"Such people (the pious) are truly racing towards good deeds, and they
outstrip (others) therein."(Surat al-Mu'minun, 61)
The adjective "kamil" in Arabic means perfect, genuine,
and complete. The "perfected faith" (kamil iman) discussed
in this book represents the highest level of maturity and depth of faith
an individual can ever attain. But how does a believer's faith grow mature
and become perfect?
"Having faith in Allah" is to grasp that Allah is the
sole Creator and Owner of everything and that He is the only Judge. It
is one's submission to Allah at every moment of his life; it is being
aware that one is in need of Him, that Allah is rich beyond need and that
He creates all things in compliance with a specified destiny.
"Submission to Allah" becomes possible only through having a profound
fear of Allah, being deeply attached to Him and loving Him more than anything
or anybody else. One who submits himself to Allah, in the real sense,
takes Allah alone as his intimate friend. Throughout his life, he knows
that each event he encounters occurs by Allah's will and that behind every
one of them there are particular divine purposes. For this reason, he
never strays from his submissive attitude and always remains obedient
and grateful to Allah.
To attain perfected faith, one needs to comply strictly with the commands
of the Qur'an, the revelation of Allah through which He introduces Himself
and conveys His commands to His servants. For this reason, a believer
pays the utmost attention to observing Allah's limits till the day he
dies. Throughout his life, he displays the qualities of the true believer
without departing from patience. The determination a person of perfected
faith shows in living by the values of the Qur'an is a very important
and distinctive quality. Because, it is with this very quality that a
man of perfected faith excels others in his efforts to do good. The Qur'an
also refers to those "who become foremost in good
deeds" (Surah Fatir, 32) in their efforts to earn the approval
of Allah. The Qur'an however, refers also to those who do not fully live
by religion: "Among the people there are those who
profess to worship Allah, but who stand on the very fringe of true religion..."
(Surat al-Hajj, 11)
Here appears the distinctive feature of perfected faith. Those who do
not embrace faith wholeheartedly worship Allah right on the "very fringe"
while the people of perfected faith adopt the Qur'an as an essential guide
for themselves at every moment of their lives. While insincere people
stipulate certain conditions for keeping their faith, people of perfected
faith are truly unconditional in their observances. The former group remain
devoted to the religion and pretend to display the values praised by the
Qur'an as long as they enjoy the blessings given to them and everything
goes their way. Yet, whenever they are deprived of blessings or adversity
befalls them, they simply turn away from religion or show disloyalty to
it. The people of perfected faith, however, show an unshakable commitment
to their faith and loyalty. The basic impetus behind this commitment is
their "assured faith." "Assured faith" is true acknowledgement
of Allah's existence and the hereafter with one's wisdom, heart and conscience.
Believers who possess this character trait are described in the Qur'an
as "those who have faith in what has been sent down
to you and what was sent down before you, and are certain about the hereafter."
(Surat al-Baqara, 4)
Perfected faith manifests itself through unceasing attention to one's
conscience. Conscience is a spiritual quality that engenders a good attitude
and worthy thoughts, and helps man think straight and tell right from
wrong. A person of perfected faith listens to the voice of his conscience
under all circumstances. Such inclination ensures the morality and attitudes
that comply with the Qur'an. The Prophet Muhammad (saas) pointed out the
importance of conscience in this way:
A person asked Allah's Messenger (saas): What is faith? He said:
When a good deed becomes a source of pleasure for you and an evil deed
becomes a source of disgust for you, then you are a believer. He again
said Allah's Messenger (saas): What is a sin? Whereupon he said: When
something pricks your conscience, give it up. (Ahmad)
Of the alternatives he encounters, the believer chooses the attitude
with which, he hopes, Allah will be pleased. He never stoops to baseness.
The difficulties he encounters while displaying the ideal attitude never
make him feel frustrated. He does not compromise the most appropriate
attitude by being overtaken by the whims and desires of his lower self.
An example from daily life will make this issue clear. Let's assume that
a big factory is on fire. Beset with such adversity, the owner of the
factory is faced with many alternatives. He may, for instance, remain
inside and, mobilizing the workers, struggle to put out the fire. Another
course would be to leave the building and save his own life without notifying
the workers. Or, he can do everything to save all his workers and meanwhile
call the fire department.
All these alternatives may seem reasonable from different points of view.
The conscience, however, guides man to the choice that would please Allah
most. Perfected faith is the faith of one who unconditionally assumes
the most noble attitude to which his conscience guides him, without feeling
any trivial regret or disappointment.