The Shahadah (Arabic: الشهادة aš-šahāda, from the verb šahida “to testify”) is the Islamic creed. The Shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad ﷺ as his prophet.
لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
“La illaha ill Allah, Muhammad ur Rasul Allah”
which is translated into
“There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
This declaration is called the Kalima, which literally means “words.”
Listen to this audio track for the correct pronunciation.
Recitation of the Shahadah is the most important of the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims, since it’s the foundation of the whole faith. If you don’t believe the words of the Shahadah, you cannot do any other act correctly or with the right intention.
The call to prayer features the Shahadah repeatedly.
Converting to Islam
Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam, do so by a public recitation of the Shahadah.
The parts of the Shahadah
The declaration of faith consists of two distinct parts:
- The absolute belief in the Unity of Allah (God)
- Belief in the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as a mortal human being and the Messenger of Allah.
1. Belief in One God
Islam’s fundamental belief is the Unity of God. All other beliefs hang on this belief. Therefore the acknowledgement and ‘bearing witness’ of this is the key to the Muslim faith. Unless this is observed one cannot be a Muslim. A Muslim accepts Allah as the only God, and only Master, Lord and Ruler with no partner sharing in any way His Being, Powers and Attributes. He is One; He is Unique; He is not the father of any one, nor He has or had any father. He is Almighty and Self-Sustaining. He is there forever, and will be there forever.
A Muslim believes in Allah as the Ruler and must not disobey Him. In fact everything that exists in the universe obeys Him. He is the Fashioner of all the Universes that may exist.
2. Belief that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
The belief in Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (on whom be peace) as the servant and Messenger of Allah completes one’s faith. The Holy Prophet was the greatest of all the Prophets of Allah, yet he was only a human being with no share in Divinity. This is a very important belief that keeps Muslims from associating partners with Allah. This part of the Declaration of Faith where reinforces the first part of Allah being the only Supreme Being with no partners also establishes the absolute authority of the Holy Prophet as the Messenger of Allah, who must be obeyed as well in all the matters of faith.
The Holy Prophet is the last prophet who brought us the last Book (the Holy Quran) to be followed. He lived among his people for a long time and his life is documented in utmost detail. He lead his followers by example. The way he lived his life and admonished his followers to live their lives is called Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. The second part of the Declaration of Faith makes obeying and following the advice of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ equally important to the belief in absolute Unity of Allah. This declaration make one to completely submit to the Will of Allah and that is why one who declares this belief is called a Muslim – one who completely submits to the will of Allah.
Sometimes اشهد ان ‘ašhadu ‘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 Indonesian Muslims pray “Allah il Allah” when appealing for God’s help. This is an altered form of the first part of the Shahadah.
Some Shia Muslims add “and Ali is the beloved of Allah” (wa-Aliyun waliyu ‘llah) at the end. Some Shias don’t believe that this is obligatory, however, and that the standard Shahadah (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger) is enough.
“Do then those who disbelieve think that they can take My slaves (i.e. the angels; Allah’s Messengers; Jesus, son of Mary, etc.) as ‘Auliya (lords gods, protectors supporters etc.) besides Me?
Verily We have prepared Hell as an entertainment for the disbelievers (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism).
Say (O Muhammad); ‘Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds?’ Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought they were acquiring good by their deeds?”
“They are those who deny the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord and the meeting with Him (in the Hereafter). So their works are in vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall not give them any weight.”
“That shall be their recompense, Hell; because they disbelieved and took my Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, revelations, etc.) and My Messengers by way of jest and mockery.”
“Verily! Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, they shall have the Gardens of Al-Firdaus (Paradise) for their entertainment.”
“Wherein they shall dwell (forever). No desire will they have to be removed therefrom.”
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): If the sea were ink for (writing) the Words of my Lord, surely the sea would be exhausted, before the Words of my Lord would be finished even if We brought (another sea) like it for its said.”
“Say (O Muhammad): I am only a man like you, it has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God, –i.e. Allah). So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.”
Quran v. 18:102-110
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever witnesses that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger, Allah forbids the Fire from touching him.”
Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from `Ubada ibn al-Samit.
More hadith can be found here on Sunnah.org