Mu'min: Who is a Muslim & who is a Mu'min (believer)?

Q397 :There are many references in the Qur'an to Muslims and to Mu'mins, or believers. What is the difference between the two?


A397 : The two terms are used frequently in the Qur'an, often interchangeable, but at other times with clearly different senses. We can say in short that a Muslim is a person who declares that he believes in the message of Islam which means that he believes that there is no deity save Allah and that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah's messenger. A Mu'min or a believer, on the other hand, is someone who truly believes in Islam and tries to implement it in his life. There is, then, a subtle difference which gives the term "Mu'min" or believer, clear connotations of firm belief and positive action to see that the belief is put into practice. We can also say that Muslim is one who declares that he submits himself to Allah, while a believer is one who fulfills the requirements of such a submission in word and deed. There is a reference in the Qur'an to the two conditions of being a Muslim and being a believer in close Juxtaposition but with a clear distinction. When we reflect on the two verses concerned, we will understand the difference between the two words. The verses may be rendered in translation as follows: "The Bedouins say: We are true believers. Say: You have not attained faith. Rather say: We accept Islam. For true faith has not yet found its way into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His messenger, He will not deny you the reward of your labors. Allah is much forgiving, merciful.. The true believers are those who have faith in Allah and His messenger, and thereafter have no doubt; and who strive hard in Allah's cause with their possessions and their lives. Those are indeed the ones who are true to their word. " (49;14-15). It is said that these two verses speak of a group of Bedouins from a tribe of Asad who immediately upon accepting Islam claimed to be true believers and began to hold that as a favor they had done to the Prophet. They said to him: "Messenger of Allah, we have accepted Islam. Other Arabs have fought against you while we have not." Allah wanted them to realize their true condition. They had simply submitted themselves in the literal sense of the word "submission", but they had not experienced in their heart the true nature of faith. That is a condition which is attained by a person whose faith colors all his life; actions, practices, and habits. Nevertheless, Allah's grace dictates that every single good action that they do will be credited to them and they are given its reward in full. This is an aspect of Allah's grace which ensures that even the first step into Islam is sufficient to give people the full credit for their good actions. None of what they do is wasted as is the case with disbelievers. Allah is always more inclined to forgiveness and compassion. He accepts the first step from His servant and rewards him for his obedience to give him a chance and time to appreciate the true nature of faith. The two verses also define the meaning of faith. A believer is one whose faith is complete, total, unshakable, entertains no doubts, and is ready to strive hard, sacrificing his wealth and his life for Allah's cause. When the true meaning of faith finds its way into a person's heart, he is bound to work hard for implementing that faith in real life. He is keen that people should enjoy that happiness. Hence, he works hard for the implementation of the divine code of living represented by Islam, Allah's message to mankind. His struggle is a mark of his faith.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )