Deeds are not a part of îmân

Question: Are a’mal [deeds, conduct, or practice] a part of îmân [faith]? That is, does a person who does not perform a commandment or who commits a prohibited act become a disbeliever?
No, such a person does not become a disbeliever. If deeds were a part of îmân, every sinner would become a disbeliever; there would remain no Muslim. Although Mu’tazilas, Wahhâbîs, and some other heretical sects have claimed that deeds are included in îmân, they are in fact not included in it. While the opposite of disbelief is belief, the opposite of sins are acts of worship. Whereas people who abandon îmân become disbelievers, those who abandon acts of worship become sinners. Îmân without acts of worship is acceptable, but acts of worship without îmân are not acceptable. Though it is sometimes permissible and necessary to omit acts of worship, e.g., omitting namaz and fast during the days of menstruation and puerperium, it is never permissible to omit the îmân.

Though îmân alone leads a person to Paradise, acts of worship alone do not lead a person to Paradise. Whereas îmân that is not accompanied by deeds is valid, deeds that are not accompanied by îmân are not valid. Acts of worship performed by disbelievers will be of no avail in the Hereafter. Îmân cannot be presented to others, but the thawâb of acts of worship can be presented to others. Îmân cannot be bequeathed, yet people can will acts of worship to be performed for themselves. While people who neglect acts of worship do not become disbelievers, people who neglect the îmân become disbelievers. Deeds lapse from people in case of an excuse, but îmân never lapses from anyone.

Hadrat Imâm-i Ghazâlî declares:
Offering the 29th âyat of Sûrat-ur-Ra’d which purports, “They believed and did pious deeds,” as proof, heretical groups assert that deeds are a part of îmân. However, this and such kinds of âyats indicate that deeds are not included in îmân, but excluded from it. If it were the contrary, the phrase “wa ‘amilussâlihâti” would have been reiterated unnecessarily, for it is declared in a hadîth-i sharîf, “A person does not become a disbeliever as long as he does not deny the thing he has confirmed.” Sinners are not in an act of denial of the fundamentals of îmân they confirmed. In the Hereafter, only disbelievers will not get benefit from the Shafâ’at [intercession]. And this shows the fact that the interceded sinners are not disbelievers. When it was stated in a hadîth-i sharîf, “I will intercede for those who have committed grave sins,” Hadrat Abû-d-Dardâ asked, “Oh Rasûlullah, will people who have committed adultery and acts of theft get benefit from the intercession?” He replied, “Yes, I will also intercede for those who have committed adultery and an act of theft.” People who have died with îmân will enter Paradise sooner or later.

It is stated in hadîth-i sharîfs:
(I will intercede for every Mu’min [Muslim] who has not died in a state of polytheism.) [Bazzâr, Hâkim, Bayhaqî]

(Even a Mu’min who has committed adultery, who has committed an act of theft, and who has drunk alcoholic drinks will enter Paradise.) 

(He who has a mote of îmân in his heart will not remain in Hell.)[Bukhârî]

(I will intercede for every Mu’min who has committed grave sins.) [Nasâî, Tirmudhî]

(I will intercede for sinners who have died with îmân.) [Bukhârî, Muslim]

Sinful Muslims will enter Paradise after they suffer the penalty. The hadîth-i sharîf “Îmân departs from a person who has committed adultery and who has drunk alcoholic drinks” point outs the fact that sinners are not kâmil [perfect] Mu’mins. The meaning of the statement “Îmân is belief with the heart, affirmation with the tongue, and deeds with the limbs” is as follows: The role of îmân in humans is like the role of the head among the organs of the body. Limbs, such as hands and arms, are like deeds. A human can be without hands and arms, but not without the head. We describe a normal human being with all the limbs. That is, even if some of the limbs are missing, a human is a human in any case. Likewise, when a perfect Mu’min is described, deeds are also added. Just as a person whose hands and feet are amputated called a “living dead,” so a person who commits grave sins is called “a non-Mu’min” in the meaning of not being a perfect Mu’min. (Ihyâ)

Question: Are the Muslims who commit sins called disbelievers?
They are not called disbelievers because according to the Ahl as-sunnat belief, a person does not become a disbeliever on account of committing evils. Some sects of bid’at involve themselves in the heresy of calling sinners and those who do not share their thoughts disbelievers.

It is stated in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(A person who calls a Mu’min [Muslim] a disbeliever becomes one himself.) [Bukhârî]

People who profess that they are Muslims and who say the Kalima-i shahâdat cannot be named disbelievers. In a war, our Master the Prophet asked the person who had killed another one who said the Kalima-i shahâdat, “Why did you kill a person saying the Kalima-i shahâdat?” He answered, “He was saying by word of mouth, but he was denying in his heart.” He scolded him, “Did you cleave his heart and look inside?”

For this reason, you have to beware of calling a Mu’min a disbeliever.

When wine gets in, does îmân go out?
In the book Ethics of Islam, Hadrat ‘Uthmân is quoted as saying, “I swear by Allahu ta’âlâ that while a person is drinking wine îmân addresses to the wine, ‘O you, the accursed one, halt! First I leave, then you enter.’’’
Also there are hadîth-i sharîfs in the same meaning:
(A person cannot drink alcoholic drinks while being a Mu’min.)[Nasâî]
(The îmân of a wine drinker goes away like a shirt’s taking off from the body.) [Hâkim]
(Alcoholic drinks and îmân cannot come together; one of them makes the other go away.) [Bayhaqî]
(The light of îmân within the heart of an alcohol drinker fades away.) [Tabarânî]
My question is: does the îmân of a wine drinker go away? That is, does such a person become a disbeliever?
No. In our religion, deeds are not a part of îmân. In other words, we cannot call wine drinkers or those committing evils disbelievers. If they were a part of îmân, every sinner would become a disbeliever; there would remain no Muslim. Moreover, even deviants themselves who maintain “Acts of worship are included in îmân; sinners become disbelievers” would not be Muslims. For being ma’thûm, that is being sinless is peculiar to prophets alone.

Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî states:
Hadrat Imâm-i A’zam noted, “A Believer’s îmân does not go away no matter how grave a sin committed.” If a Believer with a lot of sins has died without making tawba [repentance], if Allahu ta’âlâ wishes, He will forgive all the sins, or He will torment that person as much as the amount of sins. But at last He puts that one in Paradise. It is only disbelievers who will not attain salvation in the Hereafter. Those with the tiniest îmân will be saved. (Second Volume, 67th Letter)

While clarifying the above-mentioned hadîth-i sharîfs, Hadrat Imâm-i Ghazâlî explains, “Those with perfect îmân cannot drink alcoholic drinks. If they drink, it is understood that their îmân is weak.” It is purported in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(Hadrat Jabrâ’îl [Gabriel “alaihissalâm”] said that every Muslim who died without having attributed anything as a partner to Allahu ta’âlâ would go to Paradise. I asked, “Even if he has committed theft and adultery?” He answered, “Yes.” I asked this of him three times. He answered, “Yes, he will enter Paradise, even if he has drunk wine.”) [Bukhârî, Tirmudhî]