The angel Jibreel once came and asked the Prophet to explain Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. These three parts make up the entirety of the religion. The first deals with the rituals, the second deals with the mental affirmations that manifest in our hearts, and the latter is an aspect of beautifying our actions.
I think of these three like a relationship. Aqeedah is getting to know your lover. Who is He? What type of things has He done in the past? Who are those He loves and keeps close to him? Aqeedah is super important because how can you be in love with someone you know absolutely nothing about? It won’t matter what you tell people, He will know the love wasn’t real.
Now you’re in the relationship and you’ve decided this is long-term. What do you do? Do you do everything that bothers your lover, that annoys them? Or do you do everything that makes them fall deeper in love with you, and you with them? Of course the latter. But how can you do that if you don’t know what makes them happy? That’s fiqh, that’s where you learn how to worship your Lord. How to properly pray, how to fast and various other actions that He has asked of you. And how do you learn to do them? You could feel things out and potentially ruin your relationship, or you could follow in the footsteps of lovers. Those who loved before you and tasted the sweetness of being in love with God. When I tell you I’m Maliki, what I mean to say is that I’m following a man and a group of scholars that did whatever it took to fall deeper in love with their Lord.
So now you know your lover, and you know how to please Him. But is it ever enough to do the bare minimum? Sure, as a husband it’s enough for me to put a roof over my wife’s head and food on the table, but what if I added the occasional massage? The example of God is greater, but my point here is, if you know you’re in love, why not go all the way and beautify everything that you do? That is Ihsān. No excuses, just love. Then sit back & watch as your relationship blossoms.
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