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This article contains Arabic text, written from right to left in a cursive style with some letters joined. Without proper rendering support, you may see unjoined Arabic letters written left-to-right instead of right-to-left or other symbols instead of Arabic script.

The Shahada, also spelled shahadah (Arabic: الشهادة aš-šahāda About this sound audio from the verb šahida literally "to witness"), means to know and believe without suspicion, as if witnessed; it is the name of the Islamic creed. The Shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of Allahu ta'âlâ and acceptance of Muhammad as his prophet. The declaration reads: lâ ilâha illallâh, Muḥammadur rasûlullâh "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God" in English. This declaration, or statement of faith, is called the Kalima, which literally means "word". Recitation of the Shahadah is the most important of the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of the creed.[1] Technically the Shi'a do not consider the Shahadah to be a separate pillar, but connect it to the Aqidah.[2]

Contents

Recitation

About this sound audio

Arabic text: أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله Romanization: ʾašhadu ʾan laa ilāha illa (A)llāh, wa ʾašhadu ʾanna Muḥammada(n) rasūlo (A)llāh

A single honest recitation of the Shahadah in Arabic is all that is required for a person to become a Muslim according to most traditional schools.

In usage the two occurrences of 'ašhadu 'anna (or similar) = "I testify that" or "I bear witness that...", are very often omitted.

History

A mancus / gold dinar of the king Offa of Mercia, copied from the dinars of the Abbasid Caliphate (774); probably unintentionally, it still includes the Arabic text Muhammad is the Apostle of God.

One of the earliest surviving translations of the Shahadah into a foreign language is in Greek, from the reign of al-Walid I (86–96 AH, 705–715 CE): Οὐκ ἔστι[ν θεὸς εἰ μὴ ὁ θεὸς μόνος·] Μααμὲ[τ ἀπόστολος θεοῦ] (Ouk esti[n theos ei mē ho theos monos;] Maame[t apostolos theou]).[3] "There is no god except for God alone; Muhammad is the Apostle of God."; i.e. "Allah", the Arabic word for "God", is translated as ὁ θεὸς and Muhammad is transliterated as Μααμὲτ.

Conditions

The Islamic creed (Shahada), written in Arabic on a black background.

Muslims believe that the shahadah is without value unless it is earnest. Islamic scholars have therefore developed, based on the data of the Quran and hadith, essential criteria for an expression of the shahadah to be earnest. These criteria are generally divided into seven or eight or nine individual criteria; the varying numbers and orderings are not due to disagreements about what the criteria actually are, but rather different ways of dividing them.[4]

One such list of seven critical conditions of the shahadah, without which it is considered to be meaningless, are as follows:[citation needed].

  • Al-`Ilm: Knowledge of the meaning of the Shahadah, its negation and affirmation.
  • Al-Yaqeen: Certainty – perfect knowledge of it that counteracts suspicion and doubt.
  • Al-Ikhlaas: Sincerity which negates shirk.
  • Al-Sidq: Truthfulness that permits neither falsehood nor hypocrisy.
  • Al-Mahabbah: Love of the Shahadah and its meaning, and being happy with it.
  • Al-Inqiad: Submission to its rightful requirements, which are the duties that must be performed with sincerity to God (alone) seeking His pleasure.
  • Al-Qubool: Acceptance that contradicts rejection.

The second part of the Shahada carries several conditions as well:

  • To believe in the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, and in whatever he said and conveyed in his message as the seal of the prophets.
  • To obey him in whatever he commanded.
  • To stay away from or avoid whatever he commanded Muslims not to do.
  • To follow or emulate him in our 'ibadah (worship), akhlaq (manners), and way of life.
  • To love him more than you love yourself, your family and anything else in this world.
  • To understand, practice, and promote his Sunnah in the best way possible, without creating any chaos, enmity or harm.

Flags

The flag of Saudi Arabia, displaying the Shahadah.
The flag of Afghanistan between 1997-2001, displaying the Shahadah.
The flag of Somaliland, featuring the Shahadah

Several national flags display the Shahadah:

Several other flags display the shahadah, such as the flag of Hamas.

Hadith

قال المصنف -رحمه الله تعالى-: وعن أبي عبد الرحمن عبد الله بن عمر بن الخطاب -رضي الله عنهما-، قال: سمعت رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يقول: بني الإسلام على خمس: شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمداً رسول الله، وإقام الصلاة، وإيتاء الزكاة، وحج البيت، وصوم رمضان رواه البخاري ومسلم.[5]

On the authority of Abu 'Abd al-Rahman 'Abdullah bin 'Umar bin al-Khattab, radiyallahu 'anhuma, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, say: "Islam has been built upon five things - on testifying that there is no god save Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger; on performing salah; on giving the zakah; on Hajj to the House; and on fasting during Ramadhan."[6] [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

وعن عمر -رضي الله عنه- أيضا قال: بينما نحن جلوس عند رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- ذات يوم، إذ طلع علينا رجل شديد بياض الثياب، شديد سواد الشعر، لا يرى عليه أثر السفر، ولا يعرفه منا أحد حتى جلس إلى النبي -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فأسند ركبتيه إلى ركبتيه، ووضع كفيه على فخذيه. فقال: يا محمد أخبرني عن الإسلام، قال: الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله، وتقيم الصلاة، وتؤتي الزكاة، وتصوم رمضان، وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيلا. قال: صدقت، فعجبنا له يسأله ويصدقه! فقال: فأخبرني عن الإيمان، قال: أن تؤمن بالله، وملائكته، وكتبه، ورسله، واليوم الآخر، وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره. قال: صدقت. قال: فأخبرني عن الإحسان، قال: أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه، فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك. قال: فأخبرني عن الساعة، قال: ما المسئول عنها بأعلم من السائل. قال: فأخبرني عن أماراتها، قال: أن تلد الأمة ربتها، وأن ترى الحفاة العراة العالة رعاء الشاة يتطاولون في البنيان. ثم انطلق فلبثت مليًّا، ثم قال: يا عمر أتدري من السائل؟ قلت: الله ورسوله أعلم، قال: هذا جبريل أتاكم يعلمكم دينكم رواه مسلم.[7]

Also on the authority of 'Umar, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said: "While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, rested his knee against his thighs, and said, O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam." Said the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, "Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should performsalah (ritual prayer), pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka'bah at Makkah), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it)." Said he (the man), "You have spoken truly." We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, "Inform me about iman (faith)." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, "It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects." He said, "You have spoken truly." Then he (the man) said, "Inform me about Ihsan." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, " It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you." He said, "Inform me about the Hour." He (the Messenger of Allah) said, "About that the one questioned knows no more than the questioner." So he said, "Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming)." Said he, "They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings." Thereupon the man went off. I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah) said, "O 'Umar, do you know who that questioner was?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better." He said, "That was Jibril. He came to teach you your religion.[8]"

[Muslim]

Turkish national anthem

The Shahadah is referenced in the eighth stanza of the Turkish national anthem which can be translated as:[citation needed]

Oh my Lord, the sole wish of my soul from you is that:

Never should touch the bosom of my Temple an infidel's hand!
These adhans, whose shahadahs are the backbone of the religion,
Eternally, may they resound over my precious homeland.

Differences

Minaret in Granada displaying the Shahadah in Kufic script

Muslims believe reference to previous prophets as Messengers (rasul), and a few groups (notably certain Sufi mystics) amend the declaration to mention prior prophets whose names are found in the Qur'an.[citation needed]

Sometimes اشهد ان 'ashhadu ‘an = "I witness that" is prefixed to each half of the Shahadah.

Sometimes و wa = "and" is prefixed to the first word of the second half of the Shahada.

Some Shī‘ī Muslims add "و عليٌ وليُّ الله" "and Ali is the wali (chosen one) of God" (wa-‘Aliyun waliyu l-Lāh), but this is not obligatory.

See also

References

External links

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Simple English

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The shahadah (Arabic: شهادة  audio (info • help)) is the Islamic creed. It means "to testify" or "to bear witness" in Arabic. The shahadah is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and in Muhammad as his final prophet. Recitation of the shahadah is one of the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims and is said daily.

Rendering

  • أشهد أن] لا إله إلاَّ الله و [أشهد أن ] محمد رسول الله ]
  • [ I testify that ] there is no god (ilah), but God, and [ I testify that ] Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Another rendering current amongst some English-speaking Muslims, but without a historical tradition, is:

  • [ I testify that ] there is none worthy of worship except God, and [I testify that] Muhammad is the messenger of God.[1]

This version constitutes an interpretation rather than translation, as the words "worthy of worship" are not present in the Arabic.

A single honest recitation of the shahādah in Arabic is all that is required for a person to become a Muslim according to most traditional schools.

References

  1. "USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts". http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/pillars/shahadah/shahadahprereq.html. Retrieved 2006-09-12. 

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