• the • conditions • of • the • shahaadah •

Someone asked Wahb ibn Munabbih, rahimahullah, “Is not la ilaha illa Allah the key to Jannah?” He replied, “Yes, but every key has ridges, so if you come with the key that has the right ridges, the door will be opened for you, otherwise it will not.”

The teeth of this key are the conditions of the declaration of faith.

The ulamaa’ consider that the declaration of faith depends on seven conditions:

The first of them is knowledge of what the declaration of faith negates and of what it confirms. It negates ignorance. Allah says: “So you know [O Muhammad] that there is no god but Allah” [47:19] and also “Except whoever bears witness to the truth knowingly” [43:86]; this witnessed truth is Tawheed, or Divine Unity, which pervades the heart as you declare the kalimah; and lastly: “Allah [Himself] is Witness that there is no god but Him -and [so are] the angels and the people of knowledge -Who sustains His creation with justice; there is no god but Him, the Almighty, the Wise” [3:18]. In Sahih Bukhari, as in Sahih Muslim, there is a hadith reported by Uthman, that says, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Whoever dies in the knowledge that there is no god but Allah, shall surely enter Paradise‘.”[3]


The second condition is the complete denial of uncertainty. This means that whoever pronounces the declaration of faith must be completely and utterly sure that it is the truth. Faith must be based upon certainty and not upon doubt. [4] Allah says: “Surely the [true] believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger and then do not doubt, but struggle with their wealth and their selves in the way of Allah. These are the sincere” [49:15].

Abu Hurayrah has reported, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that I am the Messenger of Allah. No one will come to Allah with these words, never doubting any of it, without entering paradise‘.” [5] Another report says, “None will come to Allah with these words, never doubting any of it, and not see paradise.” In another hadith, also reported by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, says, ‘Whoever you find beyond this room, who bears witness with firmness in his heart that there is no god but Allah, give him glad tidings of paradise‘” [6]

According to al-Qurtubi, simply pronouncing the declaration of faith is not enough; you must also be certain of it in your heart. This contradicts the doctrine of the extremist Murji’ah sect who say that by simply saying these words you have established an adequate foundation for faith. Their own arguments contradict one another. In fact, this position is known to destroy whoever supports it, because it requires him to condone hypocrisy and to ascribe true faith to hypocrisy, and this is a negation of faith. [7]


The third condition is to accept inwardly, and to declare openly, whatever the declaration of faith requires. Allah tell us that some of those who came before accepted it and knew success, while others rejected it and invited His wrath: “And even so We sent not a warner before you [O Muhammad] into any township but that its luxurious ones said: ‘Surely we found our fathers following a religion, and we are following in their footsteps. ‘[And the warner] said: ‘What! Even though I bring you better guidance than what you found your fathers following? ‘They answered: ‘Surely we are disbelievers in what you bring. ‘So we requited them. Then see the nature of the consequence of the rejecters!” [43:23-25]

And He says: “Then shall We save Our Messengers and those who believe in the same way [as before]. It is incumbent upon Us to save the believers”[10:103], and also: “For when it was said to them, ‘There is no god but Allah’, they were scornful, and said: ‘Shall we forsake our gods for a mad poet?” [37:35-36]


The fourth condition is to abandon oneself to what the declaration of faith implies, namely, complete surrender to Allah: “Turn to your Lord repentant, and surrender to Him” [39:54]; and: “Who is better in religion than he who surrenders his purpose to Allah while doing good?” [4:125]; and: “Whoever surrenders his purpose to Allah while doing good, he has truly grasped the firm hand-hold“[31:22]. The ‘firm hand-hold’ means to completely understand and accept the declaration of faith. In the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “None of you has believed until his desires are in accordance with what I have come to you with” [8]. This refers to the perfection of your obedience and of your desire to obey.

Furthermore, Allah says: “But no, by your Lord, they will not believe [truly] until they make you the judge of what is in dispute between them, and find within themselves no dislike of what you decide, and submit with full submission“[4:65].

Ibn Katheer points out that in this ayah Allah makes an oath upon Himself and swears that no one has believed until he accepts the authority of the Prophet in all matters. This is the truth that the believer must apply to himself both in public and in private. This is why He says in the ayah: “and find within themselves no dislike of what you decide, and submit with full submission“; that is, “they accept your judgment in their hearts and find do difficulty in themselves in following what you have decided.” Thus they submit to it completely, with no pressure or coercion, and without argument. This point was made again when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “by He in Whose Hand is my soul, none of you has believed until his desires are in accord with what I have come to you with” [9].


The fifth condition is to denounce falsehood sincerely, doing this with heartfelt conviction, so that the tongue follows the heart. Allah says: “Alif. Lam. Mim. Do people imagine that they will be left [at ease] because they say, ‘we believe’, and will not be tested with affliction? Surely We tested those who were before you. Thus Allah certainly knows those who are sincere, and He certainly knows those who lie” [29:1-3].

In a sahih hadith, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal reports that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No one will say, ‘There is no god but Allah Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’, sincerely from his heart without Allah forbidding him the Fire“[10]. Ibn al-Qayyim remarks that sincerity with regard to the words, ‘There is no god but Allah’, must depend on your compliance with, and acceptance of, the obligations which this statement places upon you. These obligations are represented by the Shari’ah, which itself is an elaboration of the declaration of faith. It means that you believe in whatever Allah has revealed, that you follow His commandments and avoid what He has forbidden. One who is truly sincere in this belief will abide by it completely. The complete protection of the Shari’ah is only assured by complete compliance with it. Likewise, complete security from punishment only comes from complete obedience to it. [11]

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “My intercession is for whoever witness that there is no god but Allah sincerely, whose heart believes his tongue, and whose tongue believes his heart“[12]. Ibn Rajab adds, “As for those who give lip service to the words, ‘there is no god but Allah’, but then follow Satan in disobedience and contentiousness, their actions have made clear the emptiness of their words and the weakness of their belief: “And who goes farther astray than he who follows his desires without guidance from Allah?” [28:50]; and: “Do not follow desire so that it lures you away from the way of Allah“[28:26]” [13].


The sixth condition is singularity of devotion. This means that you should purify your deeds by cleansing your intentions of all traces of reverence towards any created thing: “Surely pure religion is for Allah only” [39:3]; and also: “And they are not ordered to anything else other than to worship Allah, keeping the Deen pure for Him, as men by nature upright” [98:5]. Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah raises up by my intercession whoever says, ‘There is no god but Allah’, from the depths of his heart with complete purity of devotion“[14]. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is reported by Utbah ibn Maalik in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim as saying, “Certainly Allah has forbidden the Fire for anyone who says ‘There is no god but Allah’, and who seeks by these words only the pleasure of Allah” [15].

Two of the Prophet’s companions report that he, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Whenever someone says from his heart in singular devotion, his tongue pure in belief: ‘there is no god but Allah alone; He has no partner; His is the dominion; His is the praise; and He has power over all things’, Allah opens a path for this in the heavens and smiles [16] upon whomever from among the people of the earth has said it, and it is the right of the servant of Allah upon whom He smiles that his request be granted” [17].

“Though performed in singular devotion to Allah, an act of worship is not accepted if it is incorrectly done,” writes al-Fudayl ibn Iyadh. “One performed correctly, but not in singular devotion to Allah is not accepted either. Any act of worship must be performed both in complete devotion to Allah, and correctly. Complete devotion means that the act is for Allah alone. Correctly means that it is performed according to the Sunnah” [18].

Allah has given us a clear example of the contrast between absolute and flawed devotion to Him in this ayah from the Qur’an: “Allah strikes a metaphor: a man who has several owners, quarrelling; and a man belonging wholly to one man. Are the two equal in comparison?” [39:29]

Commenting on this ayah, Sayyid Qutub says: “This example contrasts the servant whose devotion is to Allah alone with the one whose devotion is shared out among many. The latter is likened to a slave jointly owned by men who quarrel over him: to each of them he owes a duty and each of them make demands of him. His situation totally confounds him. He can find no way and no means to satisfy all of their conflicting and contradictory demands. The former, however, has but one master. He knows what he wants from him and does his duty to him, so he finds the road clearly marked before him. Are these two the same? Not at all: the man whose service is to one master benefits from the comfort and security, peace of mind and certainty that unite his actions and his goals with the means of achieving them; but the man with quarrelling masters is shaken by torment. He can find now way out; if he pleases one the others are unhappy. The reality of the Unity of God is contained in this example, as is the truth about its antithesis, polytheism. The heart of the believer, rooted in the truth of God’s Unity, is a heart through which guidance from Allah flows -that is, inspired only by Him and dutiful to Him alone” [19].

The significance of this is that it indicates that singularity of devotion is through singularity of purpose. As Allah says: “Are [many] different lords better, or Allah the One, the Almighty?”[12:39] [20]

Islam requires submission to Allah alone; whatever else one has submitted to in this way must be abandoned. This is the true significance of the words ‘there is no god but Allah’, since whoever submits to Allah and to something other than Him at the same time, has associated something with Allah. Allah does not forgive this. Whoever fails to submit to Him has scorned His worship: “Surely those who scorn worship of Me will enter Hell disgraced.” [40:60]


The seventh condition is to love the declaration of faith, to love all that it requires and all it implies, to love all those who act upon it and who hold to all that it stands for and to feel anger at whatever contradicts it. Allah says: “And from among mankind are some who take for themselves [objects of worship as] rivals to Allah. And those who believe are stronger in their love for Allah” [21:65]. And He says: “O you who believe! Whoever of you becomes a rebel against his Deen, [know that in his place] Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble towards the believers, harsh towards the disbelievers, striving in the way of Allah, and not fearing the blame of any blamer” [5:54].

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘The sweetness of faith belongs to whoever may find himself in these three states: that Allah and His Messenger are more dear to him than any other thing; that he loves someone only for the sake of Allah; and that he despises a return to disbelief after Allah had saved him from it, as much as he would hate to be thrown into the fires of Hell” [21].

The signs of love for Allah are to give precedence to this love and to suppress your desires: to conquer your desire for what angers your Lord and to feel anger towards it; to ally yourself with Allah, His Messenger, and those who are with them; to oppose whoever opposes Him; and to follow in the footsteps of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, accepting his guidance” [22].

Ibn al-Qayyim said in a poem:

The love of the Beloved must be unconditionally returned if you claim love yet oppose the Beloved, then you love is but pretence. You love the enemies of your Beloved and still seek love in return. You fight the beloved of your Beloved. Is this Love or the following of Shaytan? True devotion is nothing but total submission of body and soul to One Love



3-Ma’aarij al-Qubool, Hafiz al-Hakami, 1/378. See also Al-Jami’-ul-Fareed, p. 356.

4-Ibid. 1/378

5-Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, 1/56, [27]

6-Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, 1/60, [31]

7-Shaykh Abdur-Rahman ibn Hasan, Fath-ul-Majeed, p. 36

8-This hadith appears in Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, number 41

9-Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, 2/306

10-Sahih Bukhari and Muslim

11-Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya, at-Tibyan fi Aqsam al-Quran, p. 43

12-Al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 1/70; he said that the isnad was sahih, and ad-Dhahabi confirmed him in this.

13-Imam ibn Rajab, Kalimat al-Ikhlaas, p. 28

14-Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-‘Ilm, 1/193, [99]

15-Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Masajid, 1/456, [263]

16-The Arabic, hatta yandhuru alayhee, literally means: until He looks at him.

17-Imam ibn Rajab reports this in Kalimat al-Ikhlaas; al-Albani remarks that it appears in al-Jami’a al-Kabir, [2/477] where Ya’qub ibn Asim says, “Two of the Prophet’s companions told me… etc “This Ya’qub is one of Imam Muslim’s authorities. Ibn Hibban confirms this as well. If this isnad is sahih then the hadith is sound.

18-cf. Ibn Taymiyyah, Iqtidaa as-Sirat al-Mustaqim, p. 451.

19-Sayyid Qutub, Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an, 5/3049.

20-Muhammad Jamal as-Din al-Qaasimi, Mahaasin at-Ta’weel, 14/5138

21-Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman, 1/60; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman 1/66

22-Hafiz al-Hakami, Ma’arij al-Qubul, 1/383

23-Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya, an-Nuniyyah, p. 158


4 Responses to “• the • conditions • of • the • shahaadah •”

  1. Aish Al Akhirah Says:

    there is so much benefit that can be gained from knowing these conditions and continously correcting anything in your heart which conflicts with them.
    the poem by ibn al qayyim (rahimahullah) was a perfect ending to such an entry. jazakAllahu Khayran

  2. istiqaamah Says:

    Wa iyaaki ukhti. May Allah take our souls only as true Muslims. Ameen

  3. A Slave of Allaah Says:

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh.

    Baarakallaahu feeki. May I ask who the author is for this article?

  4. istiqaamah Says:

    Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salaam Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakaatuh

    It was taken from the book Al-Walaa’ Wal-Baraa’ by Muhammad al-Qahtaani

    Wa Feekum Baarak Allaah

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