The correct Testimony (Shahada)
The core of the faith is the “Shahada” (Testimony). This very first pillar of Islam is clearly stated in the Quran as it was also revealed to the recipients of previous Scripture. The Testimony of faith in the Torah (Old Testament) reads:
“Hear, O” Israel : the Lord our God, the Lord is One” Deuteronomy 6:4-5
The Testimony given in the Quran affirms the same truth:
“God bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge” 3:18
The correct Testimony has no name in it except the name of God.
First and foremost, the only Testimony authorised by God in the Quran is:
“God bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge. Truthfully and equitably, there is no god but He, the Almighty, Most Wise” 3:18
The words “there is no god but God“, which in Arabic are (La Ilaha Ila Allah), are the exact words which God Himself utters, also the angels and those who possess knowledge.
The majority of Muslims today are not satisfied with the Shahada given in 3:18 and they add to it the words: “and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger”.
To add any words or names to the Testimony given by God is in fact to imply that the Testimony given by God in the Quran is incomplete, or that God forgot the second half of the Testimony! Needless to say, God is not forgetful nor does God make misatkes!
We are commanded clearly in the Quran to follow the Quran and nothing else (see: Quran Alone). As a result, all those who utter the shahada which includes the name of the prophet Muhammad are not following the Quran.
Many people are oblivious of the fact that the utterance of the Shahada is indeed an act of worship and not just a statement of fact. Consequently, whenever we utter the Shahada we are performing one of the acts of worship of God.
The Quran states very clearly that all our worship practices must be devoted to the name of God alone:
“Say, “My Contact Prayers (Salat), all my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to God alone, the Lord of the universe. “He has no partner. This is what I am commanded to believe, and I am the first to submit.” 6:162-163
The words “all my worship practices” are very clear, they must all be devoted to the name of God alone.
The following Quranic verse also confirms this issue:
“Those who hope to meet their Lord shall work righteousness, and never include any one when they are in the act of worship of their Lord.” 18:110
God’s Greatness is far beyond human understanding, so much so that we are not to associate anything or anybody with the name of God.
“You shall worship God alone, do not associate anything with Him.” 4:36
Note the words in 4:36: “do not associate anything“
and in 18:110 we have the word: “never include any one“
These words are very clear, they emphasise that we should never place the name of anything nor anybody next to the name of God, and certainly never utter any name other than the name of God when we are in an act of worship of God.
Also in the following verse we are told to dedicate all our religion (Shahada, Salat, Hajj …etc) to God alone:
“We sent down to you this scripture, truthfully; you shall worship God, devoting your religion to Him alone. Absolutely, the religion shall be devoted to God alone. Those who set up idols beside Him say: “We idolize them only to bring us closer to God; for they are in a better position!” God will judge them regarding their disputes. God does not guide such liars, disbelievers” 39:2-3
We note that the message of devoting all the religion to God alone is repeated twice.
It is also interesting that all those who praise the name of Muhammad day and night say that they do this because God loves Muhammad so much and therefore this will bring them closer to God! Sadly, by doing so, they demonstrate how they are among those spoken of in the following Quranic words:
“Those who set up idols beside Him say, “We idolize them only to bring us closer to God; for they are in a better position!” 39:3
In reply to this claim, God says:
“God does not guide such liars, disbelievers” 39:3
According to the Quranic definition (2:285), the concept of Al-Iman (Belief/Faith) comprises belief in the following:
2- The Angels
3- The Scripture
4- The messengers
Belief in all four is required in order to qualify a person to be a believer. However there is no testimony required from the believers except for God. No testominy is required for the angels, the scripture or the messengers.
There are those who try to justify their inclusion of the name of Muhammad in their Testimony by saying that when the Quran was revealed and Muhammad was sent by God, the Jews and Christians rejected him as a true messenger of God, and thus they testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God to proclaim their acceptance of him, as opposed to the Jews and Christians who rejected him.
This argument is clearly flawed. It is true that the Jews and Christians reject the prophet Muhammad, but they also reject the Quran as being the true word of God. Hence, if these Muslims are sincere in merely wanting to proclaim their belief in what the Jews and Christians have rejected, then they should (by the same logic and motives) utter an additional testimony to say:
“There is no god but God and the Quran is the word of God” …. but do they?
Why aren’t any of these Muslims uttering such a testimony to declare their acceptance of the Quran? In reality, their disguised motive is one of idolising Muhammad above all other messengers and placing his name alongside God’s name in everything.
Indeed, God invites us to believe in the Quran, to believe in Muhammad, as well as to believe in the angels, the Scripture and all other messengers. As mentioned, God does not command us to testify to any of these. The only Testimony sanctioned by God is dedicated to the name of God Almighty alone. The reason for that belief (belief in God, the angels, scripture and messengers) is an attribute of the hearts. However, the utterence of the Testimony (as mentioned above) is an act of worship.
The fourth reason why the correct Testimony must contain the name of God and no one else is the fact that we are commanded in the Quran not to make any distinction between any of God’s messengers:
“The messenger has believed in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and so did the believers. They believe in God, His angels, His scripture, and His messengers: “We make no distinction among any of His messengers.” They say, “We hear, and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord. To You is the ultimate destiny” 2:285
Muhammad is indeed the messenger of God , but so is Abraham, Moses, Jesus, David and all the others. We should not make special preference for Muhammad because we are told in the Quran that he is only God’s servant and he is not any different from any of the other messengers of God.
“Say (O Muhammad), “I am not different from other messengers. I have no idea what will happen to me or to you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am no more than a profound warner” 46:9
Those who insist on making Muhammad greater than all the other messengers of God and call on him with such preferential titles such as “Sayeduna Muhammad” (Our Lord Muhammad), and “Sayed Al Khalq” (the Lord of all creation) and “Ashraf Al- Mursaleen” (the Most honourable of all the messengers), and “habib Allah” (God’s sweetheart!) …. etc, are those who in their blind idolising of Muhammad have rejected God’s words in the Quran, such as:
“Say (O Muhammad), “I am not different from other messengers“
“Say (O Muhammad), “I am no more than a human like you …” 18:110
It is indeed interesting how God places words in the Quran! the words above which confirm that Muhammad was only human like anyone else are followed in the same verse by the words: “never include any one when they are in the act of worship of their Lord.”.
Moreover, if the ones who utter a shahada for Muhammad say they do so in order to testify to his messengership, the question which they need to answer is: why dont they ever say:
“There is no god but Allah and Moses is His messenger” ?
Moses was also a the messenger of God among many others, why do they not testify to any of the other messengers?
A small advice here to the reader: Never go into a masjid and make a testimony for any other messenger …… the Muslims there would probably stone you to death!
The Quran speaks of another testimony. This other testimony is only spoken by the hypocrites:
“When the hypocrites come to you they say “We bear witness that you are the messenger of God” God knows that you are His messenger, and God bears witness that the hypocrites are liars” 63:1
From this verse we note a very significant observation. This observation becomes clear when we examine three important verbs in the verse:
1- The hypocrites saying “we bear witness that you are the messenger of God”
2- “God knows that you are His messenger”
3- “God bears witness that the hypocrites are liars”
We note that the verse starts with the words “bear witness” and ends with the same words, so why does God use the word”knows” when God speaks about Muhammad being a messenger? Why did God not say (God bears witness that you are His messenger)? Since nothing in the Quran is a coincidence, we must indeed be alerted to God’s deliberate choice of the word” knows“.
It is clear that God is telling us that the Testimony He authorised for us does not include a testimony for Muhammad. Surely if God had said (God bears witness that you are His messenger) then this would have constituted an integral part of the Testimony, and we would have been obliged to utter the same.
The fact that God declines from saying “bear witness that you are His messenger” and instead says (God knows that you are His messenger) confirms that the only lawful Testimony authorised by God is for the name of God alone (3:18), and that all other testimonies are false and are acts of idol worship.
We are given in the Quran a great criteria for distinguishing the sincere believers from the hypocrites. In 39:45, we are told that those who do not believe will not be able to proclaim God’s name on His own, they must include the name of their idol/s in order to be satisfied:
“When God alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied” 39:45
The Testimony is one such criteria where true believers are tested in the purity of their faith. The true believers will have no problem uttering the correct Testimony which is given in the Quran (3:18) and which has no name in it except the name of God. On the other hand, the ones who have set up idols besides God, will never be satisfied with the Quranic Testimony on its own. They will not be able to utter the Quranic Shahada without adding to it a further testimony for Muhammad.