Testimony that Laa llaaha Illa-Allah
This phrase has two parts:
1) “Laa llaaha” : Which negates that anything or anyone deserves to be worshipped other than Allah.
2) “Illa-Allah” : Which affirms that Allah alone truly deserves to be worshipped. Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) said: “And (remember) when Ibraheem said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship, except Him (i.e Allah alone I worship none) Who did create me; and verily, He will guide me.” [43:26-27]
Therefore it’s not sufficient to worship Allah, rather you must worship Him alone. The Tawheed of a person is not correct except by singling out Allah in worship and freeing one’s self from polytheism (shirk) and those who commit it.
It has been mentioned in a narration that “Laa llaaha Illa-Allah” is the key to Paradise. But does everyone who says it deserve to have the door of Paradise opened for him?
Wahab ibn Munabbih was asked: “Isn’t the statement “Laa llaaha Illa-Allah” the key to Paradise?” He answered: “Yes, but every key has a set of teeth. If you come with the key that has the correct set of grooves, the door will open for you. If you come with a key that doesn’t have the correct set of grooves, the door will not open for you.”
Many narrations have been reported from the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) which explain the correct grooves which it must have. For instance he (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “Whoever says ‘Laa llaaha Illa-Allah’ sincerely” and he also said “with certainty in his heart” and he also said “truthfully from his heart” and so on. These narrations clarify that in order for this key to open the gates of Paradise, ‘Laa llaaha Illa-Allah’ must be said with submission to what its meaning entails, remaining firmly upon it throughout one’s life and with other characteristics.
Based on evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah, the scholars of Islam have concluded that certain conditions must be fulfilled, and certain factors must not be present for this phrase to serve as the key to Paradise and to benefit the person who utters it.
These conditions are as follows:
(1) Knowledge: Its opposite being ignorance. Since every statement has a meaning, one must know the meaning of Laa llaaha Illa-Allah. The meaning of this phrase is that one rejects that anything or anyone else deserves worship, affirming it for Allah alone. Thus this phrase means ‘none deserves worship except Allah. The proof that one must know the meaning is the saying of Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) “…except him who bears witness unto the truth and they know it.” [43:86]
Also, the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “Whoever dies knowing that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (Laa llaaha Illa-Allah) will enter paradise.” [Muslim]
(2) Certainty [the opposite of which is doubt]: Certainty is to believe that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (Laa llaaha Illa-Allah) with surety, having no doubt whatsoever. Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) said describing the true believers: “The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger then do not doubt, and struggle for the sake of Allah with their possessions and their selves…” [49:15]
It is not enough that a person merely utters this phrase, but he must have absolute certainty about its meaning. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (Laa llaaha Illa-Allah) and that I am His Messenger. None meet Allah with these two [testimonies], having no doubt about them, except that they will enter paradise.” [Muslim]
(3) Acceptance: If you have knowledge of the meaning of this phrase and you are certain about it, then this should have an effect on a person: that one accepts what this phrase necessitates with their heart and tongue [by accepting Islam]. Whoever rejects the call of Tawheed and does not accept it, then he is a disbeliever, whether that rejection be due to arrogance, stubbornness or jealousy. Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) mentioned about the disbelievers who rejected Tawheed due to arrogance: “For when it was said unto them, ‘none has the right to be worshipped except Allah’ (‘Laa llaaha Illa-Allah’) they would puff themselves up with pride [and denied it]. And they said: ‘What! Shall we forsake our gods for a crazy poet?'” [37:35-36]
(4) Compliance: to Tawheed completely. This is the real test and outward proof of belief. It is to abide by what Allah legislated and abstain from what He prohibited. Allah said: “Whoever submits his whole self to Allah and is a doer of good has indeed grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold…” [31:22]. This is the absolute compliance.
(5) Truthfulness: the opposite of which is lying. This is to say the testimony truthfully, since if one utters it without being truthful, he is a hypocrite. The proof of this is in the saying of Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala): “…they say with their tongues what is not in their hearts…” [48.11]
(6) Love: The believer must love this phrase, what it necessitates, and also those who act according to it. The sign of this love is to prefer what Allah loves even though it may be against his desires. He loves those who love-Allah and His Messenger, and he hates the enemies of Allah and His Messenger. He follows in the Messenger’s (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) footsteps and accepts his guidance.
(7) Purity of Intention: This means to only say this statement seeking the face of Allah and His pleasure, As Allah (Subhanahu Ta’ala) said: “And they were not commanded except that they should worship Allah being sincere in their religion for Him and worshipping none except Him Alone, and establish prayer and give charity and that is the right (straight) religion.” [98:5]
The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) also said: “Allah has forbidden the Hell-fire for anyone who says ‘none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (Laa llaaha Illa-Allah)’, desiring the face (and pleasure) of Allah.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]