Sharhu Sunnah : Lesson 21 : Point 24
Shaykh Fawzan | Dawud Burbank [Audio|English]
And to have faith that eemaan is speech and action and intention and acting correctly. It increases and decreases. It increases as Allaah wishes and it can decrease until nothing remains of it.
Al-eemaan in the language means at-tasdeequl- jaazim (definite affirmation) which is accompanied by faith and not affected by doubt. So it is said aamana lahu – meaning, ‘he believed him’.
You will not believe us
(Soorah Yoosuf (12), aayah 17)
Meaning: you will not believe us.
And Loot believed in him
(Sooratul-`Ankaboot (29), aayah 26)
He believed his paternal uncle Ibraaheem `alayhis-salaatu was-salaam.
As for eemaan (true faith) in the legislation then it is: belief of the heart and expression upon the tongue and action upon the limbs. It increases with obedience and it decreases with disobedience. It will not be eemaan except with these things combined.
So whoever believes with his heart, but does not believe with his tongue, then he will not be a believer. Because Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, said with regard to the disbelievers:
We know that what they say grieves you, however they do not hold you to be a liar, but rather the wrongdoers just outwardly reject Allaah’s signs. (Sooratul-An`aam (6), aayah 33)
And He said with regard to Fir`own:
And you know that no one sent down these signs except for the Lord of the heavens and the earth. (Sooratul-Israa· (17), aayah 102)
And He, the Majestic and Most High, said about the disbelievers who denied His signs:
And they denied them outwardly but they were certain of them in themselves, doing so as a result of their wrongdoing and haughtiness. (Sooratun-Naml (27), aayah 14)
So believing in the heart will not suffice, as is said by the Murji·ah; and it is not eemaan. And likewise eemaan upon the tongue also will not suffice, because this is the eemaan of the hypocrites, the munaafiqeen.
They (the hypocrites) say upon their tongues that which is not in their hearts (Sooratul-Fat.h (48), aayah 11)
And having belief in the heart and speech upon the tongue, these two will not suffice also, as is said by some of the Murji·ah. This is not sufficient. There must be action upon the limbs. So the person who believes in his heart and upon his tongue, however he does not pray ever, and nor does he fast, nor does he perform the obligatory Hajj, nor does he do any action from the actions at all, this is a disbeliever. Even if he believes upon his tongue and speaks (upon his tongue) and has belief in his heart and bears witness to that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah. But however his leaving off action without any excuse, this will not make him a believer. Unless it is the case that he has left off action due to an excuse, such as a person who has been forced, or a person who forgets, or a person who is ignorant; and likewise the person who enters into Islaam and is not able to act, such that he accepts Islaam and then he dies in that condition. Then this person, his lack of action is not counted against him, because he was not able to act. And likewise the mentally handicapped; this person is not able to act. But as for the person who is able to act but he abandons it altogether, then he is not a Mu·min (not a believer).
Some of them add to the definition of eemaan, just as the author mentioned, a fourth matter: ‘following the Sunnah’. And they say eemaan is speech and belief and action and Sunnah, meaning, following the Sunnah, excluding by that the innovators, those who do not act upon the Sunnah, rather they only act upon newly introduced affairs. And this was mentioned by the author here in his saying, “and intention and acting correctly,” meaning acting upon the Sunnah. As for the person who does actions wrongly, acting upon innovations and false superstitions and newly introduced affairs, then he will not be a believer. 
‘And it increases through obedience.’ This is from the completion of the definition, that eemaan increases through obedience. And this is clear in the Qur·aan.
And Allaah increases those who are guided in guidance
(Sooratul-Maryam (19), aayah 76)
And when His ayaahs are recited to them, it increases them in eemaan
(Sooratul-Anfaal (8), aayah 2)
And so that those who believe can increase in eemaan
(Sooratul-Muddaththir (74), aayah 31)
This clearly shows that eemaan increases through obedience.
‘And it decreases through sin/disobedience to Allaah’. Because something which can increase, then it can also decrease. And also there occurs in the hadeeth that the person who does not refuse an evil with his heart, then there is no eemaan even to the level of a mustard seed beyond that.6 So this shows that eemaan can become so weak that it becomes like a mustard seed. And there occurs in the authentic hadeeth that there will come out from the Fire whoever has in his heart the slightest slightest mustard seed of eemaan.  So this proves that eemaan can become weak, until it is just like a mustard seed. And He the Most High said:
On that day they were closer to disbelief than they were to eemaan (Soorah Aali `Imraan (3), aayah 167)
With them their eemaan was weak, and it was closer to disbelief. So this shows that the eemaan can be so weak to the extent that a person can become closer to disbelief. And Allaah’s refuge is sought.
This is the meaning of his saying, “and it can decrease until nothing remains of it.” It can decrease until nothing remains from it. There may remain from it the amount of a mustard seed. And this will benefit the person on the Day of Resurrection. He will exit the Fire with it. And if there does not remain even a mustard seed, then he will be from the people of the Fire, those who will remain forever in it.
 Translator’s side point: Shaykh Saalih as-Suhaymee hafizahullaah said about this point (where Imaam al-Barbahaaree said that eemaan is: speech and action and niyyah [intention]), “ ‘Speech and action and belief’ and that is what the author rahimahullaah meant by his saying “and niyyah”, intention. So what is intended by niyyah is belief and attestation.”
 Reported by Muslim in his Saheeh as a hadeeth of `Abdullaahj
 Reported by al-Bukhaaree (no. 6565) and Muslim (no. 193) as a hadeeth of Anas radiyAllaahu `anhu
Ithaaful-Qaaree bit-Ta`leeqaat `alaa Sharhis-Sunnah
by Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan al-Fowzaan hafizahullaah
Translated by Aboo Talhah Daawood Burbank, rahimahullaah
Posted with kind permission from Dawud Burbank rahimahullaah
Listen to the full Audio Series of Sharhu Sunnah
Sharh-us-Sunnah – Shaykh Saalih Fawzaan – Dawood Burbank [Audio|En]