What would you call a religion whose beliefs, practices and followers are being bashed and bad-mouthed in practically every sphere of activity, in almost every corner of the globe, yet it attracts ever-increasing numbers of people?
A Paradox? A Miracle ? Or simply, The Truth: Islam.
How to Make Your Shahada/how to become a Muslim
To become a Muslim you must first make your shahada. Shahada is an arabic word which means "witnessing/to testify" . Muslims believe everyone is born muslim until they worship a false god or associate partners with Allah (by giving traits of God to a person or thing that is not God). If you have not continued as a Muslim all your life, and have failed in practising the principle of the Oneness of God, it is necessary for you to reaffirm your faith by testifying/witnessing to the Oneness of God. This is where it becomes necessary to take one's shahada in Islam.
When you make your shahada you testify belief in one true God [Allah] that has no partners/equals, and in Allah's angels, books, and Prophets, and that Mohammed is the last messenger of Allah. Before you do this, you should make sure that you want to be a Muslim: read the Qu'ran, and make sure you understand the core values of the religion. You should become a Muslim with conviction and knowledge for it should be your religion for the rest of your life---there's greater punishment in willingly leaving Islam than there is for failing to be perfect in all of its principles. As a Muslim, you must obey all the laws of Allah, such as learning daily prayers and giving chairty, as well as no adultery and no eating of pork, but those seem minor once you truly understand the more important concepts of submission to God. As soon as you believe in Allah S.W.T as being the One God worthy of worship, and that the Qu'ran is the final message of Allah, and the Prophet Mohammed was sent to explain the Qu'ran with guidance from his Creator [and feel secure in the knowledge that you will always believe this] , than you may make your shahada. You don't have to be perfect in the practice of the faith to make your shahada (but by making your shahada you are making the intention to aspire to be as the faithful described in the Qu'ran) simply understanding and belief in it.
Every Muslim has been taught that the key to "Jennah" (Paradise) is the statement in Arabic:
"Laa illaha illa lah." (There is none worthy of worship except Allah.)
Yet too many Muslims simply rely upon this statement and believe that as long as they have made this statement, nothing will harm them. They think they will be granted Paradise because of this mere verbal statement of the Shahadah.
There is no question that the mere saying of the shahadah: "I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger" is not sufficient for salvation. In fact, the munafiqeen ( hypocrites) used to make this statement quite often yet Allah describes them as liars and says that they shall abide in the lowest abyss of the Hell-fire.
Think about it. If you try to drive your car with the key to your house will it work? Of course not. So, we see that the statement like a key, must meet certain conditions in order to work. In fact these conditions are what will determine who will benefit from the statement and who will not benefit from saying it, no matter how many times per day they say it. We must work hard to learn, understand and practice these conditions before we run out time and then it would be too late for our shahadah to help us at all. This article has value only if we use it to look at ourselves and make sure we are really meeting these conditions.
Then by Allah's Mercy, the doors to Jennah will open for us with our KEY (muftah) of Laa elaha illa lah".
Declaring the shahada, or testimony, is all one needs to enter Islam. It is the most important of all the five pillars of Islam. This little phrase is what separates Muslims from everyone else. Because those who state this phrase have declared their acknowledgement of Allah’s monotheism and Prophet Muhammad’s(s.a.w) status.
1.) Hidayatul Irshaad: Verily you do not guide those whom you love, but Allaah gives guidance to whom he wills.You can give dawah to the same person more than once, some people will take longer than others but the dawah is still our duty.
2.) Hidayatul tawfiq: This is from Allaah, this is when Allaah opens a persons heart to Islam. Our duty is to only let people know where the truth is. Allaah puts the hidaya in the heart the da’ee (caller) does not do that.
This type of guidance is from Allaah, and when you know that this is true, nothing can stand in your way. In the end direct them and the rest is up to Allaah. Allaah guides whom He wills, and Allaah is the one whom places guidance in the heart.
A person can convert to Islam by stating the Shahada with conviction.
The Meaning of the Shahada
The word shahada actually means to testify or to bear witness. There are actually two parts to the shahada which when taken together is often called the Shahadatayn, meaning “two testimonies.” The full shahadatayn requires a statement testifying to Allah’s monotheistic qualities and another statement testifying that Prophet Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.
Here are both parts of the shahada in English and Arabic.
Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illallah
“I bear witness that there is no god except Allah”
Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah
“And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
There is No God Except Allah. True, But...
After you become a muslim, then you are held responsible for learning when and how to do salah and wudu, acting upon the pillars of Islam and faith, and for implementing what you learn, when you learn it.
You must study and act upon the five principles (pillars) of Islam, and study and believe in the six articles of Faith.
1 KNOWLEDGE: ('ilm)
That is, one must have the basic and general knowledge of what is meant by the shahadah. One must understand what the shahadah is affirming and what the shahadah is denying. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"So know that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin."
(Surah Muhammad: 19).
Similarly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah shall enter Paradise.”
(Recorded in Sahih Muslim).
In fact, the shahadah itself is a testimony. When one testifies to something, one must know what it is that he is testifying concerns. Obviously, a testimony about something that one does not have any knowledge about is absolutely unacceptable. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"Except him who bears witness unto the truth knowingly."
(Surah Al-Zukhruf: 86).
Now this condition probably sounds obvious; if someone said to you, "There is no God except Allah," and then said that what he meant by Allah was Jesus, you would immediately tell him that this shahadah is nonsense. Yet can you imagine that there is a Muslim country in the world that until recently used to have a yearly weeklong celebration to "the Gods of the Sea"! All along they call themselves Muslims and they make the shahadah numerous times a day.
This clearly shows that they have no idea what the meaning of their shahadah is. Do you think that this kind of shahadah will open the doors to Paradise for them? Today, there are many Muslims who wonder why we should not accept secularism. They think that there is nothing wrong with secularism! Many of these Muslims pray five times a day and utter the shahadah repeatedly. Yet they see nothing wrong with accepting a Lawgiver other than Allah? What kind of shahadah are these people making?
All of us do our best to learn at least the basics of Islamic beliefs, the basics of what shahadah means. In this way, Allah willing, we will be making the correct shahadah. We will be witnessing to the truth as we are supposed to be witnesses to it.
2- CERTAINTY (yaqeen):
This is the opposite of doubt and uncertainty. In Islam, in fact, any kind of doubt is equivalent to Kufr or disbelief. We must, in our hearts, be absolutely certain of the truth of the shahadah. Our hearts must not be wavering in any way when we testify to the truth of, "There is none worthy of worship except Allah." Allah describes the believers in the Qur'an as those who have belief in Allah and then their hearts waver not. Allah says,
"the (true) believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere."
(al-Hujjarat : 15).
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "No one meets Allah with the testimony that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and I am the Messenger of Allah, and he has no doubt about hat statement, except that he will enter Paradise." (Recorded by Muslim.)
Indeed, Allah describes the hypocrites as those people whose hearts are wavering. For example, Allah says,
"They alone seek leave of thee (not to participate in jihad) who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and whose hearts feel doubt, so in their doubt they waver."
Many scholars have stated that the diseases of the heart, or the doubt and suspicionsdiseases of the heart that one allows into one's heart, are more dangerous for a person's faith than lusts and desires. This is because lusts and desires may be satisfied at some time yet the person still knows them to be wrong and he may control himself and repent and give up that evil deed. On the other hand, the doubts and suspicions may linger in the heart, with no cure, until the person finally leaves Islam entirely or continues to practice Islam while, in fact, in his heart he does not have the true faith. The greatest cure for these doubts is seeking knowledge. It is through sound knowledge of the Qur'an and the Sunnah that most of these doubts will be removed.
The first part of the shahada deals with our relationship with Allah, may He be Glorified and Praised. Even though the literal translation of “laa ilaaha illallah” means “no god but Allah,” the actual meaning is much deeper than that.
7- LOVE (mahabbah):
That is, the believer loves this shahadah, he loves in accordance with the shahadah, he loves the implications and requirements of the shahadah and he loves those who act and strive for the sake of this shahadah. This is a necessary condition of the shahadah. If a person makes the shahadah but does not love the shahadah and what it stands for, then, in fact, his faith is not complete. It is not the faith of a true believer. And if he loves something more that this shahadah or if he loves something more than Allah, then he has negated his shahadah. The true believer, the one meeting the conditions of the shahadah puts no one whatsoever as an equal to Allah in his love. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"Yet of mankind are some who take unto themselves (objects of worship which they set as) rivals to Allah, loving them with a love like (that which is due to) Allah only. However, those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allah" (al-Baqarah: 165).
And elsewhere Allah says:
"Say: If your fathers, or your sons, or your brethren, or your wives, or your tribe, or the wealth you have acquired, or merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, or dwellings you desire are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah brings His command to pass. Allah guides not wrongdoing folk" (al-Tauba: 24).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever has three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith. [The first of these] is that he loves Allah and His Messenger more than he loves anyone else..." (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.).
This is one of the most important aspects of Islam yet, for some reason, it is missing from the lives of many Muslims. They act in Islam as if Islam were a chore instead of doing things out of the love of Allah. When Allah orders us to do something, like bear witness to the faith, we should realize that that thing is pleasing to Allah and, therefore, out of our love for Allah, we should be very pleased to do the acts that are pleasing to Allah. But, as I said, this feeling is missing from many, many Muslims today.
Simply stating there is no god but Allah indicates that Allah is the only true deity and creator of all that exists. That is most certainly true. But to really understand the essence of Islamic monotheism you must take it further. After all, a person may agree that Allah is the only god, but they may worship Him through other entities.
There are many other faiths that use intermediaries, or “go-betweens”, when worshipping Allah. Sometimes these “go-betweens” may be an idol. But whatever the intermediary is, the person focuses their worship towards them first, instead of towards Allah only. Whatever that intermediary is, it is a created being and not the creator. Therefore, it does not deserve any portion of worship.
The more accurate meaning of “laa ilaaha illallah” would be “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.” Using this phrase, we make it perfectly clear that we are not going to worship anything else besides Allah. We are not only declaring that Allah is the one and only true God of all, we are also stating we will only worship Him and reject everything that even remotely compromises that worship.
Muhammad(s.a.w) is Not Just a Prophet of Allah
The second part of the shahadah deals with our understanding of the status of Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him. The phrase “Muhammadan rasulullah” does not mean “Muhammad is the prophet of Allah,” even though he certainly was. This phrase actually means “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” While this may seem insignificant to some, it is actually very important.
Allah has sent several men to mankind to remind them of their duty towards Him. Muslims believe that all of these men were prophets. These prophets of Allah include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, Jonah, Moses, Joseph, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. However, some of these prophets actually came with a message from Allah for mankind.
The prophets that came with a message are also called “Messengers of Allah.” Prophet Moses (Musa in Arabic) was a messenger as he came with the Torah. Prophet Jesus (Isa in Arabic) was a messenger as he came with the Gospel. And Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w) was also a messenger as he came with the Quran.
In order for a person to be Muslim, they must accept the second shahada along with the first shahada. A person cannot be Muslim if they only believe in the oneness of Allah, but do not accept that Muhammad was the Messenger of Allah. When a person testifies that Muhammad was also Allah’s messenger, they are also accepting the message he came with, that being the Quran.
So how can anyone worship Allah as the only God, but not accept Prophet Muhammad who taught us how to worship Him, and the Quran that was His message to mankind? It’s impossible and implausible.
DAROOD / SALAWAT (BLESSINGS) UPON MUHAMMAD
56 INN ALLAHA WA MALAI KATAHU YU SALLU NA ALAN NABIYY YA AYUHAL LAZEENA AMANU SALLU ALAIHI WA SALLIMU TASLIMA
56 Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Nabee (Prophet). You who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation.
[Quran: Al Ahzab Chapter 33]
The Five Pillars of Islam (or the five basic duties of a Muslim):
[Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/7, Narrated by Ibn 'Umar]
Allah’s Messenger said: Islam is based on the following five (principles):
1.To testify La ilaha ill Allah wa anna Muhammad-ur-Rasul-Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger).
2.To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat, i.e. Salah).
Says al-Khattabi, “Basically, one’s prayer does not suffice if he does not recite al-Fatihah. If one can recite neither al-Fatihah nor other portions of the Qur’an, he should recite at least seven verses of a similar meaning from the Qur’an. If he can not learn any part of the Qur’an (due to some innate inability, poor memory, or because it’s a foreign language), he should say the tasbeeh (Subhaan Allah – Glory be to Allah), the tamheed (al-Hamdu lillah – All praise is due to Allah), and tahleel (La ilaha illal-lah – There is no God except Allah). It is related that he said, “The best remembrance after the speech of Allah is Subhaan Allah, al-Hamdu lillah, La ilaha illal-lah and Allahu akbar.” This is supported by Rafa’ah ibn Rafa’, who narrated that the Prophet said, “If you have something from the Qur’an, recite it. If not, then say the tamheed, takbir and the tahleel and then bow.” [This hadith is related by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa'i and al-Baihaqi. The former considers it as hassan]
"We must take this religion one step at a time. It is a complete way of life and requires time to adjust. In learning your religion, you must begin to re-examine and regard things in its new light. Apply Allah's commands in the spirit of 'We hear and we obey' (Qur'an, 5:7). Assimilating what you learn consistently will facilitate this. It is through Allah's mercy and wisdom that we are shown our faults gradually. As many converts to Islam can attest, it may take years to really shed non-Islamic manners and patterns of behaviour. Whether new to Islam or not, your keeping to Islam is a tremendous blessing from Allah, for in it lies the means to earthly and eternal happiness."
You don't have to be perfect in the practice of the faith to make your shahada (but by making your shahada you are making the intention to aspire to be as the faithful described in the Qu'ran) simply understanding and belief in it.