The Confession of Witness (Kalima-i shahadet) has two parts. The first is about confirming the Existence and Oneness of Allah; the second is about confirming Muhammad (J) as His Messenger and servant.
Faith takes root in the soul by internalizing these two parts in unity. Therefore, only one part is insufficient. One should be wary about the unity of the two parts, and duly perceive the importance of believing in the prophethood of Muhammad (J).
One of the verses in this regard says:
“.. He that obeys Allah and His Apostle, has already attained the highest achievement.” (Ahzab, 33:71).
The essence of the universe, which came into being as the product of the love that Allah showed towards His creatures and that of humanity is made up of the light of Muhammad (J).
Therefore, the essence of Muhammad (J) is the mirror image of the reign of love. The light of love which sustains the creation caused the sky and the earth to come into being. Allah addressed the Prophet Muhammad (J) with the words “O my beloved!” and thus made him the zenith of creation. So high a zenith that Allah uttered the name Muhammad along with His name and imprinted it on the tablet of decrees in the beginning with the formula of
“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.”
Prophet Adam (a.s.) appealed for the Mercy of Allah for Muhammad’s sake as he saw the above formula imprinted on the sky when he was sent down on earth upon falling from paradise. Allah then forgave him and said:
“– O Adam! He is the most beloved of creation to Me. When you make supplications, do them for his sake. I have forgiven you now as you prayed for his sake. Had it not been for him, I would not have created you.” (Hakim, Mustadrak, II, 672; Bayhaki, Dalail, V, 488-489).
Allah confirms this honor, championship, and distinction that He bestowed on Muhammad (J) in the Qur’an:
“And raised high the esteem (in which) you (are held).” (Inshirah, 94:4)
Some exegetes interpret this verse as follows:
“O My Messenger! Your name is mentioned along with Mine in the formula of confession of faith.”
Confession of faith begins with “There is no Deity.” It means removing all other deities from the heart.
This is explained in the Qur’an as protecting the heart from passions and impulses:
“Seest you such a one as takes for his Allah his own passion (or impulse)?..” (Furqan, 25:43).
And after removing all other deities from the heart comes the words of “but Allah.” This means filling the palace of the heart that was purified of all other besides Allah with the light of Allah.
And through the following words of the declaration of faith “Muhammad is His messenger” the love of the Prophet (J) is placed in the heart. And the individual who thus receives the mystery of the formula finds a place among those lovers of Allah and His Prophet, and joins the ranks of the fortunate ones.
That is why the formula of faith, or the articulation of the Oneness of Allah and Muhammad being His messenger and servant, is the opening confirmation from one’s heart and tongue, and thereby is the basic condition of Islam to join the community of faith.
Our Lord created the universe, the Qur’an, and the human according to the requirements of His Names and Attributes, and He decorated them in accordance with Divine Order and Power. This universe of existence, which travels from the pre-eternal to the eternal, has a delicate arrangement and impeccable order, and it is a school of perfect unity. Imprinted at the gate of this school of unity, and in the sky and earth is:
“Behold! Verily, there is no god but Allah.”
There is no particle that does not remember Him and that does not reflect His Power.
As there is a connection and familiarity between the Creator and the creation, every particle is granted Divine love as much as its capacity permits. And the greatest share in this regard is imparted to the human being; because he is at the zenith of creation.
The human being is endowed with enormous Divine knowledge and spiritual truth. His/her soul is adorned the spirit of religion. Therefore, belief in Allah began with the commencement of humanity and it will, for the most part, keep going forever. However, there will always be a minority of those who are scatter-brained who disbelieve and follow their carnal passions. It is said in the Qur’an:
”.. His light should be perfected, even though the unbelievers may detest (it).” (Tauba, 9:32).
If the jewel of remembrance of Allah finds room in the servant’s heart, the servant worships only Allah, and the spirit of the following verse shows up:
“For, believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts…” (Anfal, 8:2).
Thus, the true fact takes root. The Prophet (J) says on the importance of this position:
“Just as a dress gets worn out and old so does faith in the heart become worn out and old. In that condition, renew your faith with the declaration of unity!”
If the remembrance of Allah is not engraved in the heart, the servant cannot help control his inclination towards carnal passions. Allah says about these people:
“Seest you such a one as takes for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Could you be a disposer of affairs for him?” (Furqan, 25:43).
That means the declaration of bearing witness should keep us from the swamp of carnal passions, and lead us to follow the ethics of the Prophet (J). Otherwise, we can acquire no enlightenment and reward from his side.
It is narrated that someone who did not follow the morals of the Prophet (J) dreamt he saw the Prophet (J). The Prophet (J) was not paying attention to him. In this sad state, he asked:
“– O Messenger of Allah! Are you displeased with me?”
“– Why are you not paying attention to me?”
“– I do not know you!”
“– How can you not know me, O Messenger of Allah? I am from your people. Scholars say that you recognize your people easier than a mother recognizes her son…”
“Certainly! However, I cannot recognize anything in you of my morals. Besides, no call for blessings and peace upon me came from you. Behold, I recognize my people to the degree that they follow my morals.”
When this person woke up sadly he repented for what he was, and began to follow the ethics of the Prophet (J). He engaged in pronouncing the formula calling Allah’s benediction on the Prophet (J). After sometime he dreamed of the Prophet (J) again. This time the Prophet (J) told him:
“– I now know you and I will intercede with Allah for you.”
The Prophet (J) is the dearest of the dear, and he is worthy of love in every respect, and he is a supernormal creation. He is the most pleasant and virtuous of all, and he is the most gracious and unique guide of mankind. It is he who transformed a society that had been burying new-born babies alive under the hot desert sand into a tender-hearted society, and taught them the book of Allah and its wisdom. Considering him superior to all others, and loving him incomparably is a sign of complete faith. The Prophet (J) says in this regard:
“You are not regarded a complete believer unless you love me more than you love your own self, parents, wife and children!..” (Bukhari, Iman, 8).
The above saying is quite fair an awakening and warning. For those who are away from this love the ways to spiritual enlightenment and development are closed. The seed of love comes into leaf only in his soil of love. He is the source of blessing for the soul. His soil of love transforms fossilized souls into pure jewels.
The prophets and the saints who are enlightened with the light of Muhammad (J) are witnesses for him as the moon is for the sun. That is why, in every heart that says:
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His servant and messenger”, a Divine light is kindled as a light reflected in a mirror. So much so that, such hearts enjoy ineffable pleasure through the manifestation of this light.
The condition of Bilal Habashi who enjoyed this pleasure is an exemplary one:
Bilal Habashi was a lonely man having no relative or whatever to hold on to. He was simply a slave. Yet, one day he was honored with the light of faith. The sufferings he was exposed to afterwards as he held to his faith were so hard to bear that his resistance became an example for the Muslims in their struggle for their faith.
He saw the face and the light of the Prophet (J), and tasted his love. His entire existence was almost a part of the Prophet (J). Yet, his master, who had no blessings from the Divine light put him to torture by having him held down bared to the flaming desert. His master had his naked body whipped. Blood gushed from his black skin. And the unconcerned crowd around called to him:
“O dirty slave! Turn to us and save your soul!”
Yet, he roared like a wounded lion and shouted out the declaration of faith.
Upon this, the crowd kept beating him again and again. Having been unable to vent their anger they lashed his neck and dragged him through the streets of Mecca. Still, Bilal Habashi took shelter in the love of the Prophet (J). He was not feeling any pain, but his heart was filled with the love of the Messenger. His heart was as large as the world. Whereas in the material world he was in a miserable position; he had nothing at all.
So, the love and fondness of Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) advanced him from being a simple slave to being the sultan of hearts. He became the muezzin (caller to prayer) of the Prophet (J). Insomuch that the love he felt for the Prophet (J) was on his lips at his last breath and he said while passing:
“– Rejoice, rejoice!.. I am flying to the Prophet (J)…”
So, we have to take notice of the meaning of the following saying of the Prophet (J):
“The individual is with the one he loves most.” (Bukhari, Adab, 96).
We have to make effort to benefit from the facts that the following verse reveals:
“So take what the Apostle assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in punishment.” (Hashr, 59:7).
The first part of the declaration of witness, which is the fundamental pillar of Islam, encapsulates being a sincere servant of Allah. The second part means following the guidance of the Prophet (J) so as to be a sincere servant of Allah.
The following conditions are prerequisites for this declaration finding room in the heart:
- 1. The heart should be in communion with the Lord.
This can be achieved by remembrance of Allah. It is said in the Qur’an:
“ … for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Rad, 13:28).
The word “heart” does not only consist of flesh, it is also the center of sentiment and conscience. And the word “remembrance” in the above verse does not mean only repetition of the names of Allah in words. It means perception of Allah from within one’s heart. Only in this way does the heart find satisfaction and develop spiritually. And the happiness that Allah bestows on humans comes about only in this way.
Those hearts, which have already achieved this target, are always fascinated by the Divine Beauty. They admire the beauty of existence, and they are conscious that this is nothing but the manifestation of Divine Perfection.
- 2. Increasing the love of the Messenger of Allah in one’s heart leads to embracing those in favor of Islam and deservedly detesting those opposed to the religion.
Love or fondness is a prerequisite to being a sincere believer. Through fondness, worship and good manners it becomes an enjoyment and blessing for the believer. One’s outlook towards existence changes positively. One, thereby, realizes the mystery of the rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the evening. One feels how adept is the artist who draws wonderful paintings; but what about the riot of colors in nature changing every moment of the day… Varicolored violets, lilies, roses… How can they get all these colors from this black soil?.. In short, when one sets eyes on himself and the universe with fondness he is bound to get carried away by the wonders in it.
The greatest achievement after faith is to enter upon a spiritual training that will guide one to the love of Allah and the Prophet (J).
- One should be in communion with the saintly servants of Allah and imitate their style of worship and conduct.
According to the findings of psychology “active or dynamic characters have the characteristic of spreading.” Namely, character and conduct are invasive as contagious illnesses are. The companions, who were once people of ignorance, became the most virtuous people in the world through the inspiration, enlightenment, and spiritual energy they received through being in the circle of the Prophet (J).
In fact, even the dog of the Seven Sleepers (Ashab al-Kahf) named Kithmir got a blessed achievement in the name of being in communion with pious people. The Qur’an talks about the story of the Seven Sleepers and their dog as an exemplary event.
- One should trent creatures gently for the sake of Allah.
Allah mostly inspires His servants with His names “the most Beneficent and the most Compassionate”, among His other names. Namely, He inspires compassion in His servants. One who loves the Lord treats His creatures kindly and mercifully. Even killing a poisonous snake should be done in a delicate way so as to not cause it needless agony.
These are manifestations of the declaration of faith that is the key for paradise; namely, they are the teeth of the key of paradise.
It is narrated from Wahb bin Munabbih:
He was once asked:
“Are not the words لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ “There is no god but Allah” the key to paradise?
“Yes, but a key has teeth on it. If you have a key with teeth, only then is the door of paradise opened to you. Otherwise, it is not opened.” (Bukhari).
Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, ISLAM SPIRIT AND FORM, Erkam Publications