1. Knowledge (Al-'Ilm)

Knowledge of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and knowledge about the nature, concepts and methodology of worship are essential to the practice as well as the understanding of Islam. The beneficial knowledge is the one that leads to complete disassociation from false deities and to the devotion of intentions to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)  , the Most High, says:  “And know that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and ask forgiveness for your sins, and also for the sin of believing men and believing women. And Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows well your moving about, and your place of rest in your home”Qur’an.Surah Muhammad 47:19

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “He who died knowing (fully well) that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) entered al-Jannah (Paradise).” Sahih Muslim Vol 1:39

2. Certainty (Al-Yaqeen)

The testimony has to be made without any suspicion regarding its meaning. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), the Exalted, says: “Only those are the believers who have believed in Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messengerand never since doubted”. Qur’an, Surah al-Hujuraat, 49:15.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ): “I bear witness that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and I am His Messenger. The slave of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) who would meet Him without harboring any doubt about his (testimony) would enter al-Jannah (Paradise).” Sahih Muslim Vol 1:40,41

3. Purity and Sincerity (Al-Ikhlaas)

The intention of accepting Islam and performing all acts of worshipmust be purely devoted to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)  :“Say, (O Muhammad (ﷺ)): Verily, I am commanded to worship Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) (alone) by obeying Him and doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah’s sake only and not to show off, and not to set up rivals with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in worship.” (Qur’an, Surah Zumar, 39:11). So, when one declares this testimony, he should be doing so solely for the sake of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), not for anyone else. Purity and sincerity is the opposite of Shirk(associating others in that which is due to Allah alone). The one who proclaims this Shahaadah (testimony) for any worldly gain has failed to meet this condition of Sincerity of woprship and has failed to meet Allah’s command, when He says: “Worship Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), making the Religion pure and sincere for Him.”Qur’an.Surah Zumar, 39:14

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Allah has forbidden the Fire upon one who says laa ilaaha illal-laah seeking by this the Face of Allah.”Sahih Al Bukhari Vol 8:431

4. Truthfulness (As-Sidq)

Truthfulness paves the way for a meaningful understanding of this declaration. It strengthens the drive of man towards achieving knowledge about his Creator, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). The hypocritesutter the declaration, but they conceal rejection in their hearts:“They said with their tongues what is not in their Hearts.”Qur’an.Surah Fath, 48:11

The heart is like the king and the limbs are the soldiers. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “Truly there is a piece of flesh in the body if it become good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body becomes spoilt.”Sahih Muslim 1599, 3882 and Sahih Al Bukhari 1:49

When the love of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) fills the heart, truthfulness and honesty fill it too, but when desire gets to the heart, the way for corruption and hypocrisy becomes opened and man will utter what is not really in his heart. The whole and sound heart is the one free from:

a) Association of anyone /anything in the worship of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى),

b) False pride and arrogance

c) Envy

d) Misery

e) Love for this life

f) Love for leadership and domination

g) Lust

h) Bid’ah

This is the kind of heart that fulfills the declaration of Shahaadah. This is known in the Qur’an as "Al-Qalb As-Saleem; the clean, sound, safe and whole heart,” and it is the thing that really counts on the Day of Reckoning :“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail except him who brings to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)a clean heart[clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].”(Qur’an. Surah Shu’ara 26: 88-89).

5. Love (Al-Mahabah)

Love is:

a) To love Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ), more than all else.

b) To love what Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger (ﷺ) love

c) To hate or dislike what Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger (ﷺ) hate or dislike in all matters that are related to Islam. This is the true meaning of love in Islaam and these three elements form the foundations behind the concept of al-walaa wal-baraa.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Whoever possesses (the following) three qualities will relish the sweetness (delight) of Eemaan (Faith): The one to whom Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)  and His Messenger (ﷺ) becomes dearer than anything else; that he loves a person for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone (i.e. to purely seek Allah and His Pleasure); that he hates to revert to Kufr (disbelief) after Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has rescued him from it as he hates to be thrown into Hell.” Sahih Al Bhukari Vol 1:15 and Sahih Muslim 67

The love of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) must be translated into following their orders. This negates the following innovators and/or their innovations. Those who introduce concepts and/or ways that are not according to Islamic teachings: like the mystics of Sufism and their so-called "Tareeqas(ways)" which have nothing to do with Islam. Their ideas originated from other religious concepts. They elevate their Sufi Sheikhs and leaders (Aqtab) to divine levels:"And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)  . But those who believe love Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) more (than anything else)." Qur'an.Surah Baqarah 2:165

In the following narration, Abdullah bin Mas'ud (R) said: "The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said one statement and I said another. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: "Whoever dies while still invoking anything other than Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) as a rival to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)  , will enter Hell (Fire)." And I said, "Whoever dies without invoking anything as a rival to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), will enter Al-Jannah (Paradise)." Sahih Al Bukhar Vol 6:24

The Love of Allah Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Message of Islam is related to the Knowledge of Him and of His Names and Attributes. The more the person knows of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), the love of Him becomes stronger. This makes the believer eager to meet Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), see Him, and listen to His Words in the Hereafter. This becomes the goal and all the worldly attachment gets weaker and weaker. The spirit is lifted up. It aims high towards its Creator. It would not trap itself on any road that would lead to other than the submission to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone. The person becomes motivated to comply with Allah's command to the best of his abilities. This produces the true happiness in this life and in the Hereafter.

6. Obedience (Al-Inqiyaad)

The testimony is fulfilled by obedience to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) and by safeguarding against what Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forbids:“Whoever submits his face to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).. (i.e. follow Islam), while he is doing good (i.e. obey Allah and His Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) in all respects) has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold” Qur’an.Surah Luqman 31:22.

The compliance to the declaration of the Shahaadah must be free of hesitation. Rather it is a matter of full submission. This is well illustrated in the saying of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). and his Messenger () have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah (Glory be Him) and his Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.” Qur’an.Surah Ahzaab 33:36. The decrees of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His Messenger (ﷺ) are not subject to human evaluation. The Message is a Revelation. What it contains is for the benefit of man. Therefore, man’s submission in Islam is for his own good.

7. Acceptance (al-Qubool)

It is not enough to recognize the greatness of Islam and that it is the Truth, but this recognition must be ascertained by humble acceptance and humility. The adherence to the meaning of this declaration safeguards the believer from false pride, arrogance and disdainfulness: “Truly when it was said to them: laa ilaha illallaah (None has the right to be worshipped but Allah), they puffed themselves up with pride (i.e. denied it)”.Qur’an.Surah Saafaat 37:35. The Muslim must realize that this declaration stands against bigoted and blind imitation and calls for an acceptance of the teachings of Islam according to the understanding of those who followed the correct path. They are the companions and those who follow their footsteps until the day of resurrection. This path is knows as the Path of as-Salafus-Saalih(righteous predecessors).

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) gave amazing parables for those who accept and those who reject the guidance and teachings of Islam. He said: “The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefit). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah’s religion and gets benefit (from knowledge) whichAllah (سبحانه و تعالى). has revealed through me (the Prophet) and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah’s guidance revealed through me (he is like that barren land). Sahih Al Bukhari Vol 1:79.