Islamic concepts

Īmān — confidence, secure belief, Securing, conviction

ALA-LC īmān
IPA ˈʔiimææn

Īmān is defined as the belief in the heart, the profession of the tongue, and the action of the limbs. It increases with obedience to God and decreases with disobedience to God.

Īmān literally means ‘securing’. a state of consciousness? an operational assumption?

The word Mu(o)min and Iman come from the root Amina, which means to be secure, to make others secure, to be safe, to create safety, to be entrusted with safety. 2 )

77 branches

Īmān is often translated in English as ‘belief’ or ‘faith’, but it’s much more than just accepting that something exists or trusting something. Īmān also includes acting upon it. Īmān is a type of spiritual confidence or energy, the spark to implement, the momentum to serve Allāh.

Actions first, spiritual security second

Islām comes before Īmān. Before you can truly experience this secureness, you first need to yield your ego to Allāh, the Greater Power that all depends on:

  • The desert nomads say, ‘We have Īmān.’ Say: ‘You don’t have Īmān. Say rather, “We have become Muslim,” for Īmān has not yet entered into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not undervalue your actions in any way. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (Qurʾān 49:14)

To have Īmān is to secure yourself by patterning yourself and acting in accordance with Islām.

Like a beautiful tree

Īmān takes root in your heart and grounds you to life.

Allāh (swt) compares the phrase ‘there is no god but God’ to a beautiful tree, whose roots are firmly grounded.

“Don’t you see how Allāh provides metaphors? A beautiful word is like a beautiful tree, whose roots are firmly grounded and whose branches tower into the sky. Its Owner and Sustainer allows it to give fruit all year round. Allāh provides such metaphors to remind human beings.” (Qurʾān 14:24-25)

Action-based; the spark to implement

The word ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ alone is not enough to translate Īmān. Īmān also carries a component of putting this energy to action.

For example, the Shayṭān totally believes in the existence of Allāh. He even makes personal prayers to him! Where he falls short is in acting upon this knowledge. In his self-importance, the Evil One refuses to humble himself in his actions.

Sweetness of Īmān

‏حلاوة الإيمان‏

  • O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know [the consequence]. 8:27
  • And do not be grieved, [O Muhammad], by those who hasten into disbelief. Indeed, they will never harm Allah at all. Allah intends that He should give them no share in the Hereafter, and for them is a great punishment. 3:176

Spiritual anchor

In the Qurʾān, Īmān was a deep term that also included what we would call today ʿAqīdah (the belief system). The word ʿAqīdah comes from the root ʿ-Q-D, meaning to tie a knot, to fasten, to hold fast, to bind. Our spiritual anchor. The bond in your heart with Allāh.

Inner light

In the famous Light Verse, Allāh (swt) explains Īmān using the imagery of an oil lamp behind a delicate glass.

Secure, solid

“Lexically, the Arabic word ʾĪmān signifies accepting with complete certitude the statement made by someone out of one‘s total confidence and trust in him. Endorsing someone’s statement with regard to sensible or observable facts is, therefore, not ʾĪmām.” (Maʿāriful Qurʾān, p. 101)

Not limited to Muslims

Even among your neighbours from different religions, there are good people:

Those with iman, those who are Jews, and the Christians and Sabaeans, all who have iman in Allah and the Last Day and act rightly, will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow.
(Qurʾān 2:62, trans. by Aisha Bewley)

If you’re debating over which direction to pray, Makkah or Jerusalem, you’re missing the point. Why don’t you help those who are struggling?

Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or West. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travellers and beggars, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God. (Qurʾān 2:177, trans. by Abdel Haleem)

Six articles of faith

To trust in:

  • The unity of the Divine
  • Spiritual agents of the Divine
  • Four Revealed Books
  • Messengers of the Divine
  • the Final Moment of Accountability and afterlife (Garden and Fire)
  • Destiny: everything, both good and bad, is by the decree of Allah
  1. Oneness of the Divine
  2. Angels
  3. Prophets
  4. Holy books
  5. The Day of Judgment and the Akhirah or afterlife
  6. destiny, fate

action based

embody [ɪmˈbɒdɪ] vb -bodies, -bodying, -bodied (tr) 1. to give a tangible, bodily, or concrete form to (an abstract concept) 2. to be an example of or express (an idea, principle, etc.), esp in action his gentleness embodies a Christian ideal 3. (often foll by in) to collect or unite in a comprehensive whole, system, etc.; comprise; include all the different essays were embodied in one long article

In English, something that takes root is something that becomes fixed, becomes established and effective, that grows,

The closely related concept of ʿAqīdah (belief system) comes from the Arabic root ʿ-Q-D, meaning to tie a knot, to fasten, to anchor.

Mūʾmin vs Muslim

While a Muslim is defined by their outward actions, Mūʾmin

Mūʾmin overlaps completely with Muslim.

Often translated as ‘believer’, Mūʾmin comes from the root ʾ-M-N, meaning: safe, secure, trust, calm, unworried, cool, confident.

“Īmān, in the technical sense of Sharīʿah, refers to the belief by heart and thus connotes a firm and unshakable belief in the Oneness of Allāh and in His Messenger. Islām, on the other hand, stands for complete surrender and obedience to Allāh and His Messenger.” (marif 147)

“Īmān is the inner quality of the heart and manifests outwardly whilst Islām starts out in outward actions and culminates in the inner sincere affirmation of the heart. But in terms of their goal, they are mutually necessary and complementary in that Īmān without Islām is not possible, nor is Islām possible without Īmān. Hence, it is not true to say that Muslim and Mūʾmin are antonyms and mutually contradictory concepts. In Sharīʿah, it is not possible for a person to be a Muslim but not a Mūʾmin or be a Mūʾmin but not a Muslim. However, this is possible only lexically, as is the case of all hypocrites who used to be treated like Muslims, because of their outward obedience of Islamic injunctions, but their hearts were devoid of sincere faith, belief and affirmation. They were not believers. Allāh, the Pure and Exalted, knows best.” (Maʿāriful Qurʾān, p. 148)

firm, secure, confident

The Mūʾmin is strong and sincere in their heart and mind. knows that everything’s going to be okay.

  • Person who accepts and trusts Allah
  • Person who agrees to follow the tradition of rules communicated by the great leader Muhammad (pbuh)

The difference between Muslim and Mūʾmin is explained in Qurʾān 49:14.

Maarif says: "...the real basis of faith is the inner acceptance of the heart."

Banū Asad tribe

Around 630 CE, some people from the Banū Asad tribe made peace with the Muslims. They decided to officially become Muslims, thinking they were doing a favour to Muḥammad ﷺ and the Muslim community.

This is when verse 49:14 was revealed. Although they became Muslims on the outside, i.e. in their words and actions, belief had not yet entered their hearts.

“True and sincere faith is the most precious possession of a Muslim. By accepting Islam, he does not show a favour to anybody; on the contrary, it is a favour of Allāh that he is guided to the Truth. [...] They had not achieved the reality of faith. Thus they were claiming falsely to be Muslims on the basis of their outward actions. The Qurʾān first negates their false claim of faith [...] Obviously, being devoid of the true spirit, this kind of Islām is mere superficial, not real and total. As far as faith is concerned, it is related to the real belief by [the] heart. Therefore, mere verbal claim or lip-profession is meaningless, if it is not supported by the heart.” (marif p. 147)

Īmān vs. Taqwá

Some scholars say that Īmān doesn’t go up and down. You either have it or you don’t. Rather, it’s Taqwá (piousness, spiritual vigilence) that can go up and down in life. This is the ___ view.

Others say that Īmān does in fact go up and down. This is the ___ view.


  • to be (at) home in one’s heart?
  • to act upon the Inner Light
  • have the conviction to implement our awe of the Divine
  • energy to implement our humbleness
  • belief
  • energy to carry out, implement your duties as a Muslim
  • action-based faith
  • inner light, illumination, spark within
  • conviction, confidence
  • devotion? to the Divine (swt) and the message communicated by Muḥammad ﷺ in the Qurʾān ?

Īmān in six things

Īmān is to have confidence in six things:

  • Allāh (swt)
  • Angels
  • Holy Books, such as the Qurʾān, Torah and Gospel
  • Messengers, e.g. Muḥammad, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Adam (peace be upon them all)
  • the Day of Judgment (qiyama) and in the Resurrection (life after death).
  • Fate/Destiny

Serene momentum towarsa allah. Wu wei.

Related concepts



secure bond bond, word

secure knowledge in your heart; action-based faith or belief; inner light, a type of spiritual confidence, energy to be a good Muslim, the spark to implement, power within; momentum to serve Allāh, rooted sense of spiritual security ; spiritual momentum

Īmān (pronunciation //) is one of the hardest Islamic concepts to translate to ‘secular English’. Its meaning is both powerful and subtle.

take somebody's word for it: to believe that something is true because someone tells you it is, without making sure that it really is true