Conditions and Meaning of the Shahada or a Muslim’s Testification of faith

Q 1. What are the conditions and meaning of “La ilaha illa Allah”?

 

A. “La ilaha illa Allah (there is no deity but Allah)” is the second best statement next to the Qur’an. It is most loved by Allah (may He be Exalted). It is the word of sincere faith and the first thing to which all the messengers and prophets of Allah invited people. It was the first word to which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited his people.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, 

“Say, ‘There is no deity but Allah that you may prosper.'” It is also called the word of Tawhid (monotheism). It means that there is no true deity worthy of worship except Allah (may He be Exalted), as Allah says,That is because Allâh — He is the Truth (the only True God of all that exists, Who has no partners or rivals with Him), and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him, it is Bâtil (falsehood). This statement consists of an affirmation and a negation.

‘There is no deity’ is the negation, while ‘except Allah’ is the affirmation. ‘There is no deity’ denies all objects of worship and all false deities, whereas ‘except Allah’ affirms that there is nothing truly worthy of worship except Allah alone.

The verbal statement of Shahadah is the fundamental part of Din (religion).

Every Mukallaf (person meeting the conditions to be held legally accountable for their actions) whether from among jinn or mankind, must make a verbal statement of Shahadah and at the same time believe firmly in its meaning.

They must also offer sincere worship to Allah alone. There are eight necessary conditions for the fulfillment of the statement of Shahadah.

In Arabic, there is a poem which mentions these conditions in a way that is easy to memorize; however the English translation of the lines may not sound poetic:

Knowledge,

Certainty, Sincerity,

and Truthfulness

Along with Love

and Submission

and Willingness,

The eighth is indeed to disbelieve In all false gods that are deemed supreme

It is better that a Muslim learns these eight conditions, though it would be sufficient to understand the meaning of Shahadah.

It is enough for one to understand such meaning, namely to worship Allah as He ought to be worshipped, offer sincere devotion to Him, deny the worship of any other thing beside Him, and steadfast adhere to the Din of Allah. It does not matter whether they know about the conditions or not.

The meaning of these conditions is clear:

(Knowledge) means that one must know that the statement of Shahadah means that there is nothing truly worthy of worship except Allah. (Certainty) means to be absolutely certain that Allah alone deserves to be worshipped, and not to doubt that there is no other thing that deserves to be worshipped except Him.

(Sincerity) means that one must be sincere when offering such acts of worship, such as Salah (Prayer), Sawm (Fasting), and Sadaqah (voluntary charity). These acts must be carried our for the sake of Allah alone.One must also truly love Allah (may He be Exalted) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), and hold their love for them prior to their love of anything else. One must also be truthful in their love of Allah (may He be Exalted) as opposed to the false love of the hypocrites.

Therefore, one must confess the statement of Shahadah out of firm belief that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.

(Submission) means one must submit oneself to the requirements of the statement, like offering sincere worship to Allah (may He be Exalted) alone, denying all other objects of worship, and showing willing obedience to the Commands of Allah and avoiding what He has prohibited.

The same applies to the condition of acceptance.

One must unconditionally accept all the implications of the Shahadah. They have no right to refuse any of these implications. They must accept the implications of this statement, like offering worship to Allah, declaring His Oneness, and showing sincerity to Him.

One must also disbelieve in and deny anything that is worshipped besides Allah.

Allah (may He be Glorified) says,Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in Allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower. The meaning is that you must disavow anything contradicting the statement of Shahadah. You must believe that Allah alone is truly worthy of worship and that anything worshiped beside Him is null and void. You must deny all other objects of worship. This is the meaning of the eight conditions.

Knowledge, Certainty, Sincerity, and Truthfulness Along with Love and Submission and Willingness,

The eighth is indeed to disbelieve In all false gods that are deemed supreme

A seeker of knowledge must put these eight conditions into effect. As for the one who does not know about these eight conditions, it is sufficient for them to utter Shahadah out of sincere faith in Allah (may He be Exalted). They must declare themselves free from the worship of all other objects of worship.

Q 2. What are the conditions of “La ilaha illa Allah”? Shall the one who says “La ilaha illa Allah”, without acting upon it, enter Jannah (Paradise)?

A. Evidence from Shari`ah (Islamic Law), whether in the Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), indicate that whoever believes in the Oneness of Allah and dies upon this belief will enter Jannah.

This is based on the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said,  I have been commanded to fight against the people until they say, ‘La ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah)’. If they say it, their blood and property may not be legally split.

Another Hadith was reported by `Ubadah ibn Al-Samit and it reads:  Whoever testifies that there is no deity other than Allah, alone with no partner, that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, that Jesus is Allah’s Servant and Messenger and His Word which He bestowed upon Maryam (Mary) and a spirit from Him, and that Paradise is true and Hell is true – Allah shall admit them into Paradise according to their deeds.”


There are many Hadiths narrated in this regard. They all indicate that whoever says “La ilaha illa Allah” out of sincere belief in its implications; freeing themselves from Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) and believing that Allah alone is worthy of worship will be rightly called a Muslim and will enter Jannah. It is also necessary for one to bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and to believe in all things that have been ordained by Allah (may He be Exalted) or conveyed by His Messenger (peace be upon him).

Then, one is required to perform the rites of Islam. Therefore, one must start to offer Salah, pay Zakah, observe Sawm and perform Hajj pilgrimage). If one dies after making the verbal statement of Shahadah, they will enter Jannah. In other words, if one dies soon after they embrace Islam, they will enter Jannah because they are considered not to have committed any bad deed.

Their embracing Islam wipes out all their past sins in the same manner that Tawbah (repentance) does. However, if one embraces Islam and yet denies the obligation of Salah, they will be regarded as Kafir (disbeliever[s]). The same holds true with regard to Zakah. If one embraces Islam and refuses to pay Zakah, they will be regarded as disobedient Muslims who will be consigned to Hellfire.

The same also applies to Sawm. If one embraces Islam and yet refuses to fast, they then deserve to enter Hellfire, unless Allah (may He be Exalted) pardons them. The the case is the same if one commits Zina (adultery) or theft or any other crime. It may be that Allah (may He be Exalted) will pardon them.

Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills.

To put it in a nutshell, when someone enters Islam, believes in the Oneness of Allah (may He be Exalted), frees oneself from Shirk, believes in all things that have been commanded by Allah (may He be Exalted) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), they will be rightfully called Muslims. They will then be required to fulfill the requirements of Islam, like performing Salah and avoiding sins.

If such a person dies before they could fulfill any of these requirements, they will enter Jannah as their embracing Islam wipes out all the evils committed before. If they commit some sins or abandon some obligations of Islam after embracing it, they will be liable to either Divine Pardon or Punishment according to the Will of Allah.

If Allah so wills, He may forgive them and admit them to Jannah because of their monotheistic belief, and if Allah so wills, He may punish them for the sins they committed. Allah (may He be Glorified) says:Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He willsThis is based on the Ijma` (consensus of scholars) among Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream). The case of the disobedient Muslims is pending the Will of Allah.

It is thus prohibited to declare them disbelievers, as is done by Khawarij (separatist group that believes committing a major sin amounts to disbelief). They will not abide eternally in Hellfire. Khawarij and Mu`tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief) are of the view that the disobedient Muslim will abide eternally in Hellfire.

The correct view, however, is that such a person will be left to the Will of Allah. If they die without repenting of such sins, like Zina, theft, undutifulness to parents, drinking wine, or conducting usurious transactions, they will be left to the Will of Allah. If Allah wills, He may pardon them; and if He wills, He may punish them in Hellfire. After they are purified of their sins in Hellfire, Allah (may He be Exalted) will take them out of it.

This is based on the Ijma` of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. Only Kafirs will abide eternally in Hellfire. Khawarij and Mu`tazilah hold a contrary view. They state that the Muslim who dies without repenting of an act of disobedience will abide eternally in Hellfire. Khawarij are also of the view that such a person is considered a Kafir. Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah have declared this view as null and void.

The following noble Ayah (Qur’anic verse) refutes the claim of the Mu`tazilah . Allah (may He be Glorified) says:Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills

 As for the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:  When an adulterer commits illegal sexual intercourse, he is not a believer at the time he is doing it; and when somebody drinks an alcoholic drink, he is not believer at the time of drinking, and when a thief steals, he is not a believer at the time when he is stealing.

This Hadith was said in the context of warning and threatening Muslims against falling into such sins. It also means that one’s faith will not be complete if they commit such sins. It does not mean that they will be considered disbelievers. The Ayahs of the Qur’an confirm one another and so do the Hadiths narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him). Neither the Ayahs of the Qur’an nor the Hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) happen to be in conflict with one another. An Ayah or a Hadith must be explained in the context of another.

The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) statement: “When an adulterer commits illegal sexual intercourse, he is not a believer at the time he is doing it …” means that the adulterer’s faith is then incomplete. This is because had one’s faith been complete, they would not have committed Zina. It is because of their incomplete faith that they fall into the sin of Zina or drinking wine.

The Hadith never indicates that a Muslim who commits Zina is considered a Kafir. This is supported by the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered that the prescribed punishment for committing Zina be inflicted upon the adulterer. Once inflicted, the punishment will serve as an atonement for the sin committed. The same applies to the person who drinks alcohol.

If the adulterer dies after having undergone the prescribed punishment for Zina, they will enter Jannah, since the punishment serves as an expiation for the sin. The Prophet (peace be upon him) says regarding Allah’s righteous Servants:  Whomever Allah inflicts the prescribed punishment upon in this life, it will be an expiation for him, and whomever Allah delays punishing until the Day of Judgment, his affair rests with Allah

Allah (may He be Exalted) also says:but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills
Here, Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah are of the view that a disobedient Muslim is pending the Will of Allah (may He be Exalted) provided that the sin committed is other than Shirk and that one does not acknowledge the lawfulness of committing sin, whether it is Zina, wine drinking, usury, undutifulness to parents, and so on.

As for the one who believes in the lawfulness of committing such sins as Zina, the proofs indicating its prohibition may be presented to him. If the proofs are established, and yet one persists in believing that it is lawful to commit Zina, then one will be considered as committing a major act of Kufr (disbelief). The same applies to those who claim that it is lawful to drink wine, commit theft, conduct usurious transactions, show disrespect to parents, or commit sodomy.

The same also applies to those who commit sinful acts which have been declared as prohibited in Islam. However, if a person commits a sin which they do not claim to be lawful, and yet die without repenting of it, they will be left to the Will of Allah. If Allah wills, He may forgive them on account of their good deeds and their Tawhid (monotheism). Allah (may He be Exalted) may also punish him in a way that would compensate for the sins they have committed.

Then after being purified of their sins, Allah may He be Exalted) will take them out of the Hellfire. Many authentic Hadiths have been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to the effect that many disobedient Muslims will be punished in the Hellfire.


 Allah (may He be Exalted) will then take them out of the fire of Hell after having their skins burnt therein. They will be thrown in the river of life where they will sprout forth in the same manner as a grain, carried out by heavy flood, sprouts. When their bodies are refashioned, Allah (may He be Exalted) will admit them into Jannah. Authentic Hadiths have been reported from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to that effect.

There is a unanimous agreement to this among scholars of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. Thus, only disbelievers will abide eternally in Hellfire. We ask Allah (may He be Exalted) to protect us from this. Disobedient Muslims will not abide therein eternally. They may stay in Hellfire for a long period of time. Their dwelling in Hellfire is only temporary. Once the period Allah has decreed for them ends, they will be taken out to Jannah on account of their Tawhid and Islam.

There are some conditions which must be met for the concept of Tawhid to be established. These conditions have been provided by scholars. Some scholars state that they are seven while others claim that they are eight. The following two lines of verse indicate these conditions:

Knowledge, Certainty, Sincerity, and Truthfulness Along with Love and Submission and Willingness,The eighth is indeed to disbelieve In all false gods that are deemed supreme.

If the seeker of knowledge understands these conditions and acts upon them, their Tawhid and faith will be complete. It is sufficient for a common Muslim to just disavow Shirk and believe in Allah as the Only One God.


(Knowledge) means that one must know that Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) is the only One worthy of worship and that the phrase “La ilaha illa Allah” means that no one is truly worthy of worship other than Allah. (Certainty) means to believe with certainty that Allah is the only One God. (sincerity) means not to associate others with Allah like the hypocrites do.

They claim to be believers and yet they are liars.


(With love) means to love Allah. One who does not love Allah (may He be Exalted) is a Kafir who hates Tawhid and true faith.  That is because they hate that which Allâh has sent down (this Qur’ân and Islâmic laws, etc.); so He has made their deeds fruitless. (Acceptance) means to accept the religion. So, if one refuses to submit to the truth, they will be considered disbelievers.

One must also abandon worshipping anything other than Allah (may He be Exalted), Who says:  Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in Allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold One must also deny the worship of anything other than Allah (may He be Exalted). They must believe in the falsity of other deities worshipped beside Allah (may He be Exalted). This is the meaning of the poetic line:

The eighth is indeed to disbelieve In all false gods that are deemed supreme

To summarize, the believer must be aware of the truth and be believing in it. They must disavow Shirk and those who follow it. One must also love Allah (may He be Exalted) and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Whenever the believer accepts the truth, submits to Tawhid, and offers sincere devotion to Allah, their faith will be sound.

 
Q 3. What are the conditions of Shahadah?

A. Shahadah is to declare that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. It must be uttered out of knowledge and certainty: There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) Who says:So know (O Muhammad Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) that, Lâ ilâha illallâh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh) Allah (may He be Glorified) also says:And your Ilâh (God) is One Ilâh (God – Allâh), Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

In another verse, Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) says:Allâh bears witness that Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He always) maintains His creation in Justice. Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. Again, Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) says:except for those who bear witness to the truth knowingly (i.e. believed in the Oneness of Allâh, and obeyed His Orders), and they know (the facts about the Oneness of Allâh).

On the other hand, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:  Whoever says “La ilaha illa Allah” out of firm belief in his heart. He (peace be upon him) is also reported to have said:  Whoever dies while acknowledging that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah will enter Jannah This necessitates having knowledge, belief and insight.

Since “La ilaha illa Allah” means there is no deity truly worthy of worship except Allah, one who proclaims that there is no deity but Allah and yet worships Awliya’ (pious people), it would be as if they had not pronounced Shahadah at all. One who proclaims that there is no deity except Allah and yet invokes the dead or seeks the help of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Al-Badawi, Al-Husayn, `Ali ibn Abu Talib, `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilany or other dead people, their Shahadah will be invalid. It avails only those who utter it out of firm belief, certainty and love.


Some scholars have stipulated seven conditions:Knowledge, Certainty, Sincerity, and Truthfulness Along with Love and Submission and Willingness,

Knowledge and certainty mean that one must acknowledge and be certain that there is no deity truly worthy of worship except Allah. They must not doubt that fact.

Love means that one must love Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) in such a manner as would achieve sincerity, obedience and true adherence to Allah’s Law.

Sincerity means that one must direct all his acts of worship to Allah (may He be Exalted) alone. These acts must be offered exclusively to Allah. Therefore, one must offer such acts of worship as Salah, Zakah and Sawm to Allah alone.

 All the deeds a person does must be dedicated to Allah (may He be Exalted) alone. Therefore, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

Knowledge, Certainty, Sincerity, and Truthfulness Along with Love and Submission and Willingness,Some scholars add the following eighth condition:

The eighth is indeed to disbelieve In all false gods that are deemed supreme.

This eighth condition was stipulated by our Shaykh Sa`d Ibn Hamad Ibn `Atiq (may Allah be Merciful to him). This condition is implied in the Ayah which reads:Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût and believes in Allâh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. The same condition is implied in the Hadith, in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

Whoever says that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah while denying all things worshipped besides Him, will have their property and blood protected, and their reckoning rests with Allah.


Therefore, it is necessary that one proclaims that there is no god but Allah and denies the worship of all false deities. This meaning is implied in the seven conditions.

For, sincerity necessitates that one must deny the worship of all false deities.

A true Muslim is one who dedicates all acts of worship to Allah and believes in the falsity of all other deities.

The eighth condition falls under the meaning of Ikhlas, and however it has been counted as a separate condition.

 

 

Nur’ ala Al-Darb Fatwas>Volume 1>Chapter on `Aqidah>Chapter on Tawhid-related topics>Conditions and meaning of “La ilaha illa Allah”

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