All praises and adoration are due to Allah, the Lord of the universe who never allows a partner in His dominion and in the administration of the entire universe. May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon the noble Teacher of humankind, Prophet Muhammad (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) who has taught humankind the essence of Oneness of Allah and upon which the message of Islam is based. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his family, the companions and all those who follow this path of monotheism till the day of accounting. Allah says:
Q 3:102- O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.
Q 4:1-O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.
Q 33:70-1-O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest achievement.
Verily, the best speech is Allah’s speech; the best guidance is Muhammad’s (saw) guidance: and the worst matters (in creed or worship) are those innovated (by the people), for every innovated matter is bid’ah ( prohibited innovation), and every bid’ah is an act of misguidance that(whoever initiated it) will reside in the Fire.
The fundamental pillars of Islam are five namely; the belief in the oneness of Allah otherwise called the Kalimatush-Shahadah (the statement of testimony), establishing the five daily prayers (Salat), giving out of compulsory charity (Zakat), fasting in the month of Ramadan and Pilgrimage (Hajj). The statement of testimony or Kalimatush-Shahadah is the foundation upon which pillars of Islam rest. It is the key to paradise and the complete statement is La ilaha ilah Allaah, Muhammad ur Rasulah Allaah i.e. there is no god or deity besides Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. In this week our focus is the first part of the statement while insha Allah the other part concerning the messenger of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) will be discussed in the future.
Many Muslims have distorted understanding of the Kalimatush Shahadah. Some believe in saying it or chanting it many times and that nothing will harm them while majority are taught to believe that verbal chanting of it, they will be granted paradise. What is important to note is that the mere saying it is not sufficient for paradise or salvation in Islam. This is because the hypocrites used to say La ilaha ilah Allaah and Allaah call them liars and promise to make them abide in lowest Hell. There is no doubt that the statement is key to paradise and its saying must meet certain conditions.
Hassan al-Basri once told a person, “What have you prepared for death? He replied, ‘The testimony that, there is none worthy of worship except Allaah’. Hassan told him, “that has some conditions to it”. Again, Wahb b. Munabbih was once asked:
“Isn’t the statement of La ilaha ilah Allaah the key to paradise? He answered, ‘Yes, but every key has the ridges, the door will open for you. Yet if you do not have the right ridges, the door will not open for you”
These ridges are conditions that differentiate a Muslim who will benefit from La ilaha ilah Allaah--- and the one who will not no matter the numbers of time, he chant it in a day. Let us examine the keys otherwise known as conditions of Shahaadah.
Knowledge (ilm): One of the key conditions of Shahadah is knowledge (ilm) which is to have the basic understanding of the meaning of shahaadah. The knowledge is an affirmation of Allah and a denial of other deities besides Allah, the Lord of the universe. In Q 47.19, Allah says, ‘know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe: for Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes’. Islam wants believers to know Allah before following His commandments as it is known generally that one must know a thing before saying or acting upon it. In a tradition of the Prophet Abu Hurayrah reported:
I heard Allaah’s Messenger saying if Allaah wants to do good to a person, He makes him comprehend the religion. Iam Just a distributor, but the grant is from Allaah. And remember that this nation (true Muslims) will remain obedient to Allaah’s orders and the Prophet’s Sunnah and they will not be harmed by anyone who will oppose them till Allaah’s order (Day of Judgement) is established. (Bukharee vol. 1 no 71)
In a similar tradition, the Prophet (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allaah shall enter paradise”[Muslim]. What it means is that one must know that Allaah alone is worthy of worship and that all other gods are false gods.
Certainty (al-Yaqeen). This is the opposite of doubt or uncertainty. The ideological position of Islam is that any doubt on anything confirmed in Qur’an and Sunnah is Kufr (unless one is not aware of it being mentioned in Qur’an and Sunnah). The implication of this is that one’s heart must not be wavering in any way when one testifies to the truth of Kalimat Shahaadah. Allah call the true believers in Q 49.15 as, ‘only those are Believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones.’ In the same vein, Prophet Muhammad (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) said, “No one meets Allaah with the testimony that there is none worthy of worship but Allaah and I am the Messenger of Allaah, and he has no doubt about that statement, except that he will enter paradise[Muslim].
Acceptance (al-Qabool). The statement of the Shahadah must be accepted with the tongue and heart and its implications. The theological understanding in Islam is that whosoever refuses to accept the implication of Shahaadah, even if he knows that it is the true and certain is even a kafir (unbeliever). There is no doubt that every person knows that there is a creator behind his/her existence but due to pride, there are many who refuse to accept Allah as their Lord and God but erect beside Allah other creatures of Allah as gods and lords due to pride and envy. The Shahadah is regarded as true only when it is accepted unconditionally. It means that the Muslim must believes in whatever is stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah without any right to choose what he wants to believe and what he wants to reject. It is total submission and surrendering to Allah. In Q33.36, Allah says, “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path”.
Submission and Compliance (al-Inqiyad)- The statement of Shahadah is not confined to the tongue alone but also a statement of actions. The Shahadah implies the actual physical enactment by deeds. In Q39.54, Allah says, "Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped”. It is in this respect that Allaah praises those who surrender and submit to His Command. Allah says in Q4.125 “Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in Faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend”. It is a condition of faith to submit to Allah and His Messenger as enunciated in Q4.65 thus:
But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.
Every Muslim is commanded through the Shahadah to must love Allaah in heart, tongue and actions and we must fear Allaah and hope in Him.
Truthfulness (al-Sidq)- This quality is opposed to hypocrisy and dishonesty. It means that the Shahaadah must be said honestly as there is no room for lying. This explains why Muslims must avoid things declare as forbidden by Allah like divination in all forms, riba(interest) as its associates and gambling and lotteries in all ramifications. The Prophet (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) said, “No one bears testimony to there being no one worthy of worship save Allaah, sincerely from the heart, except that Allaah makes Hell-fire forbidden for him[Bukharee]. There is no gainsaying the obvious that due to the widespread ignorance among Muslims, some people say the Shahadah just to be protected from harm or make some gains (not truly believing it). Allah says in Q2.10,“ In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves)”. The truth of the matter is that the Shahaadah of those who become Muslims only to benefit from being Muslim and not believing in Islam will be rejected by Allaah.
Pure Sincerity(al-Ikhlaas). Every action or worship is guided by pure sincerity and it means that such action must be done solely for Allaah. This principle is the opposite of Shirk(polytheism). The meaning of Islam is willing surrender and submission to Allah and one becomes and remains a Muslim solely to serve Allaah and in order to avoid the anger and punishment of Allah, one must also e becomes and struggle to remain a Muslim by avoiding all forms of associationism or shirk. This is the essence of the petition make by Muslims more than seventeen times in a day in their daily compulsory prayers in Surat al Fatihah verse 7, ‘The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray’. In order to gain the mercy and reward of Allah, all actions He has prescribed and commanded must be carried out in absolute sincerity. This is the reason why the most difficult and desirable of all Muslims is to check intentions and ensure that intention behind any action is to please only Allah. Allah has promised His mercy and reward only for people with sincere devotion to Him. Allah says in Q39.2, ‘Verily it is We Who have revealed the Book to thee in Truth: so serve Allah, offering Him sincere devotion’. Also in Q 98.5 thus:
And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devote on, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.
The Prophet (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) in a tradition also said, ‘Allaah has forbidden for the Hell fire anyone who says, ‘There is no one worthy of worship except Allaah’ and say so desiring the pleasure of Allaah’ [Muslim]. It is clear that one cannot be a Muslim for the sake of parents, friends, family, spouse, community or worldly goal.
Love (al-Muhabah)- A believer loves this Shahaadah and lives in accordance with the Shahaadah. A believer loves the implications and requirements of the Shahaadah and also loves those who act and strive based on this Shahaadah. They don’t show love to the heretics or people of innovation in religion. In Q 2.165, Allah explains the nature of this love thus:
Yet there are men who take (for worship) others besides Allah, as equal (with Allah): They love them as they should love Allah. But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah. If only the unrighteous could see, behold, they would see the penalty: that to Allah belongs all power, and Allah will strongly enforce the penalty.
Many obstacles to sincere love of Allah are realities of life but Allah warns believers not to allow them to deter them in showing their love for Him as their Lord and God. Allah says in Q 9.24 as follows:
Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight - are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.
The noble teacher of humankind, Prophet Muhammad (Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam) in a tradition said, “Whoever has three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith. The first....s/he loves Allaah and His Messenger more than he loves anyone else (Bukharee and Muslim).
Denial of every object of worship (Negation). The Shahaadah is not only affirmation but also of negation. It is an affirmation of Allah as Lord and God while it is denial of all false gods in our lives. Allah says in Q 2.256:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.
You adhere to the Shahaadah until you die. The Shahadah is a life banner and every Muslim must be under this shade till his or her last minute on earth. One must continue to struggle to attain perfection in his or her life in relation to the prescriptions of Allah. One should not pride himself or herself with what was achieved in the past in relation to his or her Lord and relax at advanced age. One cannot rest on what have been done in the past. The Shahadah is a Muslim banner till death. This is the import of Allah statement in Q 3.102, ‘ O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam’.
May Allah give all of us good ending, may our last day on earth be the best of our days and the last deed be the best of our deeds. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the noble Prophet Muhammad ((Sallah Allahu alayhi wasallam).