- Belief in the heart
- Words on the tongue
- Actions of the body
As this is the case, then it will increase and decrease. That is because the degree of belief in the heart differs from one person to another. Believing in what someone tells you is not the same as believing something that you see with your own eyes. Believing in what one person tells you is not the same as believing what two people tell you, and so on. Hence Ibraaheem (alayhis-salaam) said,
“ ‘My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.’ He (Allaah) said, ‘Do you not believe?’ He [Ibraaheem (Abraham)] said, ‘Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in Faith.’ ” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):260]
Eemaan may increase with regard to belief, contentment and tranquility in the heart. A person may experience that in himself when he attends gatherings of dhikr where he hears a lesson. Remembering Paradise and Hell increases eemaan to the point where it is as if you can see them with your own eyes. But when a person is negligent and leaves those gatherings, this certain faith is reduced in his heart.
Eemaan in the sense of words may increase similarly. Whoever remembers Allaah a few times is not like one who remembers Him one hundred times. The latter is far better in eemaan.
And the one who does an act of worship in a perfect manner will have more faith than one who does it in an imperfect manner.
The same applies to righteous deeds. If a person does good deeds physically more than another, the one who does more will have more eemaan than the one who does less. This is stated in the Qur’aan and Sunnah – I mean the fact that eemaan may increase and decrease. Allaah says,
“And We have fixed their number only as a trial for the disbelievers, in order that the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) may arrive at a certainty and that the believers may increase in Faith.” [Soorah al-Muddaththir (74):31]
“And whenever there comes down a Soorah, some of them (hypocrites) say, “Which of you has had his Faith increased by it?” As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease (of doubt, disbelief and hypocrisy), it will add suspicion and doubt to their suspicion, disbelief and doubt; and they die while they are disbelievers.” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9):124-125]
According to a saheeh hadeeth, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said,
“I have never seen any women lacking in reason and faith who have a more negative impact on the mind of a serious man than you.”
Thus eemaan increases and decreases.
What Increases Faith?
There are several means of increasing faith,
- The first means is learning about Allaah through His names and attributes. The more a person learns about Allaah through His names and attributes, the more he will increase in faith, without a doubt. Hence you find that the scholars who know more about the names and attributes of Allaah than others do, are stronger in faith than others in this regard.
- The second means is looking at the signs of Allaah in the universe and the signs of Sharee'ah (i.e., verses of the Qur’aan and miracles of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), etc.). The more a person looks at the signs of Allaah in the universe, the more he increases in faith. Allaah says,
“And on the earth are signs for those who have Faith with certainty. And also in your ownselves. Will you not then see?” [Soorah adh-Dhaariyaat (51):20-21]
The verses which indicate that are many, I mean the verses which indicate that by pondering and thinking about this universe, man can increase in faith.
- The third means is doing many acts of worship, for the more acts of worship a person does, the more he will increase in faith thereby, whether those acts of worship involve words or actions. So dhikr increases faith in quantity and quality, and prayer, fasting and Hajj also increase faith in quantity and quality.
What Decreases Faith?
The things that make faith decrease are as follows,
- Ignorance of the names and attributes of Allaah makes a decrease in faith inevitable, because if a man is lacking in knowledge of the names and attributes of Allaah, he will be lacking in faith.
- Neglecting to think about the signs of Allaah in the universe and the signs of Sharee'ah (i.e., verses of the Qur’aan and miracles of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), etc.). This causes a decrease in faith or at the very least, it causes it to stagnate and not grow.
- Committing sins, because sin has a profound effect on the heart and on faith. Hence the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said,
“The adulterer at the time when he is committing adultery is not a believer.”
- Neglecting to do acts of worship, because neglecting to do acts of worship causes a decrease in faith. But if the act of worship is obligatory and a person neglects it with no excuse, then he is to be blamed and deserves punishment. If the act of worship is not obligatory, or it is obligatory but a person does not do it for a valid reason, then he is lacking but is not to be blamed. Hence the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) described women as lacking in reason and in religion, and he explained their lacking in religion as being because of the fact that when they menstruate, they do not pray or fast.
But they are not to be blamed for not praying or fasting during their menstruation; rather they are commanded not to do these things at that time. But because they miss out on doing some of the things that men do, they are regarded as lacking in this regard.