In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Question to Shaikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [hafidhahullaah]: What do you say regarding the one who when it is said to him, “Fear Allaah regarding sins, such as shaving the beard, smoking and Isbaal [i.e. wearing one’s garments below the ankles]”, he says, “Eemaan is in the heart and it is not about growing the beard, abandoning smoking and Isbaal”; and he says, “Indeed, Allaah does not look at your bodies, rather He looks at your hearts”; and he intends by this the growing of the beard, abandoning smoking and Isbaal [i.e. that Eemaan is not about these affairs, rather it is what is settles in the heart]?
Response: This statement is often uttered by some of the ignorant people or those who hold false and erroneous views. It [i.e. what is uttered by this person] is a statement of truth by way of which falsehood is intended, because he utters this statement to justify his sins – that even in the absence of deeds that are to be performed in obedience to Allaah as well as not abandoning forbidden deeds, Eemaan in the heart is sufficient. This false and erroneous view is clearly unveiled because Eemaan is not only something in the heart; rather Eemaan – as defined by Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaa’ah – is speech of the tongue [i.e. acts of worship carried out with the tongue], belief in the heart and deeds of the limbs. Imaam Al-Hasan Al-Basri [rahimahullaah] said, “Eemaan is not to merely say something nor mere hope, rather it is what settles in the heart and deeds testify to it”.
Deeds of disobedience and abandoning obedience is proof that either there is no Eemaan in one’s heart or it is deficient. Allaah [The Exalted] said: [يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَأۡڪُلُواْ ٱلرِّبَوٰٓا – O you who believe! Eat not Riba (usury)]. [Surah Aal Imraan. Aayah 130]
Allaah said: [يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ – O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah and fear Him]. [Surah al-Maa’idah. Aayah 35]
Allaah said: [مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا- whosoever believed in Allah and the Last Day and worked righteousness]. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Aayah 69]
Allaah said: [إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ – Truly those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness]. [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 277]
Allaah said: [مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا – whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds]. [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 62]
Eemaan cannot be regarded complete except when accompanied by righteous deeds and abandoning disobedience. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
إِنَّ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ لَفِى خُسۡرٍ
إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ وَتَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلۡحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلصَّبۡرِ
By Al-‘Asr (the time). Verily! Man is in loss; except those who believe [in Islamic Monotheism] and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islamic Monotheism etc] [Surah Al-Asr]
Allaah said: [يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱلرَّسُولَ – O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger [Muhammad]. [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayah 59]
Allaah said: [يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمۡ لِمَا يُحۡيِيڪُمۡۖ- O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life [i.e. fill your hearts with Eemaan, guidance and lead you righteous deeds]. [Surah Al-Anfaal. Aayah 24]
Belief in the heart alone is not enough without uttering one’s Eemaan with the tongue and performing deeds with the limbs, because this [i.e. belief in the heart without performing deeds] is the Madhab of those Murji’ah amongst the Jahmiyyah and other than them, and it is a false Madhab; rather one has to believe in the heart, utter his Eemaan [i.e. what he believes in] and perform deeds with the limbs. Committing acts of disobedience to Allaah is a proof of the weakness and deficiency of the Eemaan in one’s heart, because one’s Eemaan increases when Allaah is obeyed and decreases when Allaah is disobeyed. [Al-Muntaqaa Min Fataawaa Ma’aal Ash-Shauikh Al-Allaamah Ad-Doctoor Saaleh Al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah). Vol 1. pages 19-20. Publisher Daar Al-Imaam Ahmad. 1st edition (2013). Slightly paraphrased]