November 9, 2012
Dīn literally means faith, way of life. Our dīn [that is, Islam] comprises three degrees one above another, one inseparable from the other: islām, imān, and eventually iḥsān. Islām (italicized) is to bear testimony that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His Messenger, to perform the ritual prayer, to give the zakāt (social purifying tax), to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform ḥajj (pilgrimage) if one can afford it. Imān is to believe in God, His angels, His revealed books, His messengers, the hereafter, and the good and evil fate (ordained by God). Moral rectitude, achieved progressively through assimilating the Branches of imān, should accompany such beliefs. Iḥsān, the highest degree, is to worship God as if you could see Him, or to be aware that if you do not see Him, He sees you. Iḥsān bears two other meanings: to do assigned duties skilfully, and to be kind and generous to relatives and to all human and living beings.