The Shahada: The Declaration of Faith in Islam

Shahada orThe testimony of faith is the greatest and first of the 5 pillars of Islam, without which a Muslim’s faith is not complete. It is the statement “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” 

In some other formulations, additional phrases such as “Muhammad is the servant and messenger of Allah” are included. This testimony reflects the absolute conviction of a Muslim in the oneness of Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger and the seal of the prophets.

There are also certain etiquettes that should be observed before declaring the shahada, such as performing ablution and other acts of purification. In the following paragraphs, we will explore the meaning of the testimony of faith in detail and discuss some of the other rulings related to this matter.

The demand for testimony is for anyone who wishes to enter Islam. Additionally, it is also required of the Muslim to renew their faith.

Shahada in Islam - A Muslim is praying

What is the shahada meaning in Islam?

Shahada in Islam means that a person submits with their heart and tongue to the oneness of Allah and His messenger, and it is an essential condition for entering into the faith. Faith cannot be achieved without it.

In addition to the acceptance and submission we talked about earlier, there are other meanings and conditions for the two shahada that cannot be fulfilled without them.

The first part of the Shahada: “There is no god but God.”

Meaning of Shahada: To bear witness with one’s tongue and heart that there is no true deity except Allah. To testify with one’s tongue and believe with one’s heart that there is no god but Allah, meaning that there is no true deity except Allah and that what people worship besides Allah, such as idols, the dead, trees, stones, angels, or others, is all false.

The second part of the Shahada: “Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

The meaning of the testimony (that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) is to bear witness with knowledge and certainty that Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib is truly the Messenger of Allah to all of mankind and jinn, and that he is the seal of the prophets and there will be no prophet after him, peace and blessings be upon him.

How To say Shahada in Arabic:

“La Ilah Illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah”

You can say and pronounce the words above to declare your faith as the first step to being a Muslim

Word Shahada in Arabic has two meanings:

The first is “presence” as in the phrase  (meaning “witnessed by the spectators”), and it is also used to describe attendance, as in the phrase he used to attend Fajr prayer in congregation. 

This usage can also be found in the biographies of the companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them.

The second meaning of shahada meaning in Arabic language is “testimony” or “information,” and is used when someone bears witness to something or reports on it, such as in the phrase ( “so-and-so testified that such-and-such happened”). 

However, in Islamic terminology, the meaning of “testimony” is to bear witness to the Oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, both outwardly and inwardly.

These two testimonies are inseparable; whoever bears witness that there is no god but Allah achieves the sincerity of worship for Allah alone, and whoever bears witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah achieves the following of the Prophet, peace be upon him. 

These two conditions are essential, and Allah does not accept any action without them. Therefore, our scholars say that if an action lacks sincerity for Allah, it is either polytheism or showing off and if it lacks following the Prophet, it is an innovation.

But if an action combines sincerity for Allah and following the Prophet, peace be upon him, then it is an action of the people of the Sunnah.

Is The Shahada only the words you say?

Scholars also say that actions can be divided into four categories based on their sincerity for Allah and following the Prophet, peace is upon him:

  • The first category is actions that are sincere for Allah and in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet.
  • The second category is actions that are sincere for Allah but not in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet.
  • The third category is actions that are in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet but not sincere for Allah.
  • The fourth category is actions that are neither sincere for Allah nor in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet.

Significance of the Shahada

The Shahada in Islam has great significance for Muslims as it expresses the central belief of Islam in the oneness of Allah (tawhid) and the belief in the finality of prophethood with the Prophet Muhammad. It is a declaration of one’s submission to the will of Allah and acceptance of Islam as the true religion.

The Shahada also has practical implications for Muslims, as it serves as a reminder of their duties and responsibilities as Muslims. By reciting the Shahada, Muslims reaffirm their commitment to the Islamic faith and the values and principles it espouses, including compassion, justice, and equality.

In addition, the two shahada has played a significant role in Islamic history and continues to be a unifying force among Muslims worldwide. It is a symbol of the shared identity and common purpose of Muslims, regardless of their ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

The Conditions and commitments of the Shahada

Moreover, the testimony that there is no god but Allah is realized through seven conditions, which are:

The first part of Shahada Meanings and commitments

  1. Knowledge: Understanding the meanings, purposes, and implications, and knowing what it negates and affirms. It is necessary to have true knowledge of the meaning of “there is no god but Allah” to be able to act on what it implies and apply it in one’s life.
  2. Certainty: The Muslim must be fully convinced in his heart and believe with certainty in the implications and purpose of the testimony. He must believe in the truth of what he says about the divine right of Allah, and the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). If there is any doubt or hesitation in his heart about what it implies, it will not benefit him. Allah Almighty describes believers as having true faith without doubt and uncertainty.
  3. Acceptance: The Muslim must accept and be content with what this testimony entails with his heart and tongue, without hesitation. He should dedicate himself to the worship of Allah alone and leave what is beside it, with a satisfied heart, without anger and hesitation. If he utters it without accepting it and committing to its content and implications, it will not benefit him, and his condition will be like that of the polytheists. Who understand the meaning of the two testimonies and believe in their implications, but do not accept them and reject them out of arrogance, stubbornness, and envy.
  4. Submission: This means submission and surrender to the command of Allah Almighty, following what the testimony implies, and obeying Allah with complete satisfaction, without questioning His commands and judgments.
  5. Truthfulness: This means saying this testimony while believing in it in his heart so that his heart agrees with his tongue. He must believe in its meaning inwardly and outwardly. If he says it with his tongue without believing it in his heart, he will be a liar and a hypocrite, and it will not benefit him nor save him.
  6. Sincerity: This means seeking only the face of Allah alone in saying it. He should not intend by saying it anything from the desires of this world, nor should he have in his heart any show-off or reputation. Worship should be for Allah alone, and he should not turn away anything from it to anyone else.
  7. Love: The servant must love this word and love its implications and meanings. They should love Allah and love His messenger, and love everything that Allah and His messenger love in terms of words and actions. 

They should hate everything that Allah and His messenger hate, and love the allies of Allah and those who obey Him. They should also work according to the conditions of this testimony. Allah describes the believers as the ones who love Him the most.

The Second Part Of Shahada Meaning and Commitments

Also, the testimony that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah is established by seven conditions, which are explained as follows:

  • Acknowledging his message both outwardly and inwardly, so that one speaks it with his tongue and believes it in his heart.
  • Believing in everything he informed us of, including the unseen and everything that has occurred in the past and will occur in the future.
  • Having knowledge of his prophetic Sunnah, since it is necessary to have knowledge of it in order to follow his guidance.
  • Loving him, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, more than one loves wealth, children, and oneself, and loving everything that he loves.
  • Obeying him, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by following his commands and avoiding what he prohibited.
  • Worshiping Allah according to the way that he prescribed for us through the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
  • Firmly believing in his superiority, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as the best of all prophets and messengers, without diminishing the status of any other prophets, and believing that he is their seal and there will be no prophet after him.

Ethics of the Shahada

There are some rules related to the way of pronouncing the Shahada in Islam, and here we will get to know them.

Say it in any language

In Islam, the declaration of faith does not depend on speaking Arabic. According to scholars, if a person affirms the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad in their own language.

Expressing a commitment to belief and entry into Islam, then their conversion is considered valid by consensus. 

However, it is necessary for the new Muslim to learn the two testimonies of faith in Arabic and pronounce them as the first thing they learn from the teachings of the religion after conversion.

This is because the testimonies of faith are a mandatory part of the prayer, which is the second pillar of Islam after monotheism, and the first thing a new Muslim must do after declaring the testimonies.

Aloud or silently

It is not a requirement for the validity of declaring the two testimonies of faith (Shahada) to speak them out loud! And we do not know of any scholar who has required this for someone to enter Islam. 

As for the devotional remembrances (Adhkar) in prayer and the like, such as saying the Takbirat al-Ihram and reciting the Quran, the scholars have differed: Is it necessary to audibly hear oneself or is it sufficient to move the tongue and lips? 

With sincerity and conviction

Mere belief in the heart alone does not benefit its owner unless it is followed by outward acceptance of Islam. Likewise, outwardly declaring oneself a Muslim does not benefit one in the afterlife unless there is true faith in the heart. 

The faith that saves one from the punishment of Allah is not just a matter of belief, but it must also be accompanied by acknowledgment, submission, and obedience. According to the words of Allah and His message, faith includes His news and His commands.

The heart believes in His news, which leads to a state of belief in the heart based on what is believed in. Belief is a type of knowledge and speech that is obedient to His command and surrenders to it. 

This obedience and surrender are of the nature of will and action, and one cannot be a believer except by combining both. If one abandons obedience, he becomes arrogant and joins the disbelievers.


In conclusion, the testimony of faith (shahada) is a very important part of faith in Islam. In fact, being a Muslim cannot be without pronouncing it. 

The significance of the shahada is not limited to the words or phrases that we recite; rather, it is important for a Muslim to understand its meaning before pronouncing it. it comes before the Islam Prayer, Zakat, Sawm, Or Hajj the other pillars of Islam

Additionally, there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled for the testimony to be valid, such as acknowledgment, belief, and acceptance, in addition to other conditions that we have discussed in detail.

There are also certain etiquettes and rules for pronouncing the two shahada, which you can learn about before saying it. Ultimately, the shahada is the cornerstone of Islam and the greatest act of faith.

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