Written by Sami Zaatari Wednesday, 11 May 2011 11:23
In religion of Islam we have something called the shahada, the testimony of faith, and without it one cannot be a Muslim. Likewise when one becomes a Muslim, and converts to Islam one takes the shahada, the testimony of faith. This testimony of faith says
‘There is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger’
So therefore when one wants to become a Muslim one must utter this statement, and as for the one who is already a Muslim one must consistently testify to the shahada during their prayers and invocations. Now sadly in this day and age that we are living in there are many who affirm the shahada, and make the shahada, yet they do not properly believe in its implications and how to properly follow it. And this has led to many problems for the Muslim and the Muslim nation in general because this is the foundation of Islam, if one does not properly understand this concept nor does he properly follow it then his foundation is not pure, and it is bound to become tarnished.
So therefore in this article we shall discuss the testimony of faith, what it means, what it implies, and how one must properly believe and act on it, while also pointing out what contradicts it. Hopefully it shall be helpful for the Muslims who are seeking knowledge in Islam as well as non-Muslims who are interested about Islam and want to find about this concept.
With all of this said we can now proceed to the topic at hand.
Anyone who has read the Quran will see that Allah has affirmed that the religion for mankind is Islam:
003.019 The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account.
Allah also commands us to enter Islam with a pure faith and intention:
002.208 O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy.
So the religion that Allah has chosen for mankind is Islam, and Allah has called upon us to enter Islam and to follow Islam with pure intentions and belief.
Now the religion of Islam is based on tawhid, which is the oneness of God, and the Muslim and convert who enter Islam must enter the religion with a pure intention, and with knowledge of what they are entering. Both of these two points revolve around the same basic principle, that of the shahada, the testimony of faith.
The shahada states that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger. Hence the one who states the shahada affirms two things, and negates two things. He firstly affirms that there is only one true God, which negates the idea of there being other gods and idols, and by affirming this it also means he negates the false worship given to other false gods and idols (i.e. Jesus, and Baal). Last but not least the 2nd affirmation is that he bears witness that Muhammad (pbuh) is a prophet of God.
Hence let us summarize these points to make it easier for our reader:
1-The believer affirms the oneness of God
2-By doing so the believer negates and rejects the idea of there being other gods and idols
3-The believer also negates and rejects false worship to false gods and idols
4-The believer affirms the prophethood of Muhammad
Although this may sound simple, the reality is that not many people understand it. For instance many Muslims always say the shahada, that they believe in one God, yet they do not understand the other implication, that it doesn’t just mean Allah is the only true God, and that all other gods and idols are false, it also means that all worship is exclusive to Allah alone, not to saints, or a dead person. It is this second point that many Muslims are ignorant of and fall into, which is mainly because they believe the shahada simply means there is no God but Allah, not that it also means that all worship belongs exclusively to Allah, and due to this mistake it leads to an error in what the shahada really is, and due to this error the Muslim begins to commit many mistakes and his foundation is not as strong and correct as it should be.
So let us establish the proof from the Quran, from Allah himself, that all worship and invocation is exclusive to him alone. There will be no need to quote the verses which show that Allah is the only true and supreme all powerful God, since ALL Muslims already know and affirm this, it is the second point that is more of interest and importance since it is here that many Muslims sadly and surprisingly fall short.
072.018: “And the places of worship are for Allah (alone): So invoke not any one along with Allah;
So as you can see, the places of worship are a place for worshiping Allah alone, NOT invoking and worshiping someone else besides Allah. This means that a Muslim who is praying should not make any invocation or dua to a dead saint, or a saint who is alive; an example of this would be like what the Catholics do with Mary. Other than worshiping God, the Catholics call on Mary for help and protection and guidance, this is what it is to call and make an invocation on a dead saint, however so there are some who do this to people who are even alive!
The shahada does not simply mean there is no God but Allah; also means that all worship is exclusive for Allah alone, as he himself said:
051.051 And make not another an object of worship with Allah: I am from Him a Warner to you, clear and open!
003.064 Say: “O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah.” If then they turn back, say ye: “Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s Will).
017.039 These are among the (precepts of) wisdom, which thy Lord has revealed to thee. Take not, with Allah, another object of worship, lest thou shouldst be thrown into Hell, blameworthy and rejected.
023.032 And We sent to them a messenger from among themselves, (saying), “Worship Allah! ye have no other god but Him. Will ye not fear (Him)?”
So therefore it is crystal clear that all worship belongs to Allah alone. Hence the shahada is to affirm that there is only one true God, and that all worship is exclusive to this God. So therefore when a Muslim takes the shahada he must BELIEVE there is only one true God, and he must BELIEVE that all worship belongs to this God. And he also acts upon it; the way he acts upon it is by making the salat prayers, by fasting, by sacrificing, by being obedient and so on. Hence it involves action, and belief, not just belief and no action, and it must be followed in its entirety not half here and half there.
There are 7 conditions for the shahada and they are as follows:
Knowledge: it means you understand what you are uttering, that you are not ignorant of what you are saying and that you have studied its meaning and implications and you fully understand the issue at hand and are not being ignorant of what the meaning is and what you are saying.
Certainty: The one who makes the shahada firmly believes it, he holds no doubt in what he is saying and believing.
Acceptance: it means that the person making the shahada understands and accepts the reality, he accepts the reality that there is only one true God, and that all worship is exclusive to God, basically he is not in denial about it.
Truthfulness: This means the one making the statement is being honest, not a liar simply uttering it with his lips but not holding it in his heart. It means he affirms the shahada as the truth, it is basically in opposition to shirk, and it is the truth and not a lie.
Sincerity: That you must be sincere, all your actions must be pure and for Allah, not for showing off or for your own ego agendas, which is minor shirk. So for example when you give lectures and talks for Islam then your intention and purpose must be purely for the sake of Allah and for the sake of religion, not for the sake of getting fame and fortune.
Love: one must love the religion and all that it contains, not hating it or showing disdain.
Obedience: One must follow the implications and meaning, to offer the prayers, to fast, and everything else in the religion that has been ascribed by God.
So with all of this said I hope things have been made on what the shahada is, what it implies, what it means, what contradicts it, and how one must correctly follow it with its 7 conditions. I would even urge all Muslim who make dawah and who study Islam to make this one of their main focal points, and to learn and understand the shahada, so that you can properly teach it to other Muslims which will strengthen the faith.
And Indeed Allah Knows Best!