La ilaha illa-Allah i.e the first part of the Shadah and the the remaing portion of the Shadah has been be explained in regards to the light of Quran and Sunnah.
Meaning of La ilaha illa-Allah
“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,” in it (i.e the testimony) is the negation of the worship other than Allah and its affirmation with regard to Allah alone.
فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
“So know (Oh Muhammad صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) that La ilaha illa-Allah(None has the right to be worshipped but Allah)”
Surah Muhammad 47:19
The Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said;
“Whosoever says La ilaha illa-Allah sincerly will enter the paradise.”
Reported by Bazaz and declared authentic by Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Jami
The sincere person is the one who understands this, acts according to its requirement. Invites others to it, and gives it precendence over all other issues, because it is consise formula of Tawhid i.e Islamic Monotheism) for which human beings and jinns were created.
Allah’s Messenger La ilaha illa-Allah صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said to his uncle Abu Talib when he was on his death bed:
“Oh uncle, say La ilaha illa-Allah, a statement by which I can plead before Allah.” But his uncle refused to say La ilaha illa-Allah.
Bukhari and Muslim
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ preached in Mecca for 13 years inviting the idol worshippers, saying;
“Testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah”
But there response as reported in the Quran was:
♦وَعَجِبُوا أَنْ جَاءَهُمْ مُنْذِرٌ مِنْهُمْ ۖ وَقَالَ الْكَافِرُونَ هَٰذَا سَاحِرٌ كَذَّابٌ
♦أَجَعَلَ الْآلِهَةَ إِلَٰهًا وَاحِدًا ۖ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَشَيْءٌ عُجَابٌ
♦وَانْطَلَقَ الْمَلَأُ مِنْهُمْ أَنِ امْشُوا وَاصْبِرُوا عَلَىٰ آلِهَتِكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَشَيْءٌ يُرَادُ
♦مَا سَمِعْنَا بِهَٰذَا فِي الْمِلَّةِ الْآخِرَةِ إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا اخْتِلَاقٌ
Surah Saad 4:7
They wonder that a Warner has come to them from among themselves, and the disbelievers say: “He is a sorcerer telling lies!
Does he claim that there is only One God in place of all other gods? Surely this is a strange thing.”
Their leaders go about saying: “Pay no heed, stand firm in the service of your gods; this slogan of One God is designed against you.
We have not heard such a thing from anyone of the people of latter days (Jews and Christians): it is nothing but a fabrication.
The Arabs understood its meaning that one who said it, would not call upon any other than Allah. So they abstained from it and refused to say it.
♦إِنَّهُمْ كَانُواإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
♦وَيَقُولُونَ أَئِنَّا لَتَارِكُو آلِهَتِنَا لِشَاعِرٍ مَجْنُونٍ
♦بَلْ جَاءَ بِالْحَقِّ وَصَدَّقَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
As-Saffat 37 35:37
For whenever it was said to them ˹in the world˺, “There is no diety worthy of worship˺ except Allah,” they acted arrogantly
And said: Shall we forsake our gods for a mad poet?
Whereas he had come with the truth and had confirmed the message of prior Rasools.
And Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said;
“Whosoever says La ilaha illa-Allah and rejects whatever is worshipped besides Allah, his property and blood becomes sacred and his reckoning is with Allah the Mighty and Exalted.”
This Hadith teaches us that the verbal declaration of the testimony of the faith requires rejection of all the worship directed to other than Allah.
Indeed, it is strange that some Muslims say La ilaha illa-Allah with their tongue and contradict its meaning with their deeds and supplication to other than Allah.
La ilaha illa-Allah is the foundation of Tawhid i.e Islamic Monotheism and Islam. It is complete system of life, through which, all forms of worship (of Allah) are realised. That happens only when a muslim submits himself to Allah , and calls upon him alone, and refers all issues (of right and wrong) to His law, to the exclusion of all other systems of law.
The scholar Ibn Rajab said: “The word Illah (i.e God) means the One Who is obeyed and not defied, out of ones sense of awe and reverence, love, fear, hope, placing ones trust in Him, asking Him and supplicating Him alone. And all these are invalid except for Allah [alone].
So, whatever any of these matters (which are the rights of Allah) to a created being, had detraced from the sincerity of his statement La ilaha illa-Allah and he has worshipped that created being to the extend he directed those matters towards it.
The Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said;
“Urge those of you who are on their deathbeds to say La ilaha ilia-Allah; for verily, whoever’s last words are La ilaha ilia-Allah, will eventually enter Paradise even if he has to go through (before that) whatever (punishment) he has to go through.”
(Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahfh and declared authentic by Al-Albani in Sahih-ul-Jami ‘).
“Urging” as mentioned in the Hadith is not the mere repetition of the Shahadah ”La ilaha ilia- Allah” in the presence of the dying person, as some people have understood of it, rather it is to instruct him to say it.
The proof for that is the Hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik
Allah’s Messenger صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ visited a (dying) man of the Ansar and said to him, “Uncle, say La ilaha illa-Allah.” The Ansari asked, “Do you consider me a maternal uncle or paternal uncle?” The Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said, “A maternal uncle”. The man said, “Then it is better for me to say La ilaha illa-Allah.” The Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, said, “Yes.”
[Reported by Ahmad- 3/152 with an authentic chain of narrators according to the criteria of Imam Muslim.
See Ahkam-ul-Jana ‘iz (Funeral Rulings) by Albani p.11]
Benefits of ”La ilaha illa- Allah”
The word “La ilaha illa-Allah” will benefit the one who says it if he conforms to its meaning in his life, and doesn’t nullify it by associating partners with Allah, such as supplicating to the dead or calling upon the living who are absent. This can be compared to Wudu (i.e. ablution which puts one into a state of purity) which is nullified by urination, defecation, …. etc.
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