and each of us. And on the Judgement Day, He will ask us, whether or not we have fulfilled this contract.

"And (remember) when your Lord took from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants and made them bear witness over themselves, (and said): ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes! We do bear witness.’ (This We did) lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily we were unaware of this’.” (QS. Al-A’raaf:172)

Believe in Allah doesn’t only mean believing that He exists and He is the only God, but it also means obeying His commands, following what He commands and leaving what He forbades, and do these with steadfastness.

From a sahih hadith by Imam Nawawi:

On the authority of Sufyan bin Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam which I can ask of no one but you.' He (peace be upon him) said, 'Say "I believe in Allah" — and then be steadfast.'"  (Nawawi hadith No. 21)

Steadfastness is one of the characters of a Mu’min.

Indeed, those who have said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ and then remained on a right course - the angels will descend upon them, [saying], ‘Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised.’” (QS Fussilat :30)

Steadfastness is also a character that Allah loves.

How many of the prophets fought (in Allah.s way), and with them (fought) Large bands of godly men? but they never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah.s way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And Allah Loves those who are firm and steadfast. (QS Al-i'Imran :146)
This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 01:10 PM by Sunflower.

I seek refuge with Allah's perfect words from the evil of His creations.
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