Every world religion has a core belief or collection of core beliefs that provide structure and guidance to mankind. In Islam, there are five basic pillars upon which the religion is built: Shahadah, Salaat, Zakat, Sawm and Hajj. These five pillars are the foundation of the religion and are practiced universally across cultures, ethnicities, schools of thought and nations. The first pillar, Shahadah, is the declaration of faith that each Muslim embraces as the compassing force steering her or him along the path of Islam.
The declaration in English can be translated as follows:
There is none worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.
This one statement encapsulates much of the message of Islam in that it declares the Oneness of God and affirms that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is His Messenger. The shahadah is important for every Muslim to hold fast to because when she or he goes about his or her daily tasks distractions that may challenge this belief are encountered and the shahadah is a perfect, easy reminder of what it means to follow the path of Islam.
The Holy Qur’an states in Surah 18:110:
O Muhammad, tell them: “I am but a human being like you; the revelation is sent to me to declare that your God is One God; therefore, whoever hopes to meet his Rabb, let him do good deeds and join no other deity in worship of his Rabb.”
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never claimed to be more than a prophet and messenger of God, in Arabic, Allah, who was assigned the responsibility of reminding mankind that there is only One God. The shahadah is the first step in becoming a Muslim and introduces the believer to the way of life espoused in the Holy Qur’an and within the sayings of hadith which record the teachings and habits of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Although many believers make the declaration of the shahadah inside of the mosque, as long as there is a witness to the declaration present upon its announcement, the shahadah is deemed valid, but God knows best those who are sincere in their faith.