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The Meaning of al-Shahādatayn

  Dr. Ṣāliḥ al-Ṣāliḥ

A brief account of what is represented by the two statements everyone must utter to become a Muslim.



  Allāh is All-just and All-wise. He creates us and wants us to know him and worship him alone. The submission of man to his creator, Allāh, is the essence of Tawḥīd. When someone submits to Allāh, he must negate and disassociate from any worship to anyone (or anything) other than Allāh.
Dr. Ṣāliḥ al-Ṣāliḥ 

Al-Shahādatayn is the declaration that represents the belief in the oneness of Allāh (Tawḥīd). It is composed of negation and confirmation phrases. The phrase "There is no true god…" negates all false deities, while the phrase "but Allāh", confirms that Allāh is the only True God worthy of being worshipped.

Allāh is All-just and All-wise. He creates us and wants us to know him and worship him alone. The submission of man to his creator, Allāh, is the essence of Tawhid. When someone submits to Allāh, he must negate and disassociate from any worship to anyone (or anything) other than Allāh. This is the purity of worship and it is all embedded in the declaration of al-Shahādatayn. This declaration is the key to Jannah (Paradise). The conditions that fulfil the declaration of al-Shahadatayn are like the "teeth" that allow the key to function. These conditions are:

#1 KNOWLEDGE: about whom we are worshipping and about the nature, concepts, and methodology of worship is critical for understanding Islām. Knowledge in Islām calls for complete disassociation from false deities and for the purification of intentions:

  "So know that Lā ilāha illā-Allāh (none has the right to be worshiped except Allāh) and ask forgiveness for your sins" (Qurʾān, 47:19).

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: "He who died knowing (full well) that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allāh, entered al-Jannah (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim).

#2 SATISFACTION: The declaration must be made without any suspicion regarding its meaning. Allāh (Subhānahu wataʿalá) says:

"Only those are the believers who have believed in Allāh and His Messenger and never since doubted" (Qurʾān, 49:15).

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallām) said: "I bear witness that Lā ilāha illā-Allāh, (There is no God but Allāh) and I am his Messenger. The slave of Allāh who would meet him (Subhānahu wata ʿalá) without harbouring any doubts about this (al-Shahādatayn) would enter al-Junnah" (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim).

#3 PURITY: The intention behind the performance of any kind of Islamically prescribed worship must be purely devoted to Allāh:

Say [O Muḥammad]: "Verily I am commanded to worship Allāh [Alone] (by obeying Him and doing religious deeds sincerely for Allāh’s sake, not to show off, and not to set up rivals with Allāh in worship)" (Qurʾān, 39:1).

#4 HONESTY: Paves the way for meaningful understandings of Tawḥīd and strengthens the drive towards achieving knowledge about Allāh. The hypocrite utters al-Shahādatayn but conceals rejection in his heart:

"They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts" (Qurʾān 48:11).

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: "There is none who testifies sincerely [from his heart] that there is no God worthy of being worshipped except Allāh, and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh, except that Allāh will save him from the hell-fire" (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim and Bukharī).

#5 ACCEPTANCE: Adherence to the meaning of al-Shahādatayn safeguards the believer from falsehood and arrogance which Allāh forbade:

"Truly, when it was said to them: Lā illāha illā-Allāh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allāh), they puffed themselves up with pride [i.e. denied]"
(Qurʾān 37:35).

#6 SUBMISSION: Is fulfilled by obedience to Allāh and His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam)

"Whoever submits his face [himself] to Allāh [follows Islām], while he is doing good [obeys Allāh and His Messenger in all aspects] has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold" (Qurʾān 31:22).

#7 LOVE OF ALLĀH AND HIS MESSENGER: The declaration of al-Shahādatayn requires that the person loves Allāh and his Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) more than anything else, and loves what Allāh and His Messenger love, and hates or dislikes what Allāh and His Messenger hate or dislike (what negatively affects the person’s attachment to Islām).

"And of mankind are some who take [for worship] others besides Allāh as rivals [to Allāh]. They love them as they love Allāh. But those who believe love Allāh more [than all else]" (Qurʾān, 2:165).

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: "Whoever possesses [the following] of three qualities will relish the sweetness [delight] of Īmān [Faith]: The one to whom Allāh and His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) becomes dearer than anything else: that he loves a person for Allāh Alone (i.e. purely seeking Allāh and his pleasure); that he hates to revert to Kufr (disbelief) after Allāh has rescued him from it as he hates to be thrown in hell" (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim & Bukharī).

The love of Allāh and His Messenger must translate to a real following of the commands of Allāh and that of the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). This negates the following of any innovator who introduces concepts/ways that are not in accordance with Islamic teachings: like the mystics of Ṣufism and their so-called Tarīqahs (ways) which has nothing to do with Islām. Their thoughts originated from Hindu concepts.


This is the second part of the declaration of al-Shahādatayn. This means that:  Whatever Allāh had told us about Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) must be true:

"O Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings and a Warner, And as one who invites to Allāh [i.e., to worship none but Allāh] by his leave, and as a lamp spread light" (Qurʾān, 33:45-46).

We must worship Allāh as taught by Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam): This clear order from Allāh:

"And whatsoever the Messenger, Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain [from it] and fear Allāh. Verily Allāh is severe in punishment" (Qurʾān, 59:7).

The rulings, orders, disciplines, advice, recommendations, approvals, actions, and orders as they are related to Islām, are known as the Sunnah of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). The authentically related Sunnah is inspired by Allāh (subḥānahu wata ʿalá)

"Nor does he [Muḥammad] speak of [his own] desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired" (Qurʾān, 53:3-4).

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Tags: Ṣāliḥ al-Ṣāliḥ, Basics, Shahādah

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