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Branches of Iman
RasoolALLAH (sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has said, "Iman has more than seventy (according to some, seventy seven) branches, of which the most important is the recitation of , and the least one is to remove some obstacle (stone, wood, thorn, etc) from the way; and modesty also is a special requisite of Iman."
modesty has been specially mentioned, because it serves as a safeguard against many sins like adultery, theft, fear of bad reputation leads to virtuous acts: in fact, fear of getting a bad name in this as well as in the next life actuates a man towards all good deeds, including of course Salat, hajj, Zakat, etc, and obedience in all respects to "be shameless and do whatever you like." there is also one Hadith to this effect
"if you do not feel ashamed, you will do whatever you like." the fact is that we abstain from misdeeds for fear of one think, "if i do not offer Salat, i will face disgrace in the hereafter." but if one has lost all sense of shame, he will say "what does it matter if others call me low?"
according to the above-mentioned Hadith, there are more than seventy branches of Iman. In many Ahadith, this number is given as seventy-seven. Scholars have written detailed commentaries on these seventy seven branches. Imam abu Hatim bin Hibban (rahmatullah alaih) wrote, "i contemplated on the meaning of this Hadith for a long time. When i counted the forms of prayers, the number far exceeded seventy-seven. If i counted the things which are specially mentioned in the Ahadith as branches of Iman, their number was less. The things counted as part of Iman in the holy Quran as well as the Hadith, agreed with this number. I therefore concluded that the above-mentioned Hadith implied all these things."
Qazi Iyaz (rahmatullah alaih) writes, some people have made special efforts to give details of these branches of Iman by means of Ijtihad, but failure to know all these details does not mean any defect in one's Iman, as its basic principles (with their details) are so well known. Khattaabi (rahmatullah alaih) says that full details of the exact number is known only to Allah and his apostle, but they are there in the Islamic code (Shariyat), and therefore it does not matter if their details are not known.
Imam Nauwi (rahmatullah alaih) has written that the prophet (sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has said that Kalma Tauheed i.e. Is the most important branch of Iman. This proves that it is the highest thing in Iman, and that no other branch of Iman is superior to it. Thus, belief in Tauheed is the most important essential of Iman and is incumbent on every believer. The least thing (in the order of merit) is the removal of anything that is likely to cause obstruction or inconvenience to any Muslim. The degree of importance of all the remaining essentials of Iman lies in between the two; it is enough to believe in them in a general way just as it is necessary to believe in the angels in a general way without knowing their names and details. Some Muhaddith have however written books about their details. Abu Abdullah Haleemi (rahmatullah alaih) wrote a book, Fawaaidul Minhaaj on this topic, Jaleel (rahmatullah alaih) wrote books which they called Shu-abul Iman. Ishaq Qurtubi (rahmatullah alaih) wrote Kitabun nasaa-'ih and imam abu Hatim wrote "Wasful Iman wa shu-abihi."
the commentators of Bukhari, the most famous collection of Ahadith, have summarized the contents of these books at one place. The gist of this summary is that complete Iman in reality consists of three components: firstly, confirmation by heart of all the essentials of Iman, secondly, confirmation by word of mouth; and thirdly, confirmation by our physical actions. Thus, the branches of Iman are divided into three categories, the first of which concern the intention, belief and action of the heart, the second concern the use of the tongue, and the third concern all the remaining parts of the body. All the things of Iman are included in these three categories. The first category includes thirty articles of faith, as follows:
1. To believe in Allah-in his being and his attributes, and that he is one, has no partner, and that there is no one like him.
2. To believe that all things excepts him, were created afterwards by him, and that only he has been afterwards by him, and that only he has been there forever.
3. To believe in the angels.
4. To believe in the revealed books.
5. To believe in the apostles of Allah.
6. To believe in destiny, i.e. Whether good or bad, it is ordained by Allah.
7. To believe in the life after death, including interrogation in the life after death, including interrogation in the grave, punishment in the grave, resurrection, the day of Judgment, rendering account of ones deeds, and passing over the bridge of Sirat.
8. To believe in the existence of paradise, and that (by the grace of almighty Allah) the believers will live in it forever.
9. To believe in the existence of hell, with its severest punishments, and that it will last for ever.
10. To love almighty Allah.
11. To love or hate other people for the pleasure of Allah (i.e. To love the pious and hate the disobedient ones). It includes, of course, loving the Sahabah, specially Muhajirs, Ansars, and descendants of RasoolALLAH (sallallaho alaihe wasallam).
12. To love RasoolALLAH (sallallaho alaihe wasallam), which include cherishing the highest esteem for him, offering Durood on him, and following the Sunnah i.e. His way of life.
13. To practice Ikhlaas, which includes avoiding show and hypocrisy.
14. To make Taubah i.e. To repent over one's sins from the core of the heart, and to be determined not to repeat them.
15. To fear almighty Allah.
16. To hope and pray for the mercy of Allah.
17. Not to despair of almighty Allah's mercy.
18. To remain thankful to Allah.
19. To be faithful in one's promise.
20. To exercise patience.
21. To show humility, which includes respect for the elders.
22. To show kindness and pity, which includes kindness to children.
23. To be resigned to one's fate.
24. To practice tawakkul i.e. To depend on almighty Allah.
25. To refrain from self-praise and self-aggrandizement. This includes self reformation also.
26. Not to harbor rancour and jealousy against others.
27. To cultivate modesty.
28. To restrain one's rage.
29. Not to deceive, cheat or suspect others.
30. To expel from one's heart the love of the worldly things, including that for wealth and status.
according to Allama Ayene, (rahmatullah alaih) this list covers all the functions of the heart. If anything is found apparently missing, a little thought will show that is covered by one item or the other of this list.
the second category includes the functions of the tongue, and there are seven essentials in this respect, as follows:
1. Recitation of Kalma Tayyibah.
2. Recitation of the holy Quran.
3. Acquisition of ilm (religious knowledge).
4. Propagation of religious knowledge to others.
5. Duua, i.e. Supplication.
6. Zikr of Allah, including Astaghfaar.
7. To abstain from loose and useless talk.
the third category includes bodily actions. In this respect, there are forty essentials which are divided into three parts. The first part which includes actions that relate to the self or person of an individual. These are sixteen, as follows:
1. Observing cleanliness of body, clothes and place. The cleanliness of body includes Wudu and obligatory bath, purification from menstruation and post-birth blood.
2. Offering Salat, including Fard, Nafil and Qaza Salat. This would mean offering and fulfilling its pre-requisites.
3. Giving Sadqah (charity), which includes Zakat, Sadqatul-fitr, voluntary alms, feeding people, entertaining guests, and liberating slaves.
4. Fasting, obligatory as well non-obligatory.
5. Performing Hajj, obligatory or non-obligatory. It includes making Umrah and Tawaf.
6. Aitekaf (remaining in a mosque in full devotion), which includes search for Lailat-ul-Qadr qadr.
7. Leaving one's home for the defense of the Deen. This includes Hijrat (migration for the sake of Allah).
8. Fulfilling one's offerings.
9. Stead fastness in one's oaths.
10. Payment of atonement money, if due.
11. Covering the essential parts of the body, as required by Islam, during Salat and outside Salat.
12. Offering of sacrifice and taking care of animals to be offered.
13. Making arrangements for the funeral.
14. Payment of debt.
15. Rectitude in dealings, and abstaining from usury.
16. Giving correct evidence, and not concealing the truth.
the second part, which includes action involving treatment with one's relatives and others, has six essentials:
1. Getting discharge as a safeguard against adultery.
2. To discharge obligation towards one's family members, servants and subordinates.
3. Good treatment towards one's parents, and being kind and obedient to them.
4. Bringing up one's children in a proper way.
5. Remaining on good terms with one's relatives.
6. Obeying one's elders, and following their advice.
the third part includes eighteen essentials, which relates to our social obligations to society in general:
1. To rule one's domain with justice.
2. To support the right party.
3. To obey the rulers, provided their orders are not against religion.
4. To work for the betterment of mutual relations, including punishing the wrong-doers and making Jihad against the rebels.
5. To help others in their noble deeds.
6. To enjoin the good and forbid the evil; it includes work and speech for propagation of religion.
7. To carry out the punishments enjoined by religion (for specific offences).
8. To take part in Jihad i.e. To fight in the path of Allah. It includes guarding the defense lines.
9. To pay off our dues and return amaanat; this includes payment of Khums (payment of tax equal to one fifth of the booty).
10. To lend (to the needy) and to pay back the debt.
11. To discharge our obligations to our neighbors, and to be kind and helpful to them.
12. To be fair in one's business dealings; it includes savings and earning in a lawful manner.
13. To be careful in expenditure; one should guard against extravagance as well as miserliness.
14. To make salaam and respond to the salaam.
15. To say (may Allah have mercy on you) when somebody happens to sneeze.
16. Not to be the cause of trouble and loss to others.
17. To avoid idle and useless pursuits.
18. To clear troublesome obstructions from the way.
the seventy-seven branches of Iman have been counted above. Some of these can be merged together, as for example earning and spending can be put together, under fair dealings. Careful consideration can enable one to cut down the total to seventy or sixty-seven, the numbers given in some Ahadith.
the above list has been prepared mainly from the commentary of Allama Ayene (rahmatullah alaih) on Bukhari Shareef, wherein these things are mentioned in their order of merit. Selection has been made also from other books, i.e. Fathul-Baari of ibn Hijr and Mirqaat of Allama Qari.
scholars have written that the implied essentials of Iman are as given above. One should ponder over these, and be thankful to almighty Allah for the good qualities acquired already, because all goodness is possible only through his grace and mercy. In case of deficiency in respect of any quality, one should strive for it and keep on praying that almighty Allah may grace him with his blessings.