- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 495
- Publisher: Islamic Book Trust (October 1, 2009)
- Translated by: Salman Hassan al-Ani and Shadia Ahmad Tel
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9675062290
Book of Faith represents the first complete English translation of the important and well-known work Kitab al-Iman, written by the renowned thirteenth-century Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyyah. The concept of Iman, faith, is fundamental to Islam. Iman has served to define the nature of Muslim life and essence of the religion as a whole. Ibn Taymiyyah's own deep conviction and understanding of Iman is based on interpretations of the Qur'an, Hadith, sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, and the conduct of the pious ancestors of the first three Islamic centuries.
Ibn Taymiyyah's main objective in writting Kitab al-Iman was to explain the concept on Iman and to correct its prevailing misconceptions. He wanted to explain the concept of Iman in accordance with and on the basis of the Quran and the Sunnah (the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad). He also sought to refute some of the popular ideas advocated by the various Islamic sects such as the Mu`tazilites (Muctazilah), Ash`arites (Ashairah), and Murji'ites (alMurji'ah)—whose ideas, he believed, were primarily based on al-(ulum al-aqliyyah, rational thinking. Ibn Taymiyyah was convinced that fundamental Islamic concepts must be interpreted from the usul, roots, that are found in the al-al-naqliyyah and are traditionally based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah. These concepts are also based on the understanding and interpretation of the alsalaf al-salih, the pious ancestors. The doctrine of Ibn Taymiyyah is a "synthesis of conciliation the happy mean (wasat)—which would accord to each school its rightful place in a strongly hierarchical whole in conformity with the precepts of the Kur'an and the Swum.' Thus he wrote Kitab al-Iman and most of his other books and treatises as a means to explain Islamic principles and as a response to the threats and challenges that faced the Muslim community. In addition he wanted to expound on the concept of Iman and its relationship to Islam, Ihsan, perfection (in religion)," and tasdiq, assent. He was especially interested in explaining what constitutes Iman. He also wanted to make his own views clear to both his supporters and opponents and was concerned about how Islam was practiced during his lifetime and about the influence exerted by some of the influential religious scholars. Ibn Taymiyyah believed that some members of the Muslim community were under the influence of various Islamic sects that had changed the practice of Islam from the ways of the Prophet (pbuh), the Companions, their Successors, and the pious ancestors of the first three Islamic centuries. All these issues were discussed, analyzed, and made abundantly clear with supporting evidence and documentation from the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and writings of the scholars from those first three centuries in which the Hanbali school tradition was emphasized."
According to Ibn Taymiyyah, the discord among the Muslims, originated when the Kharijites seceded from the other sects. This was the beginning of dissension among the various Muslim sects a dispute that included the Mutazilites, Murji'ites, Jahmites (Jahmiyyah), Asharites, Shiites (Shiah), and various Sufi groups.
Of further concern to Ibn Taymiyyah were the political tensions and uncertainties of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. When Ibn Taymiyyah's birthplace, Harran, was threatened by the Mongols, his family moved to Damascus. He was directly inolved in defending the city and its people. Both the theological and political problems were of immediate concern to a man of Ibn Taymiyyah's status. As noted above, in Egypt and Syria Ibn Taymiyyah challenged both the religious scholars of the various schools and sects as well as the ruling authorities. He was convinced that the weakness and division in the Muslim community were the Rauh of a failure to observe Islam as it had been practiced by the Companions and al-salaf al-salih, the pious ancestors.
Furthermore, Ibn Taymiyyah's objective in writing Kitab al-Iman was to connect the believer directly with the benefit obtained from the words of Allah and His Messenger. Thus he was interested in restoring true Islam to the people. And although he did not want to write about the controversies among the people of his time, he admitted that he could not avoid doing so. The best way to resolve these disputes, he felt, was through the correct understanding of the words of Allah and His Messenger. Consequently, every issue Ibn Taymiyyah discussed was always supported by quotes from the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh).
A detailed account of all the concepts in Kitab al-Iman would constitute a book b itself. Here it is only possible to highlight its most significant issues. The central theme is the concept of Iman. One clear characteristic of the writings of Taymiyyah is his repetitious style. This is probably due to his desire to make sure that the points under discussion were fully understood. In reading Kitab al Iman, for example, one gets the impression that he did not just sit down and write it but rather that it is a collection of lectures and lessons once delivered to his students and then organized in the form of a book.
Ibn Taymiyyah believed that Islam and Iman constitute the Islamic religion as a whole and that all disputes concerning the religion should be resolved primarily he basis of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).