بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Excellence of 'Lā ilāha illa Allāh' 

The words in the testification ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ are words which are the path to the success of entry into Paradise and salvation from the fire. Allāh -Azza wa Jall- said: "And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful." [Āl-Imrān: 185]

It is the way and path to happiness in the two worlds which cannot be reached except by these words. It is with this statement that Allāh sent His Messengers and with it, He revealed His Books. The Dunya and the Hereafter, Paradise and Hell-Fire were created for this statement. Happiness and wretchedness are directly related to this testification. Due to it, the records of deeds will be taken either to the right or the left and the scale will be either heavy or light. By it is being saved from the Fire after its advent whilst not adhering to ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ is remaining in the Fire.

Due to it, Allāh took the covenant, because of it is recompense and accountability and regarding it, will be the questioning on the Day of Meeting. As Allāh –Ta’ala- says: "So, by your Lord, We shall certainly call all of them to account. For all that they used to do." [Al-Hijr: 92-93]
Allāh–Ta’ala- said: "Then surely, We shall question those (people) to whom it (the Book) was sent and verily, We shall question the Messengers." [A’rāf: 6]
As for Allāh –Ta’ala- questioning those to whom ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ was sent, on the Day of Judgement, then from that is His saying- "And (remember) the Day (Allāh) will call to them and say: ‘What answer gave you to the Messengers?’" [Qasas: 65] along with the preceding, following and other Āyāt.
As for Allāh questioning the Messengers then from that is the saying of Allāh –Ta’ala- "On the Day when Allāh will gather the Messengers together and say to them: ‘What was the response you received (from men to your teaching)? They will say: ‘We have no knowledge, verily, only You are the All-Knower of all that is hidden (or unseen, etc.).’" [al-Mai’dah:109] and there are other similar Āyāt.

It is the greatest of blessings from Allāh -Azza wa Jall– that He blessed His slaves and guided them to ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’. This is why Allāh Ta’ala mentioned it in Soorah an-Nahl, the Soorah of blessings, so He proceeded with it before every other blessing. He said: "He sends down the angels with inspiration of His Command to whom of His slaves He pleases (saying): Warn mankind that Lâ ilâha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so fear Me (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds)." [Nahl: 2]

It is the statement of testification and the key to the land of happiness. It is the foundation of the Deen and its founding principle, the head of the affair, the trunk of its tree and the pillar of its canopy. The rest of the pillars and obligations of the Deen extend and branch out from this testification. Its completion is restricted to adhering to its meaning and performing what it requires. It is the strong handhold that will never break regarding which Allāh -Azza wa Jall- said: "Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût (false gods) and believes in Allāh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break." [al-Baqarah: 256]

Sa’eed bin Jubayr and Dhihāk said that: ‘It is the contract which Allāh -Azza wa Jall- mentioned when he said: "None shall have the power of intercession, but such a one as has received permission (or promise) from the Most Beneficent (Allāh)." [Maryam: 87]

Abdullāh ibn Abbas -radiAllāh anhuma- said: ‘It is the testification of ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’, renouncing any capability or strength for other than Allāh and not hoping except in Allāh -Azza wa Jall.’

La ilāha ‘illa Allāh is al-Husna (the best – i.e. its meaning as stated by Allāh -Azza wa Jalll- when He said: "As for him who gives (in charity), keeps his duty to Allāh and fears Him, And believes in Al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness)." [Layl: 5-7]

This was also mentioned by Abu AbdurRahman as-Sulamee, Dhihāk and was narrated by ‘Ateeyah on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas.

It is the statement of truth which Allāh -Azza wa Jalll- mentioned when He – Ta’ala said: "except those who bear witness to the truth (i.e. believed in the Oneness of Allāh, and obeyed His Orders), and they know (the facts about the Oneness of Allāh)." [Zukhruf :86] as stated by al-Baghawi.

It is the statement of Taqwā (piety) as Allāh -Azza wa Jall- mentioned when He said: "and made them stick to the word of piety (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but Allāh) and they were well entitled to it and worthy of it." [Fath: 26]

This was mentioned by Ibn Jareer and Abdullāh bin Ahmad, by Tirmidhi with ‘asāneed (chains) up to Ubayy bin Ka’ab -radiAllāh anhu- on the authority of the Prophet - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam.

It is the statement which is firmly-fixed as Allāh -Azza wa Jall- mentions when He says: “Allāh will keep firm those who believe with the word that stands firm in this world (i.e. they will keep on worshipping Allāh Alone and none else) and in the Hereafter." [Ibrāheem: 27]

Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of al-Bara bin ‘Āzib –radiAllāh anhu- from the Prophet - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam. It is the good statement (kalimah Tayyibah) which was previously made a solid example as Allāh –Ta’ala- says: "Do you not see how Allāh sets forth a parable? - A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high)." [Ibrāheem: 24]

This is what was mentioned by ‘Alee bin Talha on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas. The foundation of this statement ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ is firmly fixed in a believer’s heart, its branches are righteous actions which ascend to the sky – to Allāh -Azza wa Jall.

This is what was mentioned by Dhihāk, Sa’eed bin Jubair, Ikrima’, Mujahid and others. It is the goodness which Allāh –Azza wa Jall– mentions when He says: "Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof " [An’ām: 160]

Allāh–Ta’ala– said: "Whoever brings a good deed (i.e. Belief in the Oneness of Allāh along with every deed of righteousness), will have better than its worth and they will be safe from the terror on that Day." [Naml: 89]

This was mentioned by Zain al-Abideen and Ibraheem an-Nakha’aee and it is ascribed to the Messenger on the authority of Abee Dharr - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam – that he said: ‘It is the best of righteous deeds.’ (Narrated by Ahmad and graded Hasan by al-Albani in ‘Saheehah’ (1373)).

This statement ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ wipes out sins and mistakes. It is the highest description which Allāh -Azza wa Jall- mentions when He says: "His is the highest description (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but He and there is nothing comparable unto Him) in the heavens and in the earth." [Room: 27]

As was mentioned by Qatadah and Muhammad bin Jareer, also by Malik on the authority of Muhammad bin al-Munkadir.

It is the means for success as is mentioned in Saheeh Muslim that when the Prophet - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam – heard the Mu’adhin (the caller to the prayer) saying: ‘Ashhadu alla ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ (I testify that there is none worthy of worship in truth except Allāh’) he - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam – said: ‘You have exited the fire.’

On the authority of Ubadah bin Sāmitt -radiAllāh anhu- who said: I heard the Messenger of Allāh - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam – saying: ‘Whoever testifies that there is none worthy of worship in truth except Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh then Allāh prohibits the Fire for him.’ (Saheeh Muslim)

In the hadeeth of intercession: ‘Take out from the Fire whoever said ‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ and had in his heart the like of an atom’s worth of Īmān.’ (Narrated by Ahmad and Ibn Khuzaimah and graded as saheeh by al-Albani in ‘Kitab as-Sunnah’ (852))

‘La ilāha ‘illa Allāh’ is the means of entering into Paradise as is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ubadah bin Sāmitt -radiAllāh anhu- who said: The Messenger of Allāh - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam – said: ‘Whoever says ‘Ashhadu alla ilāha ‘illa Allāh wahdahu la shareeka lahu wa anna Muhammadan Abduhu wa Rasooluhu (I testify that there is none worthy of worship in truth except Allāh Alone and He has no partners and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger’) and that ‘Eesa is the slave of Allāh and the son of Allāh’s female slave, he was created by a word which was sent to Maryam and he is a command from Him, that Paradise is true and the Fire is true’, then Allāh will enter him into Paradise from whichever of the eight doors of Paradise he chooses.’
In another narration: ‘Allāh enters him into Paradise with what he has of actions.’ (Bukhari & Muslim)

It is the best thing with which Allāh -Azza wa Jall- is remembered and the heaviest thing on the slave of Allāh’s scale on the Day of Judgement as mentioned in ‘Musnad’ on the authority of Abdullāh bin Amr -radiAllāh anhu from the Prophet - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam: ‘When death was approaching the Prophet of Allāh, Nooh -sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam – he said to his son: I will narrate to you my bequest; I command you with two things and prohibit you from two things.
I command you with 'La ilāha ‘illa Allāh' (‘There is none worthy of worship in truth except Allāh), if the seven heavens and the seven earths were placed upon one scale and 'La ilāha ‘illa Allāh' was placed on the other, then 'La ilāha ‘illa Allāh' would be heavier. If the seven heavens and the seven earths were a closed circle then 'La ilāha ‘illa Allāh' would be able to break it.
The second thing I command you with is Subhana Allāhi wa bihamdihi (Far is Allāh from imperfection and praise is for Him), since it is a supplication for everything and by it, the creation is given its provision.
I prohibit you from Shirk and pride.
(The narrator said: I asked or someone asked) : O Messenger of Allāh as for Shirk then we know about it, but what is pride? Is it that one of us has sandals with two good straps?
The Messenger answered: No.
He asked again: Is it that one of us has companions and they sit with him?
The Messenger again answered: No.
Someone asked: O Messenger of Allāh, what is pride?
He said: Ridiculing the truth and belittling and reviling the people.’
(Silsilah Saheehah: 134)

In Tirmidhi, Nasa’ee and in Musnad on the authority of Abdullāh bin Amr bin al-Ās -radiAllāh anhu- who said I heard the Messenger of Allāh - sallAllāhu alayhi wa sallam –saying: ‘Indeed Allāh will single out a man from my Ummah in front of all the people on the Day of Judgement. Ninety-nine scrolls will be unrolled for him; every scroll will stretch as far as the eye can see.
Then Allāh will say: Do you deny anything of this? Did the Angels recording your deeds oppress you?
So the man will say: No, my Lord.
Allāh will say: Do you have an excuse?
The man will say: No, my Lord.
Allāh will say: Yes, indeed, We have a good deed for you and indeed, there will be no oppression upon you today.’
Then a card will be brought forth and in it will be: ‘I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.’
Then Allāh will say: Bring your bad deeds.
The man will say: What is this card compared with these scrolls?
Allāh will say: Indeed, you will not be oppressed.
The Prophet continued: The scrolls will be put on one side of the scales and the card will be put on the other side, the scrolls will be light and the card will be heavy, there can be nothing more heavy than the name of Allāh.’
(Silsilah Saheehah: 135)
 
[Source: excerpt from ‘Ma’arij al-Qabool’ P. 410 vol.2 (Translation by Abbas Abu Yahya)]