الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي جعل النطقَ بالشهادتين مفتاحَ الإسلام، والتصديقَ بهما الطريقَ الوحيدَ إلى الإيمان، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير،  ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدّى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر. قال الله تعالى في كتابه العزيز بعد أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم: شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ وقال في آية أخرى، مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ

 

Allah says in His Mighty Book, the translation of which is, “Allah bears witness that there is no god but Him as do the angels and the people of knowledge. There is no god but Him, the All-Mighty, All-Wise.”

In an age that tries to turn Islam in the eyes of both its practitioners and everyone else into a collection of outward symbols (the hijab, the burqini, the thawb, the beard etc) or seeks to make it into just another ideology and ‘-ism’, it is worth reminding ourselves and reminding one another what being Muslim actually means. We tried to present an overview last week, but starting this week I would like to examine a number the elements that make it up in more detail. And to that end, I will begin, as the Messenger of Allah began, with the five pillars, and specifically with the key to them all, the beginning of the affair, the shahadatayn. The testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. ashhadu an la ilaha illa-llah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasulu-llah.

This simple phrase encompasses everything that we are, and everything we could be. Our entire identity and system of belief, the blueprint of our lives and the make-up of our individual moments, all this can be found in these few short words. These few short words transform the meaningless into the meaningful. After them, every good action has worth, after them a positive outcome is possible. For they open the door to acceptance and unlock the benefit and potential, the baraka and thawab, that lie in all good actions.

Nothing else can be said that even remotely compares to these words. You could spend your whole life composing, your whole life speaking, your whole life reading and listening, but you will never again come across any words so significant,

 

لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا رسول الله

 

“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” These simple words separate us from the unbelievers, from the ashqiya, those who are doomed to perpetual wretchedness, and place us among the ranks of the su‘ada, the fortunate few, those for whom perpetual happiness and contentment awaits. La ilaha illa-llah separates us from the atheists and idolators, and Muhammad rasulu-llah separates us from the Jews and Christians. This simple phrase grants us access to the greatest community every placed on this planet, the umma of the Messenger of Allah, and unites us in brotherhood with every other Muslim across the whole world.

This simple phrase is the first pillar of the final accepted Deen of Allah around which the entire affair revolves, and without it no act of worship is possible and no human being can fulfil the purpose for which he was created. Allah says,

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

 

the translation of which is, “I have not created men and jinn except to worship Me.”

When the human being utters the shahadatayn with conviction and belief for the first time, his slate is completely wiped clean – all the wrong actions he did before that point are swept away as if they never happened, no matter how numerous, no matter how terrible or heinous. Before uttering these words, Umar ibn al-Khattab was one of the most outspoken of Quraysh against the Messenger of Allah and had even resolved to kill him, and Khalid ibn al-Walid was the general who had inflicted defeat on the Muslims at Uhud. After them they became two of the greatest figures in Islamic history, al-Faruq and Sayf al-Islam, the khalifa who presided over the defeats of the two greatest empires of the age and brought Islam to most of the known world and the general who led his armies, appointed to those positions by the Messenger of Allah and his successors.

Or take Hind bint Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan – she mutilated Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet, after the battle of Uhud and ate his liver, but when she later went before the Prophet and uttered the shahadatayn, he immediately forgave her and accepted her, making no mention of her past atrocities. In the eyes of Allah and in terms of her reckoning, they had never happened. And the same is true for everyone who takes the shahada without exception – and alhamdulillah, this mosque has been witness to many such people taking that immense step in the short time that it has been established.

The shahada is more than just words uttered on the tongue – it is a contract and a commitment, a contract with your Lord to obey Him and His Messenger in all He has commanded of you. When al-Hasan al-Basri was told that people were saying, “Whoever says la ilaha illa-llah will enter the Garden”, he said,

 

من قال: لا إله إلا الله فأدى حقها وفرضها دخل الجنة

 

“Whoever says la ilaha illa-llah while fulfilling its duties and obligations will enter the Garden.” These obligations to which he refers are the fara’id of the deen, the bare minimum of which are the remaining pillars – the prayer, zakat, fasting Ramadan and going on Hajj. By taking the shahada, you have sworn an oath and given your word, it is no small thing. You have undertaken to learn and put into practice the basics of Islam, and we, the wider Muslim community, have undertaken to help and support each other in doing that. None of these things need to be done alone – they are all better done in company.

The utterance of the shahadatayn before witnesses is all that is required to become Muslim, but in order to be mu’min, to be a believer, this must be accompanied by affirmation in the heart. You must understand what the shahadatayn signify and believe wholeheartedly in all that they entail. For the shahadatayn encompass all elements of belief: la ilaha illa-llah encompasses all of the Divine attributes with which our Lord is described – His existence which is pre-eternal and goes on for ever; His absolute independence; His being disconnected from everything in-time and in-space; His Oneness in His Essence, Attributes and Actions; And His having Life, Power, Knowledge, Will, Hearing, Sight and Speech. While Muhammad rasulu-llaah encompasses belief in all the details of the Message – the Quran being the Word of Allah, the Books that preceded it, the angels, the Last Day and the Next World, the Decree, and of course the Messengers themselves.

The fact that this one phrase is so comprehensive in its scope is a tremendous mercy and blessing from Allah. For a person’s salvation from the Fire lies in him having a complete belief in Allah and His Messenger in that moment that He dies. In other words, it requires him to affirm all of the doctrines of belief in the moment that he leaves this world. But, as we know, people are often very weakened in those last moments and unable to call all those details to mind, so Allah gives us a short phrase that is easy to remember and even easier to say, and by means of which every one of those doctrines are affirmed – the shahada.

And that is why the Prophet said,

من كان آخرُ كلامِهِ لا إله إلا الله دَخَلَ الجنةَ

 

“Anyone whose last words are la ilaha illallah enters the Garden,” indicating the ruling for those who find the capacity to speak. And he said,

 

من مات وهو يَعلمُ أن لا إله الا اللهُ دخل الجنةَ

 

“Anyone who dies. knowing that there is no god but Allah enters the Garden,” indicating the ruling for those who cannot. Thus, for the Muslim, the shahada are the words with which he enters his life in this plane of existence and the words with which he leaves it.

The second part of the shahada is Muhammad rasulullah – Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And indeed the shahada, and thus a person’s deen, is incomplete without it. He is the one whom Allah sent to show us how to live our lives and worship Him. It is only through him that we have access to the Words of Allah and it is only through him that we can gain knowledge of our Lord, as is amply demonstrated in surat al-Ikhlas when Allah says:

 

قُلْ هُوَ اللهُ أَحَدٌ

 

the translation of which is, “Say Allah is Absolute Oneness” Allah does not simply say Allahu ahad, but prefaces it with the word ‘qul’, ‘say’, addressed to the Messenger of Allah. Thus, this, the ultimate encapsulation of tawhid, can only be accessed through the medium of the Messenger of Allah, through what he tells us and through what he shows us. He is the sole doorway to that knowledge, and it is only through following his teaching and his example that any of us can hope to please our Lord. Allah says, addressing His Messenger:

 

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

 

the translation of which is, “Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you for your wrong actions. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’”

And it is this command to follow the Messenger of Allah that makes Islam a deen – a comprehensive way of living – and not a religion, for the Prophet led a full life, engaging in marriage, trade, governance and jihad as well as acts of worship. So, by affirming that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, we enter into a contract to follow his sunna in all aspects of our lives. May Allah give us the strength to do just that.

 

أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم

 

الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.

أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.

 

While the primary significance of the shahadatayn may lie in what they mean and what they represent, as well as in the fact that they are the first pillar of the deen by which the rest of the deen is unlocked and made accessible, and the rest of one’s life and deeds are made acceptable, their benefit and value does not stop there. The words themselves have a resonance and a weight in creation unlike any other. Ibn al-Qayyim said of them,

 

كلمة قامت بها الأرض والسماوات وخُلقت لأجلها جميع المخلوقات وبها أَرسل الله تعالى رُسُله وأنزل كُتبه وشرع شرائعه ولأجلها نُصِبت الموازين ووُضِعت الدواوين وقام سوق الجنة والنار

 

“They are the phrase by which the heavens and earth were established, and because of which every part of this creation was created. They are the phrase with which the Messengers were sent, the Books were revealed and the Laws of existence put in place. They are the phrase on whose account the scales were set up and the books of record set down. It is because of it that there is a suq of the Garden and a suq of the Fire.”

The shahada is the primal building block of existence. To have access to it is to have access to everything. Just one utterance of it with presence and conviction weighs more heavily in the balance than the rest of creation put together. The Messenger of Allah reported that Allah said to Musa,

 

لو أن السمواتِ السبعَ فِى كفة، ولا إله إلا اللهُ فى كفة، لمالت بهن (لا إله إلا الله)

 

“If the seven heavens were to be placed in one side of a scales and la ilaha illa Allah in the other, La ilaha illa Allah would outweigh them.’” And he also said,

 

يؤتى برجلٍ إلى الميزانِ ويؤتَى بتسعةٍ وتسعين سِجِّلا كلُّ سِجِّلٍ منها مدُّ البَصَرِ فيها خطاياه وذنوبُه، فتوضَعُ في كفة الميزانِ ثم تَخرُجُ بطاقةٌ مقدارُ الأنملةِ فيها شهادةُ أن لا إله إلا اللهُ محمدٌ رسول اللهِ فتوضَعُ في الكفةِ الأخرى فتَرجَحُ بخطاياه وذنوبِه.

 

“A man will be brought to the scales whereupon 99 scrolls containing his crimes and wrong actions will be brought forth, each one stretching out as far as the eye can see, and be placed upon one side of the scales. Then a small strip of paper the size of a fingertip will be brought out with la ilaha illa Allah written on it and will be placed on the other side of the scales. And that small strip of paper will outweigh all his crimes and bad actions.”

This is the result of saying the shahada once, so how do you imagine the reward will be for those who say it many times, who fill all their available moments with it. They will have an immense and immeasurable treasure as Ibn Ashir, the famous Maliki scholar and author the Murshid al-Muin, indicates when he says,

 

وهي أفضلُ وجوهِ الذكر             فاشغل بها العمرَ تفز بالذخر

 

“It is the best form of dhikr

so occupy the moments of your life with it and you will obtain the treasure.”

Those who recite the shahada frequently and often become its people and enter its fortress. Their faces will be lit up on the Day of Rising, brighter than the brightest of full moons, and they will be raised up above all their brethren and brought closer still. None shall get what they get, none shall witness what they witness, those treasures will be for them and them alone. So let your tongues run moist with La ilaaha illa-llaah Muhammadun rasuulu-llaah until it becomes like second nature. And never forget what it means or entails. If it is with true sincerity that you utter those words, then you will inevitably come to embody them, and every one of your limbs will act according to them. You will do what Allah and His Messenger command in every aspect of your life and avoid what they prohibit. You will know what it means to be Muslim because you will be fully submitted. We ask Allah to make us of those people and surround us with those people. And make the people of this city rank among those people. We ask that He continue to guide them to Islam and continue to fill this mosque with the sweet sound of shahadas being uttered by more and more of His slaves. And we ask that He make the shahada the final words that pass each and every of our lips and give us and every one of His believing slaves the best of seals. We ask that Allah shower His peace, mercy and blessings upon our noble Messenger and his Companions and that He have mercy on all of those Muslims who have passed away, our parents and our teachers, our brothers and our sisters, our shuyukh and our leaders. And we ask Him especially that He show mercy to our beloved brother, Shaykh Ihsaan Taliep, who passed away last night. He was a man of Quran, a man who loved and lived and breathed the Book of Allah, so we ask that it stand witness for him on the Yawm al-Qiyama and every harf and harika of the Noble Book weigh heavily for him in the balance. His janaza will be held today at the Habibiya Mosque after Salat al-Asr, so I request and encourage all of those of you who can make it to come and attend. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’un.

 

إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً.

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ  أَجْمَعِينَ. وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وعن أم المومنين عائشة التي أمرنا الله في سورة النور أن ندافع عنها، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ، وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.

رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.

إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.