The Four Dimensions of the Islamic Faith

Editorial Board

August 3, 2013

The following hadith, often referred to as ḥadīth ad-dīn describes Islam in a comprehensive manner. It defines four dimensions of the religion, the first three being the three levels of dīn – islām, īmān, and iḥsān, and the fourth dimension being the hereafter. Imam Abdessalam Yassine states: “… learn Gabriel’s hadith, in which God’s Messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace, has explained to the umma the levels of Islam: islām, īmān, and iḥsān. If the believing women [and men] do not understand that their Islam is a route of ascent in the levels of the hereafter and nearness to the Gracious Lord, Exalted is He, the order that God, Blessed is He, gave to His female and male servants to “hasten” (1) and “race” (2) will be meaningless, as also His description of the hereafter as made up of levels, one above the other, that are earned by righteous acts, sincere intention, and noble will.” (3)

The Hadith of Gabriel

‘Umar, may God be pleased with him, relates, “While we were sitting with the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, one day a man came up to us whose clothes were extremely white, whose hair was extremely black, upon whom traces of travelling could not be seen, and whom none of us knew, until he sat down close to the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, so that his knees touched the Prophet’s knees, and placed his two hands upon his thighs and said, ‘Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’

The Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Islam is that you witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and you establish the prayer, and you give the Zakāt, and you fast Ramadan, and you perform the hajj of the House if you are able to take a way to it.’ He said, ‘You have told the truth,’ and we were amazed at him asking him and [then] telling him that he told the truth.

He said, ‘Tell me about īmān.’ He said, ‘īmān is believing in God, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Last Day, and that you believe in Qadar [The Divine Decree], the good of it as well as the bad.’ He said, ‘You have told the truth.’

He said, ‘Tell me about iḥsān.’ He said, ‘That you worship God as if you see Him, for if you don’t see Him then truly He sees you.’

He said, ‘Tell me about the Hour.’ He said, ‘The one questioned is no more learned in the matter than the questioner.’

He said, ‘Then tell me about its signs.’ He said, ‘That the female slave should give birth to her mistress, and you see poor, naked, barefoot shepherds of sheep and goats competing in making tall buildings.’

‘Umar said, “Then the man left and we sat for a while longer.

Then the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, asked, ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I said, ‘God and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘He was Gabriel who came to teach you your dīn’.” [Muslim]


1God, Exalted is He, says: “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” (3:133)
2God, Exalted is He, says: “Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in God and His Messengers. That is the bounty of God which He gives to whom He wills, and God is the possessor of great bounty.” (57:21)
3Guide For Believing Women, p 314.