What is Shahadah in Islam? – A Full Guide

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become Muslim? If such questions have ever passed by your

Shahadah in Islam is your gate to becoming a Muslim. Religions around the world differ in what they ask of you in order to be accepted by them. Some have rituals, initiations, or baptisms, while others are even exclusive, and only certain races can be part of them. Islam is nothing like that. To believe the truth, one simply needs to declare that he believes the truth. That is The Shahadah, the words by which anyone can become a Muslim. 

What is Shahadah?

Shahadah is an Arabic word, which means testimony.  Shahadah means to testify that there is no god except Allah (God), and that Muhammad is His last prophet and messenger. Shahadah is the gate to Islam, saying the Shahadah is how someone enters Islam, also denying any part of it makes the person a non-Muslim.

The Shahadah in Arabic (Kalimah Shahadah): 

أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا رسول الله

Shahadah Transliteration:

Ash-hadu An La illaha illa Allah, w ash-hadu Ana Muhammadan Rasul Allah. 

Translation (Shahadah Meaning):

I testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammed is His messenger. 

(Here is a 24 sec video showing you how to utter the Shahadah)

How to Say the Shahada & Embrace Islam

What Does Shahadah entail?

  • Glorifying Allah and His Messenger and obeying Allah and His Messenger.
  • Denying the divinity except of Allah.
  • Denying the obedience except through the Messenger of Allah.

Shahadah is an acknowledgment that all mankind have One God. It is He who created the heavens, the earth, and everything in between.  He sent all the messengers to remind mankind of Him and of the purpose of their creation. He sent Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and finally Muhammad (peace and blessings upon them all).

He is the God who created all pairs but remains Al-Ahad -One of Allah’s names- the Absolutely Unique One. 

Say: He is Allah Ahad (the One and only). Allah is the Self-Sufficient (independent of all, while all are dependent on Him). He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none comparable to Him. [Qur’an 112]

Read also:

5 Main Benefits of Shahadah

  1. you are, literally, as a newborn, pure, without any sin. Yes! Once you pronounce the Shahadah, all your previous sins, major and minor, are directly forgiven. So, congratulations for the new birth! 
  2. It humbles you and helps you realise that Allah is The God, and you are His ‘abd (slave/worshipper). You call upon Him, believe in Him, submit to His orders that are based on His incomparable Knowledge, Wisdom and Mercy, and He supports you, helps you, protects you, cures you and rewards you beyond account. 
  1. Knowledge about Allah, His Names and Attributes are at the core of Islam. The more one knows about His Creator, the more he gets closer to his Creator. 
  2.  knowledge about Allah’s messengers and their journeys gives one the light to follow in his own life and the strength to preserve and remain patient regardless of all the hardships. 
  3. When we read the Quran we can reflect on the previous two concepts to strengthen our (Shahadah).

Does the Shahadah Have to Be in Public?

It is NOT necessary at all to have a mosque in your neighborhood or to announce your Islam in a mosque! 

Whether you don’t have a near mosque or you can’t reach the mosque for any other reason, this has nothing to do with embracing Islam and becoming a Muslim.

 If you can reach a mosque, this would be great! If you can’t, then yet, you still can embrace Islam and become a Muslim even without a mosque!  

Read also: I Want To Be A Muslim But I Am Scared And Have Many Challenges

Is There a Certain Place for Saying Shahadah?

Neither, you need to be in a certain place, nor there is any complicated process to be a Muslim. Basically, it’s very simple and natural. As, Allah already sees you and listens to your heart and mind. He is The Near The All-Hearing, All-Seeing. Thus, if you believe, then you just utter the Shahadah directly, and He accepts it.

When you do, you become officially a Muslim. Then we learn and grow bit by bit.

Why is Shahadah in Arabic?

Shahadah actually doesn’t have to be in Arabic. It is not necessary to be a Muslim to say it in Arabic. Saying it in your language also works as long as the conditions are met. You are recommended to say it in Arabic just to cover all bases since the Prophet said it in Arabic.

Arabic was the language of the Prophet. Also, Quran is in Arabic, even if its meanings can be translated, to read the miraculous word of God one has to learn Arabic. Arabic is essential for Muslims. Allah took into consideration the difficulty of learning it and made it easy to get close to him without it, if one can’t learn it. It is highly recommended though to learn the language to access the Islamic tradition.

Why is Shahadah important?

shahadah is important for many reasons:

  • Shahadah is a declaration of Faith. It fully represents Islam and stands as it is the message of Prophet Muhammad and all the messengers before him. 
  • Shahadah represents the pure belief in God, His absolute oneness, and that He is the only one worthy of worship. And worshipping Him can only be done by following His prophets and His messengers. 
  • Shahadah is the core of Islam, its cornerstone, and the star that guides Muslims to the safety of the straight path of Allah, in a sea of fallacious conflicting opinions and speculations. 
  • The Shahadah is both an affirmation and a denial. Affirmation of Allah, and denial of any other god than Allah. 
  • Shahadah is the gate to Islam as well as the key to paradise:

 Allah –Glorified is He– guaranteed to anyone who says it that he would end up in paradise. Even if the person leads a bad life that causes him to end up in hell, this one good deed will guarantee that he doesn’t stay there forever, unlike those who deny it. 

The prophet peace be upon him makes it the condition for salvation:

 مَنْ مَاتَ وَهُوَ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏
“ He who died knowing (fully well) that there is no god but Allah entered Paradise.

 (Sahih Muslim)
  • includes belief and acknowledging that there is a right path that helps us grow through life while connecting with our Creator as He the All-Knowing willed for us.
  • The second half of shahadah is about believing in the Messenger of Allah:

 This means not to follow any act of obedience and worship unless it is from the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). In other words, following the Messenger of Allah in his way of obeying and worshiping Allah. This is how you as a Muslim should worship and obey Allah.

For more about Islam, read:

Was Muhammad A Prophet of God? Or He made it up?!

Who Wrote the Quran? – Real Examination To The Author of the Qur’an

7 Conditions of Shahadah 

Shahadah isn’t empty words recited and magically grants us salvation and paradise!
Shahadah has conditions to be valid in making someone a Muslim, grants him salvation, the key to paradise and happiness in this life and the next. So, pay attention to these conditions and fulfill them in order to be a winner. 

  1. Knowledge

The first condition is knowledge that’s opposite to ignorance. The meaning of the words has to be known by the person saying them. Saying it without knowing its meaning or understanding what it entails can very well be the same as not saying it at all. 

Allah says stating this condition:  

فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّه
“And know that there is no God but Allah”

[Quran, 47: 19]
  1. Acceptance 

The second condition is the acceptance that’s opposite to denial. Those who say the Shahadah, knowing its meaning yet not with the intention of accepting it (Saying it as a reference for example), it is obviously wouldn’t be valid for them. One has to accept the Shahadah without denial.

Allah says: 

 وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلا كُلُّ خَتَّارٍ كَفُوٍر  
“And none rejects Our signs except everyone treacherous and ungrateful.” 

[Quran, 31: 32]
  1. Certainty

The third condition is certainty that’s opposite to doubt. Knowing the Shahadah, and accepting it yet with doubt in heart also nullifies it. To be a Muslim one has to cut the doubt with the sword of certainty and unwavering conviction in the words he is saying. Allah quoted His Messengers as urging their people to keep away any doubt in Allah saying:

أَفِى ٱللَّهِ شَكٌّۭ فَاطِرِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ
“Is there any doubt about Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth?”

[Quran, 14: 10]
  1. Sincerity 

The forth condition is sincerity that’s opposite to hypocrisy. Sincerity of the heart is a critical condition to accept the words of the mouth. Those who lie and say with their mouth what is not in their hearts are only fooling themselves, while Allah knows what’s in the hearts and He –Glorified is He- can’t be tricked. 

Allah says: 

إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ تَابُوا۟ وَأَصْلَحُوا۟ وَٱعْتَصَمُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَأَخْلَصُوا۟ دِينَهُمْ لِلَّهِ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ مَعَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَسَوْفَ يُؤْتِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًۭا 
“Except for those who repent, correct themselves, hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their religion for Allah, for those will be with the believers. And Allah is going to give the believers a great reward.”

[Quran, 4: 146]
  1. Honesty

The fifth condition is honesty that’s opposite to Lying. And Allah will test this honesty. That is His promise in His book. He accepts only the honest, and will test us with good and bad and make it clear the honest from the liars. Allah stress the importance of honesty saying:

فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱلْكَـٰذِبِينَ

Allah will surely know the honest and He will surely know the liars. “

[Quran, 29: 3]
  1. Love

The sixth condition is Love that’s opposite to hate. There are people who knows the truth, yet they hate it. Love of Allah, His messengers and their message is a critical condition to becoming a Muslim. Those who have hatred in their hearts have their deeds nullified as if it was never done! 

Allah stated one of the reasons for nullifying the deeds of the disbelievers saying:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَرِهُوا۟ مَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأَحْبَطَ أَعْمَـٰلَهُمْ

“That is because they hated what Allah had sent down, so He nullified their deeds.”

[Quran, 47: 9]
  1. Submission

The seventh condition is Submission that is opposite to negligence. Saying the words with the intention of not following it or what it means, can very well be the same as not saying them. A Muslim has to struggle to the best of his ability to follow the way of Allah and His messengers.  The words of the mouth needs to be confirmed by the deeds of the body. Words without deeds wouldn’t help.

Allah orders to submit to Him so that one can survive: 

“وَأَنِيبُوٓا۟ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا۟ لَهُۥ”
“And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him”

[Quran, 39: 54]

What does it mean to pronounce The Shahadah? 

The Shahadah, or the Testimony of Faith, in its simple meaning is the glorification of Allah and His commands, and the glorification of His Messenger and obeying him.

It is nullifying and denying every god except Allah, and nullifying and denying every act of worship and obedience unless it is from Allah and to Allah.

Then, the Shahadah is like a double-sided coin, a side of glorifying Allah, and a side of excluding any other god than Allah from the divinity and godhead.

This is about the first half of the Shahadah. The second half is about believing in the Messenger of Allah, which means not to follow any act of obedience and worship unless it is from the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). In other words, following the Messenger of Allah in his way of obeying and worshipping Allah. This is how you as a Muslim should worship and obey Allah.

What to do after taking Shahadah? 

It is a recommended act after pronouncing the Shahadah and embracing Islam to 

  • take a shower and change your clothes wearing clean ones. 
  • then pray two Rakaahs (two non-obligatory units of Prayer). So, do not forget to do these acts whenever you can!

[Note: if you’re indebted, you need to pay your debt. Allah forgives our sins, but we need to give people their due rights if we owe them something out of honesty and trustworthiness].

Read also:

Once I Become A Muslim, Should I Start Doing All Worships? – 10 Important Questions for New Muslims

Dawah in Islam: Why do Muslims Preach Islam?

Conclusion – Haven’t  you taken your Shahadah yet? :)) 

When you do, you find over 1.8 billion brothers and sisters around the world walking on this journey with you and many of them will be more than willing to help you wholeheartedly. As Allah says:

وَٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءُ بَعْضٍۢ
The believing men and believing women are allies of one another…

(Quran 9:71)

References:

You can read about Prophet Muhammad and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon them) in Islam through the following links:

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