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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 šahāda (شَهادة) translates to "testimony", from the verbal root šahida (شَهِدَ) meaning "to observe, witness, testify"; in legal contexts, šahāda 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 šāhid ( شاهِد). The first statement of the shahada, lā ilāha illā-llāhu, is also known as the tahlīla. In another meaning, šahāda or, more commonly, istišhād (إسْتِشْهادْ), means "martyrdom." The noun šahīd (شَهيد) may mean "martyr." The word Shahada has been used in Quran as one of the "titles of God" - one is al-Ghayb (the knower of the unseen) and al-Shahada (witnessed).
Shahada is a statement of both ritual and worship. The statement has two parts - la ilaha illa'llah (there is no god but God) and Muhammadun rasul Allah (Muhammad is the messenger of God). Though these statements are both present in the Quran but not present "side by side as in the shahada formula". It neither also treat as a "defining statement of what it means to be a Muslim". In the Hadith, Angel Gabriel defines Islam to Muhammad that he should "witness there is no god but God" and he is God's messenger. He was also asked to pay the "purification tax", performing the ritual prayer, fast during the month of Ramzan and make a pilgrimage to Kaaba - these five pillars "are inherent" in this "declaration of faith".
The two parts of the shahada are sometimes referred to as the first shahada and the second shahada. The first one is a symbol of the concept of Tawhid which means the belief in the oneness of God. Thus, Islam's root to monotheist belief is due to the first part of the shahada which declares God "is the only entity truly worthy of worship".
The second part of the shahada is a revelation which means "God has offered guidance to human beings". This verse "reminds Muslims" that they accept not only the "prophecy of Muhammad" but also "long line of prophets" that preceded Islam. While the first part is seen as a "cosmic truth", the second one is something limited to Islam only, as it is believed that members of other Abrahamic religions don't "view Muhammad as one of their prophets".
Shahada first appears in coins in the late seventh century. It then appears in the end of the first Islamic century which signifies the fact that it was not "officially established as a ritual statement of faith" till the mentioned time. In the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, there is inscription of "early sentiments" of shahada, with the writing "There is no god but God alone, He has no partner with him". It also appears in coins minted during the reign of Abd Al-Malik (the fifth Umayyad caliph), with the inscription "Muhammad is the servant of God".
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"
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
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] Fathers whisper the shahada in the ears of the newborn child so that the first thing heard by them is a "strict motheist faith". Reciting it loudly infront of witnesses is the first step for a non-Muslim to convert into Islam.
For Muslim people reciting the shahada, it is a matter of expressing "what is in the heart" as well as it reflects the "commitment to worship our creator". The community recite it while during their five times prayer during the day. For Non-Muslims, after they recite it, they became a member of Umma or the Muslim community which is followed by "a partlike atmosphere" with celebration. The new convert "witnesses" when he takes the vow is the belief that "of one God" and agrees to submit to Him. He also "testify"ies that "Muhammad is the messenger of God".
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  and in the Garissa University College attack in Garissa, Kenya in 2015. To Associated Press, the al-Shabab called it "a meticulous vetting process ... to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar". Associated Press (26 September 2013).
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
The flag used by the Caucasus Emirate (2007)
Flag of Hamas.
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