The Testimony of Faith (Shahada)
The core of the religion of Islam is the attestation to two phrases:
(i) La ilaha illa Allah (meaning 'There is no god rightfully worshipped except Allah')
(ii) Muhammad rasoolu Allah (meaning 'Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah')
These two phrases are known as the shahadah, or Testimony of Faith. Through the belief and attestation of these two phrases one enters the fold of Islam. It is the central belief that a believer maintains throughout his life, and is the basis for all his beliefs, worship and existence in this world.
Every Muslim, including someone new to Islam, has to understand the meanings of these two phrases, and try to live his life accordingly.This Testimony is by far the most important aspect of the religion of Islam, upon which the whole religion is built. Islam is the only true monotheistic religion, stressing that no worship should be directed to any other except Allah. It is a way of life in which a person obeys and worships the orders of Allah and none else.
This Testimony of Faith (shahadah) reminds us of our purpose in life, which is the worship of Allah alone. Allah says in the Quran:
"And I have not created neither jinn nor humans, except to worship Me Alone." (Quran 51:56)
Exactly What is The Quran?
The Quran is the literal, spoken Word of Allah revealed to the last Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel, the Angel of Revelation, transmitted to us by numerous channels, both verbally and in written form. Inimitable and unique, it is divinely protected from corruption. God says:
'Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [i.e., The Qur'an] and indeed, We will be its guardian.' (Quran 15:9)
The Basics: The first thing for a beginner to understand about the Quran is its form. The Arabic word, 'Quran,' literally means both 'recitation' and 'reading'. Similarly, the Quran was both recited orally and written down in book form. The true power of the Quran remains in the oral recitation, as it is meant to be read aloud and melodiously, but still the verses were written down on available materials as an aid to memorizing and guarding it, and these were collected and arranged in book form both privately and, at a later stage, institutionally. The Quran was not meant to tell a chronological story, and thus, the Quran should not be viewed as a sequential narrative like the book of Genesis.
The Names and Attributes of Allah
Allah has described Himself in the Quran through His Names and Attributes. Muslims believe that studying these Names and Attributes is one of the most effective ways of strengthening one's relationship with God. Each Name and Attribute nourishes a kind of consciousness and humility in man and their study leads one to constantly better their actions.
وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا ۖ
The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them.
[Surah Al-A'raf 7:180]
Muslims are asked to call upon God during their supplications by the most appropriate names that relate to
what they are asking for. For example, if one is seeking forgiveness from God for a sin they have committed, they would call upon Him by His name "Al-Ghaffar," meaning "The Ever Forgiving." If one is asking for peace and tranquility in their life while experiencing a period of tension, they would call on God by His name "As-Salaam," meaning, "The Source of Peace."
The table below captures an approximate translation of a selection of Allah's names as found in the Quran. We have chosen to provide some commentary on His names relating to Mercy. However, each of the names listed could be the subject of its own article.
Where Is Allah?
The Merciful Creator describes Himself in the Quran, and the Prophet has described His Lord in the Sunnah, because human intellect is limited and cannot fathom the limitless scope of the divine. Allah tells us what is necessary for us to know about Himself, helping to prevent confusion about His being, actions and location. After all, how can we love someone we do not know? Therefore, the Quran and Sunnah tell us everything we need to know in order to worship our Creator.
Meaning and Significance: The divine attribute 'Uluw' (highness or transcendence) means Allah is above His creation, and nothing is above Him. He is neither within His creation, nor part of His creation. Creation cannot encompass Him. The Creator is completely separate and distinct from His creation.
Before Islam, Hindus believed God resided in animals, human beings and countless idols. The Jewish scripture stated that God came to earth in the form of a man and wrestled with Prophet Joseph who defeated Him (Genesis 32:24-30). Christians have claimed that God became flesh and came down to earth in the form of a man to be crucified. Some heretics also brought such ideas into Islam. For example, Hallaj, a deranged mystic, openly claimed he and Allah were one. These deviant ideas have become so widespread that if someone were to ask many Muslims today, ‘Where is Allah?’ they will say that He is everywhere.
The main danger of this thought is that it opens the door to the worship of creation. If God is everywhere, it means He is in His creation. If that is true, then why not worship the creation itself? It becomes especially easy for people to start saying God is in their own souls and accept worship. Countless kings, ordinary individuals like the Pharaohs of Egypt and Jesus were so worshipped, though Jesus (peace be upon him) did not accept being worshipped by his followers.
Five Pillars of Islam
These are the foundation of Muslim life and Muslims are required to observe them with utmost devotion. Just like a building lacks stability without strong pillars, a believer's relationship with God lacks focus without observance of the five pillars. These pillars form the foundation and starting point for all other good deeds and acts of worship to God.
1.Faith or belief in the Oneness of God (Allah) and the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad ( peace be upon him).
2.Establishment of the 5 daily prayers.
3.Concern and charity to the needy.
4.Self-purification through fasting in the month of Ramadan.
5.The pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able.
1.Faith : The first pillar is to testify that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final messenger. This is in fact is the essence of Islam.This declaration of faith is called the Shahadah, meaning testimony, a simple formula that all the faithful pronounce. The significance of this declaration is the belief that the only purpose of life is to serve and obey God, and this is achieved through the teachings and practices of the final Prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him.