The ShahadatainAccepting a new way of Life
“O you who believe! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly, and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One, for he is to you and avowed enemy. If you backslide after the clear (Signs) have come to you, then know that Allah is exalted in Power, Wise.” Qur’an 2:208
According to the above verse, when we come into the Deen (religion) of Islam, we are accepting to follow a new way of life that is different from any other way of life we may have lived in the past. As a Muslim, we cannot accept to follow any way or path other than the one established by Allah for those who profess to believe in Him and His Messenger.
The theoretical foundation of Islam is to bear witness to “Ash-had-du anla, illaha illallah (I bear witness that there is no god except Allah), wa Ash-hadduanna Muhammadan abduhu wa Rasullulah (and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger)”
This is accepting that the only true God is Allah; that He is the Sustainer and Ruler of the universe; to believe in Him, to worship Him alone, and to put His laws into practice. A Believer is one in whose heart this declaration has penetrated completely. It is through this declaration that the other pillars of Islam and articles of faith are derived.
It is very important when anyone accepts Islam that they take on the proper mentality and disposition necessary to live their life as a Muslim. Calling oneself a Muslim does not necessarily mean one has submitted to the designs of an Islamic life. A Muslim who makes the Shahadah and then willingly accepts the authority and rule of anyone else is rejecting the worship of Allah alone. You cannot say that you worship or serve Allah alone, then become involved in a system that separates Allah from the political and social processes of life. The transition from the life of a Christian, Jew or other types of beliefs is more than just a change in names. The Muslim brings about a complete transformation in thoughts, beliefs and conduct that not only impacts the one who accepts Islam, but it also affects those with whom they come in contact.
Accepting Islam and becoming a Muslim is to accept a new way of thinking and behavior, a new system of values and a new lifestyle that has a dramatic effect on every aspect of one’s life. You cannot just say you are a Muslim and then continue to live your life in the same manner you did before accepting Islam. As a Muslim, actions speak louder than words, for Allah says:
“O you who believe, why say that which you do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not.” Qur’an 61:23
In the teachings of all the prophets, from Abraham to Muhammad, those who accepted the teachings of Allah were required to reject the way of life in which one has been living. If you enter into any religion that claims to be from Allah and it allows you to remain in the same frame of reference (way of thinking) and social behavior, then that in itself tells us that the religion is not the way of the prophets, but rather the way of some one else.
It is obvious that Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Holy Qur’an are two separate entities, yet they are so closely tied together that one cannot conceive of them being fully comprehensible without the existence of the other. Trying to separate the Prophet from the Holy Qur’an is as though trying to separate a tree from its roots. Allah makes this clear when He tells the Prophet (saw):
“Say (O Muhammad), ‘If you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, for Allah is forgiving, a Dispenser of Mercy.’ Say, ‘Obey Allah and obey His Messenger,’ but if they turn back, Allah loves not those who reject Faith.” Qur’an 3:31-32
“Say, O mankind. Surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, of Him whose is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. So believe in Allah, the ummi Prophet, who believes in Allah and His Words, and follow him so that you may be guided aright.” Qur’an 7:158
The above verse puts forth the importance of following the practices (Sunnah) of the Prophet (saw) through whom we make the teachings of the Holy Qur’an a reality. When we accept Islam, all of our previous sins are forgiven, and we start with a new slate, just as a baby who has come from the womb of its mother.
In the Christian world, there is the story in the Bible where Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus about his miracles, and Jesus said to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Now this confused Nicodemus, because it was not clear to him, and he responded, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” John 3:1-7
Prophet Muhammad (saw) made it clear as to how this is a reality for one who accepts and follow the teachings of Islam when his companions asked him,
“Messenger of Allah, would we be responsible for our deeds committed in the state of ignorance (before embracing Islam?)” Upon this Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied, “He who among you performed good deeds in Islam would not be held responsible for his misdeeds that he committed in the state of ignorance as well as in that of Islam.” Muslim, Vol. I, page 68, no. 217
Faith is not something inert. It is dynamic in the sense that it revolutionizes the whole life of a person. If one accept Islam and then leads a virtuous and pious life in accordance with its teachings, all of his previous misdeeds would be wiped off. He has proved that he sincerely wants a healthy change in his life and is prepared to put forth an earnest effort for him moral development.
But, if a person persists in the path of evil, which he was treading before accepting Islam, he shows his attachment to evil. Thus, he in no way is entitled to any remission. This Hadith is an elucidation of the well known verse of the Qur’an which states,
“Verily, virtue wipes off vices.” Qur’an 11:114
A Muslims values and beliefs are found in Islam, and they have been exemplified in the perfect exemplar, Prophet Muhammad (saw). When a person accepts Islam, such a person must accept the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (saw) with the faith and enthusiasm shown by a child who is learning and having new experiences for the first time. A child does not doubt the ability or effectiveness of its parents or teachers. The child’s mind is open to accept new thoughts and concepts, feeling secure that the ones conveying those thoughts and concepts are concerned with its best interest.
We are asked to submit ourselves entirely to the Will of Allah when we accept Islam. This entire submission means that we are looking to only what Allah intends for us. Entire submission requires that we must look at our former values and examine them in the light of what Allah requires of us, and if these values conflict with what comes from Allah and His Messenger, we reject them without question. Allah’s Guid-ance is the only guidance for the Muslim, and He gave that guidance to us in the exemplary character and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (saw) whom we seek to emulate as much as we can.
We live in a society that has taught us many things that are contrary to what Allah and His Messenger requires of us. We may think that the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the schools we send our children to have no negative impact on our lives, but if we examine these things in the light of Islam, we find that many of these things have the influence and workings of the devil in them.
We should be conscious of what our religion instructs in the way of true leadership. No knowledgeable and true leader will ask Muslims to join in the affairs of a kuffar or disbelieving society. Prophet Muhammad (saw) warns such leaders and their followers of the consequences of accepting an unIslamic system when he said,
“He who summons to what pre-Islamic people (disbelievers) believed belongs to the assembly of Jahannum (Hell), even if he fasts, prays and asserts that he is a Muslim.” Reported by al-Harith al-Ash’ari, and transmitted by Ahmad and Tirmidhi.
“Islam is perfect, and is the solution to what has troubled us before becoming Muslim. Allah tells us that He will not change our condition until we desire a change in our heart.” Qur’an 13:11 and 8:53
This is why we accept Islam if we are true. We want a change, and not the same old thing. Allah has already given us a perfect system of life.
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