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 The Prerequisites of the Declaration of Faith

The Conditions of La ilaha illa-llah..........Part I

Every Muslim knows that the key to Paradise is the statement, "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 will be granted Paradise because of this mere verbal statement of the Shahadah.

There is no question that the mere saying of," 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 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.

As many scholars state, though, this statement or testimony is the key to Paradise. The famous Follower Wahb ibn Munabbih was once asked, "Isn`t the statement of la ilaha illa-llah the key to Paradise?" He answered, "Yes, but every key has ridges. If you come with the key that has the right ridges, the door will open for you. Yet if you do not have the right ridges the door will not open for you." That is, it is saying [while meeting] certain conditions. These conditions are what will differentiate the person who will benefit from his making of that statement from the one who will not benefit from that statement, no matter how many times a day he may have made that statements.

Before discussing the conditions of the Shahadah, there is one more point that I feel compelled to make. That is, some people have a tendency to take one hadith or one verse and then based on that one text, they will make some conclusion that, for example, whoever simply says, "There is no God except Allah," will enter Paradise. But, actually, we should all realize that all of the Quran and Hadith complement each other and explain one another. To find the correct position on any one question, one must bring together all of the related verses and hadith and see what the true Islamic position is of that question. The same is true for the conditions of the shahadah.

If we study the verses of the Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), we will find that the conditions of the shahadah are seven, eight or nine in number depending on how we look at them. It is important that all of us make sure that we are meeting these conditions in our own lives and in our own testimony of faith. We must do our best to satisfy these conditions before it is too late and our testimony will be no avail whatsoever. It is not simply for the sake of teaching these conditions. Indeed, there is no benefit to that. But it is, instead, for all of us to look to ourselves and to make sure that we are actually meeting these conditions so that, by Allah`s mercy, the doors to Paradise will be open for us by our key of la ilaha illa-llah.

The Conditions of La ilaha illa-llah..........Part II

The first of these conditions is knowledge. 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 Quran, "So know that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin" (Qur`an, 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 by Muslim.)

In fact, the shahadah itself is a testimony. When one testifies to something, one must know what it is that he is testifying concerning. Obviously, a testimony about something that one does not have any knowledge about is absolutely unacceptable. Allah says in the Quran, "Save him who bears witness unto the truth knowingly" (Qur`an, 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 week-long celebration to "the Gods of the Sea"! All along they call themselves Muslims and they make 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 acce