Ranks of Faith
There is a great variety in the scope of people's faith. Some are forerunners in the field of faith while others are too tardy. The following holy text may cast shadow on such a variety.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "Like stairs, faith is of ten ranks that should be taken one by one. The owner of two ranks of faith should not accuse the owner of one rank of having nothing of faith until he climbs the ten ranks successfully. Hence, you should not throw him who is lower than you are down, lest he who is higher than you are will throw you down. You should also raise him who is lower than you are so leniently and you should avoid burdening him with heavy things that break his back. In fact, he who breaks a believer should set him."
Categories of Faith
1. Natural Faith:
Natural faith is that which God grants, such as faith of the prophets and their successors, because those individuals are the highest examples of faith and nobility of conviction. Neither doubts nor can the devilish inspirations influence them.
Transient faith is the artificial that is only said without having any reality in the inner self. Such category of faith is very soon influenced by doubts and ill inspirations.
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "A man may begin his day with faith but ends it with disbelief or the opposite. Some people borrow faith then dress it. Those are the borrowers."
"Allah created prophecy in the prophets; hence, they never apostatize. Likewise, He created succession of prophecy in the prophets' successors; hence, they never apostatize. For some believers, He created faith in them; hence, they never apostatize. For others, they are given faith as loans; but if they pray and supplicate to Allah importunately, they keep on that faith."
After these two sayings, Imam as-Sadiq (a) adds a third one as the criterion of constant and transient categories of faith. He says:
"Regret, sorrow, and woe—all will be to him who does not benefit by that which is shown to him and does not realize whether his belief is for his good or bad… he whose deeds conform to his words will be saved (since he enjoys constant faith), while he whose deeds do not conform to his words enjoys the transient faith."
Acquisitive faith is the slight natural that has been grown and increased until it is exalted to a considerable level. This category of faith, however, has different ranks.
Now, let us provide some advices that help in protecting the natural part of faith and saving the acquisitive:
It is recommended to associate with the faithful, pious individuals and avoid the sinful, wicked ones. It is well known that the associate plays a great role in acquiring moralities. Referring to this fact, the Prophet (s) said:
"A man follows his associate's beliefs. Hence, you should care for choosing your associates."
It is recommended to avoid looking in and listening to the books of deviation and sayings of the misleading people whose main concern is to poison the others' pure ideas in order to take them away from the Islamic creed and to corrupt the values and concepts of faith in their mentalities.
It is recommended to practice pondering over God's creatures that are characterized by beautiful made, accurate organizing, and fascinating wisdom of management:
"In the earth, there is evidence (of the Truth) for those who have strong faith. There is also evidence of the Truth within your own selves. Will you then not see? (51:20-1)"
It is highly recommended to strive oneself and practice acts of obedience to God. It is recommended to avoid acts of disobedience to God so that one's mentality will be established correctly by the concepts of faith. As a matter of fact, the soul is as pure as fresh water unless it is blemished by pollutions. Were it not for the rust of sins and the dirt of wrongdoings that raid at the souls to seize their beauties and abate their lights, most of people would benefit by the illumination of faith:
"(I swear) by the soul and that (Power) which designed it and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety, those who purify their souls will certainly have everlasting happiness and those who corrupt their souls will certainly be deprived (of happiness) (91:7-10)."
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "When a man commits a sin, a black spot emerges to his heart. If he repents, that spot will disappear. But if he keeps on committing sins, that spot will increase in area until it covers the whole heart. That man will never see success."