After “La ilaha illa Allah” (There’s no god but Allah), you recite “Muhammadun rasulu Allah” (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah). This means that you accept Muhammad (blessings and peace be on him) as the man through whom Allah has sent you His guidance.
If we acknowledge Allah as Master and Sovereign, it is essential to know what His will is. What deeds should we perform that would please Him and what deeds should we refrain from that would displease Him? What laws should we follow to receive His forgiveness and avoid His punishment?
To explain all this to us, God appointed Muhammad (blessings and peace be on him) as His Messenger; for this very purpose through him He sent His Book.
The Prophet (peace be on him) having lived according to God’s guidance, showed us the way we should lead our lives. So, when you say “Muhammadun rasulu Allah”, you pledge to follow the way and law given by him and to reject anything which runs counter to it.
If, after making this pledge, you abandon the code of life brought by the Prophet and follow different and conflicting laws, however widely they may be accepted, there can hardly be any worse liars and more dishonest people than you. For you enter Islam only by solemnly affirming that you accept the code of life brought by him as the only true law and that you will faithfully follow it.
It is on the basis of this affirmation that you become brothers unto Muslims, become eligible for inheritance from your Muslim fathers; on the same basis you were married to Muslim women, your children became legitimate and you secured the right to ask Muslims to help you, to give you alms and to be responsible for the protection of your lives, property, honour and dignity.
Nothing can be more dishonest if, in spite of all this, you break your pledge.
If you make the pledge of “La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammadun rasulu Allah” with a full understanding of its meaning, then it is inconceivable that you will not comply with the laws of God even though no police or court forcing you to do so is visible in this world.
To anybody who thinks that it is easy to break the laws of God because God’s police, army, court and jail are unseen, and that it is difficult to break earthly laws because of the undoubted presence of the police, army, court and jails of the Government, I would clearly say: Your affirmation of “La ilaha illa Allah; Muhammadun rasulu Allah” is simply not truthful. You are trying to deceive your God, the whole world, all Muslims, and your own selves.
Obligations of Commitment
Brothers and friends! Now that we know the meaning of this Kalimah I wish to draw your attention to the obligations that result from it.
What does it mean to say that Allah is the Master of everything? It means that your lives are not your property; they belong to God. Your hands are not yours, nor do your eyes, your ears or any limb of your bodies belong to you. The lands you plough, the animals who work for you, the wealth and goods you derive benefit from – none of these is our own. Each and every thing belongs to God, and has been given to you as a gift.
You therefore have no basis whatsoever to make claims like ‘life is mine, the body is mine, wealth is mine’. It is absurd to claim ownership after having accepted some other being as the real owner. If you sincerely believe that God is the Owner of all these things, then two things automatically follow.
First, since God is the real owner and you are merely trustees of things owned by Him, you must use these things strictly as He has told you. If you do otherwise, you are abusing your trusteeship; this would amount to cheating God.
You have no right to move your hands and feet against His wish, nor to make your eyes see what He dislikes. You may not stomach anything contrary to His command. You possess no rights over lands and properties against the wish of the Master.
Your wives and children, whom you assume belong to you, are yours only because they have been given to you by your Master. Even they, therefore, must be treated not as you desire but as directed by Him. If you contravene His directions, you make yourselves usurpers.
Just as you call people dishonest who seize other people’s belonging, you, too, will be dishonest if you look on the gifts of God as your own property, and utilize them according to your own wishes or according to the wishes of someone other than God.
If you suffer hardship by acting according to the wish of your Master, so be it. If lives are lost, bodies are injured, families are broken or money and property destroyed in the process, why should you be grieved? If the Owner Himself decrees loss of His things, it is perfectly within His right.
Of course, if you act against the wish of the Master and suffer hardship, you will undoubtedly be guilty because you will have damaged His property. For example: you do not own your lives. If you give away your lives according to your Master’s wishes you will only be rendering His due. Giving your lives while working against Him, however, would be criminal.
Second, you do no favour to your Master nor to anyone else, if you spend something given by Him in His cause. You may give away anything, do any duty, or even sacrifice your lives – which to you are very dear – but you are not doing Him a favour.
The most you have done is to have rendered His due for His favour done to you. Is this an achievement to boast about, to demand acclaim for? Should people be praised just because they have repaid a favour?
Remember that a true Muslim never gets puffed up for spending something in his Master’s cause or for doing his duty to Him. On the contrary, he remains humble. Boasting and pride destroy good acts. Anyone who seeks praise, or does good work in order to earn praise, loses his right to receive any reward from God: ‘He has sought reward in this world and has already received it here.’
And whoso desires the harvest of the world, We give him thereof, and he has no portion in the Hereafter. (Ash-Shura 42:20)
The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”.