Article ☁ A Vow in One “Word” ~ A Way of Life and Death




Ash-Shahaadah in Purple

أشْهَدُ أَنْ لا إِلهَ إِلاّ الله وَأشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ الله

 I Bear Witness There is No God but Allâh and I Bear Witness Muhammad is the Messenger of Allâh


Kalimat Ash-Shahâdah, ‘the word of testimony’, is easy to utter with its pleasing flow of Arabic words, and easy to fall in love with.

It’a a potently concise one-sentence declaration that’s dulcet to hear and sweetens our tongues, enlightens our minds, enfolds around our hearts permeating them with warm love outshining any other, scents our body and beautifies our soul with undivided surrender to Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

It’s declaring,

I bear witness therefore I submit, and I live and die in complete submission to that testament.

That’s the effect the shahâdah is supposed to have on us.



Shahâdah (شَهادة), ‘witnessing’ or ‘testifying the truth’, etymologically derives from the Arabic root word shahida (شَهِدَ), ‘to witness’ or ‘to observe’.

Appreciating the root of the word, its emphasis in Islâm becomes that much more significant, as follows.

Professing the shahâdah isn’t only a proclamation; it’s accepting without demur that Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى is The One and Only God and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is His last messenger.

Fundamentally, it’s avowing to follow the word of Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى in its entirety and the teachings of The Prophet ﷺ.

It’s a perfect and intricate word intrinsic in delineating what Islâm is with a cornucopia of beautiful layers to its meaning.

It’s the first article of Islâm and so much more.

The declaration of the shahâdah connotes and denotes so many explicit and implicit profound messages.



Remarkably, and beautifully, shahâdah also means martyrdom, a valuable correlation and an insightful connexion that gets to the crux of what martyrdom in Islâm truly signifies, clarifying the concept in its purest form.

You can’t have one without the other.

To explicate further, only after grasping what lies behind the Arabic word lexically, logically and intellectually, can we begin to understand what it means to be a shahīd (شَهيد), ‘martyr’.

The simple fact the way we must live our lives solely on the premise of that testament, and that it should be our last whisperings before we leave this world to the next, is symptomatic of what it means to desire martyrdom.

It’s not for any worldly or heavenly gain; martyrdom is only for one intention: the shahâdah.

It’s incumbent upon us not to lose the spirit of martyrdom and glorify what’s sometimes an illusion. Even more than that, we need to appreciate how one poignantly powerful word binds and symbolises two essential elements for a Muslim to live and die by.



Believing in the first pillar implies what we see, hear and say, how we act, connect and dress, is for the sake of The One and Only God, and for our respect for the ways of His last messenger ﷺ.

It’s KNOWING Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى.

It’s clearly, consciously, conscientiously and precisely understanding, embracing and embedding TAWHEED firmly in our hearts.

It’s praising Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى and being grateful to Him سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى constantly and consistently for no other reason than HE IS WORTHY OF PRAISE – simply think about what we take for granted: the gift of breath and a beating heart, the miracle of His Holy Book and miracles of His creation, bestowing infinite bounties and blessings upon us, granting us free-will, choice and an intellect, mercifully gracing us with limitless tests and signs to heal our hearts for alignment, balance and betterment, and so much more.

It means absolute obedience to Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى with our all – time, health, energy, earnings, knowledge; in deeds, body, senses, mind, heart and soul – and to the wisdom of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ.

It’s surrendering to Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى by complying with His word,

{قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ}

{Say, [O Muhammad], ‘If you should love Allâh, then follow me, and Allâh will love you and forgive your sins for Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’}


through His messenger, the complete man, the paragon of character, whom Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى chose to seal His religion.

Truly attesting the shahâdah is making a promise to Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى Islâm is the way of life, we live and die for Him, for us to be under the shade with His Prophet ﷺ on the Day of Judgement and in his company in paradise.

We’re saying, above our love for ourselves and before our love for others, we love Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى first,

{وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ ۗ }

{And those who believe

are stronger in love for Allâh}


And, Prophet Muhammad second,

’Umar bin Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه addressed The Prophet ﷺ, Messenger of Allâh, you are dearer to me than everything except myself. Thereupon The Prophet ﷺ said, By the One in whose hand is my life, your faith will not be complete until I become dearer to you than your own self.

Upon reflection and with the realisation his life would not be complete in this world and the next without The Prophet ﷺ, ‘Umar رضي الله عنه  responded, You are now dearer to me than my own self. The Prophet ﷺ replied, Now ‘Umar, your faith is complete.

The shahâdah is the essence and meaning of Islâm, SUBMISSION, and what we aspire as Muslims to achieve in this world by doing with awareness and intention our utmost to please Allâh سُبْحانَهُ وَتَعالَى for us to return to Him with Him content with us inshâ’Allâh.

The shahâdah is more than a few words we murmur; it’s our breathings, our way of life, and death.

It is Islâm.

*       *       *

In the Words of Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ,

Three traits, whoever possesses them shall experience the sweetness of imân (faith): To love Allâh and His Messenger more than anyone else; to love a man only for the sake of Allâh; and to hate to return to infidelity after Allâh has delivered him from it as much as he hates to be thrown into fire.


WRITTEN: Tuesday, 2nd July 2013

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