When talking about Islam, everyone agrees to the fact that any person who proclaims Shahada and believes in the pillars and components of Islamic faith comes into the circle of Islam and his or her new identity is called ‘Muslim’. Everyone who enters Islam is a Muslim but there is another term as well which although is interchangeably used with Muslim but in real it is quite different, and that term is ‘Momin’.
There is no single definition of the word ‘Momin’, every scholar has his or her own definition of it, but this all agree that Momin is another class of a Muslim. Meaning that every Muslim cannot be a Momin, however, the ones who are Momin have to be Muslims first.
No matter how various the definitions of Momin are, all of the definitions have one thing in common, which is a Muslim being a practicing Muslim who has the understanding of Islam. Therefore, on a generic level, a Muslim can become a Momin when he or she starts understanding Islam and then puts the understanding to practice in the best possible manner. Therefore, if one is to stick to the path of righteousness, then he or she needs to develop an understanding of Islam, otherwise they will remain Muslims but they wont have the direction that takes them to the next level of becoming a Momin.
Pertaining to sticking to the path of righteousness, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in One of His hadiths:
“O people I am leaving behind among you the Holy Book (Quran) and the Sunnah [way of Prophet (PBUH)], if you follow these in letter and spirit you will never be strayed.” (Hakim al-Mustadrik)
From the hadith it is clear that in order to stick to the path of righteousness and not go stray, a Muslim has to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and hold firmly the message of Quran. Moreover, it is a common belief among Muslims that Muhammad (PBUH) was the walking Quran. In other words, if one is to become a Momin and be righteous, then he or she needs to develop an understanding of Quran.
Quran is the ultimate book of guidance which Allah Almighty bestowed upon Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in order to make sure that people find guidance and move forward on the path of righteousness. Sadly, majority of Muslims have confined themselves only to the recitation and reading of Quran, which without any doubt is one of the greatest privileges and carries great reward as well, however, the recitation of Quran is different from the understanding of Quran. A sensible person can realize the fact that the latter is better than the former because what good is a book of guidance if one only reads it without understanding the instructions it provides.
Allah Almighty says in Quran:
“And indeed We have made the Quran easy for direction and guidance, but is there anyone who will take advice?” (54:17)
In this ayah Allah Almighty clearly states that He has made Quran easy in terms of the guidance and directions it brings, however, the question lies in the fact that who is willing to get these directions from Quran by developing an understanding of it? This is where a Momin takes the lead over a Muslim, because chances are that a Muslim might recite Quran just for the sake of reward, however, a Momin would read Quran for extracting guidance and directions from it so that it could be used for the purpose of knowing and walking on the path of righteousness.
The problem with the Muslims at present is that they do acknowledge the importance of Quran in their life, respect it for that and try consulting it in special occasions and keep it at a high place in their homes, but very few are the ones who indulge in reading of Quran to get an understanding from it. There are Muslims who recite Quran on daily basis, but they still don’t pay attention to the meaning the words they are reciting carry. Thus, all they are getting is religious reward as they would get for prayers or any other good deed, but the essence of it and the message it wishes to convey remains missing. Pertaining to the understanding of Quran, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to one of His Companions:
“O Abu Zar! It is better for you to learn a single verse of Holy Quran in the morning rather to pray hundreds of Rakaat (Nafal Prayer).” (Ibn Majah)
From the hadith it is obvious that learning one verse of Quran is far superior than offering hundreds of Nafl. Therefore, if a Muslim is naive to reading Quran, he/she must put efforts to be able to read Quran verses in Arabic. For that, online Quran Tutoring services of QuranReading.com can be availed as well. In addition to it, when a person strives towards developing an understanding of Quran, the reward for it is far more than the reward that a person can have from any other voluntary worship or the reward of regular recitation. Ergo, by understanding Quran a Momin earns great reward as well.
Those who are on the path of righteousness are pure of heart. This trait is undisputed and all those who think of someone as a Momin the first thing they attest to is the purity of the heart of that person. That purity of heart is not limited to just good character, rather it has spiritual implications as well. Pertaining to such people and the way of becoming like such people who are pure at heart, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in a hadith:
“Undoubtedly, the heart gets rusted like metal gets rusted when water goes over it.”
The People asked:
“How can they (hearts) be cleaned?”
The Prophet (PBUH) replied:
“To remember death in abundance and to recite the Holy Quran.” (Mishkat)
From this narration it is clear that recitation of Holy Quran is one of the ways of purifying the heart, moreover, it is quite natural that the extent and effect of purification would increase when the recitation is done by understanding what the recited words mean. Therefore, recitation of Quran with understanding is one of the ways of becoming a true at heart Momin.
In a nutshell, Quran is the greatest blessing that Allah Almighty has bestowed upon humans. The recitation of it brings great reward, however, the need is that a Muslim learns it and then puts to practice the instructions and guidelines it gives in order to rise to the level of becoming a Momin.
“The best amongst you is (he) who learns and teaches the Holy Quran.” (Bukhari)