Seventh Principle of the Nguzo Saba – Imani (Faith)
The principle of Faith is the grounding force in forming a community of consciously enlightened, civilized beings. Along with the other six principles of the Nguzo Saba, Imani or Faith is the glue that holds a community together and keeps its members growing and prospering in spirit. It is the foundation of the group’s culture, its guiding premise. The first step in nurturing Imani in a community or as a part of one’s culture is knowledge of self – physical and spiritual self. This form of study begins with the children, as aspects of their selves, other beings and nature are brought to their attention by their elders and ancestors. This introspective time is highly valued as a necessary ingredient to nurturing Imani in the community. Everyone is encouraged to have faith in their true nature – Spirit – to remedy any doubts or negative/detrimental actions by themselves or others.
There is a distinct difference between Imani (which we will define as conscious faith) and the blind faith that we are encouraged to have in someone or something outside of ourselves. Imani or conscious faith is a state of being that we must nurture within ourselves that is based on study and experience. Blind faith is a state of belief that we have in something or someone because we are unable to have direct experience with the person or thing.
One of the tools used by Ancient traditional belief systems included a hierarchy of energies that work to the benefit of the believer, or more correctly, the believer has a range of energies from which to pull to assist them in manifesting the behavior needed to be successful within the community structure. These energies and their purposes assist us in manifesting an understanding of our true nature and what it means to be a spiritual being having a physical experience. We activate these energies and their purposes by exhibiting the characteristics of the energies which not only manifests a change in us, but in those around us. This is the study and direct experience aspect of Imani that defines it as being opposed to blind faith, and that will result in a community that is empowered, fearless, and compassionate. As we exhibit faith in our actions, we inspire faith in others which in turn strengthens our faith in the community.
Being self-determined, working collectively, cooperating economically, exhibiting creativity, and living a purposeful life are all a part of our collective purpose as human beings and helps to create an environment where all of the members of our community can thrive and elevate. We know this because we understand unity and oneness, interdependence and correspondence, and see them in effect in our everyday lives. We see spirit in all things around us and interact with nature and other beings with an intention to understand ourselves. Conscious faith or Imani includes the conscious study of and direct experience with all energies, and nurturing and exhibiting these characteristics extends beyond a week, a month or a year. It reminds us of the past, so that we can influence the present and enjoy a determined future for ourselves and our universe.