February 15, 2013


Recently, Ojibwa posted a diary at Daily Kos that looked at the Five Pillars of Islam. The descriptions for each of the five pillars were necessarily brief; however, I thought I would expand on each of the pillars in their own diaries. This diary focuses on the first pillar, the shahadah, or testament of faith.

Ash-hadu alah ilaha il-lal-llahu, wa ash-hadu annah Muhammad-ar rasullullah.
I testify that there is no god but God, and I testify that Muhammad is the Prophet of God.

The shahadah consists of two statements uttered in a single sentence. The first statement, no god but God, is the Muslim's testification of pure monotheism. We attest that there is no person or thing that is worthy of worship other than God. There are not multiple gods, nor is there anyone or any thing that shares godhood with God. Thus, Muslims reject, for example, the concept of the Christian trinity and the Hindu/Buddhist pantheon of gods. Likewise, we reject the atheist's assertion that there is no god at all. There is only one God, solitary and unique (ahad). To believe in these other concepts is to commit shirk, the one unforgivable sin.

Say: He is Allah, the One!
Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
He begetteth not nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable unto Him.
- Surah Al-Ikhlas (The Unity), 112:1-4, Pickthall translation

The second statement, Muhammad is the Prophet of God, has several connotations that need to be considered. First is the face-value statement acknowledging Muhammad's (pbuh) prophethood. A Muslim could very easily acknowledge the other 24 named prophets (pbut) in the Qur'an in addition to all the thousands of unnamed prophets, and this would be stating the truth. But, by acknowledging Muhammad (pbuh) as a Prophet, we are binding ourselves as Muslims to obeying Islamic law and jurisprudence (shari'ah and fiqh, respectively) as best we can.

The shahadah occupies the first pillar of Islam because of its importance and the frequency with which it is said. In a normal day, a Muslim will recite the shahadah at least nine times throughout the course of the five required prayers; this does not count all the other optional prayers a Muslim may make on any given day. Nor does it count any other time the shahadah might be spoken for other reasons.

The shahadah is also important because it is the normal standard by which people are recognized by the Muslim community as a fellow Muslim. A new Muslim must recite the shahadah publicly (defined as in front of at least two other people) and they must do it with sincerity in their hearts. Simply reading or reciting the shahadah above will not make you a Muslim if you lack sincerity, nor will other Muslims recognize you as a Muslim if you do not say the shahadah at least once publicly. You might be a Muslim in your heart, but that does not necessarily mean public acceptance.

February 12, 2013

Islamic Manners

Some of the Lessons From the Qur'an That Apply to Our General Living:

1. Respect and honor all human beings irrespective of their religion, color, race, sex, language, status, property, birth, profession/job, and so on. [17:70]

2. Talk straight, to the point, without any ambiguity or deception. [33:70]

3. Choose best words to speak and say them in the best possible way. [17:53, 2:83]

4. Do not shout. Speak politely, keeping your voice low. [31:19]

5. Always speak the truth. Shun words that are deceitful and ostentatious. [22:30]

6. Do not confound truth with falsehood. [2:42]

7. Say with your mouth what is in your heart. [3:167]

8. Speak in a civilized manner in a language that is recognized by society and is commonly used. [4:5]

9. When you voice an opinion, be just, even if it is against a relative. [6:152]

10. Do not be a bragging boaster. [31:18]

11. Do not talk, listen or do anything vain. [23:3, 28:55]

12. Do not participate in any paltry. If you pass near a futile play, then pass by with dignity. [25:72]

13. If, unintentionally, any misconduct occurs by you, then correct yourself expeditiously. [3:134]

14. Do not be contemptuous or arrogant with people. [31:18]

15. Do not walk haughtily or with conceit. [17:37, 31:18]

16. Be moderate in thy pace. [31:19]

17. Walk with humility and sedateness. [25:63]

18. Keep your gazes lowered, devoid of any lecherous leers and salacious stares. [24:30-31, 40:19]

19. Do not backbite one another. [49:12]

20. Do not make mockery of others or ridicule others. [49:11]

21. Do not defame others. [49:11]

22. Do not insult others by nicknames. [49:11]

23. When you meet each other, offer good wishes and blessings for safety. One who conveys to you a message of safety and security and also when a courteous greeting is offered to you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous or (at least) of equal courtesy. [4:86]


Note: I came across the above on Facebook and shared it on my wall, but have also decided to share it with a larger audience here. I've cleaned up the various typos, but have left everything else the same. I also did not check to see whether the Qur'anic ayat citations are correct. Otherwise... I hope you enjoyed this!