The Testimony of Faith

Imam Kamil Mufti

The Testimony of Faith is by far the most importantaspect of the religion of Islam, upon which the whole religion is built.


·      To understand the importance of the Testimonyof Faith.

·      To understand the meaning of the Testimony ofFaith.

Arabic Terms

·      Shahadah - Testimony of Faith

·      Allah - Allah, one of thenames of God.

·      Tawheed - The Oneness and Uniquenessof Allah with respect to His Lordship, His Names and Attributes and in Hisright to be worshipped.


The core of the religion of Islam is the attestation totwo phrases:

(i)   La ilaha illa Allah (meaning ‘There isno god rightfully worshipped except Allah’)

(ii)  Muhammad rasoolu Allah (meaning‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’)

These two phrases are known as the Shahadah, or Testimonyof Faith. Through the belief and attestation of these two phrases one entersthe fold of Islam. It is the central belief that a believer maintainsthroughout his life, and is the basis for all his beliefs, worship and existencein this world.

Every Muslim, including someone new to Islam, has tounderstand the meanings of these two phrases, and try to live his lifeaccordingly.

The Importance of the Testimony ofFaith

This Testimony is by far the most important aspect ofthe religion of Islam, upon which the whole religion is built. Islam is theonly true monotheistic religion, stressing that no worship should be directedto any other except Allah. It is a way of life in which a person obeys andworships the orders of Allah and none else.

This Testimony of Faith (Shahadah) reminds us ofour purpose in life, which is the worship of Allah alone. 

Allah says in the Quran

And I have not created neither jinn nor humans, except to worship Me Alone

Quran 51:56

The message of the Oneness of God (Tawheed) foundin the Testimony was not particular to the message of Prophet Muhammad, may themercy and blessings of Allah be upon him. It was the universal message of allProphets of Allah. Since the dawn of humanity, Allah sent Messengers to everypeople and nation, commanding them to worship Him Alone, and to reject allfalse deities.

Allah says

And indeed We have raised amongst every nation a Messenger, [commanding them] ‘Worship Allah, and reject all false deities

Quran 16:36

The Meaning of La ilaha illa Allah

The meaning of each word in thephrase is:

La: There is no;  ilaha:god (deity);  illa: except;   Allah: Allah (God)

And therefore the literalmeaning of this phrase is “There is no god (deity) except Allah”

First Part of this phrase: Rejection

‘There is no god (deity)’… Here, god with a small case‘g’ is anything which is worshipped. Many people have taken things in creationas their gods and deities, but they are all false and are wrongfully worshipped,meaning that they have no right to that worship, nor do they deserve it. Thisrejection extends to all superstitions, ideologies, ways of life, or anyauthority figures who claim divine devotion.

Some people imagine the Divine Kingdom of God to be likeearthly kingdoms. Just as a king has many ministers and trusted associates,they imagine ‘saints’ and minor deities to be our intercessors to God.  Theytake them as agents through whom God is approached. In truth, there are nointercessors in Islam, nor any class of clergy to whom one must ‘confess’ theirsins to be forgiven. A Muslim prays directly and exclusively to God. We alsoreject superstitious practices such as astrology, palm reading, good luckcharms, and fortune-telling.

Second Part of this phrase: Affirmation

‘Except Allah’… After denying the right of any createdbeing to be worshipped, the Testimony affirms divinity for Allah alone, with ‘…exceptAllah.’

Allah, in the Quran, mentions in many places that allthings which people take as objects of worship besides Allah do not deserve anyworship, nor do they have any right over it, as they themselves are creationsand have no power to bring any benefit.

Yet they have taken besides Him other gods that created nothing but are themselves created, and possess neither hurt nor benefit for themselves, and possess no power (of causing) death, nor (of giving) life, nor of raising the dead.

Quran 25:3

Thus, la ilaha illa Allah means, “There is no truegod except Allah” or “There is no god rightfully worshipped except Allah.”

The Meaning of Muhammad rasoolu Allah

The meaning of each word in thephrase is:

Muhammad: ProphetMuhammad;  rasoolu: Messenger;  Allah: Allah (God)

And therefore this phrase means,“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”.

By testifying to this fact, one affirms that ProphetMuhammad is in fact a Prophet and Messenger raised by God, amongst mankind todeliver the message of God, as were other Prophets and Messengers. Attesting tothis fact implies a multitude of meanings. These include:

1.  To believethat he was the last Prophet and Messenger.

Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets and Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything

Quran 33:40

2. To believethat he delivered the message of Allah faithfully just as he received itwithout any deficiency. Allah says:

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion

Quran 5:3

3. To believethat he was a Prophet to all mankind.

Allah says

Say: O humanity! I am Allah’s Messenger to you all

Quran 7:158

4. To believe that everything hesaid about the religion was revealed from Allah. He is to be taken as anexample and obeyed without reservation as he speaks in the Name of Allah andobeying him is obeying Allah.

“He does not speak from his own desire, it (his speech) is only a revelation inspired [to him].

Quran 53:3-4

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah...

Quran 4:80

5. We mustworship Allah according to the law brought by him. He abolished all previouslaws including the Mosaic Law.

And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

Quran 3:85

6. ProphetMuhammad is to be loved and honoured.  Knowing about his morals, hissacrifices for spreading monotheism, and patience with his opponents allincrease one’s appreciation of him.  The more we learn about his life andcharacteristics, the more we will increase in our love for him.

In summary, the testimony Muhammad rasoolu Allah meansobeying Prophet Muhmmad in what he commands, believing him in what he informs,shunning what he has prohibited, and worshipping Allah alone the way heinstructed us.  These matters are not restricted to a certain people or to aspecific time.

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