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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, muhammadun rasūlu-llāh
- There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.
The noun shahādah (شَهادة) translates to "testimony", from the verbal root šahida (شَهِدَ) meaning "to observe, witness, testify"; in legal contexts, shahādah 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 shāhid ( شاهِد. The first statement of the shahada, lā ilāha illā-llāhu, is also known as the tahlīla.
In another meaning, shahādah or, more commonly, istišhād (إسْتِشْهادْ), means "martyrdom." The noun shahīd (شَهيد) may mean "martyr."
The tahlila (the phrase lā ilāha illā-llāh) is Quranic, but its combination with the additional "Muhammad is the messenger of God" is of uncertain origin. It seems to have been in use by the beginning of the 8th century, based on the occurrence in the fragment of a bilingual papyrus dated to the reign of al-Walid I (86–96 AH, 705–715 CE). In this document, the Greek is given first:
- Οὐκ ἔστιν [θεός εἰ μὴ ὁ θεὸς μόνος], Μααμε[τ ἀπόστολος θεοῦ]
- Ouk estin theos ei mē ho theos monos; Maamet apostolos theou,
followed by the Arabic equivalent.
- Ašhadu an lā ilāha illā-llāh waḥdahu lā šarīka lahu, wa ašhadu anna muḥammadan ʿabduhu wa rasūluhu.
- "I testify that (there is) no god except God; One is He, no partner has He, and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger."
This longer version is also known as the kalimat ash-shahādah ("word of testimony") and counted as the second of the Six Kalimas in modern Pakistani tradition.
This longer variant, i.e. inserting the claim that God is "alone, without partner", is also found in Arabic writing on the Anglo-Saxon gold dinar coined by Offa, copied from a non-extant Abbasid dinar dated AH 157 (AD 773/4), indicating that by that time this longer phrase had risen to the status of a kind of standard "creed". The coin faces read:
- obverse: lā ilāh illā-llāh waḥdah lā šarīk lahu
- reverse: muḥammad rasūl llāh; interspersed with the inscription OFFA REX.
- وعليٌ وليُّ الله
- wa ʿalīyyun walīyyu-llāh
- "and Ali is the wali ("friend", "viceregent") of God".
- لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له محمد رسول الله علي ولي الله
- bismi-llāhi-r-rahmāni-r-rahīm lā ʾilāha ʾilā -llāh waḥdahu lā sharīk lahu muḥammad rasūlu-llāh ʿalī walī allāh
- "In the name of God the Merciful the Compassionate, there is no god but God the One, no partner has he, Muhammad is the Messenger of God, Ali is the walī of God").
audio recording of the shahada
prefaced by the phrase ašhadu ʾan "I testify, that"
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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 connect it to their respective lists of pillars of the faith.[clarification needed] Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of this creed.
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.
Use on flags
The shahada is frequently found on modern 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. From this derives the modern flag of Saudi Arabia, introduced in 1973. The Flag of Somaliland (introduced in 1991, current design 1996) bases its design on the Saudi flag.
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.
Flag of Najd (1921)
The current flag of Saudi Arabia
Adopted by Al-Shabaab (2006).
The flag used by the Caucasus Emirate (2007)
The flag used by the Al-Nusra Front (2012)
- The shahadah is referenced in the eighth stanza of the Turkish national anthem (1921).
- Glossary of Islam
- List of Christian terms in Arabic
- Six Kalimas
- N Mohammad (1985), The doctrine of jihad: An introduction, Journal of Law and Religion, 3(2): 381-397
- The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Cyril hi tom Alta Mira Press, 2001, p. 416.
- The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume IX, Klijkebrille, 1997, p. 201.
- A. Grohmann, Arabic Papyri In The Egyptian Library, Volume I, 1934, Egyptian Library Press: Cairo, No. 2, pp. 10-11. "A Bilingual Papyrus Of A Protocol - Egyptian National Library Inv. No. 61, 86-96 AH / 705-715 CE". Islamic-awareness.org. 2005-12-20. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
- [page needed] islamweb.net: المستدرك على الصحيحين[clarification needed]
- Dīnār Minted By King Offa Full inscription:
- obverse field: lā-ilaha illā-llāh waḥdahu la sharīkalahu
- obverse margin: Muḥammadun rasūlu llāh arsalahu bi-l-huda wa dīn al-ḥaqq liyudhhiru ʿala al-dini kullahi wa-law karih-al-mushrikūn ("Muhhammad is the messenger of God whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He might make it prevail over all religions even if the associators are averse""
- reverse field: Muḥammad rasūlu llāh
- reverse margin: bismi llāhi ḍuriba hadhā al-dīnār fī sanat mi' khamsa wa sabaʿun "in the name of God, this dinar was struck in the year 157"
- "Seeking the Straight Path: Reflections of a New Muslim". Retrieved 2007-07-09.
- Farah (1994), p. 135
- "Explosions inside mall as stand-off nears end". The New Zealand Herald. Agence France-Presse. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013. To Associated Press, the al-Shabab called it "a meticulous vetting process ... to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar". Associated Press (26 September 2013). "Al-Shabab: foreigners in Kenya mall were 'legitimate target;' let Muslims leave after vetting". Washington Post.[dead link]
- Firefly Guide to Flags of the World. 2003. p. 165. ISBN 978-1552978139. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- 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.
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- "The First Pillar of Islam"
- "The Shahadah as Truth and as Way"
- "Arabic phrases and about Islam". essaouira.nu.