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What Is Iman And How Can A Person Be A Momin, Believer Or Muslim? No Way To Forced Conversion

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

7 August 2021

Iman, Momin, Believer, Muslim and Forced Conversion

Main Points:

1.    Iman is a matter of the heart and hence the idea of ‘forced conversion’ is not acceptable.

2.    Iman means to accept with the heart all the essential and fundamental principles of Islam.

3.    Belief in the existence and oneness of Allah Almighty.

4.    Belief in all the Messengers and the Prophets.

5.    Belief in the existence of angels.

6.    Belief in all the Heavenly Books of Allah Almighty.

7.    Belief in the existence of the Day of Judgment.

8.    Belief in the predestination [Al-Qadr].

9.    Imam Abu Hanifa: ‘Allah does not compel anyone to unbelief or true faith’.


Iman means to accept with heart all the essential and fundamental principles of Islam [Zaruriyaat-e-Deen]. To reject any of these principles of Islam is known as Kufr [disbelief]. Iman is the sincere conviction from the depth of the heart. The physical actions are not actually regarded as being a component of Iman.  In other words, Iman [faith] means to believe in the six tenets taught by the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] and to accept Islam and to avoid saying and using signs of disbelief. Every Muslim has to learn the tenets of Iman and the signs of disbelief [Kufr] and avoid using them. A person with Iman is called a Momin [believer] and a Muslim.

The Six Tenets Of Iman

1.       Belief In The Existence And Oneness Of Allah Almighty

Belief in Allah means that Allah is one. He has no partners either in Being, Attributes, Actions, Commands, or in Names.  Nothing is like Him. Nothing can debilitate Him. There is no god other than Him. He is Wajib ul Wajood i.e. His existence is necessary and His non-existence is impossible. He is Pre-existent without a beginning. He is eternal without end. He Alone is worthy of being worshipped. He is totally independent and free from need and the entire creation needs Him and is dependent on Him. Nothing will happen, except what He wills. He is a creator without any need to create and He is a provider for His creations without any effort. He seizes life without fear and resurrects without difficulty. He created the creation with His knowledge. He appointed measures for what He created. He determined the span of their life. Nothing of their actions was concealed from Him before He created them, and He knew what they would do before He created them. All things happen in accordance with His determination and His will, and His will is fulfilled. Allah Almighty is free from all that which has deficiency or defect. It is impossible [Muhaal] for there to be any defect or deficiency in Allah.  And so on and so forth.

2.       Belief in all the Messengers [Rusul plural of Rasool] and the Prophets [Ambiya plural of Nabi]

A Nabi or Prophet refers to that human upon whom Allah Almighty sent down Wahi [divine revelation] for guiding mankind. A Rasool or Messenger is not only specific to humans, as there are angels too who are Rasools or Messengers. Belief in all the Prophets and Messengers is equally essential for a Muslim. Belief in the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] is that he is the chosen Servant and preeminent Prophet and Messenger of Allah with whom He is well pleased. He is the final of the Prophets. Any claim to Prophethood after the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] is falsehood and deviation. Similarly, it is essential to believe in all the Messengers and Prophets: Jesus [Hazrat Isaa] being the penultimate, and the ones sent before him, for instance, Hazrat Moses, Hazrat Abraham, Hazrat David, Hazrat Joseph, Hazrat Jacob, Hazrat Ishaaq, Hazrat Yusuf [Joseph], Hazrat Haurn, Hazrat Nuh, Hazrat Isma’eel, Hazrat Yaqub, Hazrat Harun, Hazrat Shu’aib, Hazrat Hud, Hazrat Yunus, Hazrat Solomon, Hazrat Adam and so on.

3.       Belief In The Existence Of Angels

Allah Almighty created angels from light [Noor] and blessed them with the ability to take whatever form they wish. They only do what is commanded by Allah Almighty and never do any act contrary to the divine command, either intentionally or unintentionally. They are sinless [Maasum] servants of Allah and free from all major and minor sins. The number of the angels is only known to Allah and through His informing, His Prophet also knows. Four of the angels are very popular, namely: Hazrat Jibra’eel, Hazrat Mika’eel, Hazrat Isra’feel and Hazrat Izra’eel. It is essential for a Muslim to equally believe in all the angels.

4.       Belief in all the Heavenly Books of Allah Almighty

Allah Almighty sent down many Heavenly Books and scriptures [Sahifas] upon the Prophets. Four of them are very popular: the Torah, which was revealed to Hazrat Musa [Moses], the Zaboor, which was revealed to Hazrat Dawood [David], the Injeel [the Gospel] which was revealed to Hazrat ʿĪsā ibn Maryam, and the holy Quran which was revealed to the final Prophet Muhammad peace be upon all of them. “All the Heavenly Books are equally regarded as the Divine Word of Allah and there is no question of one being superior to the other except in the sense of one being a means of greater reward than the other. All the Heavenly Books and scriptures are true and the speech of Allah. It is essential for Muslims to believe in everything mentioned in them. However, it is worth mentioning that Allah Almighty entrusted the past books to the Ummah of that time but they could not preserve or memorize it. The word of Allah did not remain in the original form as it had been revealed to them because the mischievous ones among them altered these books, making changes, additions, and deletions to suit their own desires. This is known as Tahreef. Thus if anything from these books is presented to us and we find that it is in conformity with the Quran, then we should acknowledge it and if is contrary to the Quran, then we should know for certain that it is one of those things which were altered. If we are unable to establish whether it is in conformity with the Quran or contrary, then we should neither reject nor acknowledge it but we should say: “We believe in Allah, in His Angels, His Books, and all His Prophets”. As for the holy Quran, Allah says, “Verily, We have revealed this Quran and indeed We are its Protector” [15:9] (Bahar e Shariat vol.1, p.69) 

5.       Belief In The Existence Of The Day Of Judgment

The reckoning and accountability on the Day of Judgment are true. All human beings are certainly going to be held accountable for their deeds. Believing in the truth and existence of the resurrection of the dead and the Day of Judgment is essential for a person to become a believer or Muslim.

6.       Belief In The Predestination [Al-Qadr]

Al-Qadr is the Muslim faith that Allah has decided everything that is bound to happen in the world and in the lives of human beings. Al-Qadr is translated as predestination. For a Muslim, it is essential to believe in the predestination of Allah due to His omniscience, whether it involves good or bad.

The Quran has mentioned these six tenets of Iman in several passages and a hadith too mentions it as follows:

“Iman is that you believe in Allah and His Angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Hereafter and the good and evil fate [ordained by Allah].” [Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Mishkat]

A similar hadith is narrated by Hazrat Ibn Abbas that the Angel Jibra’eel once asked the Prophet: “Tell me what is Iman?” The Prophet replied: “Iman is to believe in Allah, the Day of Judgment, His (Allah's) Angels, Books and Prophets, and to believe in life after death, and to believe in Paradise and the Fire, and the setting up of the Mizan (scales) to weigh the deeds, and to believe in the Divine Decree, the good and the bad of it (all). Hazrat Jibra’eel then asked him: “If I do all this will I be with Iman?” The Prophet said: “When you have done all of this, you will be having Iman.” [Musnad Ahmad]

After knowing the basic principles and tenets of Iman, it should be known to the people of the present days who often use the term ‘forced conversion’ that one can’t force anyone to believe and have faith because Iman is a matter of the heart. A person can’t be a Momin, believer, or a Muslim unless he himself accepts Iman. There is no way to ‘forced conversion’ in Islam. If anyone forces a person to accept Iman and the person simply pronounces the acceptance of his faith by tongue under compulsion or hypocrisy and not by heart, then his Iman is not acceptable in the Court of God Almighty 

The Great Imam Abu Hanifa states “Allah Almighty created all created beings from unbelief and true faith. He then addressed them, commanded them, and prohibited them [from certain acts]. Thereafter whoever disbelieved did so through his own doing by rejecting and repudiating the truth, Allah having forsaken him. And whoever believed did so through his own choosing by affirming [the truth] and being convinced [of it]. Allah does not compel anyone to unbelief or true faith. He does not create people believers or unbelievers but created them as [pure] individuals. To believe or disbelieve is the action of the servants”. [Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, p. 115—116, cited in The Creed of Imam Tahawi, p.40,  


A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).


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