The Conditions of the Shahādah
Shaikh ‘Ubaid Al-Jabiri
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger.
Scholars have listed seven conditions that must fulfill in the acknowledging the Unity of Allāh. The seven conditions “Lā ilāha ill Allāh (There is none worthy of worship except Allāh)” are:
1. Al-‘Ilm: Knowledge of the meaning of the Shahādah, its negation and affirmation.
2. Al-Yaqīn: Certainty – perfect knowledge of it that counter-acts suspicion and doubt.
3. Al-Qubul: Acceptance that contradicts rejection.
4. Al-Inqiād: Submission to its rightful requirements, which are the duties that must be performed with sincerity to Allāh (alone) seeking His pleasure.
5. Al-Ikhlās: Sincerity which negates syirik
6. Al-Siddiq: Truthfulness that permits neither falsehood nor hypocrisy
7. Al-Mahabbah: Love of the Shahādah and its meaning, and being happy with it
The first condition is knowledge (Al-‘Ilm), in the sense of negating what is negated in the Shahādah and affirming what is affirmed therein – as opposed to being ignorant of that.
Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala says:
“So know (O Muhammad) that Lā ilāha ill Allāh (There is none worthy of worship except Allāh).” [Muhammad, 47:19]
“except for those who bear witness to the truth knowingly” – i.e., that there is no god except Allāh (lā ilāha ill-Allāh) – “and they know” – in their hearts the meaning of the words that they utter with their lips. [Al-Zukhruf, 43:86]
It is narrated in al-Sahih from ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan (radiyallāhu’anhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever dies knowing that there is no god except Allāh will enter Paradise.”
The second condition is certainty (Al-Yaqin), in the sense that the one who says these kalimah is absolutely certain of their meaning. Faith is not sufficient unless it is based on certain knowledge with no element of speculation, let alone doubt.
Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala says: “Only those are the believers who have believed in Allāh and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not but strive with their wealth and their lives for the Cause of Allāh. Those! They are the truthful” [Al-Hujurat 49:15]
The sincerity of their faith in Allāh and His Messenger is conditional upon there being no element of doubt therein, as for the doubter; he is one of the hypocrites. In al-Sahihayn it is narrated that Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Bear witness that there is no god except Allāh and that I am the Messenger of Allāh, for no person meets Allāh with these two, not doubting in them, but he will enter Paradise.’”
According to another report: “No person meets Allāh with these two, not doubting in them, and is denied Paradise.”
And it was also narrated from Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu’anhu) in a lengthy hadith that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sent him and said, “Whoever you meet behind this wall that bears witness that there is no god except Allāh, believing in it with certainty in his heart, then gives him the glad tidings of Paradise.”
Thus, we observe that a person’s entering Paradise for saying these words is conditional upon his believing in them with certainty in his heart, with no element of doubt. If this condition is not met the target is not met.
The third condition is acceptance and submission (Al-Qabul) to what these words imply, both in one's heart as well as verbally. Allāh has told us the stories of those who came before, who were saved by their acceptance of these words from the punishment of those who had rejected them.
Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala says:
“(It will be said to the angels): ‘Assemble those who did wrong, together with their companions (from the devils) and what they used to worship,
Instead of Allāh, and lead them on to the way of flaming Fire (Hell);
But stop them, verily, they are to be questioned.
What is the matter with you? Why do you not help one another (as you used to do in the world)?’
Nay, but that Day they shall surrender.
And they will turn to one another and question one another.
They will say: ‘It was you who used to come to us from the right side (i.e., from the right side of one of us and beautify for us every evil, enjoin on us polytheism, and stop us from the truth, i.e. Islamic Monotheism and from every good deed).’
They will reply: ‘Nay, you yourselves were not believers.
And we had no authority over you. Nay! But you were Taaghoon (transgressing) people (polytheists, and disbelievers).
So now the Word of our Lord has been justified against us, that we shall certainly (have to) taste (the torment).
So we led you astray because we were ourselves astray.’
Then verily, that Day, they will (all) share in the torment.
Certainly, that is how We deal with Al Mujrimun (polytheists, sinners, disbelievers, criminals, and the disobedient to Allāh).
Truly, when it was said to them: Lā ilāha ill-Allāh (None has the right “to be worshipped but Allāh),” they puffed themselves up with pride (i.e. denied it).
And (they) said: ‘Are we going to abandon our alihah (gods) for the sake of a mad poet?’”
So Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has made the reason and causes of their punishment their arrogant refusal to say Lā ilāh ill-Allāh, and their disbelief in the one who brought this message, so that they did not negate what this word negates and they did not affirm what it affirms, rather they said, arrogantly denouncing:
“‘Has he made the ālihah (gods) (all) into One Ilāh (God — Allāh). Verily, this is a curious thing!’
And the leaders among them went about (saying): ‘Go on, and remain constant to your aalihah (gods)! Verily, this is a thing designed (against you)!’”[Sad, 38:5]
So Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala showed them to be liars and threw their words back at them through the words of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He said:
“Nay! he (Muhammad) has come with the truth (i.e. Allāh’s religion — Islamic Monotheism and this Qur’an) and he confirms the Messengers (before him who brought Allaah’s religion — Islamic Monotheism)” [Al-Saffaat 37:37]
Then Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala said concerning those who accept it:
“Save the chosen slaves of Allāh (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism).For them there will be a known provision (in Paradise),Fruits; and they shall be honoured,In the Gardens of Delight (Paradise)”
In al-Sahih it is narrated from Abu Musa (radiyallāhu’anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The guidance and knowledge with which Allāh has sent me is like abundant rain which falls on the land. Some of the land absorbs the water and brings forth much grass and vegetation. And some of (the rain) falls on another part of the land which is like a smooth plain and does not hold the water, so no vegetation grows. That is the likeness of the one who understands the religion of Allāh and benefits from that with which Allāh has sent me, so he learns and acts, and the likeness of the one who pays no heed and does not accept the guidance of Allāh with which I have been sent. (Recorded by Al-Bukhari)
The fourth condition is following which is indicated (Al-Inqiad), as opposed to not following it.
Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala says: “And whosoever submits his face (himself) to Allāh, while he is a Muhsin (good doer, i.e. performs good deeds totally for Allāh’s sake), then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold” – i.e., Lā ilāha ill-Allāh – “And to Allāh return all matters for decision” [Luqman 31:22]
What is meant by “submitting one’s face” is following, when one is also a doer of good and a believer in Tawhīd. Whoever does not submit his face to Allāh and is not a doer of good has not grasped the most trustworthy handhold. This is what is meant by the following ayah:
“And whoever disbelieves let not his disbelief grieve you (O Muhammad). To Us is their return, and We shall inform them what they have done…” [Luqman 31:23]
According to a sahih hadith, the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “none of you truly believes until his desire is in accordance with that which I have brought.” This is the ultimate meaning of following.
The fifth condition is truthfulness (Al-Siddiq), as opposed to lying. This means that one says it (Lā ilāha ill-Allāh) sincerely from the heart, with harmony between what is in the heart and what is said on the lips.
Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala says: “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.
And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allāh will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allāh knows all that before putting them to test)” [Al-‘Ankabut 29:2-3]
And Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala said concerning the hypocrites who spoke these words falsely:
“And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: ‘We believe in Allāh and the Last Day,’ while in fact they believe not.
They (think to) deceive Allāh and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!
In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allāh has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies” [Al-Baqarah 2:8-10]
In al-Sahihain it is narrated from Mu’adz ibn Jabal (radiyallāhu’anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There is no one who bears witness that there is no god except Allāh and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, sincerely from the heart, but Allāh will make him forbidden for the Fire.”
The sixth condition is sincerity (Al-Ikhlās), which means that actions are free from any element of shirik.
Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala says:
“Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allāh only” [Al-Zumar 39:3]
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘Allāh Alone I worship by doing religious deeds sincerely for His sake only’” [Al-Zumar 39:14]
In al-Sahih it is narrated from Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu’anhu) that the (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The most deserving of my intercession are those who say Lā ilāha ill-Allāh sincerely from the heart or from the soul.”
The seventh condition is love (Al-Mahabbah) for the Kalimah and for what it implies and indicates, and love for the people who act upon it and adhere to its conditions and hate whoever or whatever goes against it.
Allāh says: “And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allāh as rivals (to Allāh). They love them as they love Allāh” [Al-Baqarah 2:165]
Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala tells us that those who believe love Allāh more, because they do not associate anything with Him in that love, as is done by those among the mushrikeen who claim to love Him but who also take others as rivals to Him whom they love as they love Him.
In al-Sahihayn it is narrated from Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “No one of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him that his son, his father and all of mankind.”
Shaikh Jamaluddin Zarabozo, add two more condition in his essay entitled: The Conditions of the Declaration of Faith.
The Eighth Condition that Muslim Deny Every Other Object Of Worship.
The person who testifies the Shahādah must deny every other object of worship. Although that is clear in the words of the testimony of faith, it does not seem clear to everyone who makes that testimony. Therefore, I am mentioning it explicitly here.
In Surah al-Baqarah, Allāh clearly reminds us of this important aspect of the shahādah, the shahādah is not merely an affirmation but it is both an affirmation and a negation. Allāh states, "And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allāh has grasped a firm handhold which will never break" (Al-Baqarah, 2: 256). Perhaps the Prophet (peace be upon him) made this point even clearer when he said, "Whoever says there is no one worthy of worship except Allāh and denies whatever is worshipped besides Allāh, then his wealth and blood are protected and his accounting will be with Allāh." (Muslim)
Although this condition should be obvious to everyone who says the words of shahādah, you can still find Muslims who say the Shahādah and then make acts of worship for beings or things other than Allāh. You will find them going to the graveyards and worshipping those in the graves. They will perform acts of worship, not for the sake of Allāh, but for the sake of the dead "saints" in the grave. What kind of shahādah have these people made? Do you really think that their shahādah will mean anything on the Day of Judgment as long as they believe that acts of worship may be done for other than Allāh?
The Ninth Condition That the Muslim Adheres To the Shahādah Until He Dies.
This is a must if the Shahādah is to mean anything for you in the Hereafter. You cannot rest on your laurels of what you may have done in the past. No, indeed, the shahādah must be your banner until your death. The (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “A man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of Paradise and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire. And a man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of Paradise." (Muslim)
In another hadith, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, "By the One whom there is no other God, one of you does the actions of Paradise until there is just a hand span between him and Paradise and then the book [preordainment] overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and he enters into it" (Bukhari and Muslim.)
And Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta’ala says in the Qur’an, "O believers, observe your duty to Allāh with right observance, and die not save as Muslims [surrendering yourselves to Allāh]" (Ali-‘Imran, 3:102).
Dear brothers and sisters, these are the conditions of the shahādah. These are the aspects of the shahādah that each and every one of us should look to in ourselves and ask ourselves, "Is my shahādah meeting those requirements? Am I saying it sincerely, honestly and out of love for Allāh? Am I saying it based on what it really means? Am I denying all other false objects of worship?"
These questions we should ask ourselves now before we meet Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta'ala. Allāh willing, we shall ask ourselves these questions now and we shall find that we have all the right answers for them. Or, if we find we have some deficiency, we shall work to remove that deficiency. Such that, by Allāh's mercy, in the Hereafter, our shahādah will be the key to Paradise for us and the gates of Paradise will swing wide open for us and we will be able to live forever in the bounties of Paradise, with Allāh being pleased with us.
Again, it is not simply a matter of knowing these conditions. Indeed, one can meet many Muslims who have these conditions memorized, yet when one looks to their deeds and behavior, one can see that these conditions have no effect on them. This means, in fact, no matter how well he knows and can rattle off these conditions, he, in fact, is not fulfilling them. In the Hereafter, his knowledge of these conditions will be of no avail to him. Indeed, his knowledge will be a proof against him as he clearly knows what the conditions are that he must satisfy yet he has shown that he is not willing to satisfy them in his life.
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[Excerpted from “The Condition of Certainty of Lā-ilāha-ill-Allāh by Shaikh 'Ubaid Bin 'Abdullah Bin Sulaiman Al-Jabiri, Via Islām.Com]