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The Prerequisites of the Declaration of Faith

The seventh condition is love. That is, the believer loves this shahadah, he loves in accordance with the shahadah, he loves the implications and requirements of the shahadah and he loves those who act and strive for the sake of this shahadah. This is a necessary condition of the shahadah. If a person makes the shahadah but does not love the shahadah and what it stands for, then, in fact, his faith is not complete. It is not the faith of a true believer. And if he loves something more than this shahadah or if he loves something more than Allah, then he has negated his shahadah. The true believer, the one meeting the conditions of the shahadah puts no one whatsoever as an equal to Allah in his love.

 Allah says in the Quran, "Yet of mankind are some who take unto themselves (objects of worship which they set as) rivals to Allah, loving them with a love like (that which is due to) Allah only. However, those who believe are stauncher in their love of Allah" (Qur'an, al-Baqara 165). And elsewhere Allah says' "Say: If your fathers, or your sons, or your brethren, or your wives, or your tribe, or the wealth you have acquired, or merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, or dwellings you desire are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah brings His command to pass. Allah guides not wrongdoing folk" (Qur'an, al-Tauba 24). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever has three characteristics has tasted the sweetness of faith. [The first of these] is that he loves Allah and His Messenger more than he loves anyone else..." (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.).

 This is one of the most important aspects of Islam yet, for some reason, it is missing from the lives of many Muslims. They act in Islam as if Islam were a chore instead of doing things out of the love of Allah. When Allah orders us to do something, like bear witness to the faith, we should realize that that thing is pleasing to Allah and, therefore, out of our love for Allah, we should be very pleased to do the acts that are pleasing to Allah. But, as I said, this feeling is missing from many, many Muslims today.

 The eighth condition of the shahadah is that the person who makes the shahadah must deny every other object of worship. Although that is clear in the words of the testimony of faith, it does not seem clear to everyone who makes that testimony. Therefore, I am mentioning it explicitly here.

 In Surah al-Baqara, Allah clearly reminds us of this important aspect of the shahadah, the shahadah is not merely an affirmation but it is both and affirmation and a negation. Allah states, "And he who rejects false deities and believes in Allah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break" (Qur'an, al-Baqara 256). Perhaps the Prophet (peace be upon him) made this point even clearer when he said, "Whoever says there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and denies whatever is worshipped besides Allah, then his wealth and blood are protected and his accounting will be with Allah." (Recorded by Muslim.)

 Although this condition should be obvious to everyone who says the words of shahadah, you can still find Muslims who say the shahadah and then make acts of worship for beings or things other than Allah. You will find them going to the graveyards and worshipping those in the graves. They will perform acts of worship, not for the sake of Allah, but for the sake of the dead "saints" in the grave. What kind of shahadah have these people made? Do you really think that their shahadah will mean anything on the Day of Judgment as long as they believe that acts of worship may be done for other than Allah?

 The ninth condition of the shahadah is that the Muslim adheres to the shahadah until he dies. This is must if the shahadah is to mean anything for you in the Hereafter. You can not rest on your laurels of what you may have done in the past. No, indeed, the shahadah must be your banner until your death. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, " A man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of Paradise and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire. And a man spends a long time doing the deeds of the people of the Hell-fire and then he ends his deeds with the deeds of the people of Paradise." (Recorded by Muslim) In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "By the One whom there is no other God, one of you does the actions of Paradise until there is just a handspan between him and Paradise and then the book [preordainment] overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and he enters into it" (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

 And Allah says in the Quran, "O believers, observe your duty to Allah with right observance, and die not save as Muslims [surrendering yourselves to Allah]" (Qur'an, ali-Imran 102).

 Dear brothers and sisters, these are the conditions of the shahadah. These are the aspects of the shahadah that each and every one of us should look to in ourselves and ask ourselves, "Is my shahadah meeting those requirements? Am I saying it sincerely, honestly and out of love for Allah? Am I saying it based on what it really means? Am I denying all other false objects of worship?..."

 These questions we should ask ourselves now before we meet Allah. Allah willing, we shall ask ourselves these questions now and we shall find that we have all the right answers for them. Or, if we find we have some deficiency, we shall work to remove that deficiency. Such that, by Allah's mercy, in the Hereafter, our shahadah will be the key to Paradise for us and the gates of Paradise will swing wide open for us and we will be able to live forever in the bounties of Paradise, with Allah being pleased with us.

 Again, it is not simply a matter of knowing these conditions. Indeed,one can meet many Muslims who have these conditions memorized, yet when one looks to their deeds and behavior, one can see that these conditions have no effect on them. This means, in fact, no matter how well he knows and can rattle off these conditions, he, in fact, is not fulfilling them. In the Hereafter, his knowledge of these conditions will be of no avail to him. Indeed, his knowledge will be a proof against him as he clearly knows what the conditions are that he must satisfy yet he has shown that he is not willing to satisfy them in his life.