The shahadatayn are the two declarations of faith that mark the entry of a person into the fold of Islam. As such it is vital to know their meaning and implication because they are the bedrock upon which our faith is built. Declaring our faith done by saying:
أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمداً رسول الله
the transliteration of which is:
Ashahadu an la ilaaha illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu
This means: I bear witness that none is worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger.
This entails that no form of worship should be rendered to anyone except Allah the Almighty. It is important to point out that the concept of worship in Islam is all-embracing and is not fixed to particular acts of worship like salaat, zakaat, fasting and hajj. Rather, as Ibn Taymiyyah has elucidated it covers all the things that Allah loves and is pleased with. So all these things should be done for the sake of Allah alone Whoever does them for any other reason negates the meaning of this declaration.
Bearing witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of Allah means believing that he is Allah’s messenger. This necessitates following his Sunnah and worshipping Allah according to the way that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us. In this manner we will desist from innovations which are unacceptable in Islam.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Whoever innovates something that is not from our matter it will be rejected”.
A close look at some of the major problems bedeviling the ummah will reveal that they stemmed from innovations and ignorance. In addition we should also give the Prophet (peace be upon him) due respect and send salutations to him after mentioning his blessed name. We should realize that he is the best of creation and treat him accordingly.
In this regard we should love the Prophet (peace be upon him) more than anything else on this earth. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“None of you can be a believer until I become more beloved to him than his children, his father and all the people”.
This is clear because he brought us Allah’s greatest gift to mankind which is Islam and this is a priceless endeavor thus he deserves all the love.
In conclusion belief in the shahadatayn should be translated into actions in our daily lives. Our day-to-day endeavors should show that we are real Muslims. The shahdatayn is not a mere verbal declaration. It is the basis of our faith. Our pious predecessors defined faith (Iman) as being being in the heart, a declaration by the tongue and action by the limbs. Therefore there is no Iman without action. So let’s get up and act NOW. Let us do good deeds while we still have the time and ability. Let us act before we pass on.