Testimony of Faith: Meaning and Requirements

Ash hadu an laa ilaaha illallaah, wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan rasool-ullaah (I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah)

Why the Statement “Laa ilaaha illallaah”?

  • Because it is the first duty of a Muslim. Therefore, whoever intends to accept Islam must make such a declaration of faith and believe in it.
  • Because whoever says it, sincerely believing in it and seeking thereby Allah’s pleasure, will be saved from Hellfire, as the prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has forbidden for the Hellfire anyone who says, ‘There is no one worthy of worship except Allah,’ seeking thereby Allah’s pleasure.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 415)
  • Because whoever dies while believing in it will be admitted into Paradise, as the prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever dies knowing full well that there is no god but Allah will enter Paradise.” (Musnad Ahmad:464)
  • Because knowledge of its meaning and dictates, is unquestionably the greatest and most important duty of a Muslim.

The Meaning of Laa ilaaha illallaah

This means no one is worthy of worship except Allah. In fact, this statement negates the existence of any other deity besides Allah ﷻ and confirms that Allah is the only True God worthy of being worshipped.

Peace and tranquillity can only be attained by worshipping Allah alone without associating any partners with Him in worship. .

The Arabic word ilaah (god) refers to any being that is worshipped. Thus, whoever worships something has in fact taken it as a god besides or instead of Allah. All such deities are indeed false except for one God—Allah, the true Lord and Creator.

Therefore, Allah ﷻ alone deserves to be worshipped. It is He alone whom human hearts must worship with utmost love, glorification, humility and fear, and He alone should be relied upon and invoked. No one should be called upon, sought for help or relied upon except Allah. Prayers and sacrifices must be offered to Him alone, and He ought to be worshipped in all sincerity, as the Qur’an states, “They were only ordered to worship Allah, keeping religion pure for Him.” (Soorat Al-Bayyinah, 98:5)

Those who sincerely worship Allah, following the dictates of the testimony of faith, will certainly lead a happy life, for it is only by worshipping Allah alone that hearts find peace and real satisfaction, as the Qur’an states, “Whoever does good, whether male or female, and he is a believer., We will most certainly make him live a happy life.” (Soorat An-Nahl, 16:97)

The Two main Parts of Laa ilaaha illallaah

This great statement comprises two parts which must be known in order to understand its meaning and requirements:

The First Part: Laa ilaaha (There is no god), negates the existence of any other deity besides Allah I, rejects association of partners with Allah in worship (shirk), and requires disbelief in any being or thing that is worshipped besides Allah, be it a human being, an animal, an idol, a star or anything else.

The Second Part: illallaah (except Allah), confirms that Allah is the only True God worthy of being worshipped and thus all acts of worship, such as the prayer, invocation and reliance, must be directed to Him alone.

All acts of worship must be directed to Allah alone; whoever directs any act of worship to other than Allah is, strictly speaking, an unbeliever.

The Qur’an states, “Whoever calls on another god together with Allah has no proof for doing so at all, and his reckoning is with his Lord. Truly the unbelievers have no success.” (Soorat Al-Mu’minoon, 23:117)

The significance of Laa ilaaha illallaah along with its two main parts are mentioned in the following verse: “Whoever rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way.” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:256)

The words “whoever rejects false gods” provides the meaning of the first part of the testimony of faith, namely, Laa ilaaha; while the words “and believes in Allah” provides the meaning of its second part, namely, illallaah.

The Testimony that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger

Who is Allah’s Messenger?

His Birth

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was born in Makkah in 570 CE. His father died before his birth, and his mother also died when he was very young. Thus, he was placed under the care of his paternal grandfather, ‛Abdul-Muttalib, and, after his grandfather’s death, he was placed under the care of Abu Taalib, one of his paternal uncles.

His Life and Upbringing

Muhammad ﷺ spent forty years before he received revelation in the Makkan tribe of Quraysh into which he was born, and during this period (570-610 CE) he came to be known amongst his people as assaadiq al-ameen (the truthful and trustworthy) because of his uprightness and excellent manners. He worked as a shepherd and later as a merchant. Before the advent of Islam, he maintained the pure monotheistic beliefs of Prophet Abraham ﷺ, a haneef , worshipping Allah alone without ascribing any partners to Him and rejecting idol worship and pagan practices..

His Mission

When Allah’s Messenger ﷺ turned forty, he would regularly retreat to the Cave of Hiraa’, on the peak of Mount Noor on the outskirts of Makkah, in present-day Saudi Arabia, meditating and worshiping Allah. It was then that he started receiving revelation from Allah. The first verses he received there were: “Read in the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clot of blood. Read, and your Lord is the Most Generous; He who taught by the pen; taught man that which he knew not.” (Soorat Al-‛Alaq, 96:1-5) These verses ushered in a new era of knowledge, reading, light and guidance. The Qur’anic revelations continued until his death twentythree years later.

The Beginning of His Mission

After three years of preaching secretly, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ spent another ten years preaching Islam openly. During this period, he and his Companions were subjected to all forms of injustice and persecution at the hands of the Quraysh pagans. Not losing heart, he began presenting himself during the pilgrimage season to the pilgrims who came from various tribes, calling them to the new faith. Pilgrims from Madeenah accepted Islam and, soon afterwards, Muslims started migrating to their city in successive groups.

His Migration

At the age of fifty-three, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ migrated to Madeenah, which was then called Yathrib, in 622 CE, after the Quraysh notables who had opposed his mission plotted to kill him. He spent ten years there, inviting people to Islam, and enjoined the prayer, zakaat and the other Islamic rituals on the Muslims.

His Efforts to Spread Islam

Following his migration to Madeenah (622-623 CE), Allah’s Messenger ﷺ laid the foundation for Islamic civilisation and determined the aspects of the Muslim society. He eradicated tribal fanaticism, spread knowledge, established the principles of justice, righteousness, fraternity, cooperation and organisation. Some tribes attempted to put an end to Islam once and for all, leading to a number of skirmishes and wars, but Allah ﷻ supported His Messenger and made Islam reign supreme. Then, people in Makkah and in most cities and tribes in the Arabian Peninsula willingly began entering this great religion in crowds, fully convinced that it is the true religion..

His Death

In the lunar month of Safar , 11 AH (June 632 CE), after Allah’s Messenger ﷺ disseminated the message of Islam and Allah had completed His favour upon the Muslims by perfecting His religion for them, the Messenger ﷺ had a sudden onset of fever which led to his death on Monday Rabee‛ Al-Awwal 11 AH (8 June 632 CE) at the age of 63. He was buried where he died, in the apartment of his wife ‛Aa’ishah ~, which is now housed within the Prophet’s Mosque in Madeenah.

Our Prophet’s Name
Muhammad ﷺ was the son of ‛Abdullaah, son of ‛Abd Al-Muttalib of the Banu Haashim clan of the Quraysh. He was indisputably the noblest of all Arabs..
A Messenger to All Mankind
Allah ﷺ sent Muhammad ﷺ as a messenger to people of all races, classes and colours, and He made it everybody’s duty to obey him, as the Qur’an states, “Say: ‘O Mankind! I am the Messenger of Allah to you all.’” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:158)
The Qur’an was Revealed to Him
Allah ﷺ sent down to him the greatest of His divine scriptures, the Holy Qur’an, which falsehood can reach neither from before it nor from behind it. (Soorat Fussilat, 41:42)
He was the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers
Muhammad ﷺ was the final prophet sent by Almighty Allah; therefore, there will be no prophet after him, as evidenced by the verse: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but the Messenger of Allah and the Final Seal of the Prophets.” (Soorat Al-Ahzaab, 33:40)

The Meaning of the Testimony that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger

This means to believe his statements, do the acts he commanded, avoid the acts he prohibited and worship Allah according to the manner he prescribed and taught us.

What Does Belief that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger Entail?

  1. To believe all the statements he made about everything. This includes the following:
  • Matters relating to the unseen world, such as the Last Day, the eternal bliss in Paradise and the everlasting punishment in Hellfire
  • The events that will take place on the Day of Judgement, the signs of this day and the major incidents preceding the end of the world
  • Stories of past nations and what happened between the prophets and their people
  1. To do the acts he enjoined and avoid the acts he prohibited. This includes the following:

 A Muslim must believe all the statements authentically attributed to Allah’s Messenger.

  • To comply with his orders, fully convinced that he did not speak of his own desire and that what he came with was nothing but a revelation revealed to him, as the Qur’an states, “Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:80)
  • To avoid the acts he prohibited, such as erroneous practices and bad manners, fully convinced that he only prohibited us from doing so due to some divine wisdom and for our own benefit even if we may not be sometimes aware of such benefit
  • To be certain beyond any doubt that doing the acts he enjoined and avoiding the acts he prohibited will benefit us tremendously and bring us happiness in this life and in the hereafter, as the Qur’an states, “Obey Allah and the Messenger, that you may find mercy.” (Soorat Aal ‛Imraan, 3:132)
  • To firmly believe that those who disobey Allah’s Messenger r will suffer a grievous punishment, as the Qur’an states, “Those who oppose his command should beware of a testing trial coming to them or a painful punishment striking them.” (Soorat An-Noor, 24:63)
  1. To worship Allah ﷻ in accordance with the Prophet’s instructions. This implies the following:
  • To follow his example: We ought to follow the Prophet’s Sunnah, or practice, including his words, deeds and tacit approval, in all aspects of our lives. Indeed, the more one follows the Prophet’s example, the more one gets closer to Allah ﷻ and the higher the grades of honour one will have with one’s Lord, as the Qur’an states, “Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (Soorat Aal ‛Imraan, 3:31)
  • Islam is complete: Allah’s Messenger  conveyed Islam and all its laws in full; thus, no one is allowed to introduce any practice in Islam which the prophet ﷺ did not approve.
  • Islam is relevant to all times and places: Islamic rulings mentioned in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah are relevant to all times and places, for no one knows for certain what is best for people except Allah who created them in the first place.
  • To follow the Prophet’s Sunnah: For one’s goods deeds and devotional acts to be accepted by Allah I, they have to be done in accordance with the manner prescribed by the prophet ﷺ, as the Qur’an states, “So let him who hopes to meet his Lord do righteous work and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.” (Soorat Al-Kahf, 18:110) The phrase ‘righteous work’ here denotes good deeds which are done in accordance with the Prophet’s Sunnah.
  • Innovations in religious matters are strictly forbidden: Those who introduce an innovation in religion (an act of worship which contradicts the Prophet’s Sunnah), such as offering a prayer not sanctioned by the Prophet S, blatantly go against his command and will have the innovation they have introduced rejected, as the Qur’an states, “Those who oppose his command should beware of a testing trial coming to them or a painful punishment striking them.” (Soorat An-Noor, 24:63) The Prophet  also said in this connection, “He who innovates something in this religion of ours that is not of it will have it rejected.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 2550; Saheeh Muslim: 1718)

By strictly forbidding innovations in religion and adding or changing acts of worship, Islam intends to protect divine law against distortion and alterations and safeguard it against being subjected to people’s whims and desires. Apart from this, Islam does, however, encourage the human mind to engage in innovative thinking and to explore the secrets of the universe in all aspects of life with a view to serving humanity and helping develop its present and future status.