Islam's First Pillar: Shahadah (Profession of Faith)

Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid
16 min readDec 1, 2022

‘Shahadah’, the testimony of faith, is among the five main pillars of Islam. It is this very declaration of faith that distinguishes a Muslim from a non-Muslim without this testimony, a Muslim’s identity essentially becomes null and void.

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

Hello, Dear Readers and followers, welcome back to my new story, I hope all’s well. Today I planned to talk about the first and most important fundamental concept of Shahadah (Profession of Faith) in Islam. The Profession of Faith (Shahadah) is considered the most basic expression of Islamic teachings, and it is the first pillar of Islam. No human being can call himself a Muslim unless he bears witness to the Shahadah because it is the first pillar of Islam.

The Main Basic Fundamental Pillar/ Tenets in Islam

The religious practice of Islam, which literally means “to submit to God”, is based on tenets that are known as the Five primary obligations, or pillars of faith (arkan), to which all Muslims should adhere in his or her lifetime. One who believes and practices upon these pillars is a truly meaningful Muslim.

In Islam, it is important to recognize and acknowledge one’s duties and obligations towards faith. now is as good a time as any to educate ourselves on the five obligations of a Muslim in Islam.

The five pillars — the declaration of faith (shahadah), prayer (salah), alms-giving (zakat), fasting (sawm), and pilgrimage (hajj) — constitute the basic norms of Islamic practice.

Each pillar carries immense significance and is obligatory upon the financial and physical capability of a believer. They are accepted by Muslims globally irrespective of ethnic, regional, or sectarian differences.

Upholding the pillars is considered obligatory for all sincere followers of the Prophet Muhammad, male and female, Sunni and Shi‘a, but that doesn’t mean that all those who identify as Muslims keep them consistently. As in all religions, circumstances vary and some people are more committed than others. Such things as age, stage of life, work, family responsibilities, health, and wealth all make a difference.

First Pillar/Tenet Shahadah ( Testimony or declaration of Faith)

The first pillar of Islam is the “Shahadah”, also spelled “The Shahadah”. It comes from the Arabic word “الشَهَادة” which means “The Testimony”, the testimony simply states that “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” It underscores the monotheistic nature of Islam. It must be recited by every Muslim at least once in a lifetime, aloud, correctly, and purposively, with a full understanding of its meaning and with an assent of the heart.

Shahadah is the term given to making a declaration of faith and dedication to your belief that there is only one God, Allah (SWT), and that he sent His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to guide us.

As the First Pillar of Islam, Shahadah is one of the most important and acts as your first submission to Islam and announcing your intention as a true follower.

Muslims used to recite every morning when they wake up and before going to sleep. It is recited five times a day when Muslims are called for prayer in a mosque.

The Importance of Shahadah in Islam

It is the most sacred statement in Islam and must be recited with sincere belief from the bottom of the heart and true feeling with complete understanding and mindfulness of its meaning to become a Muslim.

Actually, true belief in the content of the Shahadah is the foremost distinguishing characteristic that defines a Muslim as a Muslim. A Muslim is simply one who bears witness and testifies that “nothing deserves worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” One becomes a Muslim by making this simple declaration.

It must be recited by every Muslim at least once in a lifetime with a full understanding of its meaning and with an assent of the heart. Muslims say this when they wake up in the morning, and before they go to sleep at night. It is repeated five times in the call to prayer in every mosque. A person who utters the shahadah as their last words in this life has been promised Paradise.

Reverts to Islam are also required to make Shahadah as their first act of joining the faith and this serves as an affirmation of their commitment to their faith. To make Shahadah, the intent is important, and you must recite the declaration sincerely three times with intent in your heart and mind.

The Shahadah Statement “La ilaha illa Allah Muhammadur rasoolu Allah”

“La ilaha illa Allah Muhammadur rasoolu Allah”

Translation: There is no true God (diety) but Allah (SWT); Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (SWT)

It is the most fundamental belief which is a declaration of faith and trust that لَا اِلٰہ اَلَّا اللہُ مُحَمَّدُ رَّسُول اللہ “There is no Lord except Almighty Allah (SWT) and the Beloved Last Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ is the true Messenger of Allah (SWT).” The first part means that” none is worthy to be worshipped but Allah (SWT) alone, and that Allah (SWT) has neither partner nor son”. The second part of the belief asserts that “محمد صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ is the last Messenger of Allah (SWT).

In accepting Beloved The Prophet Muhammad صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ as the “Last of all Prophets عَلَیْہِمُ السَّلَام we Muslims believe that His Prophethood confirms and completes all of the revealed messages, beginning with that of Prophet Adam عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام.

As it is mentioned above that each pillar is obligatory according to the financial and physical capability of a believer but this is the pillar that is mandatory and essential to follow because without testifying and admitting Shahadah from the heart no person can become a Muslim.

That is why it is prohibited in Islam to force someone to accept Islam unless he wants to do it with his own will and he can only enter into the fold of Islam by testifying and admitting the words of Shahadah.

This testimony of faith sums up the basic essence of what it means to be a believing servant of Allah (SWT). The Shahadah is also known as “the twin testimony of faith” because It consists of 2 parts that represent the main beliefs of Islam.

  1. The first part of Shahadah (Tawhid) states that there is no god but Allah (SWT) which means that no other being has the right to be worshiped and that Allah almighty has neither partner nor son.
  2. The second part of the Shahadah (Prophethood) witnesses that our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last prophet & messenger sent by Allah (SWT).

The First Part of Shahadah : Tawhid

The belief in one Allah (SWT) is the central tenet of the Islamic faith, around which all else revolves. Muslims are continuously reminded of this foundational belief, in the recital of the Shahada (shahadah) during each of the five daily prayers, as well as many more pivotal moments of a Muslim’s life.

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all considered monotheistic faiths, but for Islam, the principle of monotheism exists to an extreme degree. For Muslims, even the Christian principle of the Holy Trinity is seen as a detraction from the essential “oneness” of God.

The fundamental to the religious structure of Islam is the concept of tawhid or monotheism. Tawhid is the religion’s central and single-most important concept, upon which a Muslim’s entire faith rests.

The Arabic term Tawhid is used to describe this belief in the absolute Oneness of God. Tawhid comes from an Arabic word meaning “unification” or “oneness” it is a complex term with many depths of meaning in Islam.

Muslims believe, above all else, that Allah (SWT), or God, is the sole divine deity, who does not share his divinity with other partners. There are three traditional categories of Tawhid: the Oneness of Lordship, the Oneness of Worship, and the Oneness of Allah’s Names.

These categories overlap but help Muslims to understand and purify their faith and worship.

Verily, Allah (SWT) has created the world and everything in it in order to worship Him alone. He sent the Messenger to call the people to tawhid and the Noble Qur’an is concerned with the ‘aqidah of tawhid in most of its chapters, and it explains the harm of shirk for the individual and the society. Shirk is the reason for destruction in this life and the reason for eternal destruction in the Fire of the Hereafter.

Verily, all the Messengers began their call with tawhid, which they were commanded by Allah (SWT) to convey it to the people. He, the Highest, said:

“We have not sent before you from the Messengers, except We inspired to him that He is the only One worthy of worship, so worship Him.”Al-Qur’an 21:25

Tawhid is the preoccupation of a Muslim in his life, so he begins his life with tawhid and he ends his life with tawhid. His task in life is to establish tawhid and the call to tawhid, since tawhid unifies the believers and gathers them upon the statement of tawhid. So we ask Allah to make the statement of tawhid (la ilaha lillallah) our last words in this world and we ask Him to gather the Muslims upon the statement of tawhid.

Read on to learn more about Islamic Monotheism ( Tawhid)

The Second Part of Shahadah: Prophethood

The second part of the Shahadah requires Muslims to acknowledge and testify to the belief in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Allah’s messenger. This serves as a reminder to Muslims of the importance of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but also as a reminder to never associate partners with Allah, for He is just a messenger, and Allah remains one God alone.

Allah (SWT) chose Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to convey His message amongst mankind and spread His religion throughout humanity, not restricted to any tribe or people. To be a Muslim is to not only love Allah (SWT) but also His Messenger and to follow in his footsteps.

“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran 3: 31)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was bestowed with the final revelation. He is the seal of the prophets: the last Prophet of Allah (SWT) and the most beloved to Him. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) poses as a perfect role model for each and every Muslim and it is our duty to learn from his Sunnah and ahadith and aim to become better Muslims.

In addition, Muhammad serves as a preeminent role model through his life example. The believer’s effort to follow Muhammad’s example reflects the emphasis of Islam on practice and action.

Quranic Perspective about Shahadah

For those who learn Quran, you might notice that the complete Shahadah wasn’t clearly mentioned in the Quran. Rather, each part of the Shahada was individually affirmed in certain verses of the Quran.

Here are some verses from the Quran where the Shahadah or its meaning was mentioned…

Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge — [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice. There is no deity except Him, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. ( Quran 3:18)

other place Allah (SWT) Says;

Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord — let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” ( Quran 18: 110)

The Conditions For the Acceptance of the shahadah

The Shahadah is the Islamic declaration of faith. The profession of faith or witness of faith is obligated for Muslims. On several occasions during our daily life in an ordinary day and in the words of daily prayers, We (Muslims) recite this Shahadah, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah (S.W.T.) and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His Prophet.”

There is no formal restriction on the time and place of these words. To become a member of the Muslim community, one must believe in and practice this belief in the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH). In order to be a true believer in the faith that represents the relationship between the speaker and God, one must express one’s true knowledge of the meaning of the word of mouth as well as sincere belief.

A person should have knowledge of the Shahadah. He should know the meaning of its words, which affirm the existence of Allah (SWT) while denying the existence of any other god. One should understand that these words refer to the oneness of Allah (SWT), in which every Muslim has to believe. Furthermore, one should know that Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allah. Every believer ought to believe in the Prophethood of the final Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), as his teachings are binding on all of mankind.

In order to submit to Allah (SWT), it is necessary to obey His Messenger (PBUH). Therefore, one cannot be a Muslim without affirming the second part of the Shahadah, which pertains to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH). The religion with which Allah sent Muhammad (PBUH) is the only faith that He accepts. Indeed, the religion of Islam is for all of mankind, unlike the teachings of earlier prophets. One cannot consider one’s Shahadah to be acceptable if he is ignorant of these fundamental Islamic beliefs.

Understanding The Statement of The Shahadah

The first part of the Shahadah is to testify that there is no God worthy of worship but Allah (SWT). He is the sole true deity worthy of worship. He has no partners and is the only One who has the right to be worshipped. Allah (SWT) forbids Muslims from associating any partners in worship with Him. All our worship must be for Allah (SWT) alone, whether it is the belief in our hearts, our prayers which are to Him alone, the charity we give for His sake, the fasting we do to please Him, or the Hajj pilgrimage we perform for Him alone.

A person enters the fold of Islam by declaring that Allah (SWT) is the only deity worthy of worship. This is the fundamental monotheistic belief that forms the core of Islam. Monotheism is the main message that all Prophets of Allah (SWT) brought to earth. Merely affirming that Allah (SWT) alone is deserving of worship isn’t sufficient for one to truly become a believer. Rather, it’s essential to submit to Allah (SWT) by obeying His final Prophet (PBUH).

Thus, the second part of the profession of faith is to testify that Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allah (SWT). He was Allah’s chosen one, who He entrusted with the noble mission to purify Arabia of polytheism.
Muhammad (PBUH) was the last Prophet, sent with the final revelation. It confirmed the revelations that preceded it. However, unlike the revelations that came before it, the Quran is binding on all of mankind. Therefore, Muslims have to believe in Muhammad’s (PBUH) Prophethood and follow his teachings, as Allah (SWT) commands us to obey the Messenger. Moreover, he is the ultimate role model, who every believer should seek to emulate.

Having Certainty in The Shahadah

Certainty is a must for one who pronounces the declaration of faith. When saying the Shahadah, it is necessary for a person to have complete certainty of its meaning. One should be free of any doubts pertaining to the faith when entering it. The person who says the Shahada should believe in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger with firm conviction.

As Allah (SWT) tells us in Surah Al-Hujurat, believers are only those who have faith in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger and don’t go on to doubt. Hence, one should have complete faith in the truthfulness of the Shahadah before uttering it and embracing Islam. It is not acceptable for a person to say the Shahadah while having any doubt regarding it. In a hadith in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said that one who meets Allah (SWT) without having any doubt about the Shahadah would never be denied Paradise.

Acceptance of The Shahadah

A person does not become a Muslim merely by saying the Shahada. Rather, he should accept the Shahadah and all that it entails not only verbally but also in his heart. It is not sufficient for one to say the words of the Shahadah if his heart fails to accept the truth of it. In a hadith in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) compares those who do not accept what Allah (SWT) sent him with to a barren land that does not retain water or grow grass when there is rainfall.

Compliance of The Shahadah

The believer is not only required to believe and accept the truth of the Shahadah. He must also completely submit to all that acceptance of the Shahadah entails. Thus, when one pronounces the testimony of faith, he must submit to Allah (SWT) and obey the teachings of Islam. In order to submit to Allah as He commands us to, one must obey the Prophet (PBUH) and follow the teachings he conveyed to us.

Therefore, the Shahadah is not acceptable if a person says it without submitting to Allah. If a person wants to become a Muslim, submission to Allah (SWT), following the teachings of Islam and obeying the final Prophet (PBUH) is essential. When a person makes the testimony of faith, he must be ready to submit to Allah (SWT) rather than submitting to his own desires.

Being Truthful with The Shahadah

When a person utters the Shahadah, it should be an honest declaration of faith. One should not disbelieve in the truth of the Shahadah while saying it. If a person does not have true faith in the oneness of Allah (SWT) and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His Messenger, his Shahadah is invalid. Saying the Shahadah won’t benefit anyone who does not have true belief in the truth of Islam in his heart.

In a hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) stated that anyone who testifies that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is His Messenger will have Allah’s protection from the Hellfire. Therefore, one who says the Shahadah must genuinely believe in it. Otherwise, his or her Shahadah will not be valid.

The Importance of Sincerity

Sincerity is a must when one is saying the Shahadah. This means that such a person must have the correct intentions and faith. One’s beliefs must be pure and free from any kind of shirk (association of partners with Allah). A Muslims should utter the Shahadah with the sincere intention of submitting to Allah by following Islam and obeying Allah’s Messenger.

There should be no element of deception or hypocrisy in one’s testimony of faith. A person’s Shahadah will not be valid if he does not inwardly hold the correct belief. He should not have any ulterior motives for professing Islam, as that would mean he is insincere.

In Surah Az-Zumar, Allah tells us that worship and obedience is for Him alone. Moreover, in a hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) states that those who say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (affirming the oneness of Allah) with sincerity will be the ones who are most worthy of his intercession. People need to accept Islam, become Muslims, and worship Allah (SWT) without the association of any partners purely for Allah’s sake.

Having True Love

Love for the Shahadah, its meaning, and all that it entails is necessary for the person who wishes to embrace Islam. Additionally, the person who says the Shahadah should love those who act upon the Shahadah and follow its conditions. On the other hand, he or she should also hate those who go against the Shahada. In Surah Al-Baqarah, we learn that believers love Allah (SWT) more than anything else.

One who loves Allah (SWT) is supposed to give importance to what He loves, even if it is something that is contrary to one’s desires. Furthermore, he should hate what Allah hates, even if it’s something that he finds appealing. He should befriend the friends of Allah and His Messenger and be an enemy of the enemies of Allah and His Messenger.

Moreover, among the signs of one’s love for Allah is that he obeys the Prophet (PBUH) and follows his Sunnah. These are all crucial aspects of the love for Allah that every believer should have. In a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that one of the three things that lead to a person discovering the sweetness of faith is when he loves Allah (SWT) and His Messenger more than anything else.

The Only Key to Paradise

According to the scholars of Islam, they stress that the shahada is the key to paradise known as “muftah al Jannah.” But not just any key will do.

For example, will just any key unlock your house? No. It has to have the right ridges.

So if the shahada is the key, you need to be sure you have the correct ridges to be able to use it to enter paradise. A part of this includes having a full understanding of exactly what you are testifying too, as well as your actions as a Muslim.

“Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it . . . And Allah knows what you conceal and what you declare.” ( Quran 2:284)

Any kind of doubt in Islam is the same as having disbelief. So before you decide to recite the shahada, you need to have absolutely no doubt in your heart that you fully believe in the words expressed in the shahada.

Many scholars in Islam agree that doubt and suspicion is the most dangerous threat to a person’s faith. For example, desire and lust can be satisfied at any given moment but if the person knows this to be wrong they can choose to not act upon those desires and ask for Allah’s forgiveness. However, if doubt enters the heart it can linger like a cancerous tumor. It will continue to grow and the person may choose to continue practicing Islam but without true faith, or decide to leave Islam completely.

Final Thoughts

The Shahadah is the Islamic declaration of faith and the first pillar of Islam. The shahadah is recited several times a day by billions of Muslims everywhere. It is vital for all people who believe in Islam and accept the oneness of Allah (SWT) to utter the Shahadah. Simultaneously, they must fulfill all seven conditions. This will help ensure that their Shahadah is acceptable in Allah’s eyes. Moreover, any person in the last stages of life should try to ensure that the Shahadah is the last thing they utter. Allah (SWT) has made this one of the ways for people to attain the glory of paradise.

However, just merely reciting the Shahadah is not enough to become a ‘complete’ Muslim. For that, apart from believing, the individual must internalize and practice the teachings laid down by Allah (SWT) and His Messenger only then can one become a true Muslim!



Raja Muhammad Mustansar Javaid

"Versatile Wordsmith | IT Solutions Strategist | Motorcycle Voyager | Multilingual Enthusiast". I’m so deep even the ocean gets jealous