Profess faith, be a good Muslim
A Pakistani devotee reads Quran in Peshawar
Shahada represents acceptance not only of Allah and His Prophet but of Islam in its entiretyReflections
In Islam, the first of the five pillars is the shahada. Shahada is the Muslim profession of faith, expressing the two simple, fundamental beliefs that make one a Muslim: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the prophet of Allah. Sincere recitation of this confession of faith before two Muslims is the sole requirement for those who wish to join the Muslim community. It represents acceptance not only of Allah and his prophet (Peace be upon him), but of Islam in its entirety. As one of the pillars, the shahada must be recited correctly aloud with full understanding and internal assent at least once in every Muslim?s lifetime. The shahada is also recited in the muzzein?s call to prayer, included in the salat (daily ritual prayer) and incorporated in Sufi contemplative prayer. It is also recited in the moments before death.
The condition, however, is that he should have accepted conscientiously and with full understanding the declaration of the oneness of God and the apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) contained in it.
Anyone who repeats the confession mechanically, without understanding it and without knowing what the concept of divine unity and apostleship and prophecy mean, will not gain recognition in the sight of God as a Muslim.
The first part of confession ? there is no god but Allah ? contains the affirmation of the oneness of God. It means that no one except the Almighty is worthy of worship and obedience. Worship and obedience should be offered to Him alone because He and no one else is our Lord and Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer, and the Dispenser of life and death. Apart from Him, whatever living things exist on the earth, or in the heavens, be they men or angels, are all His creatures and slaves. He is partnered by no one, no one has a share in His divinity nor can anyone amend or alter His will, or interfere with His affairs.
It is, therefore, necessary that all His commands and injunctions are strictly obeyed and faithfully carried out. Once we have realised and confessed the truth that God alone, and no one besides Him, is worthy of worship and obedience, our conduct should also be in conformity with it. Anyone who sees us should know by our behaviour that we are the devoted servants of the Lord who carry out His commands dutifully and live and die for His sake alone.
The second part of the confession ? Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His prophet ? is the affirmation of the divine apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was raised up by the Almighty for the guidance of the world, and whatever he taught, preached or revealed ? like the divinity of the origin of the Holy Quran, the existence of the angels, the certainty of the last day, the resurrection, the judgment, the award of heaven and hell according to one?s deeds on earth ? is 100 per cent true and authentic.
Indeed, the apostleship of the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) denotes nothing more and nothing less than the fact that all the things he taught to the world and all the truths he revealed to mankind were based on divine inspiration; that they were based on special and authentic knowledge vouchsafed to him by God, and so they are absolutely correct and beyond dispute.
This affirmation implies that each and every precepts and command of his should be wholeheartedly believed in and obeyed, for God raised up His apostles in the world solely to convey through them to mankind the commands and precepts He wants men to follow.
The confession embodies the pledge and the vow that we believe in Allah as the one and only Lord sovereign, Master and Creator and that we accept Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as the true apostle of God. The word Muslim means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process. One may convert in privacy, or in the presence of others. If anyone has a desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the shahada.
(The writer is a former Khaleej Times staffer)