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The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة aš-šahādah audio (help·info) "the testimony"; also aš-šahādatān (الشَهادَتانْ, "the two testimonials")) is an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. The declaration, in its shortest form, reads:
- لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله
- lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadur rasūlu-llāh
- There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.
The noun šahāda (شَهادة) translates to "testimony", from the verbal root šahida (شَهِدَ) meaning "to observe, witness, testify"; in legal contexts, šahāda is a testimony to the occurrence of events, such as debt, adultery, or divorce. The Islamic creed is also called, in the dual form, šahādatān (شَهادَتانْ, literally "two testimonials"). The person giving the testimony is called a šāhid ( شاهِد). The first statement of the shahada, lā ilāha illā-llāhu, is also known as the tahlīla. In another meaning, šahāda or, more commonly, istišhād (إسْتِشْهادْ), means "martyrdom." The noun šahīd (شَهيد) may mean "martyr." The word Shahada has been used in Quran as one of the "titles of God" – one is al-Ghayb (the knower of the unseen) and al-Shahada (witnessed).
Shahada is a statement of both ritual and worship. The statement has two parts – la ilaha illa'llah (there is no god but God) and Muhammadun rasul Allah (Muhammad is the messenger of God). Though these statements are both present in the Quran but not present side by side as in the Shahada formula, the shahada may be considered a "defining statement of what it means to be a Muslim". In the Hadith, Angel Gabriel defines Islam to Muhammad that he should "witness there is no god but God" and he is God's messenger. He was also asked to pay the "purification tax", performing the ritual prayer, fast during the month of Ramadan and make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba – these five pillars "are inherent" in this "declaration of faith."
The two parts of the shahada are sometimes referred to as the first shahada and the second shahada. The first one is a symbol of the concept of Tawhid which means the belief in the oneness of God. Islam's monotheistic nature is reflected in the first part of the shahada which declares God "is the only entity truly worthy of worship".
The second part of the shahada is a revelation which means "God has offered guidance to human beings". This verse "reminds Muslims" that they accept not only the "prophecy of Muhammad" but also the "long line of prophets" that preceded Islam. While the first part is seen as a "cosmic truth", the second one is something limited to Islam only, as it is believed that members of other Abrahamic religions don't "view Muhammad as one of their prophets".
Shahada first appears in coins in the late seventh century. It then appears in the end of the first Islamic century which signifies the fact that it was not "officially established as a ritual statement of faith" till the mentioned time.[verification needed] In the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, there is inscription of "early sentiments" of shahada, with the writing "There is no god but God alone, He has no partner with him". It also appears in coins minted during the reign of Abd Al-Malik (the fifth Umayyad caliph), with the inscription "Muhammad is the servant of God".
In Shia Islam, the shahada is expanded with the addition of a phrase concerning Ali (the fourth Sunni caliph and the first Shia imam) وعليٌ وليُّ الله (wa ʿalīyyun walīyyu-llāh) which translates to "Ali is the wali (friend) of God.
audio recording of the shahada
prefaced by the phrase ašhadu ʾan "I testify, that"
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
Recitation of the shahādah is the most common statement of faith for Muslims. In Sunni Islam, it is counted as the first of the Five Pillars of Islam, while the Twelver and Ismaili Shi'a also contain the shahada as amongst their pillars of faith. Fathers whisper the shahada in the ears of the newborn child so that the first thing heard by them is a "strict monotheist faith". Reciting it loudly infront of witnesses is the first step for a non-Muslim to convert into Islam.
For Muslim people reciting the shahada, it is a matter of expressing "what is in the heart" as well as it reflects the "commitment to worship our creator". The community recite it while during their five times prayer during the day. For Non-Muslims, after they recite it, they became a member of Umma or the Muslim community which is followed by "a partylike atmosphere" with celebration. The new convert "witnesses" when he takes the vow is the belief that "of one God" and agrees to submit to Him. He also "testify"ies that "Muhammad is the messenger of God".
The shahada has been used as a shibboleth in Islamic terror attacks to separate Muslim from non-Muslim civilians (in order to kill the latter but not the former), e.g. in the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya  and in the Garissa University College attack in Garissa, Kenya in 2015. To Associated Press, the al-Shabab called it "a meticulous vetting process ... to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar". Associated Press (26 September 2013).
Use on flags
The shahada is found on Islamic flags. The Wahhabi religious movement used the shahada on their flags from the 18th century. In 1902 Abdulaziz Abdulrahman Al-Saud, leader of the Al Saud and the future founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, added a sword to this flag. The modern Flag of Saudi Arabia was introduced in 1973. The Flag of Somaliland has a horizontal strip of green, white and red, with the shahada inscribed in white on the green strip.
Between 1997 and 2001, the Taliban used a white flag with the shahada inscribed in black as the flag of their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The various jihadist flags used by Islamic insurgents since the 2000s have often followed this example. The shahada written on a green background has been used by supporters of Hamas since about 2000. The 2004 draft constitution of Afghanistan proposed a flag featuring the shahada in white script centered on a red background.
- The shahadah is referenced in the eighth stanza of the Turkish national anthem (1921).
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- The classical calligraphy is replaced by more artless and emphatically archaic Kufic script and the second part of the shahada is given in the form of the (supposedly) historical seal of Muhammad to express the fundamentalist aim of returning to the foundational principles of the caliphate.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shahada.|
- "The First Pillar of Islam"
- "The Shahadah as Truth and as Way"
- "Arabic phrases and about Islam". essaouira.nu.