Sunni Islam’s Real Shahadah

Sam Shamoun

One of the essential pillars of Sunni Islam is the Shahadah (Testimony, Witness), otherwise known as the Kalimah (Kalima) (Creed, Statement). It is actually the first pillar of Sunni faith, and is basically a statement of faith regarding the person’s belief in Allah and Muhammad as his messenger. The confession is a fixed formula that is to be repeated in the following manner:

"Ashhadu an la ilaha illa 'llah; ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasulu 'llah"

"I witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."

For more on this, please consult this article.

Although currently still a small minority, there is a modern movement among Muslims that vigorously rejects such an assertion, denying that the Shahadah is an essential act or profession of the Islamic faith. These groups contend that there isn’t a single passage in the Quran requiring Muslims to utter this statement of faith. They insist that the Quran defines the true Shahadah as being nothing more than a declaration of Allah’s unity. They even accuse those Muslims who uphold this pillar of committing idolatry:

This is the true shahada of God, the angels and those who possess knowledge. See 3:18

Many Muslims insist on adding Muhammed's name to the shahada, defying God and the idea of keeping the religion absolutely to GOD ALONE. No where in the Quran can we find Muhammed's name added to the name of God in the shahada. The statement, "Muhammed Rasoul Allah" is a statement of fact and should not be confused with the statement of shahada that we bearwitness [sic].

The first pillar of Islam, (Shahada) is the same first commandment given to Moses , and it has to be the same commandment given to all the prophets and messengers.

"I, the Lord, am your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not
have any other gods beside me. ....." Deuteronomy 5:6

"We did not send any messenger before you (O Muhammed) except with the inspiration : "There is no god except Me; you shall worship Me ALONE." 21 :25

The Islamic Shahada ( that equals the first commandment) is mentioned in 3:18

"God bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and THOSE WHO POSSESS KNOWLEDGE. Truthfully and equitably, He is the absolute god; there is no god but He, the Almighty, Most wise." 3:18   (Source)


Islamic exegisists have always maintained that the confession of faith, the "shahada", which is the first cornerstone of Islam is twofold and reads :

"I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger."

These exegisists are misleading those who claim to be Muslims, and those who claim to be Muslims are, by following these exegisists, buying hell for salvation.   Hell, they should remember, is forever.

These exegisists refuse to accept the clear injunctions of the Quran and insist on reiterating their corrupted confession of faith and associating the name of Muhammad with that of God.

In fact, based exclusively on the Quran, the confession of faith as expounded by the exegisists leads to perdition, if only they knew.    Ibliss has so adorned their idolatry in their eyes that they are absolutely convinced of the rightness of their ways in spite of the Quran.

In the first place, God Himself lays down the confession of faith that is acceptable to Him.   In Chapter 3, 'Ali-I'mran, at verse 18, God, in His infinite mercy, gives us the right confession of faith.

"God bears witness that there is no god but Him and so do the angels and those possessed of knowledge. In justice, there is no god but Him, He is the exalted, the wise."
This is the confession that God Himself bears witness to.  It makes no mention of any human being Muhammad included.  It must therefore stand as the confession which God sanctions for His servants and they have absolutely no right to deviate from it.

As for "...and Muhammad is His servant and His messenger." this is a statement of absolute fact.   Anyone refusing to accept Muhammad as a messenger of God and the seal of His prophets falls outside the pale of Islam.   The correct answer to the question 'is Muhammad a messenger of God and the last of the prophets?' is 'with certitude he is!'.   It is not part of the confession of faith as dictated by God, but merely a statement of fact…

We have presented evidence, based exclusively on the Quran, beyond reasonable doubt, that those who insist upon including Muhammad's name in the confession of faith are, in fact, discriminating in his favour and are therefore not believers.

What, then, are  they?   Again the Quran tells us.   Chapter 63, Al-Munafiqoon,  verse 1 states:

"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."

It is significant that God uses the term knows that Muhammad is His messenger.   He does not use the phrase bears witness. This further reinforces the concept that it is a fact that Muhammad is God's messenger but not the confession of faith.  Had it been the confession of faith God would have said "God bears witness that you are His messenger."   He does not; it is the Hypocrites who bear witness that Muhammad is God's messenger whereas God knows that Muhammad is His messenger and bears witness that the Hypocrites are liars.

Some misguided people claim that the two parts of the confession of faith are in the Quran with the second part, 'Muhammad is His messenger', is stated at chapter 63, Al-Munafiqoon, verse 1.

They should read it more carefully.   They will find that the phrase 'bear(s) witness' is used, in connection with Muhammad, only by the hypocrites, not by God as explained above.  God does bears witness that they are liars though.

Thus if they insist on this verse to support their claim, they are in fact using the confession of faith of the hypocrites who are, by God's testimony, liars…

God nowhere in the Quran commands us to bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger but He does, however, command us to accept him as the messenger and to believe him and encourage and support him and follow the light that was sent down to us with him. (Source)

Sunni Muslims will insist that the true followers of Islam do not follow the Quran alone, but also observe the Sunnah of Muhammad. They will argue that Muhammad's Sunnah is found partly in the Quran and partly in official Sunni Muslim sources such as the ahadith collection. It is in the ahadith, they will say, that the Shahadah/Kalimah is made an article of faith. Here are a few examples from the hadith literature:

Narrated Abu Ma'bad:
(the slave of Ibn Abbas) Allah's Apostle said to Muadh when he sent him to Yemen, "You will go to the people of the Scripture. So, when you reach there, invite them to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Apostle. And if they obey you in that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in each day and night. And if they obey you in that tell them that Allah has made it obligatory on them to pay the Zakat which will be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor among them. If they obey you in that, then avoid taking the best of their possessions, and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 573)

... Abu Dhar went to the Mosque, where some people from Quraish were present, and said, 'O folk of Quraish! I testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and I (also) testify that Muhammad is Allah's Slave and His Apostle.' (Hearing that) the Quraishi men said, 'Get at this Sabi (i.e. Muslim)!' (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 725)

The only problem with this argument is that it fails to mention that the Shahadah found in the so-called sound narrations, found in those hadiths that are part of the sahih collections of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, do not limit the confession to Allah's unity and Muhammad's apostleship. There are other narrations that actually expand the creed to include a confession regarding the exalted status of Jesus and belief in the reality of the afterlife!

Narrated 'Ubada:
The Prophet said, "If anyone TESTIFIES that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle, and that Jesus is Allah's Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit from Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few." (Junada, the sub-narrator said, " 'Ubada added, 'Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.") (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 644)

It is narrated on the authority of Ubadah b. Samit that the messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed: HE WHO SAID: "There is no god but Allah, He is One and there is no associate with Him, that Muhammad is his servant and His messenger, that Christ is servant and the son of His slave-girl and he (Christ) His word which He communicated to Mary and is His Spirit, that Paradise is a fact and Hell is a fact," Allah would make him (he who affirms these truths enter Paradise through any one of its eight doors which he would like. (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 0043)

The foregoing shows that Sunni Islam’s REAL and COMPLETE Shahadah must include a profession of faith in Jesus’ special relationship to God, i.e. that every Muslim must bear witness, testify that Jesus is the servant of God, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God. It must also include a profession of belief in heaven and hell. In other words, Sunni Islam’s Shahadah would look something like this:

I bear witness that there is no god but Allah.
I bear witness that Muhammad is his slave and messenger.
I bear witness that Jesus is his Servant, Word, Spirit, and the son of his slave-girl.
And I bear witness Paradise and Hell are true/real.

It is interesting to note that, according to Karen Armstrong, there even were certain Sufi Muslims whose Shahdahah didn't mention Muhammad, but Jesus!

The ulema were beginning to distinguish Islam sharply from other religions, seeing it as the one, true faith, but Sufis by and large remained true to the Koranic vision of the unity of all rightly guided religion. Jesus, for example, was revered by many Sufis as the prophet of the interior life. Some even amended the Shahadah, the profession of faith, to say: "There is no god but al-Lah and Jesus is His Messenger," which was technically correct but intentionally provocative. (Armstrong, A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam [First Ballantine Books Edition, September 1994], p. 225)

So Sunni Muslims, why are you hiding this piece of information from people, especially from those whom you seek to convert? And, in light of the various formulations of the Shahadah found within the Sunni collections of hadith, which one is the REAL testimony which a person is required to profess in order to become an orthodox Sunni Muslim?

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