"So know that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin."
(Surah Muhammad: 19).
Similarly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Whoever dies knowing that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah shall enter Paradise.”
In fact, the shahadah itself is a testimony. When one testifies to something, one must know what it is that he is testifying concerns. Obviously, a testimony about something that one does not have any knowledge about is absolutely unacceptable. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"Except him who bears witness unto the truth knowingly."
(Surah Al-Zukhruf: 86).
Now this condition probably sounds obvious; if someone said to you, "There is no God except Allah," and then said that what he meant by Allah was Jesus, you would immediately tell him that this shahadah is nonsense. Yet can you imagine that there is a Muslim country in the world that until recently used to have a yearly weeklong celebration to "the Gods of the Sea"! All along they call themselves Muslims and they make the shahadah numerous times a day.
This clearly shows that they have no idea what the meaning of their shahadah is. Do you think that this kind of shahadah will open the doors to Paradise for them? Today, there are many Muslims who wonder why we should not accept secularism. They think that there is nothing wrong with secularism! Many of these Muslims pray five times a day and utter the shahadah repeatedly. Yet they see nothing wrong with accepting a Lawgiver other than Allah? What kind of shahadah are these people making?
All of us do our best to learn at least the basics of Islamic beliefs, the basics of what shahadah means. In this way, Allah willing, we will be making the correct shahadah. We will be witnessing to the truth as we are supposed to be witnesses to it
This is the opposite of doubt and uncertainty. In Islam, in fact, any kind of doubt is equivalent to Kufr or disbelief. We must, in our hearts, be absolutely certain of the truth of the shahadah. Our hearts must not be wavering in any way when we testify to the truth of, "There is none worthy of worship except Allah." Allah describes the believers in the Qur'an as those who have belief in Allah and then their hearts waver not. Allah says,
"the (true) believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere."
(al-Hujjarat : 15).
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "No one meets Allah with the testimony that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and I am the Messenger of Allah, and he has no doubt about hat statement, except that he will enter Paradise." (Recorded by Muslim.)
Indeed, Allah describes the hypocrites as those people whose hearts are wavering. For example, Allah says,
"They alone seek leave of thee (not to participate in jihad) who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and whose hearts feel doubt, so in their doubt they waver."
Many scholars have stated that the diseases of the heart, or the doubt and suspicions that one allows into one's heart, are more dangerous for a person's faith than lusts and desires. This is because lusts and desires may be satisfied at some time yet the person still knows them to be wrong and he may control himself and repent and give up that evil deed. On the other hand, the doubts and suspicions may linger in the heart, with no cure, until the person finally leaves Islam entirely or continues to practice Islam while, in fact, in his heart he does not have the true faith. The greatest cure for these doubts is seeking knowledge. It is through sound knowledge of the Qur'an and the Sunnah that most of these doubts will be removed
If a person has knowledge of and certainty in the shahadah, this must be followed by acceptance, with the tongue and heart, of whatever that shahadah implies. Whoever refuses to accept the shahadah and its implications, even if he knows that it is true and certain about its truth, then he is a disbeliever. This refusal to accept is sometimes due to pride, envy or other reasons.
In any case, the shahadah is not a true shahadah without its unconditional acceptance. The scholars all talk about this condition as a general condition in the way that I have just stated. However, there is also a more detailed aspect that we must all be aware of. The believer accepts whatever the implications of the shahadah are. This also means that he believes in whatever is stated in the Qur'an or stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him), without any right to choose what he wants to believe and what he wants to reject. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"Do you believe in part of the book and reject part of it? And what is the reward of those who do so, except humiliation in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent to the most dreadful doom."
This is one aspect that the Muslims must be aware of. Although it is not the same as the complete refusal to accept the truth, by rejecting part of the truth that has come from Allah, one also negates his testimony of faith. Unfortunately, many Muslims are doing this nowadays in various ways. Although not all of these forms may necessarily be considered apostasy, they are still very dangerous. For example, if they do not like what is stated in a verse in the Qur'an, they simply reinterpret the verse according to their liking. If they do not like what is stated in a hadeeth, they simply state that the hadeeth must not be authentic although they are not scholars in that area. This kind of behavior is the antithesis of the behavior of the true Muslims. Whatever comes from Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), the true Muslim believes in as the truth. This goes hand in hand with their testimony of faith
SUBMISSION and COMPLIANCE (Inqiyad
This implies the actual physical enactment with our deeds of our shahadah. In fact, this is one of the main meanings of the word Islam itself, "the submission to the will and commands of Allah." This is what Allah commands in the Qur'an,
"Turn unto Him repentant, and surrender unto Him" (al-Zumar: 54).
Allah has praised those who submit to His command by their actions. Allah says,
"Who is better in religion than he who surrenders his purpose to Allah while doing good" (al-Nisa: 125).
Actually, Allah has clearly made it a condition of faith that one submits to the command of Allah and His messenger. Allah says,
"But nay, by your Lord, they will not truly believe until they make you [the Messenger of Allah] judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of which you decide, and submit with full submission" (al-Nisa: 65)
Unfortunately, there are many that claim that there is no relationship between faith and deeds. You can even hear one Muslim saying about another, "That is the best Muslim I have ever met," yet the other person performs scarcely any of the deeds of Islam whatsoever. This incorrect understanding of faith has spread throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, our shahadah or testimony of faith must be implemented or realized in our hearts, tongues and actions. In our hearts, we must have love for Allah, fear Allah and hope in Him. With our tongues we must testify to the shahadah. And with our actions, we must implement what the testimony of faith requires from us.
Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and yet does no deeds, either does not understand Islam whatsoever or is bearing testimony against himself that his testimony of faith is not a true and correct testimony of faith. This does not mean that the true believer never commits a sin. Indeed, true believers do commit sins, but as long as they recognize that what they did is not correct and it is inconsistent with their obligation of submitting to Allah, then they have not violated the soundness of their testimony or shahadah. But do not forget they are still sinners. And what is the minimum of submission that is required from a person beyond whom there can be no claim to faith? For those scholars who say that the abandonment of prayers is infidelity, it is the five daily prayers. Whoever does not perform, at least, the five daily prayers have gone beyond the limit that is acceptable for lack of deeds. Allah knows best