Laa ilaaha ill-lal-laah
Dear brothers and sisters, Assalamu Alaikum.
We all know that the declaration “LA ILAAHA IL-LAL-LAAH, MUHAMMADUR RASOOLULLAH” is no ordinary declaration. It is in fact the most revolutionary statement on earth!
A soul-stirring, earth-shaking proclamation!
That which makes falsehood shiver in its shoes!
That which sends shock waves to the oppressor’s heart!
A conscious proclamation that transforms ruffians into finest gems of highest quality!
A proclamation that brings utmost satisfaction to the believer’s heart!
This concise declaration is the Manifesto of Islam, the Marrow of all teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) who spoke words of surgical precision, whose simple yet splendid belief and teachings brought about a spectacular revolution in the history of all times!
(Sounds familiar? Yes, I took this passage from the homepage of my Seerah blog).
Today I would like to discuss on the first part of our Shahadah, Laa ilaaha ill-lal-laah, which is the creed and quintessence of Islam.
Let us first have its simple linguistic analysis:
This beautiful phrase consists of four Arabic words:
1) La 2) ilaa 3) illa and 4) Allaah
Please note that the first word La when used in the phrase must be read as Laa.
Let us understand the meaning of these four words one by one:
La is a negative particle called as نافية in Arabic. Negating the species, or denoting categorical negation (نافية للجنس), it governs a nominal sentence, the same way as إنّ but always with an indefinite subject ‘not a single one’, ‘none whatsoever’.
Examples from the glorious Qur’an:
“Know, therefore, (O Prophet), that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for your shortcomings and also for (the shortcomings of) believing men and believing women. Allah knows the places where you move about and where you dwell. (47:19)
“Indeed they, when it was said to them, “There is no deity but Allah,” were arrogant”. (37: 35)
إله comes from أ ل ه – old Semitic root denoting deity of which various forms occur in all Semitic languages.
Of this root, five forms occur 1139 times in the Qur’an:
ilaah 111 times; ilahayn twice; aalihatun 34 times; Allaah 982 times and اللهمّ five times.
إله – ilaah (dual إلهين , plural آلهة ) can be translated as:
1. deity, god, worshipped object
“and they have taken for themselves (other) gods, beside God, that they might be for them a support” (19: 81)
“truly your God is One” (37: 4)
3) guiding force
“consider the one who has taken his own desire as a guiding force……..” (45: 23)
إلّا is a particle occurring 657 times in the Qur’an and functioning as:
1) an exceptive particle ‘except….’ ‘save for…..’
Read from the word ‘fa sharibu minhum illa qaleelam minhum
“but they all drank (deeply) from it except for a few…..” (2: 249)
2) in the meaning of adjectival غير (q.v) ‘different from’, ‘other than’
“if there had been in them (the heavens and earth) deities other than Allah, both the heavens and earth would be in ruins……..” (21: 22)
3) in the meaning of ‘but’ (بل) (q.v)
“it was not to distress you (O Prophet) that We sent down the Qur’an to you, but (We sent it) as a reminder for those who stand in awe (of Allah) (20: 2-3)
Allaah is the proper name and is described by philologists as ‘the most definite of all definites’ أعرف المعروف God, the True and Only One
“Say: He is Allaah, the One and Only” (112: 1)
Now, if you connect all the four words then the translation of laa ilaaha il-lal-laah would read as:
* There is no god but Allaah
* There is no deity except Allaah
* There is no guiding force other than Allaah
* There is no god other than Allaah
* There is no deity other than Allah
* There is none worthy of worship except Allah
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, ‘There can be no obedience to any creation if it involves disobedience to the Creator”.
So if you go by this authentic hadeeth, then the translation must be extended and it would mean:
* There is none worthy of worship and obedience except Allaah.
All Praise belongs only to Allaah. Adulation and Adoration, Exhaltation and Glorification is for Allaah alone. Prostration must be only for Allaah and none else. Supplication must be made only to Allaah. Even doctors say that they prescribe medicine but it is only the one true God Who cures. Islam is submission to the commands and the Will of Allaah.
Given these insights from Islamic teachings, the translation of Laa ilaaha il-lal-laah could also be as follows:
There is none worthy of worship, obedience, glorification, exhaltation, submission, adoration, adulation, prostration, supplication, legislation and providence of cure except Allaah.
Allaah has the most beautiful Attributive Names called al asmaa’ul-husna.
Al Kareem, the Most Generous
Ar-Rahmaan, the Most Meriful
Al Ghafoor, the Most Forgiving
If you replace ilaah and bring the attributive there, then the meaning becomes sublime. Subhaanallaah!
For example: La Rahmaana ill-lar-Rahmaan – There is no merciful except the Most Merciful
or try this:
La Rahmaana il-lal-laah – There is no merciful except Allaah.
La Khaliqa il-lal-laah – There is no creator except Allaah
La Raaziqa il-lal-laah – There is no provider other than Allaah.
La wahhaaba il-lal-laah – There is no giver except Allaah
Like this, if you read with all the al asmaa-ul-husna, then the feeling of tranquility in one’s heart and mind is a thing to be cherished. Wallaahil Azeem!
Click here for a worth reading article on Laa ilaaha il-lal-laah by Sayyid Qutb from his book ‘Milestones’.
Jazakumullah Khayr for reading my post. Would love to hear from you…..