By Umarrah Javed Al-Hadi


The Islamic concept of faith is known as “iman” in Arabic. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and it refers to a deep, unshakable belief in the oneness of Allāh, the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ and the divine origin and authority of the Qur’ān. 

In Islam, faith is not just a matter of intellectual belief or dogma, but it is also a practical and moral commitment to living a righteous and virtuous life in accordance with the teachings of Islam. This includes performing the five daily prayers, giving zakat (charity), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah if one is able to do so. 

To add to this, iman is not a static or unchanging state, but it is something that Muslims must continuously strive to strengthen and deepen throughout their lives. This involves seeking knowledge of Islam, reflecting on the meaning and significance of its teachings, and cultivating a close personal relationship with Allāh through prayer, supplication, and good deeds.

The Meaning of Iman in Arabic

The root of the word is “amana” (أمن), which means to have faith, be secure, safe, or free from fear. From this root, several related words are derived, including:

  • Aman (أمان): security, safety, protection
  • Mumin (مؤمن): believer, one who has faith
  • Amn (أمن): peace, tranquillity, security

The word “iman” (إيمان) is derived from the same root, but with a different pattern of letters. Specifically, it is formed by adding the letters “ya” (ي) and “mim” (م) to the root. In Arabic grammar, “iman” is a feminine noun that is typically used with the definite article “al” (الإيمان) to refer to the specific concept of faith in Islam. 

The word “iman” can be translated into English as faith, belief, or trust. However, it carries additional connotations in Arabic that are not fully captured by these translations. 

For example, the word “iman” implies a deep, rooted conviction in the truth of something, as well as a sense of loyalty, commitment, and devotion. It also suggests a sense of security and peace that comes from having faith in Allāh and His guidance. 

The importance of learning the Arabic meaning and removing reliance upon translation is evident in this profound word, as the Arabic word “iman” conveys a rich and nuanced set of meanings that are central to the Islamic faith and its teachings and can only be understood in its original Arabic form. 

Names of Allāh: Al-Mu’min 

Al-Mu’min is one of the names of Allāh that highlights His attribute of being the source of faith, security, and protection. The root letters of the name “Al-Mu’min” in  are م-ؤ-م-ن, which is derived from the verb “amana” (آمَنَ) meaning “to believe” or “to have faith” (as mentioned above). The word “amana” is mentioned in the Qur’ān several times, including in Surah Al-Baqarah where it says: 

“Those who believe (آمَنُوا) in the unseen and establish prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them” (2:3). 

From the same root word, we also have the name “Mu’min” (مُؤْمِنُ), which is used to describe a believer or a person of faith. The term “Mu’min” is also used in the Qur’ān to describe believers, as in Surah Al-Hujurat where it says: 

“The believers (الْمُؤْمِنُونَ) are those who have believed in Allāh and His Messenger and then have not doubted” (49:15).

Overall, the root letters of the name “Al-Mu’min” and the verb “amana” convey the meanings of faith, belief, trust, and security, all of which are central to Islamic teachings and the concept of iman. 

As Muslims, we believe that Allāh is the ultimate protector of our faith, and it is through Him that we find the strength and guidance to maintain and increase our iman. Allāh is called Al-Mu’min because He is the One who gives faith to believers and protects them from doubt, disbelief, and temptation. He is the One who strengthens the faith of believers and grants them the confidence to face the challenges of life with courage and determination. As the Protector of faith, Allāh is also the One who safeguards the believers from the harm and evil of those who seek to undermine their faith.

The name Al-Mu’min is also associated with the belief in the Day of Judgment, where Allāh will judge all of humanity based on their deeds and faith. As part of our iman, we believe that on that day, Allāh will grant salvation and eternal happiness to the believers who have maintained their faith in Him and lived a righteous life. The name Al-Mu’min reminds us that it is only through Allāh’s grace and mercy that we can attain true faith and ultimate success in the Hereafter.

Iman in the Qur’ān and Ahadith

Having faith is the primary condition of being Muslim as it is the base upon which the rest of one’s lifestyle is built. 

Narrated by Umar Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him): The angel Jibril asked the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), “What is faith?” The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) replied, “Iman is belief in Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, the Unseen, belief (in) His books, belief in the Day of Judgement, and belief in the good and bad of Qadar (Divine decree).” 

This hadith teaches us that without belief in these things, a Muslim’s faith is incomplete. We also learn that there is an order by which one builds iman. One must believe in Allāh in order to believe that He has Angels, after that one must believe in the Angels in order to believe that there are Prophets and one must believe in all of the above in order to believe that Angels descend with Divine scripture to deliver to Prophets. After this, one must believe in the Day of Judgement (in order to take the guidance from the scripture, apply it to life and work towards something greater than this worldly existence) and when doing all this, one must believe that good and bad is from the decree of Allāh and He is the One controlling everything. 

Once one believes in all of these realities, the structure to live life is ready. These are all pre-requisites to any deeds we put forward for the Hereafter, as a condition of acceptance for deeds is that they are done with iman. Also, one’s connection with the Qur’ān is strengthened once iman is affirmed, we learn very early in the Qur’ān that: 

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah –

Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them,

And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith] [2:2-4]

When one has firm faith in all the things mentioned above and an unwavering understanding that the Hereafter exists (i.e. all the stages of the Hereafter including the weighing of the deeds, the walking of the sirat) then one spends each day in this life looking for guidance in the Book, striving to improve oneself and increase in closeness to Allāh. This is only made possible through faith. 

When it comes to righteousness, Islam has a strong emphasis on ‘deeds’ and Muslims strive to collect righteous deeds that will be accepted by Allāh. We learn in Surah Al-Kahf, verse 110: 

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “I am only a man like you, ˹but˺ it has been revealed to me that your God is only One God. So whoever hopes for the meeting with their Lord, let them do good deeds and associate none in the worship of their Lord.” (18:110)

Ibn Kathir (May Allāh have mercy on him) said: 

  • “So whoever hopes for the ‘Meeting with his Lord’ means his reward
  • “let him work righteousness’ means, that which is in accordance with the laws of Allah
  • “and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord” this means seeking the Face of Allāh alone, with no partner or associate. 

These two conditions are the basis of acceptable deeds, which must be sincerely for the sake of Allāh alone and correct according to the sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ). Without iman in Allāh and His Prophet, we are unable to engage in righteous deeds as the intention for those deeds must be that we believe in reward from Allāh when doing them and we must have the knowledge from the teaching of our beloved Prophet ﷺ in order to complete those deeds in the best way.  

7 things that can decrease iman

1. Neglecting acts of worship: Failing to perform acts of worship regularly, such as the five daily prayers, spending focused time with the Qur’ān, dhikr or making du’ā, can cause a decrease in iman. 

In fact, Buraydah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The covenant between us and them is the prayer, so whoever abandons it has committed unbelief.”

2. Lack of knowledge: Not having a proper understanding of Islam’s teachings and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) can lead to confusion which can cause a decrease in iman.

3. Focusing on worldly matters: Overindulging in materialistic pursuits and neglecting spiritual growth. 

4. Doubts and misgivings: Allowing doubts and misgivings about Islam to take root and fester. 

5. Not being patient during life’s events: Failing to have patience when experiencing traumatic events, personal tragedies, or difficult life circumstances can cause a person’s iman to weaken.

6. Arrogance: Being overly confident in one’s own abilities or neglecting to recognise Allah’s power and mercy 

7. Following desires: Prioritising personal desires and wants over following the teachings of Islam can lead to a decrease in iman.

7 ways to increase iman

1. Expanding one’s knowledge of Islam: Gaining a deeper understanding of Islam’s teachings and the life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ can help foster a greater appreciation of Islam. Individuals can increase their knowledge by reading books, attending lectures, watching videos or listening to podcasts. 

2. Consistent acts of worship: Practicing the five daily prayers (Salah), reading the Qur’ān, making du’ā (supplication), giving charity (Zakat), and fasting (Sawm) regularly can strengthen the individual’s relationship with Allāh and increase their iman.

3. Surrounding oneself with positive company: Spending time with righteous and knowledgeable individuals can help maintain a positive mindset, keep iman strong and also steadily increase it.

4. Avoiding sins: Staying away from sinful behaviour and striving to live a lifestyle of a Muslim helps individuals remain focused on Allāh and the state of their iman.

5. Remembrance of Allāh: Remembering Allāh through du’ā, dhikr (remembrance), and Qur’ān  recitation can help individuals increase their iman and stay connected to Allāh. 

6. Exercising patience: Trials and tribulations are a part of life, and demonstrating patience (Sabr) during challenging times is a means to success for a Muslim’s iman.

7. Pondering the signs of Allāh: Those that are in nature and life around us, those that are within us and those that we find in His Book. The more we fill our mind with inspection of His signs, the stronger we will feel in terms of iman. 


A strong iman is a blessing from Allāh and it is something that we should all be making du’ā for. 

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily, the faith of one of you will wear out within him, just as a shirt becomes worn out, so ask Allah to renew faith in your hearts.” 

Iman is never stagnant, rather it is either increasing or decreasing, therefore it is a duty upon all believers to engage in the things that will increase their iman and push it towards elevation while avoiding those things that cause iman to decrease. Iman is a serious matter, one that is the foundation of everything we do, therefore the foundation must be strong and rooted in truth. 

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever has three traits within himself will find the sweetness of faith: one who loves Allāh and His Messenger more than anything else, one who loves a servant only for the sake of Allah, and one who hates to turn back to unbelief after Allah has saved him, just as he hates to be thrown into the fire.”

May Allāh allow all believers to increase in iman endlessly and may we live in the truthful knowledge that Our Creator is the bestower of good and mercy and will always reward the righteous, the patient and the steadfast in this life and the next.

What do you think? Share your reflections below!


  • The Qur’ān 
  • Tafsir Ibn Kathir
  • Sahih Al-Buhkari
  • Jami` at-Tirmidhi


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