Faith (al Imane) or the seat of “knowledge-ethics”
When we speak of faith (al imane), this spiritual reality therefore becomes for many a vague and vague notion. Within the Muslim community, faith is even systematically identified with acts of worship where one can almost pray, fast and make pilgrimages without ever really asking the question of whether these are acts emanating from a faith or purely social, a kind of herd instinct with this feeling of belonging to a social body. It is more than urgent to properly grasp the reality of faith because since the birth of the modern world, which tends to divert words from their original meaning and their metaphysical vocation, it is no longer at all obvious to recognize and tell some truths.
Faith is first of all an assent (tasdiq) of the human conscience to the revealed data. Imam Fakhr al dine al Razi explains that when the Koran urges people to believe (âminou bi llah wa rasoulihi) and that this exhortation is followed by the particle ” bi then man is called to assent to the truth of the revelation and its message. The man who has faith is a person who declares the doctrine that emanates from a religion as true.
Thus, faith is not simply an apprenticeship in the articles of faith that one repeats tirelessly but rather a deeper spiritual dimension that must bring to the fore, in particular, a rediscovered metaphysical consciousness. Faith is seen, by the moderns, as belonging to a form of (religious) sentimentality thus opposing it to reason or intelligence. Nothing is more inaccurate. Faith, in the Islamic perspective and its religious thought, has a properly intellective dimension. The Qur’an repeatedly challenges the human conscience by enjoining it to understand and understand with its heart: “Do they not have hearts with which they understand / understand” – (Alâ houm qoulouboune ya’qiloune / yafqahoune biha – Koran) ?
This Koranic injunction will appear, to our contemporaries, ubiquitous. Intellect and understand with your heart? What a strange process of intellection! Unfortunately, it is to be feared that this form of intellection is strictly and definitively misunderstood by the moderns, so much do they find themselves in a state of advanced metaphysical disintegration.
The spiritual masters, also nicknamed doctors of the heart, recall that according to the famous hadith Jibril, Islam (with its five structuring pillars) is first addressed to the conscience and to the mind (nafs) whereas faith, it , is realized at the level of the heart which is, according to ancient wisdom, the seat of knowledge of the celestial world. Also, a believer (mou’mine) according to the Islamic perspective, has a heart that understands the earthly world as well as the divine world.
This one organizes from there, his life around his belief in the invisible (al ghayb), this world which is a supra-rational reality with its own laws. Emir Abdelkader recalled that the believer who “spiritualizes” reorganizes his life around the divine axis: God. The Koranic episode of Abraham who asks the One God to show him “how He raises the dead” is very instructive. In this Koranic moment, the Prophet of “pure monotheism” asks God to show him how He raises the dead? To which God “retorts” to him: Don’t you believe? “Yes, Abraham replies, but I’m asking you this so that my heart can calm down.” This episode is very interesting to understand the world of faith and its modes by traveling through its different levels of consciousness.
Before this quest for true faith (haqq al yaqine) Abraham, in this Koranic passage, argues before a king on the reality of God; this Babylonian king (?) develops his point in the opposite direction and states that he himself is a god because, like the God of Abraham, he has the power of life and death over men. Abraham understanding the misguided argument of the king-idolater replies to him: “My Lord-God bring forth the sun from the east, so do it, come from the west”! The idolater-king found himself smug and confused.
It was only after this purely verbal religious controversy that Abraham asked God to show him the reality of the resurrection (‘ayne al yaqine). This could mean that there is a first level of faith (ilm al yaqine) based on proof through demonstrative argument (al burhane) and this first level of faith would be like a “full moon in the night”; there is indeed a beam of light in our soul which enlightens us but there are still some darknesses.
At this stage of the discursive demonstration, we have a faith by the proof which dissipates the doubts of the mind, but by using the tools of the mind which remain moving and fragile. But the faith that is transformed into “certainty-of-faith” (Yaqine) is a matter of the heart, a perennial truth emanating from the True; it will no longer be a question of proving the divine reality but of experiencing it. This is why Abraham replied that this request was only intended to strengthen his heart in the perennial faith (li’yatma’ina qalbi). This faith is that which generates peace of heart by a light coming directly from God and which dispels the doubts emanating from the psyche.