La Ilaha Illallah: There Is No god but Allah
Friday Sermon delivered at Masjid Mubarak, Islamabad, Tilford, UK
Meaning & Significance of the Islamic Creed
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that La ilaha illallah – There is no god but Allah – is the basis of the unity of God.
His Holiness(aba) said that the Holy Prophet(sa) said that Allah has ordained for such a person to be forbidden from entering the fire who recites this for the sake of attaining God’s pleasure. When one proclaims that there is no god but Allah solely for the sake of God and being entirely devoted to Him, in turn attains the blessings of God. This indeed is the same teaching brought by all prophets. Yet, unfortunately, it is the people of those very prophets who have forgotten these teachings and turned them into a means of associating partners with God.
An Intercession on the Day of Judgement
His Holiness(aba) said that we are fortunate to have accepted the teachings which completely safeguards against associating partners with God and also enables us to attain success in this life as well as the next. One who follows the teachings of the Holy Prophet(sa) and proclaims the Unity of God solely for the sake of God’s pleasure then they will surely attain blessings and will be those who receive the intercession of the Holy Prophet(sa) on the Day of Judgement. In fact, the Holy Prophet(sa) himself said that one who sincerely proclaims la ilaha illallah will be deserving of his intercession on the Day of Judgement.
His Holiness(aba) said that the Holy Prophet(sa) was the Seal of Prophets and God also gave him the ability to be an intercessor. Believing in the Holy Prophet(sa) is in fact a tenet of faith, and the true proclamation of God’s unity cannot be bereft of belief in the Holy Prophet(sa) and the belief that he is the Seal of Prophets. The Holy Prophet(sa) taught us how to be free from and safeguard against associating partners with God. Regrettably, there are those among his people and nation who succumb to various forms of the hidden shirk (association of partners with God). Where we are taught of the deeper meanings of la ilaha illallah, we are also taught about the esteemed rank of the Holy Prophet(sa).
His Holiness(aba) said that he would present various quotations of the Promised Messiah(as) on this very topic.
Three Signs of the Complete Faith
His Holiness(aba) quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that God Himself explained His proclamation of having completed Islam as the perfect and complete religion; God presented three conditions and signs:
- ‘whose root is firm’
- ‘whose branches reach into heaven’
- ‘It brings forth its fruit at all times’
(The Holy Qur’an, 14:25-26)
Regarding the first sign, the Promised Messiah(as) said that this refers to la ilaha illallah. For example, God Almighty states:
‘Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day, and in the ships which sail in the sea with that which profits men, and in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and quickens therewith the earth after its death and scatters therein all kinds of beasts, and in the change of the winds, and the clouds pressed into service between the heaven and the earth — are indeed Signs for the people who understand.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 2:165)
In this verse, God Almighty has proven the fact that there is no god but Allah through the law of nature, which clearly points towards the fact that there is a single Creator and Intelligent Designer who set this law of nature in motion. A glance at the world makes it clear that it could not have come about on its own, rather it clearly indicates that this world has a Creator who must be Gracious, Merciful, All-Powerful, One Without Any Partner, Everlasting, an Intelligent Designer, the Culmination of All Attributes, and One Who Sends Revelation. Hence, la ilaha illallah firmly implants within the heart that God is the Ultimate Creator who created the entire universe and as such we must turn to Him for all our needs. Such a level of faith ensures that one cannot fall into shirk.
True Help Can Only Be Sought From Allah
His Holiness(aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah(as) who said that Allah the Almighty is the only one who can and has the ability to render help, and so He is the only one who should be turned to. It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:
‘Thee Alone do we worship and Thee Alone do we implore for help’.
Thus, He is the only one we can seek help from and He is the only one who truly has the power to render help. Hence, one must adhere to the commandments of God and His Messenger (sa). Doing so is known as following the ‘right path’, which of course cannot be achieved without la ilaha illallah.
His Holiness(aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that God did not merely claim that there is no god but Him, rather he presented all the necessary proofs and arguments before making this claim, so that it was clear and irrefutable. The grandeur of God’s unity and la ilaha illallah was witnessed during the Conquest of Makkah. When the Holy Prophet(sa) asked Abu Sufyan, that had he not realised the superiority of la ilaha illallah, Abu Sufyan replied saying that he surely had, for if any of their idols possessed any divinity, they would have helped them by now.
Experiencing the Heavenly Garden in this Life
His Holiness(aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah(as) who said that one cannot attain salvation from someone else’s demise, rather true salvation can only be achieved through la ilaha illallah. It is not only enough to proclaim this, rather one must completely understand it and live their lives in accordance with it. Then, when God’s unity overtakes a person’s heart, they begin living and experiencing the heavenly garden in this very life. The meaning of la ilaha illallah according to the dictionary is, ‘I have no desire, no beloved, no one to worship, no one to follow other than Allah’. When such a condition arises, then one begins to experience Paradise in this world.
His Holiness(aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that God has given many commandments, some of which are conditional. For example, Hajj can only be undertaken when all the requisite conditions are met. The same is the case with Zakat and it is compulsory only for those who meet the required conditions. There are also instances where the daily prayers can take on a different form, such as being combined or shortened due to travel. However, the commandment of la ilaha illallah is not a conditional one, rather it is universal. Everything else falls under this commandment – if one does not worship to a high standard then they cannot have complete faith in la ilaha illallah. If one proclaims God’s unity, then they must prove it through their actions by acting upon and fulfilling God’s commandments and teachings. Hence ‘There is no god but Allah’ is the overarching principle and commandment, and ‘Muhammad(sa) is the Messenger of Allah’ is the example of how to follow and implement la ilaha illallah.
Giving Preference to One’s Faith Over the World
His Holiness(aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah(as) who said that life is not guaranteed and can slip away at any time. Therefore, one should not think that they have ample time, rather they should immediately turn to God and His worship. One should analyse everyday, the degree to which they fulfil the conditions and requirements associated with la ilaha illallah. It is necessary to give precedence to the faith over worldly matters. The attainment of worldly things should not be one’s purpose, instead by giving precedence to faith, one’s worldly endeavours also fall under the faith. The Companions also partook of the world, yet they did so without compromising their faith, their beliefs or their worship. Until la ilaha illallah does not overtake every fibre of one’s being they cannot attain true success at any level.
His Holiness(aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that one who reads the Holy Qur’an is fully aware of the fact that God does not like mere verbal claims. Such claims cannot bring about any sort of change or betterment. There came a time upon the Jewish people who made mere claims, but had evil thoughts and ideas in their hearts and minds. It was thus that God sent various calamities upon them. Did they not believe in the Torah and the prophets? Of course they did. However, God was not pleased by mere verbal claims and the hearts not reflecting their words. This means that if one claims with their words that they believe in the unity of God and in the Holy Prophet(sa) and His Messenger, it will be of no benefit to them until their hearts proclaim the same thing and they will not attain salvation until they bring this claim into practice. An oath will render no benefit without action. People can be fooled, however God cannot be deceived. Therefore, a person’s actions must be sincere, and that sincerity can be derived from a true understanding of la ilaha illallah.
One Cannot Enter Paradise from the Mere Utterance of the Creed
His Holiness(aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah(as) who said that if all that was required was the mere utterance of la ilaha illallah was enough to enter a person into Paradise, then there would be no need for action and God forbid, the Shariah would be in vain. However this is not the case. Rather, without action and implementation, one cannot enter Paradise. Until one embodies the requirements associated with la ilaha illallah they will not achieve success in any form. Furthermore, if one accepts that all difficulties are for the sake of God and that He aids His servants, then nothing would worry them or cause them anguish because of their trust and belief in God. This was the very method adopted by the Companions.
Eradicating the Subtle Forms of Shirk
His Holiness(aba) continued quoting the Promised Messiah(as) who said that it is not enough to simply avoid worshipping idols. In fact, there are other hidden forms of worshipping things. The Holy Qur’an points out that one can unknowingly worship their own desires. La ilaha illallah refutes not only idols, but all other forms of worship and things which people may associate as equal with God, whether they be hidden or apparent. For example, one who depends solely on apparent means commits shirk as well. There are also those who deem themselves to be so learned and educated that their thoughts and ideas become the object of their worship. Such things cannot be eradicated without the grace of God. True bravery is to avoid all forms of associating partners with God and turning only to Allah the Almighty.
His Holiness(aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah(as) who said that the members of his community proclaim their belief in the unity of God, yet they do not have true belief. Those who usurp the rights of others, are unjust or do not avoid other ills cannot be deemed as a believer in the unity of God, for one who holds this belief certainly brings a positive change about within themselves. It is only when the inner idols of pride, arrogance, enmity, jealousy, hatred, hypocrisy, dishonesty etc. are eradicated that one can truly be a believer in the unity of God.
His Holiness(aba) said that during the month of Ramadan, we should strive to eliminate these inner idols so that we may be among those who truly believe in la ilaha illallah.
His Holiness(aba) prayed that in the remaining days of Ramadan, may we be those who cleanse ourselves of these inner impurities through effort and prayer. May we remain safe from every type of hidden shirk and eradicate all forms of idols. May God be the Only One we worship, our only desire, and beloved. May we understand the reality of la ilaha illallah and when we proclaim that Muhammad(sa) is the Messenger of Allah, then may we keep his pristine example before us. All of this cannot be achieved without the grace of God, for which we must strive physically and spiritually.
True Significance of the Night of Destiny
His Holiness(aba) said that in the last ten days of Ramadan we speak of the Night of Destiny – this can only be achieved when our every word and action is devoted to God and this is the case for the remainder of our lives. This is the true and everlasting sign of having attained the Night of Destiny. The true sign of having attained the Night of Destiny is the impact and change it brings about in a person’s heart. Other signs of seeing light, hearing rain or smelling a sweet fragrance are all temporary, whereas a revolution in the heart is a permanent manifestation of the Night of Destiny.
His Holiness(aba) that in some places, arrangements have been made for special prayers for three days in light of his previous statement that if we were to all collectively pray for three days then God’s special grace would manifest. His Holiness(aba) said that if these three days have been arranged for prayers, only to return to our previous states and forget about the true purpose of la ilaha illallah, then remember that Allah knows the conditions of our hearts and intentions. If these days are being established for the sake of attaining the pleasure of Allah, then it should be with the oath that they will bring about a lasting change in our lives. In this case, Allah the Almighty will manifest His special help and grace in order to free us from the cruelties being imposed by the enemies. His Holiness(aba) also reminded that he also said this would happen only when every member of the Community reformed their condition. Hence, it should be remembered that if this does not become the case, then those holding these programmes should not then complain that God forbid, God did not hear their prayers. In fact, God informed the Promised Messiah(as) that he would aid him with His special help and grace. If we make God our true and only desire, purpose and the Only One we worship, then this revolution can come about even sooner. Therefore we must vow to permanently change our conditions. The Holy Prophet(sa) said that the last ten days of Ramadan are for salvation from the fire as he also said that one who proclaims that there is no god but Allah. This clearly indicates to us that none of this can be achieved without true and sincere actions. Our every action should reflect la ilaha illallah. His Holiness prayed that may Allah the Almighty enable us to live our lives in this manner.
His Holiness(aba) also urged prayers for the general state of the world, that may Allah have mercy and bestow His blessings upon humanity.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions