Declaring belief in the oneness of God and accepting Muhammad (s.a.w.a) as God’s messenger; sufficient to be counted a Muslim

  • Date 05 August 2021
  • Clock 18:56
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Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani’s speech on Islamic Unity week
In the name of God, the most companionate, the most merciful

We celebrate the Prophet’s auspicious birthday anniversary. May all people, especially Muslims, benefit from the blessings of this occasion. 
One of the great merits of the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini is this week which is called the Unity week. It has been named so because it includes the Prophet’s birthday anniversary.
Forty years after the Islamic Revolution, today more than ever before we perceive the necessity of unity. The more time passes, the more we realize how important and strategic was what Imam Khomeini did in initiating the Unity week. Unity is crucial and fundamental for the glory of Islam, guarantees the continuation of Muslims and the Islamic faith, and saves Muslims’ lives, property and dignity.
Aside from the Quran, the usual practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) and that the infallible Imams (as), unity is what the intellect also realizes its necessity. When we see paganism acting as one nation, that is, united against Islam using all its facilities to destroy the Islamic faith, the intellect advises Shias, Sunnis and all other Islamic denominations against disunity. 
I find it necessary to point out as to what the statement of faith is in Islam and who is called a Muslim. If we refer to books of the Shias and Sunnis, we find a consensus that the Islamic statement of faith comprises of two testimonies, testimony to oneness of God and that Muhammad (s.a.w.a) is God’s messenger. 
Then the question arises as to whether giving this testimony results in just an outward faith or no, it is both outward and inward faith. In our jurisprudential discussions in the book of Hajj we have expounded that we cannot say giving witness brings only an outward faith, no, Islam is giving this verbal witness. This is the core of Islam.
If anyone bears this witness, he is a Muslim inwardly and outwardly. If anyone bears this witness verbally and at heart also he believes in it, he is definitely a Muslim, that is, all Islamic rules apply to him. His life and property are to be respected, and the saying of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) apply to him according to which Muslims are like brothers and the blood of one of them is not different from that of the rest of them. Moreover, we have said in our jurisprudential discussions that if one bears this witness verbally but does not believe in it at heart, he is again definitely a Muslim. That is because the core of Islam is not but this verbal confession. God, from the very beginning, declared this testimony sufficient for being considered a Muslim.
Here, I should say to scholars of all Islamic schools of thought that ijtihad is not accepted in the statement of faith. According to widely narrated hadiths among Shias and Sunnis, the statement of faith in Islam comprises of two testimonies, testifying to oneness of God and that Muhammad (s.a.w.a) is God’s messenger. Nothing else is required to be counted a Muslim. If ijtihad is to be exercised in the statement of faith, different individuals at different times will exercise it and this will lead to claims such that if one makes a pilgrimage to the grave of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) has left the fold of Islam.
In other words, the lawgiver, who ordained the religion of Islam, himself should lay down the criterion for becoming a Muslim in an explicit manner. We cannot make a criterion of our own to differentiate Islam from paganism. No, the criterion is clear. If one bears this witness, he is a Muslim and he who does not, or reverts after confession, is not a Muslim.
Therefore, the criterion for being considered a Muslim is very clear and we do not have the right to accuse one of paganism because they go on pilgrimage to the Prophet’s grave, or because they believe in such and such. Some beliefs are secondary. If one denies a fundamental Islamic belief which amounts to not accepting Muhammad (s.a.w.a) as God’s messenger, he is a pagan. This means that being a Muslim or not depends on whether one’s belief is tantamount to denying Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a) as the messenger of God or not.
At any rate, in current circumstances, all Muslim scholars should pay utmost attention to unity. Today, if we do not pay attention to unity, Islam will not last long. The enemy will use disunity to destroy Islam. According to a phrase from the Prophet (s.a.w.a), Muslims should be like one hand against their enemy. 
Based on the above, the recent claim that Shia scholars believe at heart that followers of other Islamic denominations are not actually Muslim is definitely unfounded.
When we refer to the words of jurists like Sayyid Murtadha, Sheikh Tusi, Sheikh Mufid, Ibn Idris and other early and later scholars, most of them say the statement of faith is giving the said witness and they have not differentiated between outward Islam and inward Islam. Such distinction is mentioned in words of some later scholars. But all those who believe that the criterion for Islam is giving the witness, the apparent meaning of their words is that giving the witness is sufficient for outward and inward faith.
We have to be careful not to ascribe a lie to Shia scholars and ignite the flames of discord in the world of Islam. These are the words of our scholars. Why do some ignore these words and ascribe something different to Shia Scholars? 
At any rate, unity is a necessity based on the verses of the Quran and the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) and the infallible Imams (as). I advise the Sunni scholars and the scholars of other denominations to refer to the usual practice of the Imams of the Shia. Imam Ali (as), despite believing that caliphate was his right, did not take action for 25 years to safeguard the unity of the Muslim community. The same is true regarding the other Imams. 
These days, which coincide with the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Askari (as), there is a lengthy tradition from him in which he advises the Shia to interact with Sunnis as well as followers of other schools of thought, attend their funerals, visit their patients, and participate in their prayers. Thus, can it be said that our Imams believed that non-Shias were actually not Muslims yet advised their followers to attend their prayers? There is no such a thing.
Of course, we believe as a general rule, and you heard the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.a), that whoever opposes the Prophet (s.a.w.a) is definitely a pagan. But he who believes in oneness of God and that Muhammad (s.a.w.a) is His messenger, since accepting Muhammad (s.a.w.a) as the messenger of God means believing in whatever he preached, such person is definitely considered a Muslim.
Today, it is the duty of All Muslims to maintain their unity because we need it more than ever before.

Wa al-Salam Alaikum Wa Rahmat Allah Wa Barakatuhu

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