Does the Faith Increased and Decreased?
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Shalih al Uthaymen was asked:
What is th definition of faith according to the ahl sunnah wal jama’a? And is it increased and decreased?
According to the ahl sunnah wal jama’a, faith means: testimony of the heart, uttered by the tongue, and practiced by body parts.
Therefore, faith comprises three things:
 Testimony with the heart
 Utterance with tongue
 Practice or realization with body parts
If that so, then faith may be increased or decreased. Besides, the value of testimony is not always the same. Testimony or declaration after receiving a news, is not the same as after witnessing The matter personally. Declaration after receiving news from a person is different with declaration declared after receiving news from two persons, and so on. Therefore, Abraham –peace be upon him- once said, as Allah revealed in the Qur’an,
“And recall when Abraham said: “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead,” Allah said: “Why! Do you have no faith?” Abraham replied: “Yes, but in order that my heart be at rest.” (Chapter Al Baqara/The Cow:260)
Faith will be increased depends on the testimony of the heart and its settledness in it. Human will find it within himself, thus, when he attends religious lecture and listens to the lesson and sermon in it, in which the matter of paradise and hell are mentioned, his faith will increase, to the extent that as if he sees it with his own eyes. But when he decreases his guard and leaves the lecture, his faith will probably decrease.
Faith will also increase depends on how much it is being uttered, thus, a person who recites remembrances ten times is surely different from another who recites it a hundred times. The latter is for sure stronger in faith than the former.
Likewise, people who worships in a perfect way will surely have more increase in faith compared to people with lesser degree of worship.
In deeds there is also no difference, he whose deed is more than the other, will have his faith increased more than people who doesn’t do as he does.
Regarding the increase and decrease of faith, the Qur’an and the sunnah already mentioned it before. Allah the Exalted declared,
“ and We have not made their number but as a trial for the unbelievers so that those who have been endowed with the Book will be convinced and the believers’ faith will increase,” (Chapter Al-Mudatstsir/The Cloaked one:31)
“And whenever a new surah is revealed some of the hypocrites ask the believers (in jest): “Whose faith has increased because of this?” As for those who believe, it will certainly increase their faith, and they are joyful over that. But those whose hearts are affected with the disease (of hypocrisy), every new surah added a fresh abomination to their abomination. They remained unbelievers till their death. “ (Chapter At Tawba/The Repentance:124-125)
In a valid hadith, it is said that the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once said that the women have weaknesses in their intelligence and and religion. Thus, it is evident that faith is indeed increases and decreases.
But there’s an important question left: what causes the faith to increase? There are some causes to it, among which are:
. Knowing about Allah (Ma’rifatullah) by His names (asma’) and His attributes.
Every time one’s knowledge about Allah increases, it is no doubt that his faith will consequently increased, therefore, the scholars who truly know about Allah’s many beautiful names and attributes are stronger in faith than other people.
. Observing the signs of Allah’s power, of the universal and religious signs.
If a person is willing to observe and ponder about the universal signs of Allah’s power, i.e., His creations, his faith will be increased. Allah the Exalted decreed,
“There are many Signs on earth for those of sure faith, and also in your own selves. Do you not see?” (Chapter Adz-Dzariyat/The Winnowing winds:20-21)
Other verses point out that if human is willing to observe and think about this universe, his faith will be increased.
. Doing many good deeds.
A person who is willing to increase his obedience, his faith will be increased as well, whether the obedience comes in something he says or does. For example, reciting remembrances will increase both the quality and quantity of the reciter’s faith. Likewise, prayer, fast, and pilgrimage will increase the quality an quantity of the faith.
As for causes that may decrease one’s faith, they are the opposite of the causes that increase it, namely:
. Being ignorant of Allah’s names and His attributes
This kind of ignorance will cause the faith to decrease, since if a person’s knowledge of Allah’s names and attributes decreases, so does his faith.
. Turning away from thinking about Allah’s verses, of the universal and religious signs.
It will decrease one’s faith, or at least, make his faith static, never to increase.
. Committing evildoing
Evildoing possesses great influence over a person’s heart and faith. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once said, “A person didn’t commit adultery while he is being faithful.” (A hadith)
. Disobeying the shari’a rules
Disobeying will decrease the faith. If a person disobeys from doing obligatory deed. Without any legitimate reason, then this is a denounced flaw and the person is entitled to be punished. But if it is not obligatory, or it is but the person abandoned it due to legitimate reason, then this is also a flaw, but not to be denounced. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- stated that women as human being that have lacking in their intelligence and religion. The reason of their lacking in religion is because when they are having their monthly period, they do not pray or fast.
But they are not to be denounced because of it, even they are ordered to abandon those obligations when in their period,
However, if this is done by men, this kind of disobedience will certainly decrease their faith from this side.
[Rewritten from the book. Fatawa Anil Iman wa Arkaniha, compiled by Abu Muhammad Asyraf bin Abdul Maqshud, with Indonesian title of “ Soal-Jawab Masalah Iman dan Tauhid”, published by Pustaka At-Tibyan]