Islam 2.2 The Shahādah
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Islām is built upon five: The declaration that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh…” (Bukhārī and Muslim) The first pillar is the duty to declare the two great beliefs of Islām: these are to believe in the Oneness of Almighty God in worshipping Him alone and in the Prophethood of Muhammad as the final Prophet and best example to be followed. The Shahādah is to utter: Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illallaah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu (I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh alone – and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger). These words, laa ilaaha illallaah specifically, are repeated throughout the life of the Muslim. Laa ilaaha illallaah is the heaviest of good deeds on the scales on the Day of Judgement (Hadeeth). It is best of what the Prophets and their followers uttered in ‘Arafah during Hajj (Hadeeth). It is the best utterance of remembrance (dhikr). The complete Shahādah is declared aloud during the Adhān (the call to Prayer). It is declared during every prayer in the “tashahhud” whilst seated by obligation. It is the best that can be said before one’s passing away, “Whoever’s last words are laa ilaaha illallaah (None has the right to be worshipped except Allāh) will enter Paradise.” (Hadeeth) The Shahādah is the key to Paradise, without its utterance a person cannot be a Muslim. The Shahādah is also written on the green Saudi flag.
Some Muslims display it on the walls of Mosques and homes – that is not supported by the Sunnah. The words themselves are not considered superstitious such that they should be written and hung up to ward off evil. Rather their power and strength is in their utterance and understanding what they mean and imply. By the utterance of the words by the sincere Muslims, Allah answers their needs and protects them. The first part of the Shahādah is called the “Kalimah”: laa ilaaha illallaah (None has the right to be worshipped except Allāh) and has eight conditions. Look at it this way:
The “key” to Paradise is laa ilaaha illallaah. Every key has unique “teeth” that allow it to unlock a door. The “teeth” of the key laa ilaaha illallaah are its seven well-known conditions. Every Muslim must know them, they are:
- Knowledge of what it means and entails – that none has the right of worship in truth, except Allāh.
- Certainty that Allah alone is to be worshipped, which negates doubt.
- Sincerity in worshipping Allah alone and not hypocrisy.
- Truthfully believing in it. It is that the person is truthful when he makes the announcement of laa ilaaha illallaah – truly with his heart.
- Accepting what it means and implies and not refusing it.
- Submitting to what it necessitates and not rejecting.
- Loving it and what it means, in opposition to hate.
The Shahādah has a special place in Islām – it is the foundation of Islām. The rest of the four Pillars and the other aspects of the religion put into practice these two statements of faith.
There is a hadeeth that states that the Adhān should be made into the ear of the newborn. However, the hadeeth is not authentic as Shaikh Al-Albānī has pointed out.
Shahādah in Practice:
- worship idols or other gods besides Allāh – to do so is “shirk” (polytheism)
- follow the example of other people when it contradicts Islām
- treat anything in your life more important than serving and worshipping Allāh
- follow the Qur’ān which is the Word of Allāh revealed to the Prophet Muhammad
- follow the teachings and example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
- put Allāh first in everything you do
Muslims invite non-Muslims to the Shahādah and what it means, i.e. To worship only Allah and to follow the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). A non-Muslim learns Islam from knowledgeable Muslims who can quote proofs from the Qur’ān and hadeeth and teach them whilst being patient and kind.
The Shahādah for the Shi’ah
The Shi’ah add a third phrase to the Shahādah. They do so even though it was not done in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) or his Companions. They declare: “There is no god but Allāh, Muhammad is the Prophet of Allāh, and ‘Alī is the friend of Allāh.” They do so due to their belief that ‘Alī (may Allah be pleased with him), the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet, is the only true successor of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) – and that he and his descendants (and later Shi’ah leaders) are the only ones who know the true meaning of the revelation given to the Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). They believe that ONLY they have a true understanding of how Allāh wants people to live. This belief is considered as heretical by orthodox Sunni Muslims since it is a deviation from what is found in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
- What are the two statements of faith that make up the Shahādah?
- Write down two occasions on which the Shahādah would be spoken.
- Muslims must show that they are following the Shahādah by how they live. Give two examples of how they do this.
You should know that the Shahādah is the Islamic declaration of faith, and this is a word that is constantly repeated and acted upon throughout the life of a Muslim. Muslims who repeat and act upon the Shahādah will be witnesses to their faith.
I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who are working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school can also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books and adapted them for my classes.