This is the first principle in the belief in Tawheed (Oneness and Uniqueness of Allaah). Allaah is One in His Lordship, One in His Godship and One and Unique in His Actions and Names and Attributes. Nothing is like Allaah. When someone accepts Allaah as the only true God Who deserves to be worshipped, then he must negate all worship to anyone (or anything) other than Allaah. This is the meaning of laa ilaaha illal-laah: “There is none worthy of worship but Allaah.” It is composed of negation and affirmation statements. The statement “but Allaah” confirms that Allaah is the only true God Who deserves to be worshipped. Allaah is All-Just and All-Wise. He created us and wants us to know of Him and worship Him alone. He doesn’t leave us without guidance. This is part of His Mercy. He, Most Exalted, sent Messengers and Prophets to convey a single message: man must submit to the Will of His Creator, Allaah, and worship none but Him. This is the essence of Islam. It is the same message conveyed by Adam, Nooh, Ibraaheem (Abraham), Moosa (Moses), ‘Eesa (Jesus) and finally to mankind until the Day of Resurrection by Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). These Messengers and Prophets were created human beings. They were not divine. In the final revelation to all mankind, man is called to testify that: “There is none worthy of worship but Allaah and Muhammad is the true Messenger of Allaah.” This testimony is the key to Paradise. But there is no key except that it has ridges. If you come with the key that has the right ridges, the door will open for you, otherwise it will not. In order to achieve Paradise through this testimony, one must fulfill certain conditions that constitute the “right ridges” for this key statement.
These conditions are:
1. Knowledge (Al-‘Ilm)
Knowledge of Allaah and knowledge about the nature, concepts and methodology of worship are essential to the practice as well as the understanding of Islam. The beneficial knowledge is the one that leads to complete disassociation from false deities and to the devotion of intentions to Allaah alone. Allaah, the Most High, says:
“And know that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah and ask forgiveness for your sins, and also for the sin of believing men and believing women. And Allaah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest in your home” (Qur’an 47:19).
The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“He who died knowing (fully well) that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allaah entered al-Jannah (Paradise).” [Collected by Muslim].
2. Certainty (Al-Yaqeen)
The testimony has to be made without any suspicion regarding its meaning. Allaah, the Exalted, says:
“Only those are the believers who have believed in Allaah and His Messenger and never since doubted”. (Qur’an 49:15).
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“I bear witness that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allaah, and I am His Messenger. The slave of Allaah who would meet Him without harboring any doubt about his (testimony) would enter al-Jannah (Paradise).” [Collected by Muslim].
3. Purity and Sincerity (Al-Ikhlaas)
The intention of accepting Islam and performing all acts of worship must be purely devoted to Allaah:
Say, (O Muhammad ): Verily, I am commanded to worship Allaah (alone) by obeying Him and doing religious deeds sincerely for Allaah’s sake only and not to show off, and not to set up rivals with Allaah in worship.” (Qur’an 39:11)
So, when one declares this testimony, he should be doing so solely for the sake of Allaah, not for anyone else. Purity and sincerity is the opposite of Shirk (associating others in that which is due to Allaah alone). The one who proclaims this Shahaadah (testimony) for any worldly gain has failed to meet this condition of sincerity of woprship and has failed to meet Allaah’s command, when He says:
“Worship Allaah, making the Religion pure and sincere for Him.”(Qur’an 39:14)
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
Allaah has forbidden the Fire upon one who says laa ilaaha illal-laah seeking by this the Face of Allaah.” [An agreed upon hadeeth]
4. Truthfulness (As-Sidq)
Truthfulness paves the way for a meaningful understanding of this declaration. It strengthens the drive of man towards achieving knowledge about his Creator, Allaah. The hypocrites utter the declaration, but they conceal rejection in their hearts:
“They said with their tongues what is not in their Hearts.” (Qur’an 48:11).
The heart is like the king and the limbs are the soldiers. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“……Truly there is a piece of flesh in the body if it become good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body becomes spoilt.” [ Al-Bukhaaree & Muslim]
When the love of Allaah fills the heart, truthfulness and honesty fill it too, but when desire gets to the heart, the way for corruption and hypocrisy becomes opened and man will utter what is not really in his heart. The whole and sound heart is the one free from:
a) association of anyone /anything in the worship of Allaah,
b) false pride and arrogance
e) love for this life
f) love for leadership and domination
h) bid’ah (innovation in religion)
This is the kind of heart that fulfills the declaration of Shahaadah. This is known in the Qur’an as “Al-Qalb as-Saleem,”the clean, sound, safe and whole heart,” and it is the thing that really counts on the Day of Reckoning :
“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail except him who brings to Allaah a clean heart.”(Qur’an 26: 88-89).
5. Love (Al-Mahabah)
a) to love Allaah and His Messenger, more than all else,
b) to love what Allaah and His Messenger love and
c) to hate or dislike what Allaah and His Messenger hate or dislike in all matters that are related to Islam.
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
Whoever possesses (the following) three qualities will relish the sweetness (delight) of Eemaan (Faith): The one to whom Allaah and His Messenger becomes dearer than anything else; that he loves a person for Allaah alone (i.e. to purely seek Allaah and His Pleasure); that he hates to revert to Kufr (disbelief) after Allaah has rescued him from it as he hates to be thrown into Hell.” [Collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]
The love of Allaah and His Messenger must be translated into following their orders. This negates following innovators and/or their innovations, those who introduce concepts and/or ways that are not according to Islamic teachings: like the mystics of Sufism and their so-called “Tareeqas (ways)” which have nothing to do with Islam. Their ideas originated from Hindu concepts. They elevate their Sufi Sheikhs and leaders (Aqtab) to divine levels. Similarly, the Raafidhah (Rejectionist Shia) elevate ‘Ali and other members of the household of the Prophet to divine levels, invoking them besides, or to the exclusion of Allaah:
“And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allaah as rivals (to Allaah). They love them as they love Allaah. But those who believe love Allaah more (than anything else).” (Qur’an 2:165)
In the following narration, Abdullah bin Mas’ud said:
“The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said one statement and I said another. The Prophet said: “Whoever dies while still invoking anything other than Allaah as a rival to Allaah, will enter Hell (Fire).” And I said, “Whoever dies without invoking anything as a rival to Allaah, will enter Al-Jannah (Paradise).” [Collected by Al-Bukhaaree].
The Love of Allaah and His Message of Islam is related to the Knowledge of Him and of His Names and Attributes. The more the person knows of Allaah, the love of Him becomes stronger. This makes the believer eager to meet Allaah, see Him, and listen to His Words in the Hereafter. This becomes the goal and all the worldly attachment gets weaker and weaker. The spirit is lifted up. It aims high towards its Creator. It would not trap itself on any road that would lead to other than the submission to Allaah alone. The person becomes motivated to comply with Allaah’s command to the best of his abilities. This produces the true happiness in this life and in the Hereafter.
6. Submission (Al-Inqiyaad)
The testimony is fulfilled by obedience to Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and by safeguarding against what Allaah forbids:
“Whoever submits his face to Allaah (i.e. follow Islam), while he is doing good (i.e. obey Allaah and His Messenger) in all respects) has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold” (Qur’an 31:22).
The compliance to the declaration of the Shahaadah must be free of hesitation. Rather it is a matter of full submission. This is well illustrated in the saying of Allaah:
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and his Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and his Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.”[Qur’an 33:36].
The decrees of Allaah and His Messenger are not subject to human evaluation. The Message is a Revelation. What it contains is for the benefit of man. Therefore, man’s submission in Islam is for his own good.
7. Acceptance (al-Qubool)
It is not enough to recognize the greatness of Islam and that it is the Truth, but this recognition must be ascertained by humble acceptance and humility. The adherence to the meaning of this declaration safeguards the believer from false pride, arrogance and disdainfulness:
“Truly when it was said to them: laa ilaaha illal-laah (None has the right to be worshipped but Allaah), they puffed themselves up with pride (i.e. denied it).” (Qur’an 37:35).
The Muslim must realize that this declaration stands against bigoted and blind imitation and calls for an acceptance of the teachings of Islam according to the understanding of those who followed the correct path. They are the companions and those who follow their footsteps until the day of resurrection. This path is knows as the Path of as-Salafus-Saalih (righteous predecessors).
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) gave amazing parables for those who accept and those who reject the guidance and teachings of Islam. He said:
“The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allaah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allaah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefit). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allaah’s religion and gets benefit (from knowledge) which Allaah has revealed through me (the Prophet) and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allaah’s guidance revealed through me (he is like that barren land). [Collected by Al-Bukhaaree].