Shahadah The First Pillar of Islam
The importance of faith in Islam becomes profoundly evident when we examine the core tenets of this religion. Among the Five Pillars of Islam, the declaration of faith (Shahadah) holds a position of unparalleled significance. It is prohibited in Islam to compel someone into accepting the faith, as true acceptance must come from the heart. One has to sincerely testifies and acknowledge the words of the shahada to become Muslim.
The shahada stands as the foremost and pivotal pillar of Islam. It represents the core belief and a sincere declaration of faith and trust in which a person acknowledges and affirms that:
لَا اِلٰہ اَلَّا اللہُ مُحَمَّدُ رَّسُول اللہ
The above written is the representation of shahada in Arabic which states:
“There is no God except Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ and the Beloved Last Prophet Muhammad صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ is the Messenger of Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.”
The meaning of Shahada in Islam is encapsulated in its two distinct parts. The first part means that “none is worthy to be worshipped but Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ alone, and that Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ 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 عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.”
Muslims believe in the finality of Prophethood with the acceptance of Prophet Muhammad صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ as the "Last of all Prophets." This belief signifies that His Prophethood confirms and completes all the messages revealed to earlier Prophets, starting from Prophet Adam عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام.
The Virtue of the Declaration of Shahada
Hazrat Ubada bin Samit رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ narrated about the virtue of the declaration of faith: I heard the Messenger of Allah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ saying, " If anyone testifies that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God's messenger, God will keep him from going to hell. " (Mishkat al-Masabih, Kitab ul Iman, Chapter 3, Hadith: 36, Vol. 1, p. 28)
Hazrat al-Haaj Maulana Abdul Mustafa al-A'zami رحمۃُ اللہِ علیہ states in his famous book "Bahisht ki Kunjiyan": "This is the foundational phrase of Islam upon which the entire edifice of Islam stands. This phrase is undoubtedly not only a deed that leads to Paradise but also the essence and foundation of all righteous deeds that lead to Paradise." (Bahisht ki Kunjiyan, p. 33, Maktabat al-Madina Publication)
Types Of the Descriptions of Faith
There are 2 types of the descriptions of faith:
“I solemnly declare my belief in Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ as He is with all His names and attributes, and I have accepted (to obey) all His commandments by pledging with my tongue and testifying them with my heart.”
“I believe in Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ, His Angels, His (revealed) Books, His Prophets, the Day of Judgment and (I believe that) good and bad destiny is from Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ and (I believe that) there will be resurrection after death.”
Faith in Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
To fully grasp the essence of Islam, it is essential to internalize the profound significance of Tawhid in Islam, the cornerstone of belief in the Oneness of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. Moreover, this understanding should be accompanied by a sincere recognition of the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, completing the tapestry of faith in Islam.
Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, is One, with no partners in His divinity, works, commandments, or names. He is ‘Waajib-ul-Wujood’, eternal (al-Qadeemand everlasting (al-Baaqi). He alone deserves boundless praise and worship, while everything in the universe relies on Him.
Faith in Angels
Being a Muslim one should have a faith in Angels عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام of the Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. Angels عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام are genderless, they neither eat, drink, marry, nor reproduce. They are composed of light, allowing them to assume different forms, though they refrain from doing so against the command of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
Faith in the Books of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ
1. The Taurat (Torah) revealed to Prophet Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام.
2. The Zabur (Psalms) revealed to Prophet Dawood (David) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام.
3. The Injeel (Bible) revealed to Prophet Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام.
4. The Glorious Quran revealed to our Beloved Prophet Sayyiduna Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, the Seal of the Prophets.
While all the words of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ are equally sacred, the Holy Quran holds a unique position as the most rewarding and significant among them.
Faith in Prophethood
In Muslim religion beliefs, it is crucial to understand and appreciate the virtues and qualities of the Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام, just as it is essential to know about the Attributes of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. Having a sound knowledge of Prophethood in Islam helps in avoiding misconceptions and misleading beliefs, ensuring that one does not say anything that might degrade or disrespect the Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام.
Prophets علیھم السلام Were All Men
All the Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام, were men, chosen by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, to receive Divine Revelation for the guidance of humanity. They are also known as Apostles or Messengers of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
Throughout history, no woman has been accorded the status of a Prophet, as it was not obligatory for Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ to send Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام. However, out of His immense kindness, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ sent the Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام to guide mankind. A Prophet is entrusted with receiving Divine Revelation (Wahi), whether conveyed by Angels or through other means.
The Prominent Prophets علیھم السلام Of Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
Throughout history, Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ, sent down numerous Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام, to provide guidance to humanity. This divine guidance began with Prophet Adam عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام and continued until Prophet Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ تَعَالٰى عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. While some of these Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام are mentioned specifically in the Holy Quran, many others are not explicitly named in it.
The Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام who have been given prominence in the Holy Quran are:
1. Prophet Adam عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
2. Prophet Idris (Enoch) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
3. Prophet Nuh (Noah) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
4. Prophet Hud عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
5. Prophet Salih عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
6. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
7. Prophet Ismail (Ishmael) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
8. Prophet Ishaaq (Isaac) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
9. Prophet Lut (Lot) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
10. Prophet Yaqoob (Jacob) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
11. Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
12. Prophet Shuaib عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
13. Prophet Ayyub (Job) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
14. Prophet Musa (Moses) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
15. Prophet Harun (Aaron) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
16. Prophet Dhul Kifl (Ezekiel) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
17. Prophet Dawood (David) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
18. Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
19. Prophet Zakariya (Zecharia) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
20. Prophet Yahya (John) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
21. Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ) عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام
22. and the Leader of all Prophets Sayyiduna Muhammad عَـلَيْهِ الـصَّلٰوةُ وَالـسَّـلَام.
How Many Prophets علیھم السلام?
The exact number of Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام, sent down by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, for the guidance of humanity is not definitively known, and opinions on this matter may vary. The safest approach is to believe that Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ sent approximately 124,000 Prophets عَـلَيْهِمُ الـسَّـلَام, without specifying an exact figure.
Faith In the Day of Judgment
The concept of life after death, as explained in the Holy Quran, aligns with humanity's moral consciousness. Without it, belief in Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ would lose meaning, and justice would be absent, with no accountability for actions.
The basic beliefs of Islam teaches that our present life is a test, preparing us for the eternal realm that follows. A day will come when the universe will be destroyed and recreated, and all the deceased will be resurrected for judgment before Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
Everyone’s Fate Will Be Decided
Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ is the Most Just and will reward or punish individuals according to their deeds, especially for those who commit terrible crimes and oppress others. As this life is short and actions affect many, complete justice and retribution cannot be achieved in this world. The Holy Quran assures the Day of Judgment, where each soul's fate will be decided by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
Answerable for Their Actions
Every human being desire justice, even if they don't always uphold it for others. Let’s say Tyrants and oppressors who inflict suffering on others will object strongly if any injustice is done to them. Anyone who has experienced injustice, regardless of their social status, seeks punishment for the wrongdoer.
While many criminals are punished, some escape with light consequences or are set free, leading comfortable lives. However, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, may not punish them in this world, but on the Day of Judgment, they will be held accountable and face punishment for their actions.
Rewards in Eternal Life
In this world, justice and reward for good deeds are often incomplete. Earthly compensation cannot adequately repay those who have shown immense courage, done great good, or endured hardships for the truth. These acts can only be fully repaid in an eternal life where every individual affected by one's actions will bear witness, and one's innermost thoughts and intentions will be precisely judged by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, the All-Knowing.
Islamic beliefs and practices in the Hereafter are logical, as Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, has instilled in us a desire for justice and righteousness, even if we cannot always attain it in this world. This life is just one part of our existence, and the Hereafter provides the necessary balance and absolute justice promised by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. Whatever is missing or gained unlawfully here will find its resolution there.