is a declaration (kalimah) that the Muslims proclaim in their daily lives; in their call to Prayer (adhaan), their call to establishing the Prayer (‘iqaamah), their sermons and their speeches. It is: “A declaration upon which the heavens and the earth are established, and for which the whole of the creation was created, and for which Allaah sent Messengers, revealed Books, and prescribed Divine Laws. Because of it the Scales and the Registers were set-up, as were Paradise and Hellfire.
Due to it creation was divided into Believers and unbelievers; righteous and wicked. It is the root cause for [there being] creation, command, rewards and punishments. It is the right for which the creation was created and about it and its rights will they be questioned and brought to account. Because of it there is punishment and reward; due to it the direction of Prayer (qiblah) was set-up; upon it rests the very foundation of the Religion; and because of it swords are drawn for striving and fighting (jihaad). It is the Right of Allaah over His slaves; the Declaration (kalimah) of Islaam; and the key to Paradise; about it both the earlier and later people will be questioned.
Indeed, no person will stand before Allaah without being asked two questions: What did you worship? And how did you respond to the Messengers? The reply to the first is by realization of laa ilaaha illallaah; knowing it, affirming it, and acting by it. The reply to the second is by realization that Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasallam is the Messenger of Allaah; knowing it, complying with it, and being obedient to it (1,2).”
This kalimah is the dividing line between unbelief (kufr) and Islaam. It is the word of piety (kalimatut-taqwaa), the firm and trustworthy hand-hold (al-’urwatul-wuthqaa) and it is what Ibraaheem alaihis-salaam made as:
“A Word to endure amongst his offspring, that they may turn to Allaah in repentance and obedience.” [Soorah az-Zukhruf 43:28].
It is [a kalimah] that Allaah Himself has testified to, as have the angels and those who possess knowledge from amongst His creation. Allaah the Most High said:
“Allaah bears witness that none has the right to be worshiped except Him; as do the angels and those who possess knowledge. He maintains His creation upon justice. None has the right to be worshiped except Him, the All-Mighty, All-Wise.” [Soorah Aal-’Imraan 3:18].
It is the word of purity and sincerity (kalimatul-ikhlaas), a witness and an invitation to the truth, a declaration of dissociation from shirk(3) and it is the reason why the creation was created; as Allaah the Exalted said:
“I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Soorah adh-Dhaariyaat 51:56].
Because of it Messengers were sent and Divine Books and Scriptures were revealed, as Allaah said: “We did not send any Messenger before you, except that We revealed to him that none has the right to be worshiped except Me; so worship Me.” [Soorah al-Anbiyaa 21:25].
(1) Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) said in Sharhul-Aqeedatil Waasitiyyah (p.8): “Bearing witness that he is the Messenger of Allaah requires having faith (eemaan) in him; obeying him in what he commanded; keeping away from what he prohibited; believing in whatever he informed; and following him in what is prescribed as Law.”
(2) Zaadul-Ma’aad (1/34) of Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim.
(3) The Shaykh, hafidhahullah, said in Kitaabut-Tawheed (p.9): “Shirk is to set-up partners with Allaah the Exalted in those matters concerning His Lordship (ruboobiyyah), or His Divinity and Worship (uloohiyyah). The predominant form of shirk occurs in matters of His Divinity and Worship; such as supplicating to other than Allaah or directing any form of worship, such as slaughtering, vowing, or [reverential] love, fear and hope, to others besides Allaah - and shirk is the greatest of all sins.”
Imaam as-Sa’dee, rahimahtdlaah, has given a comprehensive definition of shirk in al-Qawlus-Sadeed (p.48):
“The definition of the greater shirk and its explanation that encompasses all its types and elements is: The servant directing any form or part of worship to other than Allaah. So every belief, statement or action which has been confirmed as being prescribed by the sharee’ah, then directing it solely to Allaah is tawheed, faith (eemaan) and sincerity (ikhlaas); whereas directing it to other than Allaah is shirk and unbelief (kufr). So adhere to this guideline concerning the greater shirk, [a guideline] which entails no exception at all. Likewise, the definition of the lesser shirk is: Every intent, statement or action that does not reach the level of worship, but is a means or an avenue leading to the greater shirk.”
The Declaration of Faith By Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan. Annotations by: Abu Aaliyah Surkheel ibn Anwar Sharif.