The Shahada

The Pillars of Islam are very rarely discussed from the perspective of a non-Islamic person, I will be covering all pillars and the importance for non-Muslims to understand the Pillars of Islam and what it could mean for themselves or their families in the future.
Pillar One, the Shahada.
There are five pillars in Sunni Islam; one of the pillars is to take the Shahada. The Shahada is also present in Shia Islam, however the pillars are different and the Shahada differs slightly.
In Sunni Islam, Islam is to testify:

“There is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and to perform prayer, give Zakat, fast in Ramadan and perform the pilgrimage to the house if you can find a way. “ (Reliance of the traveller, U2.0)

The root for this, is in a hadith:

“It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah son of ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: (The superstructure of) al-Islam is raised on five (pillars), testifying (the fact) that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is His bondsman and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakat, Pilgrimage to the House (Ka’ba) and the fast of Ramadan.” (Sahih Muslim,Book 1, Chapter 1, Hadith 20)

What is the Shahada?
The Shahada is the testification of faith and was one of the first pillars of Islam to be established by Muhammad, the Shahada is mentioned in the Qur’an but it is split into two parts. The full statement of the Shahada is not in same verse anywhere in the Qur’an.
To become Muslim, a person has to take the Shahada; Shahada means to testify, witness or observe.
The Shahada is and was on flags, coins and Islamic monuments in the past, it is on the Dome of the rock in Jerusalem, it is on every Jihad flag including Islamic state, for which it is also on the Islamic state coins. It’s also displayed on some Islamic ruled countries flags and in mosques.
How a person submits to Islam; the Shahada.
To take the Shahada the following has to be said:


The English translation is:

“I bear witness that there is no deity (none truly to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. “

The slaves of Allah are now under Allah’s rule.
Once this is repeated, the person is now a Slave of Allah and has submitted to Islam, the orders of Muhammad and the decrees of Allah. The person is now required to learn all aspects of Islam, to perform all personally obligatory acts, refrain from prohibited acts, be responsible as a collective for all communal obligations, plus there are also recommended acts.
There are four Imams in Sunni Islam, these were Islamic Scholars, Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi’i, these make up the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), there are also the Shia schools of thought which the main one is Ja‘fari, this was an Imam within Shia Islam.
Some schools are classed as moderate in Islam, some conservative, i.e concerning the level of punishment/Islamic ruling. Moderate would mean, for example, if a Muslim apostasises, the person would get 3 days to repent and come back to Islam and if they repented the death penalty would not be given. The meaning of conservative would be that the person is to be executed, although the person should be asked to repent and if returned to Islam immediately, then this should be accepted, although this seldom happens.
To deny Islamic sacred knowledge, (which has scholarly consensus) would be viewed as Kufr (unbelief) this is on the condition that within scholarly consensus it is something which a (every) Muslim should know.
Some of the acts that entail leaving Islam are as follows:

  1. To intend to commit unbelief, even if in the future.
  2. To deny any verse in the Qur’an, which by scholarly consensus, belongs to it.
  3. To mockingly say, “I don’t know what faith is”.
  4. To deny the obligatory character of something which by the consensus of Muslims is Islamic.
  5. To be sarcastic about any ruling in Sacred Law.
  6. If someone says, “trim your nails, it is sunna” and then replies ” I would not do it even if it were”.

These are only a small number of examples and the list in Islamic law is extensive .
If it is believed that the person has purposely denied sacred knowledge, has reached puberty and is sane, then the person will be executed as an apostate (Reliance of the traveller 0.80) An apostate is called a murtad.
Apostasy is one of the biggest sins within Islam and is described as the ugliest form of unbelief and is seen as fighting against Allah.
The Islamic scripture which supports this, is the command in the Qur’an to obey Muhammad.

(4.59)“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.”

Then the command Muhammad given is recorded in a hadith.

“Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Sahih Bhukari, Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith 57.)

Who can take the Shahada and where can it be said?
The Shahada is recommended to be said with witnesses present, or as happens in the more modern world, on the telephone or on a webcam messenger. This is still a valid Shahada.
Anybody over the age of puberty can take the Shahada.
We are increasingly seeing children in school being taught the words of the Shahada and the five pillars of Islam, going on visits to mosques or Islamic museums and TV Programmes. Every day children are being conditioned to accept Islam that is a peaceful religion. A child could easily be on their phone or computer in their bedroom, taking the Shahada, having previously been conditioned to accept Islam at school, through media, social media or through political correctness and indoctrination.
In Islam it is believed that every person is born Islamic.
Due to the nature of Shahadas, such as the above or street Shahadas and the immense amount of time it takes to learn about Islam, plus that it holds the death penalty for leaving, then this is why it should be a concern to all non-Muslims, especially parents.
Every Islamic person believes that all people are born Islamic, due to a number of recorded hadiths which were verified as authentic, (Sahih). Every convert is believed to have not converted, they are believed to have reverted. It is said that the parents of the child corrupted the child and took them away from Islam, so that when a person takes the Shahada they have simply reverted back to Islam.

“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) as saying: No babe is born but upon Fitra. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist. A person said: Allah’s Messenger, what is your opinion if they were to die before that (before reaching the age of adolescence when they can distinguish between right and wrong)? He said: It is Allah alone Who knows what they would be doing.” (Sahih Muslim Volume. 6, Book 33, Hadith 6426)

The conditions of the Shahada.
The Shahada is split into two parts, the first part is to testify that Allah is the only God worthy of worship, the second part is to testify that Muhammad is the guidance for all mankind.
The first part of the Shahada is committing to the belief that Allah is the only God and there should be no other associations in worship or ruling and no other human being, idol, deity, object or animal will be worshipped.
Knowledge of Allah alone.
Muslims believe, there is no other deity but Allah, therefore nothing else can be worshiped. This is the monotheism in Islam and displaying the belief of the oneness of Allah which is called the tawheed.
When a Muslim clenches their fist slightly and points the index finger to the sky, that is the tawheed, displaying their belief that Allah is the one God and only Allah should be worshipped.


“So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women. And Allah knows of your movement and your resting place.”

Certainty in the Shahada.
This means there can be no doubt in the truth of the Shahada at all, Islam is never allowed to be questioned.

“The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah . It is those who are the truthful.”

Acceptance of the Shahada.
Accept the Shahada and never reject it, everything must be devoted to Allah, the penalty for rejecting Allah by Allah’s own decree is the death penalty.

“Indeed they, when it was said to them, “There is no deity but Allah ,” were arrogant.”

Compliance and obedience.
Do everything Allah ordered and avoid everything Allah prohibited, there should be no hesitation. This means complete submission to Allah’s law.

“And whoever submits his face to Allah while he is a doer of good, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of [all] matters.”

This is only in regards to the Shahada, to take it sincerely.

“They say with their tongues what is not within their hearts.”

Sincerity of worship to Allah alone.

“And they were not commanded except to worship Allah , [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakat. And that is the correct religion.”

This means love for Allah, Muhammad and all Muslims, to hate and show enmity to anyone who opposes Allah and Muhammad.
Love in Islam means.

  1. To love Allah and Muhammad, more than anything or anyone else.
  2. To love what Allah and Muhammad loved.
  3. To hate or dislike what Allah and Muhammad hated.

“Say, [O Muhammad], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.”

Allah is the only one who has the right to legislate in all matters, whether it be public affairs, government, worship, human relations, only Allah has the authority to make laws and the laws have to be adhered to and what has been prohibited has to be avoided.

“And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.”

The second part of the Shahada is;
To believe in all statements Muhammad made, to do all acts he enjoined and avoid everything he prohibited, to worship Allah in the way Muhammad did and ordered to do.
To believe that Muhammad is the last Messenger of God and everything Allah decreed about Muhammad must be true.

“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.”

Allah must be worshiped as Muhammad taught, obedience to Muhammad is an order from Allah.

“He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah ; but those who turn away – We have not sent you over them as a guardian.”

The Shahada is not only said at the point of conversion.
The Shahada is also said in all five prayers each day, whispered in a babies ear when born, and when a Muslim dies.
The Shahada is also proclaimed in an Islamic court, which is one of the reasons why non-Muslims are not allowed testify in an Islamic court. If a non-Muslim lives in an Islamic state, they have no legal right to defend themselves or stand as a witness in an Islamic court.
This is stated in Reliance of the traveller, Justice, witnessing and testifying 0.24.4.
Those are the basics of conditions of the Shahada. Every new convert to Islam has committed themselves to those conditions. Very few will understand what they have committed to before they take the Shahada, as most will convert without having learnt about Islam and its teachings.
If those conditions aren’t met, it is seen as disobedience to Allah and Muhammad; fighting against Allah and is punishable by death in an Islamic state.

©2016 Islamic Blueprint-JA Statham


All Qur’an quotes are Sahih International, Islamic Sacred Law- Reliance of the traveller and hadiths-Sahih Bukhari/Sahih Muslim.

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