The Ridges of the Key
If we study the verses of the Qur'aan and the Hadith of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), we will find that the conditions of the shahadah are nine in number. It is important that all of us make sure that we are meeting these conditions in our own lives and in our own testimony of faith.
We must do our best to satisfy these conditions before it is too late and our testimony will be of no avail whatsoever. It is not simply for the sake of teaching these conditions, indeed there is no benefit to that. But it is, instead, for all of us to look to ourselves and to make sure that we are actually meeting these conditions so that, by Allaah's mercy, the doors to Paradise will be open for us by our key of la ilaaha illaAllaah.
The first of these conditions is KNOWLEDGE (or al-Ilm). That is, one must have the basic and general knowledge of what is meant by the shahadah. One must understand what the shahadah is affirming and what the shahadah is denying. Allaah says in the Qur'aan: "So know that there is no God save A1laah, and ask forgiveness for your sin" (Q47 [Muhammad1: 19).
Similarly, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said. "Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allaah shallenter Paradise." (Muslim).
The shahadah itself is a testimony. When one testifies to something, one must know what it is that he is testifying to. Obviously, a testimony about something that one does not have any knowledge about is absolutely unacceptable. Allaah says in the Qur'aan: "Save him who bears witness unto the truth knowingly" (Q43 [Zukhruf]:86)
Now this condition probably sounds obvious; if someone said to you. "There is no god except Allaah," and then said that what he meant by Allaah was Jesus. You would immediately tell him that this shahadah is nonsense. However, the same is true for the shahaadah of Muslims who still participate in the celebration to the different gods and goddesses and other rituals which they perform in the name of tradition!
Also, today, there are many Muslims who wonder why we should not accept secularism.They think that there is nothing wrong with secularism! Many of these Muslims pray five times a day and utter the shahadah repeatedly. Yet they see nothing wrong with accepting a Lawgiver other than Allaah?
The second condition of the shahadah is Certainty (or al-yaqeen). This is the opposite of doubt and uncertainty. In lslaam, in fact, any kind of doubt is equivalent to Kufr or disbelief. We must, in our hearts, be absolutely certain of the truth of the shahadah. Our hearts must not waver in any way when we testify to the truth of. "There is none worthy of worship except Allaah."
Allaah describes the believers in the Qur'aan as those who have belief in A1laah and then their hearts waver not. A1laah says: "... the (true) believers are those only who believe in Allaah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allaah. Such are the sincere"(Q49[Hujuraat] :15)
Similarly, the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "No one meets Allaah with the testimony that there is none worthy of worship but Allaah and I am the Messenger of Allaah, and he has no doubt about that statement, except that he will enter Paradise."(Muslim)
Doubts and suspicions that one allows into one's heart, are more dangerous for a person's faith than lusts and desires. This is because lusts and desires may be satisfied at some time yet the person still knows them to be wrong and he may control himself and repent and give up that evil deed'. On the other hand, the doubts and suspicions may linger in the heart, with no cure, until the person finally, leaves Islaam entirely or continues to practice Islaam while, in fact, in his heart he does not have the true faith. May Allaah protect us from both.
The greatest cure for these doubts is seeking knowledge. It is through sound knowledge of the Qur'aan and the sunnah that most of these doubts will be removed. By study and understanding, one will attain certainty. And as one studies and learns more, his certainty will be made firmer and firmer.
The third condition of the shahadah is Acceptance (or al-qabool). If a person has knowledge of and certainty in the shahadah, this must be followed by acceptance, with the tongue and heart, of whatever that shahadah implies. Whoever refuses to accept the shahadah and its implications, even if he knows that it is true and certain about its truth, then, he is a disbeliever.
The believer accepts whatever the implications of the shahadah are.This also means that he believes in whatever is stated in the Qur'aan or stated by the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam),without any right to choose what he wants to believe and what he wants to reject. Allaah says in the Qur'aan: "Do you believe in part of the book and reject part of it? And what is the reward of those who do so save ignominy in the life of the world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be consigned to the most grievous doom" (Q2[Baqara1: 85).
There is one aspect that the Muslims must be aware of. Although it may not the same as the complete refusal to accept the truth. Not all of these forms may necessarily be considered apostasy, they are still very dangerous. For example, if some Muslims do not like what is stated in a verse in the Qur'aan, they simply reinterpret the verse according to their liking. If they do not like what is stated in ahadeeth, they simply state that the hadeeth must not be authentic although they are not scholars in that area. This kind of behaviour is the antithesis of the behaviour of the true Muslims. Whatever comes from Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) the true Muslim believes in as the truth. This goes hand in hand with their testimony of faith.
The fourth condition of the shahadah is Submission and Compliance (or al-inqiyad). This, implies the actual physical enactment with our deeds of our shahadah. In fact, this is one of the main meanings of the word Islaam itself, "the submission to the will and commands of Allaah." This is what Allaah commands in the Qur'aan: "Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him" (Q39[Zumar] :54)
Allaah has praised those who submit to His command by their actions. Allaah says:"Who is better in religion than he who surrenders his purpose to Allaah while doing good" (Q4[Nisa] :125) Actually, Allaah has clearly made it a condition of faith that one submits to the command of Allaah and His Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa salallam). Allaah says:"But nay, by your Lord, they will not truly believe until they make you [the Messenger of Allaah] judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of which you decide, and submit with full submission" (Q4[Nisa] :65)
Unfortunately, there are many who claim that there is no relationship between faith and deeds. This incorrect understanding of faith has spread throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, our shahadah or testimony of faith must be implemented or realised in our hearts, tongues and actions. In our hearts, we must have love for Allaah, fear Allaah and hope in Him. With our tongues we must testify to the shahadah. And with our actions, we must implement what the testimony of faith requires from us.
This does not mean that the true believer never commits a sin. Indeed, true believers do commit sins, but as long as they recognise that what they did is not correct and it is inconsistent with their obligation of submitting to Allaah, then they have not violated the soundness of their testimony or shahadah. Nevertheless, they are still sinners. And Allaah knows best.
The fifth condition is Truthfulness (or as-sidq), as opposed to hypocrisy' and dishonesty. This means that when we say the shahadah, we are saying it honestly. We actually mean it. We are not lying when it comes to our testimony of faith. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "No one bears testimony to there being no one worth of worship save Allaah, sincerely from his heart, except that Allaah makes the Hell-fire forbidden for him." (Bukhari, Muslim.)
Obviously, the shahadah of those who become Muslims simply to benefit from being Muslim and not because they believe in Islaam will be rejected by Allaah in the Hereafter. They will face a painful punishment due to their lying.
The sixth condition is Sincerity (or al-ikhlaas). That is, when we make the shahadah, we must do so solely for the sake of Allaah. We must not do it for any other reason. And we must not do it for anyone else's sake. In this manner, the meaning of sincerity is opposite of Shirk or ascribing partners with Allaah. We become and remain Muslims solely for Allaah's sake.
Allaah says in the Qur'aan: "Worship Allaah, making religion pure for him" (al-Zumar: 2). And Allaah also says: "And they are ordained not else than to serve Allaah, keeping religion pure for.Him, as men by nature upright and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion" (Q2[Bayyinah]:5) The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) added. "Allaah has forbidden for the Hell-fire anyone who says. 'There is no one worthy of worship except Allaah,I and say so desiring the face [andpleasure] ofAllaah."(Muslim).
Every Muslim need to make it very clear to himself that he is a Muslim only for the sake of Allaah. He is not a Muslim for the sake of his parents, friends, family or community. Or if he had reverted to Islaam, he did so and remain a Muslim not because of her husband or because of his wife. It must be clear in our minds that we are Muslims for the sake of Allaah first, last and only. One of the signs that we are Muslims for the sake of Allaah is that we do whatever Allaah asks of us, regardless of what anybody else desires or wants from us.
The seventh condition is Love (or al-mahabbah). That is, the believer loves this shahadah, he loves in accordance with the shahadah, he loves the implications and requirements of the shahadah and he loves those who act and strive for the sake of this shahadah. This is a necessary condition of the shahadah. If a person makes the shahadah but does not love the shahadah and what it stands for, then, in fact, his faith is not complete. It is not the faith of a true believer. And if he loves something more than this shahadah or if he loves something more than Allaah, then he has negated his shahadah.
The true believer, the one meeting the conditions of the shahadah puts no one whatsoever as an equal to Allaah in his love. Allaah says in the Qur'aan: "Yet of mankind are some who take unto themselves (objects of worship which they set as) rivals to Allaah, loving them with a love like (that which is due to) Allaah only.
However, those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allaah" (Q2 [Baqara]: 165). And the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said. "Whoever has three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith. [The first of these] is that he loves AIlaah and His Messenger more than he loves anyone else ... "(Bukhari).
This is one of the most important aspects of Islaam yet, for some reason, it is missing from the iives of many Muslims. They act in Islaam as if Islaam were a chore instead of doing things out of the love of Allaah. When Allaah orders us to do something, like bear witness to the faith, we should realise that that thing is pleasing to Allaah and, therefore, out of our love for Allaah, we should be very pleased to do the acts that are pleasing to Allaah.
DENIAL OF OTHER OBJECT OF WORSHIP
The eight condition of the shahadah is that the person who makes the shahadah must deny every object of worship other than Allaah. Although that is clear in the words of the testimony of faith, it does not seem clear to everyone who makes that testimony.
Allaah clearly reminds us of this important aspect of the shahadah, i.e. that the shahadah is not merely an affirmation but it is both an affirmation and a negation. A1laah states: "And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allaah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break" (Q2[Baqara]:256)
The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) also clarifies this point when he said, "Whoever says there is no one worthy of worship except Allaah and denies whatever is worshipped besides Allaah, then his wealth and blood are protected and his accounting will be with Allaah." (Muslim).
Although this condition should be obvious to everyone who says the words of shahadah, you can still find Muslims who say the shahadah and then make acts of worship for beings or things other than Allaah. You will find them going to the graveyards and worshipping those in the graves. They will perform acts of worship, not for the sake of Allaah, but for the sake of the dead "saints" in the grave. This kind of shahadah will not open the doors of Paradise as long as it is accompanied with the belief that acts of worship may be done for other than Allaah.
ADHERENCE TO IT TILL DEATH
The ninth condition of the shahadah is that the Muslim adheres to the shahadah until he dies. This is a must if the shahadah is to mean anything for you in the Hereafter. You cannot rest on your laurels of what you may have done in the past. No, indeed, the shahadah must be your banner until your death. Allaah says in the Qur'aan: "O believers, observe your duty to Allaah with right observance, and die not save as Muslims [surrendering yourselves to Allaah]" (Q3[Aal- Imraan]: 102)
The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "A man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of Paradise and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire. And a man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of Paradise." (Muslim)
In another hadeeth, the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "By the One whom there is no other God, one of you does the actions of Paradise until there is just a handspan between him and Paradise and then the book [preordainmentJ overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and he enters into it" (Bukhari)
These are the realities of the shahadah that each and every Muslim should look to in himself and ask, "Is my shahadah meeting those requirements? Am I saying it sincerely, honestly and out of love for Allaah? Am I saying it based on what it really means? Am I denying all other false objects of worship?..." These questions we should ask ourselves now before we meet Allaah.
If we find that we have some deficiencies, we should work to remove those deficiencies such that, by Allaah's mercy, in the Hereafter, our shahadah will be the key to Paradise for us and the gates of Paradise will swing wide open for us and we will be able to live forever in the bounties of the Pleasure of Allaah. Ameen
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited