Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“There are some 60 or 70 branches of faith. The highest is to bear witness that ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’. The lowest is the removal of harmful things from the road. Modesty is also part of faith” ((Bukhari).
Imam al-Bayhaqi (author of one of the most authentic hadith book’ al-Bayhaqi’), made research on Quran and Hadith for finding out the branches of Iman. He compiled his findings on branches of Iman in his great book on hadith under the title “Shu’ab al- Iman”.Most of these branches are directly or indirectly related to six fundamental Articles of faith. He recorded seventy-seven branches of Iman. This may also be reduced to sixty or seventy if similar one are combined. He classified branches of Iman as follows:
30 Qualities are Connected to the Heart:
- To belief in Allah, The Most High.
- To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah The Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence.
- To believe in the existence of angels.
- To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the last book Qur’an, all other books are not valid anymore to follow.
- To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ alone.
- To believe that Allah The Most High has knowledge of everything from beforehand and only that which He sanctions or wishes will occur.
- To believe that Resurrection will definitely occur.
- To believe in the existence of Heaven.
- To believe in the existence of Hell.
- To have love for Allah The Most High.
- To have love for the Messenger of Allah, ﷺ.
- To love or hate someone solely because of Allah.
- To execute all actions with the intention of religion alone.
- To regret and express remorse when a sin is committed.
- To fear Allah The Most High.
- To hope for the mercy of Allah The Most High.
- To be modest.
- To express gratitude over a bounty or favor.
- To fulfill promises.
- To exercise patience.
- To consider yourself lower than others.
- To have mercy on the creation.
- To be pleased with whatever you experience from Allah The Most High.
- To place your trust in Allah The Most High.
- Not to boast or brag over any quality that you possess.
- Not to have malice or hatred towards anybody.
- Not to be envious of anyone.
- Not to become angry.
- Not to wish harm for anyone.
- Not to have love for the world.
7 Qualities are Connected to the Tongue:
- To recite the Testimony of Faith [there is no god except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger] with the tongue.
- To recite the Qur’ān.
- To acquire knowledge.
- To pass on knowledge.
- To make supplications [du’a] to Allah The Most High.
- To make invocations [dhikr] of Allah The Most High.
- To abstain from the following:
- Vulgar words,
- Cursing, and
- Singing that is contrary to the Sharī’ah.
40 Qualities are Connected to the Entire Body
- To make ablution [wudū], take bath [ghusl], and keep one’s clothing clean.
- To be steadfast in offering the prayer [salāt].
- To pay the zakat (compulsory charity) and Sadaqatu-l Fitr.
- To Fast.
- To perform the Hajj.
- To make i’tikāf.
- To move away or migrate from that place which is harmful for one’s religion [din].
- To fulfill the vows that have been made to Allah The Most High.
- To fulfill the oaths that are not sinful.
- To pay the expiation [kaffārah] for unfulfilled oaths.
- To cover those parts of the body that are obligatory [fard] to cover.
- To perform the ritual slaughter [Udhiya/Qurbani].
- To enshroud and bury the deceased.
- To fulfill your debts.
- To abstain from prohibited things when undertaking monetary transactions.
- Not to conceal something true which you may have witnessed.
- To get married when the nafsdesires to do so.
- To fulfill the rights of those who are under you.
- To provide comfort to one’s parents.
- To rear children in the proper manner.
- Not to sever relations with one’s friends and relatives.
- To obey one’s master.
- To be just.
- Not to initiate any way that is contrary to that of the generality of the Muslims.
- To obey the ruler, provided what he orders is not contrary to the Sharī’ah (Islamic law).
- To make peace between two warring groups or individuals.
- To assist in noble tasks.
- To command the good and forbid the evil.
- To mete out punishments according to the Shari’ah, by the government.
- To fight the enemies of religion [din] whenever such an occasion is permissible.
- To fulfill one’s trusts (Amana).
- To give loans to those who are in need.
- To inquire the needs of one’s neighbor.
- To ensure that one’s income is pure.
- To spend according to the Sharī’ah.
- To reply to one who has greeted you.
- To say yarhamuka-Llāh[Allah have mercy on you!] when anyone says alhamduli–Llāh[all praise is for Allah] after sneezing.
- Not to cause harm to anyone unjustly.
- To abstain from games and amusements contrary to the Shariah.
- To remove pebbles, stones, thorns, sticks, and the like from the road.
When we think on each of the branches of Iman as stated above, we find each of these has a great influence in life. The attributes and characteristics that are included in branches of Iman implants in every believer essential virtues that is necessary to make our worldly life happy and peaceful. This may be summarized as follows:
- Purity of Soul: To establish rule of law and justice every individuals, nations needs to obey someone superior. Otherwise strong will oppress the weak, rich will do injustice to poor, powerful nations will oppress the weak nations. This is what we see throughout the human history. Only solution to this is to accept accountability to Creator by all. So Islamic faith aims to develop human soul to the extent that it is ready to fear and obey Allah, do good deeds that brings good result for all and root out all evil deeds that affects peace and happiness in life.
- To facilitate above, Allah has given his way of life to follow. He has sent Books of Guidance and Messengers to teach humankind God’s way of life that ensure happiness in this world and the life after death. He has set up Final Day of Judgment, Heaven and Hellfire for reward and punishment for action on earth by everyone, rich-poor, ruler- follower, and strong- weak. Firm faith in this helps to establish justice for all; which is very essential for world peace.
- Acquiring beneficial knowledge is very important for good life on earth. Without right education system, harmonious development of body, mind and Soul is not possible. Integration of Quran and Hadith in education system can add moral values in human soul and can guarantee real development of the world by making humankind free from corruption. Therefore, education is given immense value in Islam and made as part of Faith.
- After making humankind fit as vicegerent of Allah on earth through education and accountability , some specific good deeds; which every individual should do to ensure orderly life of peace and happiness on earth are given special importance ,added as part of Faith and appears in above list of branches of Iman. A believer must pursue these in their real life.
- Some evil deeds affect peace and happiness in the life on earth. Islam wants to contain these. So avoiding these evil deeds are listed as branches of Faith. A believer as a part of his faith must try to avoid these.
- Any action that we do weather it is good or bad deed; these are done by our body organs, heart, tongue and other organs in the body. Imam Bayhaqi sub-divided branches of Faith according to the function of related organ in the body. It is the duty of a believer to make it habit that body organs are tuned to respect these branches of faith in action.
When, branches of faith is translated into action as above; it will give desired fruits of happy life in this world and in life after death. Otherwise, a mere belief will not serve any purpose.
Source of English Translation of Branches of Iman are referred to
– al-Qazwīnī, 1300. Mukhtasar Shu’ab al-Imān. Translated from Arabic by TJ Winter, 1990. India: The Quilliam Press.
– AA al-Tahanawi. The 77 Branches of Faith. F. Rabbani
– Jalali. The 77 Branches of Faith