Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Meaning and Strict Conditions of La illa ha ill lal la Muhammad ar Rasulullah

Today if you ask a Muslim what is Islam? You may get several answers, some will be right, others wrong and a few may even be strange, depending on which Muslim or country the person belongs to. However, most Muslims will agree on some basic principles known to many of us the five pillars of Islam.

The first pillar, known as Shahadatan, is the most important. It is generally what separates a Muslim from a Non Muslim and is made up of two statements, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’.

The statements or declarations are simple enough to say and accept for Muslims in general but are actually based on conditions that determine if the person is truly sincere or not in the eyes of Allah.

The Shahadatan has two sections, the first section, La illa ha ill lal la, which literally means, ‘there is no god except Allah’. However, the deeper meaning is to say nothing or no one that deserves to be worshipped other than Allah alone.

This shows that there are many gods worshipped by others in this World. The Hindus have many gods, the Christians have their gods and the Zoroastrians have their gods but all of them are not worthy of worship.

Most Muslims may not be aware there are as many as 13 conditions to the above statement, eight for the first section, La illa ha ill lal la and five for the second section, Muhammad ar Rasulullah.

The first eight conditions are: knowledge, certainty, sincerity, truthfulness, love, submission, acceptance and disbelief for the opening part of the section.

The next five conditions for the second section relate to the Prophethood of Muhammad Ibn Abdullah as the last Messenger of Allah are: Allah knows best, infallibility, universality, completeness and finality.

La illa ha ill lal la

The first condition is knowledge of Allah. This is based on the following-

“Know that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah.”
(Qur’an, Surah 47: 19)

The Prophet Muhammad also said, ‘Whoever dies knowing that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah will enter Paradise.’
(Sahih Muslim, Volume 1: Hadith 19)

If someone says they believe in and worship Allah alone but visit graves or shrines and pray to the dead for guidance then their knowledge of Allah is incorrect. Only Allah can answer a person’s prayers.

Similarly if a person gives someone or something qualities or titles that only Allah deserves, such as ‘Judge of the Day of Decision’ to Jesus like the Christians do then again the person has a distorted and wrong interpretation of true knowledge of Allah.

The second condition is certainty, meaning the Muslim has no doubt in his or her mind about Allah as being the One true God and does not share his power with anyone else including all human beings.

This is based on the following-

“The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, then do not have any wavering or doubt.”
(Qur’an, Surah 49: 15)

The Prophet also said, ‘Whoever bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, and meets Allah having no doubt in this, then Allah will put him in Paradise.’
(Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4: Hadith 496)

The third condition is sincerity. Everything a Muslim does in Islam must be done sincerely for Allah and not for anyone or anything else. Any action or belief, even if it is a part of Islam, to achieve a Worldly goal or reward other than Allah makes the person insincere.

A person may for example accept he or she has to pray, but only do so to show off he is a good Muslim, this is a form of minor shirk and can ruin a person’s Islam. Another person might embrace Islam because he wants to marry a Muslim sister and this is the only way she will accept to become his wife.

This is based on the following-

“Sincerity in religion is for Allah alone.”
(Qur’an, Surah 39: 3)

“They were not ordered except to worship Allah sincerely, making all religion for Him alone.”
(Qur’an, Surah 98: 5)

The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘The person who will be most pleased with my intercession is the one who says, ‘none has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ sincerely from his heart.
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1: Hadith 98)

The fourth condition is truthfulness.

Truthfulness is similar to sincerity. Someone can be truthful but still insincere. He or she may say something he believes in but say it for the wrong reason and also not always be committed to the truth.

Someone may for example, always pray, fast and observe all the basic rituals of Islam among friends and family, but perhaps abandon them when he or she travels to a Non Muslim country where no one else performs them.

This may be either because he will feel left out or simply chooses to do them again when he is with other Muslims again. A true Muslim will continue to worship Allah wherever he or she is, even if everyone around him/her isn’t.

This is based on the following-

“Did people honestly think that they would be left alone to say, ‘we believe’ and not be tested. Indeed I tested those who came before them. Allah will know who are truthful and who are liars”.
(Qur’an, Surah 29: 2-3

The Prophet said, ‘Whoever bears witness, truthfully from his heart, that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, without fail, Allah will make Hell forbidden for him.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1: Hadith 130)

The fifth condition is love of Allah. This love is unconditional, full and complete above all and everyone else towards Allah. That is we should love Allah more than our parents, siblings and close friends.

This is based on the following-

“The believers love Allah more than all else.”
(Qur’an, Surah 2: 165)

The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘If a person has the following three qualities, he will taste the sweetness of faith: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else.’
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1: Hadith 15)

The sixth condition is submission (also known as obedience) which follows on from love of Allah. The ability to accept and act on the instructions given by the Creator. To lead their life in accordance to the Divine Will and not on your own desires, feelings and opinions.

Submission to Allah follows that Muslims believe what Allah asks the believer to observe is good and positive and what Allah prohibits is naturally wrong and has more harm within it.

Even when we don’t understand why something is good or bad, the Muslim accepts that Allah only desires good for us and knows better. We leave all doubts and inhibitions behind with complete trust in Allah knowing that there are reasons and justifications to anything He does, while our own actions and opinions are more likely to be based on feelings and short term goals.

This is based on the following-

“And return to your Lord [in repentance] and submit to Him.”
(Qur’an, Surah 39: 54)

“Who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while doing good.”
(Qur’an, Surah 4: 125)

The seventh condition is acceptance, which is an addition to complete submission. A person may submit to Allah’s Commands because they feel they have to and for others only until they feel they don’t have to anymore or disagree it is necessary.

Some Muslim women in countries like Saudi Arabia for example may wear the Hijab because the law forces them to, but their Hijab may be quite colourful, tight fitted and attractive to see, which negates the purpose of it.

Other women may like the Hijab, but like western dress better and some women may even think the Hijab is ugly and unnecessary, but still wear it because they live in a Muslim country. Full acceptance is to believe that only what Allah commands is the best guidance and everything else is nothing in comparison.

This is based on the following-

“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.”
(Qur’an, Surah 33: 36)

“They can have no [real] faith, until they make you [Muhammad] judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest convictions.”
(Qur’an, Surah 4: 65)

The Prophet said, ‘Indeed the divine guidance and knowledge that Allah sent me with is like abundant rain which fell on land. Some of the land was pure and clean and accepted the water, so from it grew much vegetation… And some of the water reached a wasteland, which could hold no water nor grow plants.

This is the example of one who was given understanding of the religion and benefited from what Allah has sent me with so he studied and attained knowledge. And (the other parable is) the example of one who does not lift his head toward it nor accept Allah’s guidance with which I was sent.’
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1: Hadith 79 and Sahih Muslim, Volume 4: Hadith 5668)

Complete acceptance means lasting preservation of the law of Allah since it is deeply attached to the hearts of the believers with an understanding of why it is there and as such is not just submission to rules and regulations. Without complete acceptance, rebellion against the law of Allah will happen.

The eighth and final condition of the first section of the Shahadatan is disbelief (also known as rejection). This means that to accept Allah as worthy of worship one must also disbelieve in all things that are worshipped other than Him.

This is based on the following-

“Whoever disbelieves in false gods [Taghuut] and believes in Allah has indeed firmly grasped a trustworthy handhold.”
(Qur’an, Surah 2: 256)

The Prophet said, ‘Allah has made inviolable the wealth and blood of whoever says, ‘La ilaha illallah and disbelieves in anything worshipped besides Allah; and his reckoning will be with Allah’.
(Sahih Muslim, Volume 1: Hadith 34)

The first declaration is a statement of negation and one of affirmation. The negation, La ilaha, is a declaration that all things or gods worshipped other than Allah are false and wrong and the Muslim rejects all of them.

This is necessary to show that a Muslim believes in one god but doesn’t give equal or lesser preference to smaller gods as well. The Christians for example say they believe in one god, but say that Jesus is the Son of Allah and a god himself along with the Holy Spirit, that makes a total of three gods.

The second declaration, ill lal la, is an affirmation or confirmation that there is only one God alone, Allah, worthy of being worshipped.

The words, Muhammad ar Rasulullah, appear in the second section of La illah ha ill lal la. After speaking about Allah, it follows the next statement is about His Divine Representative and example to the human race.

Like the first section, there are also conditions set to the statement, ‘Muhammad ar Rasulullah’ as well. They are five conditions in total.

The first is, ‘Allah knows best’. This means Allah is aware of who to select as His Prophets, His Messengers from among mankind and when to send them better than His Creation and He is above our criticism and cross examination of those whom He selected.

This is supported by the following-

“Allah knows best with whom to place His Message.”
(Qur’an, Surah 6: 124)

Allah also says about Himself-

“He is not questioned about what He does, for it is they who will be questioned.”
(Qur’an, Surah 21: 23)

The second condition is infallibility. Here some points should be mentioned. The believer accepts the Prophet was infallible in the delivery, dissemination and example of the message as instructed to him by Allah.

This quality of infallibility is not unique to the Prophet Muhammad as all Prophets and Messengers before him also shared this quality. Infallibility in a Prophet further means Allah corrected an error made by His Representatives and each mistake would be used to teach and educate followers and later generations as a form of moral guidance since each Prophet was a personal example to mankind.

The Prophet was not however infallible in a total sense, this is to say he was a human being nevertheless and made mistakes, he could not see the future except where Allah informed him and endured the same trials, problems and issues all human beings do.

This is supported by the following-

“Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a revelation revealed.”
(Qur’an, Surah 53: 3-4)

The Prophet said, ‘When I issue any command to you regarding your religion, accept it, but when I issue any command to you based on my opinion, I am merely a human being.’
(Sahih Muslim, Volume 4: Hadith 5831)

The third condition is universality. It is a necessary belief that Muhammad was sent to all of mankind and for all time. He was not a Messenger only for the Arabs or for the Seventh Century alone, but the Prophet for the entire World and for all creation.

This is supported by-

“O Mankind, I am the Messenger of Allah to you all.”
(Qur’an, Surah 7: 158)

The fourth condition is completeness. This is to say, it was total. He conveyed what was taught to him and was required for him to preach to humanity. The Prophet did not add, amend or delete any part of the message he was sent and entrusted with. There are no latent or secret rituals he spoke about but did not fulfil and he did not reveal part of the message to some and not to others.

This is supported by the following-

“O Messenger! Convey whatever is revealed to you from your Lord.”
(Qur’an, Surah 5: 67)

The Prophet said, ‘I have left you a shining path; as clear by night as it is by day. Anyone who deviates from it, heads into destruction.’
(Sunan Ibn Majah, Volume 1: Hadith 40)

Aisha said, ‘Whoever claims that the Prophet did not convey the message the whole message (publicly) is a liar.’
(Sahih Muslim, Volume 1: Hadith 337)

The fifth condition is Finality.

If a message is complete, uncorrupted, refined and perfect and the Messenger of the Message himself an epitomisation of flawlessness in every sense and is universal in the delivery of it then it follows, he is also the last and greatest of God’s Prophets and Messengers.

It also means he is the closure or penultimate receiver of divine revelation and what is sent to him is also the seal of scriptural honour and is above all sacred books, pages, parchments and epistles before it.

Since the Message he preached contained a new law. The Commands, Prohibitions, Regulations, Legislation and Practical Guidance is further the best and greatest of God’s Holy Constitution to mankind and supersedes all previous law including Old Testament Cannon Law (Jewish law) and Messianic/Christian law based loosely on Moses and Jesus respectively.

This is based on the following-

“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets.”
(Qur’an, Surah 33: 40)

A few points are necessary here. A Messenger of Allah is the Custodian of a new law from God, a political leader, a Head of State, a lasting moral and spiritual patriarch of a community and fountainhead of excellence and perfection above all men and women of their respective generations and beyond.

A Prophet is of a lower rank and while all Messengers of Allah are Prophets by default, the reverse is not true. Prophets like Yahya and Zakariyya followed the Mosaic law and were spiritual guides alone. Some Prophets were entrusted with scripture, superior military skill and kingship but remained Prophets nonetheless like Dawud.

The Prophet Muhammad was a mortal and passed away like everyone else before him but left behind two gems; one is the Qur’an and the other are his sayings, teachings, narrations, moral guidance, legislation and personal example which are collectively known as the Sunnah.

The first is the impeccable Word of God and unassailable record of universal guidance for humanity from God for permanent security, peace, justice, goodness and rectitude.

The second are an immortalised record of the greatest legacy, functional responsibility, virtue, wisdom, honour, trust, stability, equality, liberalisation, innovation and intelligence potent and possible within a human being.

As someone who was not divine himself, the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, is open to the same scrutiny as any created being. However, as a human being he was the first to follow it by example and illustrate its practical and pragmatic guidance and preach it for others to also take it as their code of conduct, ethics and morality.

Principles of Action

If all the above are followed, then a four actions are necessary to display the believer’s spiritual trust in illustrating his or her loyalty to the Messenger of Allah. They are Belief, Obedience, Avoidance and Following.

Belief is the essence of revelation. The believer accepts the Messenger of Allah received true revelation from Allah and informed his followers of what was revealed to him. In this manner, whatever he said or did in the context of religion, was either direct revelation or was guided by revelation.

Obedience means submission to the commands, prohibitions, recommendations, principles and actions the Prophet legislated. Obedience to the Prophet is unconditional as his instructions are from Allah and his position as an apostle and lawgiver.

This is supported by the following-

“Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah”.
(Qur’an, Surah 4: 80)

The Prophet said, ‘All of my nation will enter Paradise except those who refuse’. When his companions asked, ‘Who will refuse?’ He replied, ‘Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me, has refused.’
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9: Hadith 384)

“Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority over you.”
(Qur’an, Surah 4: 59)

The verb ‘obey’ is mentioned twice. Both are for unconditional obedience; the first is to Allah, the Creator and the second is to His Messenger, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, whereas the same verb is omitted in reference to ‘those in authority over you.’

‘Those in authority over you’ are not receivers of divine scripture or given legal and spiritual vice regency to rule as the Messenger was and as such are not protected from error in the same sense or entitled to correction by revelation.

‘Those in authority’ refers to Heads of State in a political sense, Scholars in the matters of religion, Judges in the legal sense and all others in a lesser role given or appointed in the hierarchy of leadership in a society over the common people.

This is supported by the following-

“No obedience is due to creation if it involves disobedience to the Creator.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9: Hadith 363 and Sahih Muslim, Volume 3: Hadith 4535)

This means the rectitude and moral high ground expected of a believer is by default required on a more advanced level to those in more senior positions than the common Muslim.

This is especially true since those in authority will legislate, implement and interpret Shariah law in the context of their respective positions and exercise their legal and spiritual jurisdiction based on these maxims alone.

Where legislation, commands and prohibitions of those in authority are in conflict with the divine law, there is a compulsion to obey the supreme ruler (Allah) and not the appointed ruler (a human being) where necessary. This is to say obedience is still due on those things or matters those in authority are not in breach of the divine law.

In principle, ‘those in authority’, should be ‘Imams’ first, who lead the laity in Prayer in the chief mosque of the capital with regularity, and be political rulers, a poor second. In this manner, the supreme sovereignty of spiritual law alone prevents political manipulation and alienation of theological foundations.

This is necessary first to consolidate the functional stability of the State with Shariah law as its primary source of constitutional guidance from within and second to safeguard its frontiers from Non Islamic and secular ideologies and opponents from outside.

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