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Shahada - The Shahada (Arabic: الشهادة ash-shah-hay-dah, from the verb shahida "to testify") is the Muslim confession of faith. The declaration is as follows:

أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله

In transliteration: Ashadu an la ilaha illa illa-ilah, wa ashadu anna muhammadan rasul ullah.

Th meaning is: "I testify that there is no god but God (Allah), and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God (Allah). 

The text of the declaration is called the Kalima, meaning "words." Recitation of the Shahadah is the most important of the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims and is performed daily as part of the Salat. Recitation of the Shahada in public is also the requirement for conversion to Islam.

Shia Muslims may add to the Shahada, wa-Aliyun waliyu 'llah "and Ali is the companion beloved, friend) of Allah."

One who performs the Shahada is a Shahid, but this is pronounced as Shay heed, and not like the word Shahid that means martyr.

The Shahada is often inscribed on flags and banners as in the flag of Saudi Arabia and the flag below:


Ami Isseroff

November 14, 2008


Synonyms and alternate spellings: ahadah

Further Information:

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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