All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon Mohammad, His last messenger.
The purpose of this hand-out is to correct a false idea spread among those willing to adopt Islam as their faith. Some people have a wrong notion that entering into the Islamic fold requires an announcement from the concerned person in the presence of high ranking scholars or shaikhs or reporting this act to courts of justice or other authorities. It is also thought that the act of accepting Islam, should, as a condition, have a certificate issued by the authorities, as evidence to that effect.
We wish to clarify that the whole matter is very easy and that none of these conditions or obligations are required. For Allah, Almighty, is above all comprehension and knows well the secrets of all hearts. Nevertheless, those who are going to adopt Islam as their religion are advised to register themselves as Muslims with the concerned governmental agency, as this procedure may facilitate for them many matters including the possibility of performing Hadj (Pilgrimage) and Umrah.
If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion ordained by Allah for all human-beings, then, one should pronounce the "Shahada", the testimony of faith, without further delay. The Holy Qur'an is explicit on this regard as Allah states:
"The Religion in the sight of Allah is Islam." (Qur'an 3:19)
In another verse of the Holy Qur'an, Allah states:
"If unyone desires a religion other than Islam (Submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the hell fire)."(Qur'an 3:85)
In addition, Islam is the only religion prevailing over all other religions. Allah states in the Holy Qur'an:
"To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety:..." (Qur'an 5:48)
Mohammad, the Prophet of Allah (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him), said:
"The superstructure of Islam is raised on five (pillars): testifying that there is no God (none truely to be worshiped) but Allah, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah, performing the prayer, paying the Zakah (poor-due), fasting the month of Ramadan, and performing Hadj".
The Declaration of the Testimony (Shahada)
The Shahada can be declared as follows:
"ASH-HADU ANLA ELAHA ILLA-ALLAH WA ASH-HADU ANNA MOHAMMADAN RASUL-ALLAH".
The English translation is:
"I bear witness that there is no deity (none truely to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah",
However, it would not be sufficient for anyone to only utter this testimony oraly either in private or in public; but rather, he should believe in it by heart with a firm conviction and unshakeable faith. If one is truly sincere and complies with the teachings of Islam in all his life, he will find himself a new born person.
This will move him to strive more and more to improve his character and draw nearer to perfection. The light of the living faith will fill his heart until he becomes the embodiment of that faith.
What would be next after declaring oneself a Muslim? One should then know the real concept underlying this testimony which means the Oneness of Allah and meet its requirements. One must behave accordingly, applying this true faith to every thing one speaks or does.
What do the words of the "Shahada" signify? The significant point which every Muslim must know very well is the truth that there is no God (deity) to be worshipped other than Allah. He - glory be to Him - is the only true God, Who alone deserves to be worshipped, since He is the Giver of life and Sustainer and Nourisher of mankind and all creation with His unlimited bounties. Man must worship Allah, Who alone is worthy of worship.
The second part of the Shahada (i.e., Wa ash-hadu anna Mohammadan rasul-Allah) means that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the servant and chosen messenger of Allah. No one must have two opinions about this matter. In fact the Muslim has to obey the commands of the Prophet (PBUH), to believe him in what he has said, to practice his teachings, to avoid what he has forbidden, and to worship Allah alone according to the message revealed to him, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by Allah.
What is the meaning of worship? It simply means rendering sincere service, showing reverence for Allah. In a deeper shade of meaning, it implies total submission and complete obedience to Allah's commandments both in utterances and actions of man whether explicit or implicit.
Worship fall into two categories:
1. Visible (manifest or outward)
2. Invisible (concealed or inward)
Visible worship includes acts such as uttering the two parts of the "Shahada", performing prayers, giving Zakah (the poor-due), recitation of the Holy Qur'an, supplication, adoring Allah by praising Him, purifying our bodies before prayers, etc.
This type of worship is associated with movement of the parts of the human body.
Invisible worship is to believe in Allah, in the Day of Judgement (in the Hereafter), in the Angels, in the Books of Allah, in the Prophets of Allah, in the Divine Decree of destiny (that good and bad are determined by Allah alone).
This type of worship does not involve movement of parts of the body but it surely has bearing on one's heart which subsequently affects one's way of life.
It should be borne in mind that any worship not dedicated to Allah alone will be rejected as one form of polytheism and this causes apostasy from the Islamic fold.
The next step for a newly revert to Islam is to purify himself by taking a complete bath. He should then resolve to comply with the principles and rules of Islam in their entirety. He should disown all forms of polytheism and false beliefs. He should reject evil and be righteous. Such rejection of evil and being righteous is one of the equisites of the motto of Islam - that is, Laa Ilaha Illallah.
Allah states in the Holy Qur'an:
"... whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy Hand-hold, that never breaks..." (Qur'an 2:256).
We have to consider that when we declare from our heart that "there is no god (deity) worthy to be worshipped but Allah", it implies on our part love, devotion, faith and obedience to the rules of Islamic legislations which are legally binding on all Muslims. It is a requirement of "there is no god worthy to be worshipped but Allah" to love for the sake of Allah and to reject for the sake of Allah.
This is the firmest anchor of belief which materialise the meaning of "AL WALA" and "AL BARA". It means that a Muslim should love and be loyal to his Muslim brothers. He should, as a practice, dissociate himself completely from the unbelievers and refuse to be influenced by them, both in worldly and religious matters.
We conclude with a humble prayer to Allah that may He cleanse the hearts and souls of those who are genuine seekers of truth and may He bless the community of believers. Aameen.