May 22, 2008

The Shahadah

Posted in Aqidah, Faith786's Favorites, Islam, Knowledge, Quran, Taqwa, Tazkiyah at 2:24 pm by faith786

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The first pillar of Islam is to state the Shahadah. Sad to say, but many people just take the Shahdah for face value. Many times, even born into Islamic family Muslims, never really contemplate the Shahadah. Not only is it the doorway in which a human being steps onto the formal path of Islam, but it is the entrance to the spiritual world with Allah.

أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله
Ash hadu ‘anna laa illah ha illah-allah wa ash hadu anna muhammadar rasulullah

There are couple translations:

Literal:

“I witness verily, there is no god, but God and I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

***Better translation***

“I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship [ilah] except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the [last] messenger of God.”

What I (and scholars) are trying to get at is the term ilah [إله ] that is used. Ilah means something (deity) that is worshipped. This can be fire (for Zoroastrians), Jesus (for Christians) or other figures that are rendered as God. But ilah can also refer to what our inner selves turn to. [Following is from my Rumi notes:]

Ilah:

  • “god” (NOTE: lowercase g)
  • Something/one you enslave yourself to
  • Something/one you seek comfort from
  • Something/one you give the most love and worship
  • Something/one that is the first thing you turn to from danger to safety (NOTE: in one of the surah Kahf lectures, Shaykh Bilal mentions that a lot times people get sick and the first thing they might turn to is medicine. At the moment, that is their ilah. They should first turn to Allah and then seek appropriate action i.e. medicine. But that all comes from Allah.)
  • Something/one you seek clarity from confusion
  • Something/one you seek hope from despair
  • By the above criterion, ilah is defined not by what we profess, but what we actually end up doing.
  • ilah can be: Allah, gods, money, alcohol, nation-state, desires (hawa), carnal desires, ideology/science, and other things too.

So in the shahadah, when a person denounces the ilah, they say that they reject typical deity figures and other things (alcohol, money, etc. etc.) as their God and only see Allah as what they turn to.

—There is no deity (alcohol, money, Jesus, fire) worthy of worship except Allah— get it?

But the shahdah doesn’t just end at that understanding. There are 9 things a person must believe in and if one is lacking, then the Shahadah loses its barakah and even to some scholars, becomes meaningless. [But I’ll leave it to you to judge.]

  1. Al-‘ilm [knowledge]: A person must have knowledge of the meaning of the shahadah-both negation and affirmation. It sounds obvious, but some people may say the shahdah and then say may the gods of the skies protect us-so then that means the person really didn’t get what the shahadah is about—> “So know that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin.” [Surah Muhammad, ayah 19]
  2. Al-Yaqeen [certainty]: have perfect knowledge of it without suspicion and/or doubt. “The (true) believers are those who only believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere.” [Surah Al Hujarat, ayah 15]
  3. Al-Ikhlas [Sincerity]: To say it for the sake of Allah and nothing else. (Which can possibly e shirk) Al-Yaqeen is more of a state of mind, while Al-Ikhlas is more of a state of heart and soul.
  4. Al-Qubool [Acceptance]: To accept the shahadah, both in literal meaning and implications. “Do you believe in part of the book [Quran] and reject part of it? And what is the reward for those who do so, except humiliation in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent to the most dreadful doom.” [Surah Baqarah, ayah 85]
  5. Al-Inqiyaad [submission]: This means submission to the statement and that what we do is sincerely for Allah. “Who is better in religion than he who his purpose to Allah while doing good?” [Surah Nisaa’, ayah 125]
  6. As-Sidq [Truthfulness]: When saying the shahadah, we say it honestly. Not for any personal gain or something. We actually mean it when we say it.
  7. Al-Mahabbah [love]: To love the shahadah, what it means, what it represents and being happy with it. To love some statement more than the affirmation of Allah as God means you really don’t love the shahadah. (Unless the statement is something really good about God.) But yeah, you need to love what you declare as truth.
  8. Denial of other false worship (dunno the Arabic word): The shahadah is recognizing Allah, but also recognizing other false things of worship. So it is about standing up for Allah, but also shunning other gods.
  9. As-Taqeem [adherence-to death]: To hold on to it until we die, and hopefully the afterlife.

So the Shahadah is really the foundations of the religion because to tests a human being to be sound in their faith and strong in what they believe in. The shahadah is more than a statement; it is an idea, a belief, a concept one must hold on to for his/her entire life.

…I don’t know-I think many times people over look one of the most important statements of Islam and I would like you, the reader (if you are Muslim), to take a minute to think about the shahadah and think if you really follow the 9 criteria I put up earlier. And if you don’t, take a minute and cleanse your thoughts and heart to embrace this statement. If this is one of the greatest statements of Islam, imagine how much Allah loves it when you declare it with your heart. Don’t say it just once. Say it again. Say it over and over-as a confirmation of it in yourself. Allah loves it when you say something you mean and mean what you say for the sake of Allah. This is one of the ways a person can get close to Allah, so say what you mean and speak it from your soul.

Insha ‘Allah, we will hold the shahadah close in our hearts. Let it be our life line. And pray that we never take something else as an ilah (consciously or unconsciously) EVER and if we do, it is so Allah can remind us to turn back to Him. The shahadah is supposed to help us find Him. So say it, and mean it. =)

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11 Comments »

  1. navedz said,

    Jazak-Allah! This is very valuable information. Thank you so much for posting here.

  2. faith786 said,

    No, thank you for reading it. By you reading it, you have helped spread barakah. I just hope it helps you get closer to Allah.

  3. Martyr said,

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Martyr.

  4. faith786 said,

    Oh, the point of this post was to go indepth of the declaration of faith of Islam, known as the shahadah. Many times Muslims say it without thinking about it, so I did a mini explication. Thank you for visiting though!

  5. Amin said,

    What do you think about the concept of Mono-realism being embedded within the Shahadha. Where you are saying in the first part instead of I testify that there is no God but God, but rather saying “There is nothing in existence but God,” hence alluding to the notion of mono-realism or a mono-reality, where everything that is in creation is God. Which is beautifully expounded in the Qu’ran where Allah says: “Wheresoever you shall turn you shall see the countenance of Allah”

    Any thoughts? Just thinking out loud here?

  6. Suy said,

    WOW beutifulll

  7. syed mustafa said,

    this is a very gud blog!thn q 4 posting it!

  8. Khadija said,

    That was beautiful and well written …
    I am fairly new to Islam and I felt in my heart all your words .
    Very Very Beautiful…


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