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The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة aš-šahādah audio (help·info) "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:
The noun shahādah (شَهادة) translates to "testimony", from the verbal root šahida (شَهِدَ) meaning "to observe, witness, testify"; in legal contexts, shahādah is a testimony to the occurrence of events, such as debt, adultery, or divorce. 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 another meaning, shahādah or, more commonly, istišhād (إسْتِشْهادْ), means "martyrdom." The noun shahīd (شَهيد) may mean "martyr."
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:
followed by the Arabic equivalent.
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:
audio recording of the shahada
prefaced by the phrase ašhadu ʾan "I testify, that"
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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.
The shahada is frequently found on modern Islamic flags. The Wahhabi religious movement used the shahada on their flags from the 18th century. 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. 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 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.
Flag of Najd (1921)
The current flag of Saudi Arabia
Adopted by Al-Shabaab (2006).
The flag used by the Caucasus Emirate (2007)
The flag used by the Al-Nusra Front (2012)
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