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The Prerequisites of the Declaration of Faith

The Conditions of La ilaha illa-llah..........Part I
The Conditions of La ilaha illa-llah.........Part II
The Conditions of La ilaha illa-llah........Part III
The Conditions of La ilaha illa-llah........Part IV

The third condition of the shahadah is acceptance (or al-qabool). If a person has the knowledge of and certainty in the shahadah, this must be followed by acceptance, with the tongue and heart, of whatever that shahadah implies. Whoever refuses to accept the shahadah and its implications, even if he knows that it is true and certain about its truth, is a disbeliever. This refusal to accept is sometimes due to pride, envy or other reasons. In any case, the shahadah is not a true shahadah without its unconditional acceptance.

 The scholars all talk about this condition as a general condition in the way that I have just stated. However, there is also a more detailed aspect that we must all be aware of. The believer accepts whatever the implications of the shahadah are. This also means that he believes in whatever is stated in the Quran or stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him), without any right to choose what he wants to believe and what he wants to reject. Allah says in the Quran, "Do you believe in part of the book and reject part of it? And what is the reward of those who do so save ignominy in the life of the world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be consigned to the most grievous doom" (Qur'an, al-Baqara 85).

 This is one aspect that the Muslims must be aware of. Although it is not the same as the complete refusal to accept the truth, by rejecting part of the truth that has come from Allah, one also negates his testimony of faith.

 Unfortunately, many Muslims are doing this nowadays in various ways. Although not all of these forms may necessarily be considered apostasy, they are still very dangerous. For example, if they do not like what is stated in a verse in the Quran, they simply reinterpret the verse according to their liking. If they do not like what is stated in a hadith, they simply state that the hadith must not be authentic although they are not scholars in that area. This kind of behavior is the antithesis of the behavior of the true Muslims. Whatever comes from Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), the true Muslim believes in as the truth. This goes hand in hand with their testimony of faith.

 The fourth condition of shahadah is submission and compliance (or al-inqiyad). This implies the actual physical enactment with our deeds of our shahadah. In fact, this is one of the main meanings of the word Islam itself, "the submission to the will and commands of Allah. " This is what Allah commands in the Quran, "Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him" (Qur'an, al-Zumar 54).

 Allah has praised those who submit to His command by their actions. Allah says, "Who is better in religion than he who surrenders his purpose to Allah while doing good" (Qur'an, al-Nisa 125).

 Actually, Allah has clearly made it a condition of faith that one submits to the command of Allah and His messenger. Allah says, "But nay, by your Lord, they will not truly believe until they make you [the Messenger of Allah] judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of which you decide, and submit with full submission" (Qur'an, al-Nisa 65)

 Unfortunately, there are many claim that there is no relationship between faith and deeds. You can even hear one Muslim saying about another, "That is the best Muslim I have ever met." Yet the other person performs scarcely any of the deeds of Islam whatsoever. This incorrect understanding of faith has spread throughout the Muslim world.

 Indeed, our shahadah or testimony of faith must be implemented in our hearts, tongues and actions. In our hearts, we must have love for Allah, fear Allah and hope in Him. With our tongues we must testify to the shahadah. And with our actions, we must implement what the testimony of faith requires from us. Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and yet does no deeds, either does not understand Islam whatsoever or is bearing testimony against himself that his testimony of faith is not a true and correct testimony of faith.

 This does not mean that the true believer never commits a sin. Indeed, true believers do commit sins. But as long as they recognize that what they did is not correct and it is inconsistent with their obligation of submitting to Allah, then they [have not destroyed] their testimony or shahadah. But, do not forget, they are still sinners.

 And what is the minimum of submission that is required from a person beyond which there can be no claim to faith? For those scholars who say that the abandonment of prayers is infidelity, it is the five daily prayers. Whoever does not perform, at least, the five daily prayers has gone beyond the limit that is acceptable for lack of deeds. Allah knows best.

 The fifth condition is truthfulness, as opposed to hypocrisy and dishonesty. This means that when we say the shahadah, we are saying it honestly. We actually mean it. We are not lying when it comes to our testimony of faith.

 The Prophet (peace be upon his) said, "No one bears testimony to there being no one worth of worship save Allah, sincerely from his heart, except that Allah makes the Hell-fire forbidden for him." (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

 We are all familiar with those who say the testimony of faith yet they are not saying it honestly. They do not believe in it but they are simply saying it in order to protect themselves or to get some gain from doing so. These are the hypocrites. Allah has described them in the opening of the Quran with the following words, "And of mankind are some who say, 'We believe in Allah and the Last Day,' when they believe not. They think to beguile Allah and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves, but they perceive not. In their hearts is a disease, and Allah increases their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie" (Qur'an, al-baqara 8-10).

 Obviously, the shahadah of those who become Muslims simply to benefit from being Muslim and not because they believe in Islam will be rejected by Allah in the Hereafter. They will face a painful punishment due to their lying.

 The sixth condition is sincerity (or ikhlas). That is, when we make the shahadah, we must do so solely for the sake of Allah. We must not do it for any other reason. And we must not do it for anyone else's sake. In this manner, the meaning of sincerity is opposite of Shirk or ascribing partners with Allah. We become and remain Muslims solely for Allah's sake. Allah says in the Quran, "Worship Allah, making religion pure for him" (Qur'an, al-Zumar 2). And Allah also says, "And they are ordained nothing else than to serve Allah, keeping religion pure for Him, as men by nature upright and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion" (Qur'an, al-Bayyinah 5). And the Prophet (peace be upon him) added, "Allah has forbidden for the Hell-fire anyone who says, 'There is no one worthy of worship except Allah,' and say so desiring the face [and pleasure] of Allah." (Recorded by Muslim).

 This is something that we should think about. But especially those of us who grew up in Muslim families and were born Muslim. We should make it very clear to ourselves that we are Muslims only for the sake of Allah. We are not Muslims for the sake of our parents, friends, family or community. It must be clear in our minds that we are Muslims for the sake of Allah first, last and only.

 One of the signs that we are Muslims for the sake of Allah is that we do whatever Allah asks of us, regardless of what anybody else desires or wants from us. That is, in the same way that we are Muslims solely for the sake of Allah, all of our actions are done for the sake of Allah.

 However, sometimes one begins to wonder whether this condition is met by some people. Some people from the Muslim world practice Islam to the extent that it is pleasing to their families. If there is anything in Islam that their families do not like- although their families are Muslim and therefore they actually should like all of Islam- then they do not practice that aspect of Islam. One common example of that nature is mixing between men and women. Sometimes a brother, here in the U.S., will not mix with women and his wife will remain separate from the men. Yet, when they return to their homes, because this is not pleasing to their families who want to mix between men and women, they easily, simply and happily compromise their religion for the sake of their parents. These people must sincerely ask themselves why they are Muslims. Are they Muslims for the sake of their parents and therefore whatever their parents like they will do and whatever their parents do not like they won't do? Or are they Muslims for the sake of Allah and therefore whatever Allah dislike they will not do and whatever Allah is pleased with they do?