There are many different ways through which one’s faith is exhibited. In some religion, penance is a way of expressing one’s faith by voluntarily letting one’s self suffer different kinds of pain through flagellation, crucifixion or denying one’s self of some of life’s basic comforts. Some religions have far more painful ways of penance than the others.
But in Islam, faith could be expressed in as simple as mentioning a sentence containing a few words. In fact, it is the first step in identifying yourself as a Muslim. It is by saying, in Arabic, Ashhadu An La Ilaha Illallah wa Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah; there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
Muslims recite it in the call to prayer, after performing ablution, in their five daily obligatory prayers, and as a form of remembrance of God. Non-Muslims who wish to enter the religion of Islam recite this as a confirmation of his faith.
In Islam, non-Muslims who wish to enter this religion do not undergo elaborate ceremonies such as baptism or other religious rites. It is as simple as saying these words, in Arabic, Ashhadu An La Ilaha Illallah wa Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah; there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
But saying these does not mean that this should be done as mere lip service. The testimony of faith has to emanate from a heart that is purified from the worship of any other god other than Allah and that his body should be prepared to dedicate itself in the service of Allah by worshipping Him alone without partners and in the service of this religion. In fact, humans could not really find peace in this world except through the realization that we have been created by God to worship Him alone and without partners.
COVENANT WITH ADAM
Allah said in the Quran, “And remember when your Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their loins and made them testify concerning themselves saying: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes’” Quran 7:172.
This verse states that Allah has hard-wired upon every human being the desire to worship Him alone without partners. The covenant that humans had with Allah is that they should not recognize anyone or anything other than Him as their Lord. This also meant that they will not worship any other god besides Him. Because the Muslim that testifies that there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah knows that the air he breaths, the food he eats, and everything that he benefits from, all come from Allah and he should be thankful for it and be mindful of it all the time.
THE ULTIMATE REMEMBRANCE
One of the best ways to remember God is mentioning the testimony of faith. Muslims mention the testimony of faith when they are amazed, having difficulty, or even when their happy. La Ilaha Illallah, there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah is a remembrance for all season. There is no particular occasion that limits the time that it could be said, but rather, this could be mentioned all the time, as it is one of the best ways of remembering Allah.
But La Ilaha Illallah, there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah, is never recited as a remembrance the same way Hindus or Buddhists recite their mantras. La ilaha illallah is recited with heart-felt expressions that emanates from the deepest parts of the human spirit and in fact la ilaha illallah, there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah is best mentioned upon once time of death.
THE LAST WORDS FOR SALVATION
It has been common knowledge that has been shared by people who have been through near-death experiences, that upon their seemingly inevitable death, time seems to slow down and they are reminded of everything they cared about all their lives. Most people mentioned remembering their loved ones and feel sad that they are about to lose them. Some people mentioned remembering upon their imminent death that they have things that they regretted, wished to have done or loved the most.
That is why people, in their death beds say the weirdest things there is, but not for a pious Muslim. For the pious Muslim, since he has lived his life in the service of Allah, the most beloved thing for him other than his family is God himself. The pious Muslim in his deathbed or upon his death will remember Allah first and foremost.
Muslims have a tradition called the ‘talqin’ or encouraging the dying Muslim in saying, la ilaha illallah, there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah. Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Exhort your dying ones of saying la ilaha illallah.’ Narrated by Imam Muslim.
It is because for the dying Muslim, it is best that he remember Allah the most during the time when his soul is about to be snatched away from his body in order for him to repent to Allah with all sincerity. Saying la ilaha illallah upon one’s death is also a sign of a good death as Prophet Muhammad said, “If a person’s last words are Laa ilaha illallah, Paradise will be guaranteed for him.” Narrated by Imam Ahmad.
It is a sign of a good death upon the religion because the dying Muslim remembered Allah in his last breath. It is also because it was Allah who inspired and guided the person to remember Him with his dying breath. Therefore, Paradise is a fitting reward for such a person because no person would die in the state of saying la ilaha illallah except those who lived in the principles of la ilaha illallah.