By Jamal Rahman

 “Allah has caused faith to be dear to you
  and has made it beautiful within your hearts.”
  (Qur’an 49:7-8)

Allah says: “Take one step towards Me and I will take ten steps towards you; walk towards Me and I will run towards you.” (Hadith)

The Qur’an suggests that it takes time and patience for faith to grow inside of us. Taking a metaphor from nature, Sufis say that only in stages does the crescent moon grow into fullness. In the Qur’an, the progression of faith has three stages:

In the first stage, we are asked to reflect on the words of our elders and teachers as they instruct us about the importance of faith. This is the phase of “borrowed certainty.” The Qur’an calls it “ilm al yaqin,” meaning, “belief based on hearsay knowledge.”

In the second stage, we are asked to have our own experiences and build faith from within. We are told to observe ourselves as we engage in the bazaar of life, making choices and learning from our mistakes. Am I conscious of God as I act on my decisions? Do I really have faith in divine attributes? Do I live them? Am I truthful, patient, compassionate, just and forgiving? Or, do I compromise my divine principles out of convenience?  As I go through this process of compassionate self- audit, something beautiful begins to bud and blossom in me.  I begin to experience the fragrance of Presence. The Qur’an calls this stage “ayn al yaqin,” or “ belief based on self-witnessing.”

In the third stage, through continuous efforts in life, the faith inside of me grows. In a palpable way I begin to experience what mystics call the “Glow of Presence.” I feel the Presence of Your Hand in my hand as I navigate my way through trials and tribulations. Faith gives me a sense of assurance, peace and hope. Faith is beautiful and in my heart I feel the truth of this knowing. This third stage is called “haq al yaqin,” or “belief based on an inner truth.”

The words of the poet Tagore capture the beauty and power of faith:   

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.” 

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