The Meaning of Ad-Deen Al-Islam (The Religion of Islam), its Levels and Pillars – Shaykh Fawzan | Dawud Burbank [Audio|En]

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Sharh-ul-Usool-ith-Thalaathah : Lesson 25 Part D & Lesson 26
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan | Dawud Burbank [Audio|English]

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The Second Fundamental Principle: Knowledge of the Religion of Islaam 

The Definition of the Religion (Ad-Deen)

Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

الأصلُ الثَّاني: معرفةُ دينِ الإسلامِ بالأدلةِ

The second fundamental principle: knowledge of the religion of Islaam with its proofs.27


[27]: Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan’s Explanation:

The Shaikh, having finished explaining knowledge of the first fundamental principle, which was knowledge of Allaah the Perfect and Most High, with the evidences, he now moves on to explaining the second fundamental principle, and it is knowledge of the religion of Islaam with the proofs.

So therefore he said, “The second fundamental principle: knowledge and awareness of the religion of Islaam with the proofs.” Then he mentioned its definition and he explained its meaning and then he mentioned its levels.

And his saying rahimahullaah, “knowledge of the Deen of Islaam”. Ad-Deen – it means obedience, for it is said about a person, daana lahu, when he obeys him with regard to what he commanded, and he abandons what he forbade.

And the word Ad-Deen is used to mean al-Hisaab (bringing to account or reckoning), just as occurs in His saying:

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

The Sovereign Owner of the Day of Reckoning [1:4]

And it is said, “daanahu”, meaning he brought him to account, just as He the Most High said:

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

ثُمَّ مَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

And what will cause you to understand what is the Day of the Reckoning? Then what will cause you to understand what is the Day of the Reckoning? [82:17-18]

Meaning: the Day of the Reckoning.

يَوْمَ لَا تَمْلِكُ نَفْسٌ لِّنَفْسٍ شَيْئًا ۖ وَالْأَمْرُ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلَّهِ

On the Day when no soul will possess any benefit for any other soul, and the whole affair on that Day will be for Allaah. [82:19]

His saying, “with the proofs”, meaning: knowledge of the religion of Islaam cannot be by way of blind following, or by way of conjecture from the person. The religion must be based upon proofs from the Book and the Sunnah. As for the person who does not know his religion, rather he just blindly follows the rest of the people and he is just a follower of whatever the rest of the people do, then this person does not know his religion as he should, and it is quite appropriate that when he is asked in the grave, that he should say:

هاه ، هاه ، لا أدري ، سمعت الناس يقولون شي ئا فقلته

“Haa, Haa, I do not know. I heard the people saying something, so I said it.”

[Reported by al-Bukhaaree (1338) and by Muslim (2870) in abridged form from a hadeeth of Anas radiy Allaah ‘anhu. The full version of the hadeeth is reported by Aboo Daawood (4753) from a hadeeth of al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib radiy Allaah‘ anhu.]

So it is obligatory on a person that he should gain knowledge and awareness of his religion with the proofs from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and he will not know this except through learning.


Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

وهو الاستسلامُ له بالتوحيدِ، والانقيادِ له بالطاعةِ، والبراءةُُ مِنَ الشِّركِ وأهلِهِ

And it is to submit to Him with tawheed and to yield to Him with obedience and to free oneself from shirk and its people.28


[28]: Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan’s Explanation:

Al-Islaam is derived from, “aslama lish-shay”, meaning he submitted to it. As it is said in the language, “aslama nafsahu lilqatl”, (he submitted himself to being killed)”, meaning that he submitted to being killed. So a person did islaam of himself, means that he submitted to that thing.

So therefore Islaam is submitting one’s face and one’s purpose and resolve and one’s intention to Him, he the Mighty and Majestic.

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَاتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا

And who is better in religion than one who submits his face to Allaah and he is the doer of the good which Allaah legislated and he follows the religious way of Ibraaheem, upright and upon his way, turning away from shirk [4:125]

بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ

Rather whoever submits his face to Allaah [2:112]

Meaning: he makes his deeds purely and sincerely for Allaah the Mighty and Majestic, and he yields to Allaah obediently and by choice and with desire and out of love.

Submitting to Allaah with tawheed”: and it is to single out Allaah the majestic and most high with worship, and this is the meaning of tawheed. So whoever worships Allaah alone without attributing a partner to Him, then he has indeed submitted to Him.

His saying, “And yielding to Him, He the Perfect with obedience“: regarding whatever He has commanded you with and whatever He has forbidden you from. So whatever He commanded you with then you do it and whatever He forbids you from then you avoid it, in obedience to Allaah the Perfect and Most High.

His saying, “and freeing oneself from shirk and its people“: freeing oneself means cutting off from and separating from and being far removed from shirk and from the people of shirk, such that you believe the falsity of shirk and keep away from it. And you believe in the obligation of having enmity towards the people of shirk because they are enemies to Allaah, the mighty and majestic, so therefore you do not take them as beloved friends and allies, rather you take them as enemies because they are enemies to Allaah and to his Messenger and to His religion so therefore you do not have love for them and you do not have love and alliance with them rather you cut off from them with regard to the religion and you distance yourself from them and you believe in the falseness of what they are upon so therefore you do not love then with your heart and you do not aid them with your sayings and your actions, because they are enemies to your Lord, and enemies to your religion so how can you have love and alliance with them when they are enemies of Islaam?

It is not sufficient that you submit to Allaah and yield to him with obedience but do not free yourself from shirk and nor from the people of shirk, this will not suffice, you will not be counted as being a Muslim until you have these characteristics:

  • Firstly: submitting to Allaah with tawheed.
  • Secondly: yielding to him with obedience
  • Thirdly: freeing oneself from that which opposes tawheed and that which opposes obedience and it is shirk.
  • Fourthly: freeing oneself from the people of shirk.

By actualizing these characteristics you will be a Muslim, as for if you miss out on a single characteristic from them then you will not be a Muslim. So in these three words the Shaikh summarized the definition of Islaam and how many a person does not know the meaning of Islaam because he has not learned this thing, and if it were said to him, “What is Islaam?“, he will not give you a correct response.


The Levels of the Religion 

Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

وهو ثلاثُ مراتبَ: الإسلامُ، والإيمانُ، والإحسانُ 

And it is of three levels: Al-Islaam,29 Al-Eemaan and Al-Ihsaan 30


[29]: Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan’s Explanation:

The meaning of levels is ascending levels because we have said Islaam is of three levels, some of them being higher than others. The first level from the levels of the religion is Islaam, then after it comes eemaan, then after it comes ihsaan. So therefore Islaam is broader, and eemaan is something more restricted than Islaam, and ihsaan is more restricted than eemaan.

So the sphere of Islaam is wide, the hypocrites, they enter within it if they outwardly comply with Islaam and they outwardly display it and they outwardly adhere to it. If they pray along with the Muslims and they give the zakaat and they do the outward actions, then they are called Muslims and the rulings of the Muslims apply upon them in this world, so they have whatever the Muslims have and upon them will be whatever is upon the Muslims. However in the Hereafter they will be in the lowest depths of the fire because they do not have eemaan rather they just have outward apparent Islaam only.


[30]: Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan’s Explanation:

His saying, “Al-Eemaan“: this is the second level, and the people who have eemaan they vary in their levels so from them are Al-Muqarraboon (those who draw especially close through good deeds), and from them are Al-Abraar (the righteous ones). Al-Muqarraboon – they are the people of the highest of the levels, and Al-Abraar are lesser than them, and from them there are those who are the person who is one who wronged himself, and he is the one who commits major sins which are less than shirk. Then he is a sinful believer or he is a believer who is deficient in eemaan.

He the Most High said:

ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ

Then we gave the Scripture as inheritance to those whom we chose from our servants. So from them are those who wrong themselves and from them are those who take a middle course and from them are those who are foremost upon good deeds by the permission of Allaah, and that is the great bounty [35:32]

His saying, “Al-Ihsaan”: this is the third level and it is Al-Ihsaan, and it is that the servant does well with regards to what is between him and Allaah, he does well in the worship of Allaah the Mighty and Majestic. And the Prophet sallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam mentioned Al-Ihsaan:

الإحسان أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه ، فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك

“Al-Ihsaan is that you worship Allaah as if you are seeing him and even though you do not see him then he certainly sees you”

[A part of the long hadeeth reported by al-Bukhaaree (50) and by Muslim (9 and 10) from a hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah radiy Allaahu ‘anhu]

Meaning: you have certain knowledge that Allaah sees you wherever you may be.


Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

وكلُّ مرتبةٍ لها أركانٌ

And every level has pillars.31


[31]: Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan’s Explanation:

His saying, “and every level has pillars“: pillars is the plural of a pillar, and it is that which something stands upon.

So the pillars of something are its aspects which it stands upon, and it cannot stand without them, and they are within the thing itself, contrary to conditions, for they are outside the thing. For example the conditions of the prayer then they are outside the prayer and come before it. And as for the pillars of the prayer, then they are inside it such as the initial takbeer of the prayer and the recitation of al-Faatihah, so if anything from them is missing, then the prayer will not be correct, just as if there was something missing from the pillars which hold up a building then it will not stand and will not be supported.


The pillars of Islaam

Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

فأركانُ الإسلامِ خمسةٌ: شهادةُ أنْ لا إله إلاّ اللهُ، وأنَّ محمدًا رسولُ اللهِ، وإقامُ الصلاةِ، وإيتاءُ الزكاةِ، وصومُ رمضانَ، وحجُّ بيتِ اللهِ الحرامِ

So the pillars of Islaam are five, the testification that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, and establishing the prayer, and giving the zakaat and fasting Ramadaan and performing Hajj to Allaah’s sacred house 32


[32]: Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan’s Explanation:

Islaam will not stand except with these pillars, if they are missing than Islaam will not be upright and the rest of the acts of obedience are matters of completion for these pillars. All the actions of obedience and all good deeds are all actions of completion of these pillars and therefore when Jibreel ‘alaihissalaam asked Allaah’s Messenger sallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam in the presence of the Companions saying:

أخبرني عن الإسلام ، قال : الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله ، وتقيم الصلاة ، وتؤتي الزكاة ، وتصوم رمضان ، وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيلا

“Inform me about Islaam. He replied: Islaam is that you bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, and that you establish the prayer and that you give the zakaat and that you fast Ramadaan and that you perform Hajj to the house if you are able to make your way to it”

So he explained Islaam to be these five pillars, however the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar makes it clear that these five are the foundations of Islaam so he sallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said:

بني الإسلام على خمس

“Islaam is built upon five” 

[Reported by al-Bukhaaree (8) and by Muslim (16) from a hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar radiy Allaahu ‘anhu ]

Meaning: that these five are not the whole of Islaam rather they are its pillars and its foundations which it rests upon and the rest of the legislated matters are things which perfect and complete these pillars.

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