The First Opinion
A group of scholars said that the meaning of these ahadith was the statement, ‘None has the right to be worshipped save Allah’, is a cause that leads to the entry into Paradise and safety from the Fire, and necessitates this. However causes can only come into effect if their conditions are met and any preventative barriers are absent. This is the opinion of Hasan and Wahb ibn Munabbih and it is clear and straightforward.
Al-Hasan asked Farazdaq when he was burying his wife, ‘What have you prepared for this day?’ He replied, ‘Seventy years ago, I testified that ‘None has the right to be worshipped save Allah.’ Al-Hasan said, ‘This is indeed an excellent preparation; however this statement has conditions, so beware of accusing chaste women.’
It is also reported that he said to Farazdaq, ‘This is the central pole but where is the rope to tie to it?’
It was said to al-Hasan, ‘People say that whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped’, shall enter Paradise.’ He said, ‘Whoever says, ‘None has the right to be worshipped save Allah’ and fulfils it obligations and meets its requirements shall enter Paradise.’
Wahb ibn Munabbih was asked, ‘Is not the testification that “None has the right to be worshipped save Allah” the key to Paradise? He replied ‘Of course, but every key has its teeth: if you bring a key that has teeth, the door shall open; but if not, it will not.’ (Bukhari Kitab Jana’iz bab no.1)
Muadh, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to him,
“If the inhabitants of Yemen ask you about the key to Paradise, say: the testification that none has the right to be worshipped save Allah.” (Ibn Hajr, Fath Vol. 3 p 142)
The strength of this opinion can be seen in the fact that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, linked entry to Paradise to the performance of righteous deeds in many texts. Bukhari and Muslim record on the authority of Abu Ayyub, may Allah be pleased with him, that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ‘Messenger of Allah, inform me of a deed that will enter me into Paradise.’ He said,
‘That you worship Allah alone without associating and partners with Him, that you establish the prayer, give the wealth-tax [zakah], and join the ties of kinship.” (Recorded in Bukhari no. 1396 and Muslim no.13/104-106)
Muslim records on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that a man said, ‘Messenger of Allah, direct me to a deed which if I do, I will enter Paradise.’ He said,
“Worship Allah without associating any partners with Him, establish the prescribed prayers, give the obligatory zakah, and fast the month of Ramadan.”
The man said, “By the One in whose hand is my soul, I will neither add to this nor detract from it.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,
“Whoever wishes to see a man from amongst the inhabitants of Paradise, let him look at this man.” (Recorded in Bukhari no.1397 and Muslim no.14/107)
Ahmad records on the authority of Bashir ibn al-Khasasiyyah who said, ‘I came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him to give him the pledge of allegiance and put the following conditions on me: that I testify that none has the right to be worshipped save Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, that I establish the prayer, that I give the zakah, that I perform a pilgrimage as dictated by Islam, that I fast the month of Ramadan, and that I undertake Jihad in the Way of Allah. I said, “Messenger of Allah, by Allah, I am unable to perform two of these: Jihad and charity. The people believe that whoever turns his back and flees will have the anger of Allah descended upon him; I fear that if I am present my soul would become terrified and hate death. As for charity, by Allah all I have is a small herd of ten young camels which suffice as transportation for my family and for carrying their belongings.” Thereupon the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, closed his hand and shook it and said,
“No jihad and no charity… then with what will you enter Paradise?”
I said, “Messenger of Allah, I will give you this pledge,” so I gave the pledge of alliance for all of them.” (Recorded in Ahmad no.21952)
In a similar vein the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped save Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” (Recorded in Bukhari no.25 and Muslim no.22/129)
From this hadith, Umar and a group of the Companions understood that merely stating the testification of faith secures one from punishment in this world, as such they did not agree to fight those who refused to give the zakah. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, however, understood that one could not fight those who fulfilled the rights of this testification, of which zakah was one, because the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, went on to say,
“If they do that, their blood and property become sacrosanct except by due right, and their judgement lies with Allah.”
Abu Bakr said, ‘Zakah is a right upon wealth.’ This understanding of al-Siddiq has been explicitly stated by the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and reported from him by ibn Umar, Anas and others with the words,
“I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped save Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they establish the prayer, and they give the zakah.” [The whole incident referred to here can be found in Muslim no.20/124. The hadith of ibn Umar is referred to in no. 16 and the hadith of Anas is recorded by Bukhari no.392].
It is also proven by His sayings, “If they repent, establish the prayer, and pay the zakah, let them go on their way. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah at-Tawbah 9:5) “But if they repent, establish the prayer, and pay the zaikai, they are your brothers in the religion.” (Surah at-Tawbah 9:11) thereby proving that brotherhood in this religion cannot be established except by implementing the obligations alongside Tawhid. We say, ‘alongside Tawhid‘ because one cannot repent from shirk except by submitting to Tawhid.
When Abu Bakr had proven all of this to the Companions, they retracted their stance and accepted his opinion.
So now that it is understood that punishment in this world is not lifted through mere articulation of the testification; rather a person could well be punished for leaving one of its duties, the same applies to punishment in the Hereafter.
The Key to Paradise by Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali Pages 31-36