“… testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allah…”
Continuing with the hadith ‘Islam is based on five pillars’, which you can find posted in full here, we see that the first pillar of Islam is to testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (swt) and that Muhammad (s) is the Messenger of Allah (swt). This post will deal with the first part of the shahadah or testimony of faith which is that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (swt). The second part, belief in His Messenger (s), will be dealt with in the following post, InshaAllah.
Many Muslims know the hadith,
“Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah shall enter Paradise” (Recorded in Muslim)
Some believe that if they were born Muslim, or have stated their belief in Allah, that this is enough to save them from punishment. As we will see, this is not in fact be the case. Part of the problem is that people have a tendency to take one hadith or verse of the Qur’an, and then make a general conclusion based solely on that one text. So someone might take the above mentioned hadith and say, ‘All I need to do is say I believe in Allah and that will be enough for me.’ But even the hypocrites used to say, ‘I testify that none is worthy of worship except Allah and…’ and Allah (swt) describes them as liars who shall abide in the lowest Hellfire. So how can we be sure that we will be one of those who is entered into Paradise and not the Fire?
In order to understand this hadith properly we need to look at all the examples listed in the Qur’an and Sunnah that explain this concept of La illaaha illa-llaah, there is no God but Allah, and see what the true Islamic position on the issue is. What we find is that there are conditions of the shahadah that must be met in order for the promise of Paradise to be fulfilled.
The first condition of shahadah is knowledge or al-ilm. One must have the necessary basic understanding of what is meant by saying the shahadah including what it affirms, and what it denies. So one must understand that Allah (swt) is the only one worthy of worship, that all other gods are false gods, and that people are not worthy of worship even if they were Prophets or were very pious people.
The second condition is certainty or al-yaqeen. Certainty is the opposite of doubt. One must be absolutely certain of the truth of the shahadah and not have any wavering in their heart. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger and afterward doubt not..” (Surah al-Hujuraat:15)
Many scholars have stated that doubts are a disease of the heart that can be more harmful that lust. This is because lusts may be satisfied but one still knows them to be wrong, but doubts in the heart may linger until they cause a person to leave Islam. One of the greatest cures for doubt is knowledge. The more you study the more certain you become and the firmer your faith will be.
The third condition is acceptance or al-qabool. When a person has knowledge and certainty in the shahadah, this must be followed by acceptance with the tongue and the heart, of whatever the shahadah implies. This means that one must also accept what is stated in the Qur’an or stated by the Prophet (s) even if it goes against our own desires. We cannot choose to believe in some parts and not others. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have any opinion in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed strayed in plain error.” (Surah al-Ahzaab:36)
The fourth condition is submission and compliance or al-inqiyad. This implies carrying out the physical deeds that follow from the shahadah. This is one of the main meanings of the word Islam itself, ‘the submission to the will and commands of Allah’. As we saw in the discussion of Imaan, belief must be implemented in the heart, on the tongue and through action.
The fifth condition is truthfulness or al-sidq. This is the opposite of hypocrisy and implies that we must mean what we say. We should not be saying the shahadah just for some worldly gain, or Allah (swt) will not accept it from us.
The sixth condition is pure sincerity or al-ikhlaas. When one declares the shahadah they must do it solely for the sake of Allah (swt) alone. One becomes a Muslim solely to serve Allah, to avoid His (swt) anger and punishment and to gain His mercy and reward. This is something that all Muslims should think about, but especially those who were born into a Muslim family. Everyone should be clear that they are a Muslim for the sake of Allah (swt) and not for their family or community.
The seventh condition is love or al-mahabbah. This means firstly that the believer loves their shahadah; secondly that they love in accordance with their shahadah (love what Allah loves); thirdly that they love the implications of their shahadah (the actions that must follow); and finally that they also love others who act in accordance with the shahahdah (loving one another for the sake of Allah). The true believer puts no-one as equal to Allah in their love. Allah says in Surah al-Baqarah:165,
“Yet of mankind are some who take unto themselves [object of worship which they set as] rivals to Allah, loving them with a love like [that which is due to] Allah only. However those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allah.”
Some scholars add further conditions of shahadah including denying that any other object is worthy of worship. While this may seem obvious from the statement itself, people often do not put this understanding into practice. You can still find Muslims in many parts of the world who perform acts of worship at graves, or carry out worship of ‘saints’ (auliya). Remember that making dua is an act of worship, so if you make dua to a saint or teacher to help you then you are making partners with Allah in worship, which is shirk, the only unforgivable sin.
The last condition mentioned by the scholars is that one must adhere to the shahadah until they die. This is essential if our shahadah is to mean anything to us in the Hereafter. Allah (swt) says:
“O believers, observe your duty to Allah with right observance, and die not save as Muslims.” (Surah ali-Imraan:102)
SubhanAllah. This small statement, the shahadah, is so comprehensive, and it’s implications are so wide-reaching. It is not an understatement to say that our understanding and enactment of these conditions of the shahadah is of eternal significance.
Do we really love for the sake of Allah (swt) and love what He (swt) had ordered us to do? Do we accept with certainty that Islam is the best model for how to live our lives and does this acceptance show through in our actions? Are we striving to please Allah (swt) with all that we do, carrying out our actions for His (swt) sake alone? Is any part of our love or worship directed to other than Allah? Our Hereafter depends upon our answers to these types of questions.