All of us know that to enter into Islaam we must bear witness that there is none worthy of worship save Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, peace be upon him. Many times we talk about the first part of the shahaadah or testimony and we discuss it in detail. However, it is just as important to understand the meaning and the implications of the second part of the shahaadah. Indeed sometimes we stray from the Straight Path because we are not implementing the second part of the shahaadah in the proper way. When we testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah we are testifying and stating our belief that the Prophet Muhammad , peace be upon him, was chosen by Allaah to be His Messenger and to convey His Message. Allaah says in the Qur'aan:
"And your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and He chooses" (al-Qasas,68 )
Allaah creates and has power to do all things. Allaah specifically chose the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to be His Messenger. In another verse, Allaah says, "Allaah knows best with whom to place His Message" (al-Anaam,124 )
This automatically implies some characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as obviously Allaah would not choose one who is treacherous or lying to be His Messenger. Allaah would not choose anyone for such an important mission whom He knew would not convey the message or who would use the position to his own advantage. If anyone claims that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not actually convey the entire message or that he distorted it in any way, he is actually saying that Allaah did not know who was the correct or best person to be a messenger. This is obvious disbelief.
Second, when one makes the shahaadah, he is also testifying that the Prophet, peace be upon him, has been sent for all of mankind until the Day of Judgement. Allaah says in the Qur'aan,
"Say: O Mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allaah" (al-Araf,158 )
Furthermore the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,
"I have been given five aspects that were not given to any prophet before me... [One of which is] every prophet was sent only to his people while I have been sent to all of mankind." (al-Bukhaari and Muslim)
It is obligatory upon everyone from the time of the Prophet (Saw) until the Day of Judgement to believe and follow the Prophet, peace be upon him. If the message of Islaam clearly reaches a person and he still refuses to believe in and follow the Prophet, peace be upon him, he is a disbeliever and will be in the Hellfire forever - unless he repents and embraces Islaam.
However, this also implies that the Prophet's teaching and his sunnah are valid and obligatory upon all of mankind. That is, his example and teaching was not simply for the people of Arabia at his time. Instead, it is just as valid and just as important for each and every Muslim today, whether he be in New York or Malaysia. The Prophet, peace be upon him,) has been sent to all of us. His example and teaching is for all of us.
Some people seem to try to resist the idea that they have to follow the Prophet, peace be upon him. When they do so, they must realise that they are going against what they have testified to. They have testified that the Prophet's message, which includes both the Qur'aan and his inspired sunnah, is for all of mankind - including each and everyone of us alive today.
Third, when we make the shahaadah we are testifying that we believe with certainty that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, conveyed the message - he conveyed it correctly, he conveyed all of it, and he conveyed it clearly. Allaah says in the Qur'aan -
"The Messenger's duty is only to convey (the message) in a clear way" (al-Nur,54 )
The Prophet, peace be upon him, himself said, "I left you on a bright path whose night and day are alike. No one strays from it after me except he is destroyed" (Ahmad, al-Bayhaqi, sahih see Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer, vol.2, p.805, hadith no.4369 )
The Prophet, peace be upon him, conveyed all of the guidance and revelation that he received from Allaah. He conveyed it and explained it in a very clear manner. Therefore when we make the shahaadah, we are also testifying that the Prophet, peace be upon him, conveyed all the aspects of the religion - its fundamental as well as its secondary aspects. There is no part of the religion that we need for our guidance that was not conveyed to us or that Allaah or the Prophet, peace be upon him,) may have possibly forgotten.
Therefore, when we have this complete and clear guidance from the Prophet, peace be upon him, there is no need for us to turn to other sources for guidance. There is no need for us to turn to the books of the Jews or Christians. Indeed, the Prophet, peace be upon him, told Umar when he saw him reading the Torah, that if the Prophet Musa were alive at his time, he would also have to follow the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. There is no need for us to turn to the Greek philosophers to learn about our theology. There is no need for us to turn to the philosophers, the psychologists, the feminist leaders or the right wing leaders of today or anybody else for us to get guidance. All that we need is to be found in the Qur'aan and Sunnah. We testify to that fact. We bear witness that the Prophet, peace be upon him, conveyed the entire message. This is all part of the meaning of our shahaadah.
When we declare, "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah", we are also declaring that he is the final prophet sent by Allaah. Allaah says in the Qur'aan,
"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allaah and the Last of the Prophets" (al-Ahzab,40 ) There is to be no prophet who is going to come after the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. No new prophet and no new scripture will come that will abrogate what the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, brought. Furthermore whenever anyone claims to be a prophet, we know automatically that such a person is a liar and deceiver. We must oppose him and declare to all that his claim to prophethood is false.
To accept anyone as a prophet after the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is to falsify one's declaring of the shahaadah.
When we make the testimony of faith or the shahaadah, this not only implies that we believe in certain things but it also implies that we are accepting certain responsibilities that stem from that shahaadah. For example, when we say that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, for that shahaadah to be a correct form of shahaadah, it means that we are taking on the responsibility of worshipping no one other than Allaah.
Similarly, when we say, "I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah", we are taking on certain responsibilities with respect to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). When we are lacking in any of these responsibilities, then we are lacking when it comes to fulfilling our shahaadah. It can even get to the point that we negate our shahaadah completely by refusing to fulfill our responsibility to the Prophet Muhammad , peace be upon him.
The first of our obligations toward the Prophet, peace be upon him, is to love him. This does not just imply any form of love but complete iman requires that we love the Prophet, peace be upon him, more than anyone or anything else of this world. Allaah says in the Qur'aan,
"Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allaah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allaah brings about His decision (torment). And Allaah guides not the people who are disobedient". (at-Tawbah,24 )
One way, Allaah willing, to attain this correct love of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is by studying the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and seeing the sacrifices and struggles that he went through in order to fulfill his mission and convey this message.
Second, when we make the testimony of faith, this means that we are accepting the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as our example of how to live and behave in a way that is correct and pleasing to Allaah. Allaah says in the Qur'aan:
"Indeed in the Messenger of Allaah you have an excellent example to follow for him who hopes in (the meeting with) Allaah and the Last Day and remembers Allaah much". (al-Ahzab,21 )
Allaah also says,
"Say (O Muhammad): if you truly love Allaah, then follow me and Allaah will love you (in return) and forgive for you your sins". (al-'Imraan,31 )
It is very strange that some people can declare the testimony of faith and declare that Muhammad is the Messenger and Prophet of Allaah yet at the same time they do not consider him an example of the way of life that a believer should follow. Not only do they not take him as an example for themselves, they actually oppose others who do take the Prophet, peace be upon him, as their example. This is nothing but a clear sign that such a persin does not have a clear understanding of the meaning and implications of the testimony of faith that he made. May Allaah forgive us all.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "I swear by Allaah that I am the most fearful of Allaah and most conscious of Him than all of you. But I also [as part of my sunnah] fast and break my fast, pray and sleep [at night], and marry women. Whoever turns away from my sunnah is not from me [i.e. is not one of my followers]." (al-Bukhaari).
In this hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, explained that he is the most fearful of Allaah and God-conscious. Therefore, there is no excuse for anyone not to follow his example and guidance. But he also stated that the one who turns away from his practice and example is not from him. That is, he is not one of his true followers. One cannot claim to believe and accept the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and then at the same time refuse to accept his life and example that one must strive to emulate and follow.
Also when we make the shahaadah, it becomes obligatory upon us to give the Prophet, peace be upon him, our complete obedience. Allaah has made this very clear in numerous places in the Qur'aan. For example, He says;
"O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger!" (an-Nisa,59 )
Allaah also says, "He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allaah, but he who turns away, then We have no sent you (O Muhammad) as a watcher over them" (an-Nisa,59 )
In addition to obedience to the Prophet, peace be upon him, we must also accept him as a judge - meaning that whatever the Prophet has decreed, decided or ordered, we must accept his decision and accept it completely without any feeling of ill-will in our hearts toward what he has decided. This is also very clear in the Qur'aan. Note the following verses
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) will full submission." (an-Nisa,65 )
"If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger, if you truly believe in Allaah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination." (an-Nisa,59 )
Finally, when we testify to this shahaadah, we have taken it upon our shoulders to defend the Prophet, peace be upon him. Allaah says in the Qur'aan,
"Those who believe in him (the Prophet Muhammad), honour him, help him and follow the light (the Qur'aan) which has been sent down with him, it is they who will be successful" (al-Araf,157 )
Defending him and supporting him includes the obvious of doing such with respect to his person during his lifetime. However, it is also includes defending and supporting him after his death. Unfortunately many ignorant people have attacked the sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, for many different reasons. It is an obligation upon us to defend the Sunnah and his way of life against such false onslaughts. This is part of the obligation that falls upon our shoulders when we make our testimony of faith.
Again, we become Muslim by testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah. This is the foundation of our religion and it is the most important testimony of our lives. However, after we make that testimony, we must be certain that we are fulfilling what it requires of us and understand completely its implications. If we do not, then we would not be testifying in the correct and proper manner. And this is something, I am sure, that none of us wish to be guilty of.
This is a Friday Congregational Prayer sermon presented to Muslims in the US.
Source: IslamicAwakening.com edited by ICSFP for web placement