Shahada

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This article is about the Islamic creed. For other uses, see Shahada (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Shahid. ‹See Tfd›

The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادةaš-šahādah About this sound audio  "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:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh
"There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God."[1]

In Twelver Shia Islam, the creed is expanded with the addition of a phrase concerning Ali:

وعليٌ وليُّ الله
wa ʿalīyyun walīyyu-llāh
"and Ali is the wali ("friend", "viceregent") of God".[citation needed]

Terminology[edit]

The noun shahādah (شَهادة) translates to "testimony", in legal contexts, shahādah is a testimony to the occurrence of events, such as debt, adultery, or divorce.[2] from the verbal root šahida (شَهِدَ) meaning "to observe, witness, testify"; 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 a another meaning, šahādah or more commonly istišhād (إسْتِشْهادْ), means "martyrdom". The noun šahīd (شَهيد) may means "martyr".[3] This usage parallels Christian terminology (marturos being the Greek term for "witness") and predates Islam, derived from usage among early Arab Christians, who used the term šahīd in the sense of "martyr" in Late Antiquity.

Origin[edit]

Photo of a variation of the shahādah at Bab al-Futuh/Bab al-Nasr Fatimid Cairo with the phrase ʿalī walī allāh.
A mancus gold dinar of king Offa of Mercia, copied from the dinars of the Abbasid Caliphate (774); probably unintentionally, it still includes the Arabic text "Muhammad is the Apostle of God".
Qiblah of Imam Mustansir in the Mosque of Ibn Tulun of Cairo showing the Shi'i Kalima.

The tahlila (the phrase ) is Quranic. Among other places, it occurs in the so-called Kalimah Shahadah, which reads

أَشْهَدُ أنْ لا إلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيْكَ لَهُ وَأشْهَدُ أنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
Ašhadu an lā ilāha illā-llāh waḥdahu lā šarīka lahu, wa ašhadu anna muḥammadan ʿabduhu wa rasūluhu.
"I bear witness that (there is) no god except Allah; One is He, no partner hath He, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger."

The shahada itself is thus a shortened version of the quranic Kalimah Shahadah; it seems to have been in use by the beginning of the 8th century, based on the occurrence of an exact Greek translation in a papyrus dated to the reign of al-Walid I (86–96 AH, 705–715 CE): Ούκ Έστιν θεός εἰ μὴ ὁ θεὸς μόνος, Μααμετ ἀπόστολος θεοῦ (Ouk estin theos ei mē ho theos monos; Maamet apostolos theou).[4] (note that the Arabic Allah is rendered literally as "the god" (ὁ θεὸς) in Greek. Later in the 8th century the shahada appears on coins minted by the Abbasid Caliphate .

A variation of the shahādah can be found at Bab al-Futuh built by the Fatimid minister Al-Afdal Shahanshah (952-975 A.D.), northern wall of Fatimid Cairo. It reads: bismi -llāhi -r-rahmāni -r-rahīm lā ʾilāha ʾilā -llāh waḥdahu lā sharīk lahu muḥammad rasūlu -llāh ʿalī walī allāh (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له محمد رسول الله علي ولي الله "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").

Recitation[edit]

audio recording of the shahada
prefaced by the phrase ašhadu ʾan "I testify, that"

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Recitation of the shahādah, the "oath" or "testimony", is the most important article of faith for Muslims. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of this creed.[5] Most Muslims count it 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.[6]

According to most traditional schools (madh'hab), three honest recitations of the shahadah in Arabic is all that is required for a person to convert to Islam. In usage, the two occurrences of ašhadu ʾanna or similar (اشهد أن "I testify that" or "I bear witness that") are very often omitted. The recitation of the shahadah needs to be made in the presence of an Imaam and other people as witnesses.[7]

Muslims believe that recitation of the shahadah is without value unless it is earnest. Islamic scholars have therefore developed, based on the data of the Quran and hadith, essential criteria for an expression of the shahadah to be in earnest. These criteria are generally divided into seven to nine groups; the varying numbers and orderings are not due to disagreements about what the criteria actually are, but rather different ways of dividing them.[8][unreliable source?]

One such list of seven critical conditions of the shahadah, without which it is considered to be meaningless, are as follows:[citation needed].

  • Al-ʿIlm (العلم): Knowledge of the meaning of the Shahadah, its negation and affirmation.
  • Al-Yaqīn (اليقين): Certainty; perfect knowledge of it that counteracts suspicion and doubt.
  • Al-Ikhlāṣ (الإخلاص): Sincerity, to negate shirk.
  • Aṣ-Ṣidq (الصدق): Truthfulness, that permits neither falsehood nor hypocrisy.
  • Al-Maḥabbah (المحبة): Love of the Shahadah and its meaning, and being happy with it.
  • Al-Inqiyād (الانقياد): Submission to its rightful requirements, which are the duties that must be performed with sincerity to God (alone).
  • Al-Qubūl (القبول): Acceptance that contradicts rejection.

The second part of the Shahada carries several conditions as well:

  • To believe in Muhammad and in whatever he said and conveyed in his message as the seal of the prophets.
  • To obey him in whatever he commanded.
  • To stay away from or avoid whatever he commanded Muslims not to do.
  • To follow or emulate him in ʿibādah (عبادة "worship"), ʾaḫlāq (أخلاق "manners") and way of life.
  • To understand, practice and promote his sunnah ("habits") as well as possible, without creating chaos, enmity or harm.[citation needed]

Use on flags[edit]

Further information: Islamic flags and Jihadist flag
Flag of the Idrisid Emirate of Asir (1906)

The shahada is frequently found on modern Islamic flags, representing political Islam and Jihadism. The Wahhabi religious movement used the shahada on their flags from the 18th century.[9] 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.[9] 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 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Arabic phrases and about Islam". essaouira.nu. 
  2. ^ The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Cyril hi tom Alta Mira Press, 2001, p. 416.
  3. ^ The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Volume IX, Klijkebrille, 1997, p. 201.
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ Farah (1994), p. 135
  6. ^ "Seeking the Straight Path: Reflections of a New Muslim". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  7. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/practices/shahadah.shtml
  8. ^ "9 Point Shahadah". Islamtomorrow.com. 2002-08-06. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  9. ^ a b Firefly Guide to Flags of the World. 2003. p. 165. ISBN 978-1552978139. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  10. ^ 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.

External links[edit]