As it is widely known that the word Islam means submission. The meaning of this submission is never truly understood by non Muslims. Oddly, under that simplified parenthesis, one imagines a Hollywood scene of bent-backed natives peering upwards powerlessly under some Pharaonic repression, eagerly awaiting an enlightened and muscle bound democrat to save the day. As exciting as that might sound to some, what is actually happening here is a straightening of the back but lowering of the head. It is the submission to The Truth i.e. the confirmation of the true reality of creation.

This confirmation is contained in a dual Shahada, The Shahadatayn. Ash-hadu anla ilaha ilallah (I bear witness that there is no god, except Allah) wa ash-hadu ana Muhammadun rasullullah (And I bear witness that muhammad is the messenger of Allah). That is, confirmation that the Creator is One, with no partner in the world of forms and worship belongs to Him alone. The second implies the confirmation of our obedience to Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as His Messenger and opens the way to the four remaining pillars of Islam, i.e. The Prayer; the Wealth Tax; the Fast of Ramadan & the Pilgrimage to Makkah. We are of this community.

In this dual declaration, a profound delineation of what is Reality, and by consequence, negation all other constructs, is brought forward. This is not Theism and we do not mistake the idea of ‘god’ for Divinity. This is where atheists by their rejection of the notion of god and esotericists by their assumption of their attribution of a god-likeness to themselves, loose grip on the meaning of things as man can only define things in relation to himself. He, Glory be to Him, is not even the totality of forms. Allah is beyond form and place and is independent of need for it. You cannot define Him, so Allah names himself. It is a personal name so it does not define but indicates His Presence without place. By negating all forms it opens us up to the ultimate form of worship of the Devine. Purity, A Tawheed (Oneness).

What does this mean? The implication here means, that by saying there is no god except Allah, you are saying there is no infrastructure, no interventionist, no political affiliations or parties, no mortgage or interest-based loans, There is no government tax agency, no state structure, no system of magical numbers, no democratic or communist principals. There was no democratically elected man – made deity at the counsel of Nicaea. There is no power in the world of forms. None exists. There is only Allah. He is the Originator. It is Him whom we worship and there is no power except His. In affirmation of the One, all forms are negated. La ilaha ilallah.

Shahada Spain

Three Spanish ladies declaring the Shahada in Granada, Spain. Picture courtesy of Islam Hoy Newspaper

By the confirmation of the second Shahada it establishes this oneness in totality, by laying down a definitive life-transaction as it replaces all others before and after it. That council of Nicaea headed by the sickly Emperor Constantine, where by vote, it was decided that our master sayyiduna Isa, may Allah bless him, was not man nor prophet sent by god, for that would imply the necessity of living within the laws as prescribed by his life-practise, officially instituted him as a deity. Allah obliterates this whole event by the announcing of the second part of the shahada, Muhammadun Rasullulah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Not democrat, not soothsayer, not common man and not deity. The messenger of Allah. His messenger. Allah confirms who he is, May Allah bless him and grant him peace.

“Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah…”(4:79) This means the life transaction acceptable to Allah is the life practise as lived by the Prophet Muhammad. It is not a system or binding together of doctrines. Islam is a transaction. We say Deen al-Islam, the route letters, ‘Dal’ ‘Ya’ ‘Nun’ is a governing or a managing of a contract expressing obligation, and it also expresses a repayment or compensation. Yaum al-Deen, day of repayment. This implies that the Deen of Islam must be practised in its entirety, by all its weights and measures as an actual life practise.

That the Deen, as it has come to us, The recited book of Allah, the confirmed sunnah and the amal of those that took from his actions with understanding, is how we govern our own actions and every aspect of our social existence. To enter the Deen by uttering this shahada three times in front of witnesses is enough for you to become Muslim. If we had been told the full value of the Shahadatayn and its weight when declaring it, we would have thought we would never need to do anything else for the rest of your life. It is categorically the single most important act you can do in your life. Its sweetness is a secret to every heart that declares it that by this confirmation, there is sweetness in the believer when in the company of another believer.
Nabeel Abdalhaqq
Cape Town