The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة aš-šahādahaudio (help·info) "the testimony"; also aš-šahādatān (الشَهادَتانْ, "the two testimonials")) is an Islamiccreed declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. The declaration, in its shortest form, reads:
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. 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". 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.
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, as
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.
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. Since the shahada is common to Shi'a and Sunni Islam, this approach does not work for the anti-Shia massacres perpetrated by the ISIS militia in Syria and Iraq; these jihadists use ethnic or cultural indicators, besides relying on subtle differences in bodily position during prayer between Islamic sects.
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.
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"
^" In a chilling video that appeared to have been made more than a year ago in the Anbar Province of Iraq, ISIS fighters stopped three truck drivers in the desert and asked them whether they were Sunnis or Shias. All three claimed to be Sunni. Then the questions got harder. They were asked how they performed each of the prayers: morning, midday and evening. The truck drivers disagreed on their methods, and all were shot." Alissa J Rubin, 4 questions ISIS rebels use to tell Sunni from Shia, NYT News Service, 26 June 2014.
^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.