An-Nahj al-Asma Fii Sharh Asma Allahu al-Husna by Shaikh Muhammad an-Najdi
The Name of Allaah, Ash-Shaheed, is mentioned eighteen times in the Noble Qur’an.
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Ma’idah (5:117):
“And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.”
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) also said in Surat al-An’am (6:19):
“Say (O Muhammad e): ‘What thing is the Most Great in witness?’ Say: ‘Allaah (the Most Great)! A Witness between me and you.'”
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Hajj (22:17):
“Allaah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allaah is, over all things, Witness.”
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Saba’ (34:47):
“Verily my wage is from Allaah only, and He is Witness over all things.”
In Surat al-Mujadilah (58:6), Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said:
“Allaah has kept account of it, while they have forgotten it. And Allaah is Witness over all things.”
In Surat an-Nisa’ (4:166), Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said:
“But Allaah bears witness to that which He has sent down (the Qur’an) unto you (O Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)), He has sent it down with His Knowledge, and the angels bear witness. And All-Sufficient is Allaah as a Witness.”
The Meaning of the Name:
Ibn Jarir (Rahimahullaah) said: “And You are a Witness to all things means that You witness everything, nothing is hidden from You.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
And he (Ibn Jarir) said as regards Allaah’s statement in Surat al-Mujadalah (58:6):
“And Allaah is Witness over all things,”
“Allaah is a Witness, bears witness and testifies for me and for the reality of what I say to you, and for all other things.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
Az-Zajjaaj said: “When the things cannot be hidden from Him, He is a Witness for it and a Watcher, i.e. has the knowledge about it and its realities, a knowledge of Witness for it because nothing is hidden from Him.” [Ishtiqaq al-Asma]
Al-Khattabi said: “He Who nothing is absent from.” Ash-Shaheed also means the All-Knower as He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Aal Imran (3:18):
“Allaah bears witness that Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped except Him).”
It means: Allaah knows. Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmed bin Yahya said it means: Allaah shows and proves that ‘La ilaha illa-Allaah’.
In al-Maqsad, ash-Shaheed means the All-Knower. He is the Exalted, The All-Knower of the unseen and seen. The ghaib (unseen) is whatever is hidden, the shahaadah (seen) is whatever is seen and manifest, and He (Allah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) is the One Who sees and bears witness.
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) bears witness against His creation on the Day of Judgment with what He knows and witnessed of them.
This Name is close in meaning to the Name Al-‘Aleem (the All-Knower) and Al-Khabeer (the One Who is All-Aware).” [Al-Maqsad al-Asna]
Ibn Kathir (Rahimahullaah) said: “He is a Witness over their deeds, and He knows all they say and all that they do in secret and that which is concealed in their breasts.” [Tafsir Surat al-Hajj verse 17]
Shaikh as-Sa’dee (Rahimahullaah) said: “(He is) The One Who is Aware of everything; The One Who hears every voice (sound) in existence – the loud and quiet; The One Who sees everything in existence – the significant and the insignificant, the small and large; The One Whose Knowledge encompasses everything; The One Who will testify for or against His slaves for what they did.” [Tayseer al-Kareem]
The impact of believing in this Name:
1. Indeed, Allaah, the Exalted, is the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, nothing is hidden from Him, no matter how small and minute it is. He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) is a Witness over the servants and their actions, and is never absent from them, as He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala)said in Surat al-A’raf (7:6-7):
“Then surely, We shall question those (people) to whom it (the Book) was sent and verily, We shall question the Messengers. Then surely, We shall narrate unto them (their whole story) with knowledge, and indeed We were not absent.”
Al-Asbahaani said: “It is incumbent upon every doer who intends to do an action, whether small or big, to pause a while before doing it; to know that Allaah is Witness upon him, and He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) will take account of him. So, if his performance of the deed is for Allaah’s Sake, then he will carry it out, otherwise he should leave it and stop himself from doing it.” [Al-Hujjah]
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Yunus (10:61):
“Whatever you (O Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) may be doing, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Qur’an, and whatever deed you (mankind) may be doing (good or evil), We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom (or a small ant) on the earth or in the heaven. Nor what is less than that or greater than that but is (written) in a Clear Record.”
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) judges among His slaves by His Knowledge, Hearing and Sight, which they do not part with in this life, even for a blink of an eye. He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) does not need witnesses, because He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala)is a Witness over everything, as it is mentioned in the reply of Jesus (‘Alayhissallam) to His Lord on the Day of Resurrection, in Allaah’s Statement in Surat al-Ma’idah (5:116-117):
“And (remember) when Allaah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): ‘O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allaah?'” He will say: ‘Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours. Truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.
Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allaah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allaah, my Lord and your Lord,’ and I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.'”
Jesus (‘Alayhissallam) will free himself on the Day of Resurrection from the cross worshippers who took him and his mother as gods besides Allaah. Exalted be Allaah above what the wrong doers (disbelievers, etc.) say as Jesus (‘Alayhissallam) said, “Subhaanak! i.e. “Glory be to You! You did not command with any such thing, and it was not for me to speak of it, but I ordered them to worship You Alone without associates. I witnessed and saw their deeds that they did while I was dwelling among them, but after You raised me up, I did not witness or know and You Alone know and witnessed their deeds and You are a Witness to all things; nothing is hidden from You.”
Similar to this meaning is the hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (Radia Allaahu ‘anhuma): The Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “You will be gathered (on the Day of Judgement) bare-footed, naked and uncircumcised.” He then recited: “As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it, (it is) a promise binding upon Us. Truly We shall do it.” [Surah al-Anbiya 21:104]
He (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) added, “The first to be dressed on the Day of Resurrection will be Ibrahim (Abraham); some of my companions will be taken towards the left side [(i.e., to the Hellfire)], and I will say: ‘My Companions! My Companions!’ It will be said: ‘They had been renegades (deserted Islam) after you left them.’ Then I will say as the pious slave of Allaah (Jesus (‘Alayhissallam)) said: ‘And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things. If You punish them, they are Your slaves and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.‘” [Surat al-Ma’idah 5:117-118] [Reported by al-Bukhaari, the Book of al-Anbiya]
2. Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) is the Most Great in Witness, as He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat
- al-An’am (6:19):
“Say (O Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)): ‘What thing is the Most Great in witness?’ Say: ‘Allaah’ (The Most Great!) is Witness between me and you; this Qur’an has been revealed to me that I may warn therewith you and whomsoever it may reach. Can you verily bear witness that besides Allaah there are other gods?’ Say: ‘I bear no (such) witness!’ Say: ‘But in truth, He (Allaah) is the only One Ilaah (God). And truly, I am innocent of what you join in worship with Him.'”
Ibn Jarir (Rahimahullaah)said: “Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) tells His Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to say to those mushrikeen (polytheists) among his people who belie and reject his Prophethood that what is the Greatest in Witness, in Whose testimony no forgetfulness nor faults or lies could occur like what happens with most of His creations.
Then, tell them that the One Who is Greatest in Witness is a Witness between me and you and between the one who is right and wrong from among us, who is right minded and foolish and we accept Him as a Judge between us.” [Jami’ul-Bayan]
3. Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) testifies for Himself that He is Waahid, Ahad (One and only One), Samad (Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all the creation is in need of and He has no need of anyone, He neither eats nor drinks), Who has no partner nor minister, no peer or anyone comparable to Him; all the angels and the people of knowledge bear witness to that, as Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Aal-‘Imran (3:18):
“Allaah bears witness that, ‘Laa ilaaha illa Huwa’ (none has the right to be worshipped except He), and the Angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness). (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice, ‘Laa ilaaha illa Huwa’ (none has the right to be worshipped except He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”
This verse comprises the Greatest Testimony from the Greatest Witness.
Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah)said: “The noble verse comprises a confirmation of the reality of Tawheed (Monotheism) and a refutation to the claim of all other sects whose beliefs are wrong. The verse is a testimony for their wrong statements and ways. The verse is comprised of the Greatest Testimony, and the most Just and most Truthful from a Majestic Witness.
The Salafs’ explanation for the word “Shahida” includes: The Judgment, ordainment, information, clarification and declaring.
Mujaahid said: “Judged and Ordained”. Az-Zajjaj said: “Clarified”, another group said: “Informed”.
All these statements are true; there is no contradiction between them. The testimony comprises the Word or Speech of the Witness, His news and statements. It also comprises clarification, news and information of the Witness.
Accordingly, the Testimony (Shahaadah) is of four categories or ranks:
First : Knowledge and belief in the correctness of what is being witnessed for.
Second : Uttering and talking of it, even if no one knows about it except him, but he speaks with himself about it, reminds himself of it and utters it or writes it.
Third : To inform others about what he witnessed and show it to them.
Fourth : To oblige with what it comprises and what it commands with.
The first rank: the rank of knowledge: It is necessary that the Shahaadah (testification) with truth be based on knowledge, otherwise the witness will be a witness without knowledge of it.
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat az-Zukhruf (43:86):
“But only those who testify to the truth (can benefit), and they know.”
The second rank: the rank of talking and informing of it: Whoever has spoken of something or informed about something, indeed is the one who witnessed it (gave witness regarding it), even if he did not utter the Shahaadah
Allaah said in Surat al-An’am (6:150):
“Say: ‘Bring forward your witnesses who can testify that Allaah has forbidden this.’ Then if they testify, testify not you (O Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) with them.”
Also Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said Surat az-Zukhruf (43:19):
“And they made the angels who themselves are slaves to the Most Beneficent (Allaah) females. Did they witness their creation? Their testimony will be recorded and they will be questioned!”
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala)considered that as a testimony from them, even though they did not utter the Shahaadah.
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) called the confession of the slave (or acknowledgement) against himself, Shahaadah. Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat an-Nisa’ (4:135):
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allaah, even though it be against yourselves.”
The Shahaadah (testimony) of the person against himself is a confession against himself.
In the Saheeh hadeeth, the story of Maa’iz is reported.
“When he (Maa’iz) witnessed against himself four times, the Messenger of Allaah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had him stoned to death.” Moreover, Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-An’am (6:130):
“They will say ‘We bear witness against ourselves.’ It was the life of this world that deceived them. And they will bear witness against themselves that they were disbelievers.”
The third rank: the rank of notification and informing, which is of two kinds:
i. Notification with statement
ii. Notification with action.
This is the case with every teacher who teaches others, ordering them. One time he teaches with statements and another time with his action. Like the one who had made a house into a masjid and opened its door for everyone who enters it, and he called for prayer in it. He is teaching others that it is an endowment even if he did not utter this or speak about it. Also, whoever draws close to another person by giving gifts, to tell him and others that he loves him, even if he did not speak of it and vice versa.
Similarly, the Shahaadah (witness) of Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) and His Bayan (declaration) and informing of His Oneness: First will be by His Statement, which is
i . what He has sent His Messengers with and sent down His Books with.
All the Messengers mentioned about Allaah that He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) testified for Himself that He is, “Laa ilaaha ila Huwa” (“None has the right to be worshipped except Him”).
ii. As for His declaration in the form of action, this is shown clearly in the evidences, proofs, signs in the universe, etc. which indicate His Oneness which can be known and realized by intellect and Fitrah (instinct), (i.e. Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) testifies by the created Ayaat (verses, signs, proofs, etc.) which point to Him.)
Allaah’s statements are in agreement with His created signs, and verses. Both witnesses (the statements and the actions) conform (correspond) with each other, as Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Fussilat (41:53):
“We will show them Our signs in the universe and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth.”
i.e., the Qur’an is the truth. Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) tells us that He shows us the truthfulness of His Statement by His Signs in the universe and in ourselves.
The fourth rank: to order with it and oblige with it.
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) witnessed for it by ordaining it, commanding with it and obliging His slaves with it, as He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Isra’ (17:23):
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him.”
He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) also said in Surat an-Nahl (16:51):
“And Allaah said, (O Mankind!): Take not two gods in worship. Verily He (Allaah) is the only One God.'”
In Surat al-Bayyinah (98:5); He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said,
“And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allaah and worship none but Him Alone.”
The whole Qur’an is a Witness for this.
Allaah’s Witness necessitates that if He has testified that “There is none to be worshipped except Him,” then this means that He informed, clarified, made it known, judged (commanded) with it and ordained that other than Him is no Ilaah (god), and the divinity of all other than Him is void, (affirming/ conforming/ approving) it is even more wrong.
No one deserves to be worshipped except Him, and no divinity is approved (accepted) except Him, which necessitates taking Him as the only True God, and forbidding taking other than Him as god.
Also the verse shows that He (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) is the only One Who deserves to be worshipped. If He has declared that ‘No one deserves to be worshipped except Him’, then this declaration includes the Command to the slaves and obliging them to fulfill the Right of the Lord which is upon them; this is His Pure Right upon them.
To oblige them with His Tawheed.” [Tafseer al-Qayyim]
4. It is permissible to call the creation with this Name.
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) called his Messenger (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and his nation with this Name in many verses such as:
In Surat al-Baqarah (2:143):
“Thus We have made you (true Muslims – real believers) a just (and best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind, and this Messenger (Muhammad e) be a witness over you.”
Also Allah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat an-Nisa’ (4:41):
“How (will it be) then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you (O Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) as a witness against these people?”
Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) called them Shuhadaa’ (witnesses) because they will witness against the other nations on the Day of Resurrection.
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (Radia Allaahu ‘anhum) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Nuh (Noah) will be called on the Day of Resurrection and he will say ‘Labbaik wa Sa’daik, O my Lord!’ Allaah will say, ‘Did you convey Our Message (of Islamic Monotheism)?’ Nuh (Noah) will say, ‘Yes’. His nation will then be asked, ‘Did he convey Our Message (of Islamic Monothesim) to you?’ They will say, ‘No warner came to us.’ Then Allaah will say [to Nuh (Noah)], ‘Who will bear witness in your favor?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)and his followers.’ So, they (i.e., Muslims) will testify that he conveyed the Message. And the Messenger (Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) will be a witness over yourselves, and that is what is meant by the statement of Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala)): ‘Thus We have made you (true Muslims – real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) a just (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) be a witness over you.'” [Al-Bukhaari]
Whoever is killed in the cause of Allaah is called Shaheed (martyr).
The reason behind calling him Shaheed is:
- He has witnessed the kindness and Mercy of Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) and He has prepared for him of high ranks.
- An-Nadr bin Shamil said: “Shaheed is the living, because everyone who is alive is a witness and witnesses the states and the martyr is alive after he has been killed, as Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat Aal-Imran (3:169):
“And never think of those who have been killed in the way of Allaah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.”
3. He is called Shaheed, because he witnessed the battle; (this statement is weak because it is not a condition that everyone who witnessed the battle be called Shaheed).
- He is going to be among those who will bear witness over other nations on the Day of Resurrection, as Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Baqarah (2:143). [Sharh al-Asma’]
Allaah called man shaheed (in general), because of being a witness against himself and knowing about himself more than others. Allaah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-‘Adiyaat (100:6-7):
“Verily! Man is ungrateful to his Lord. And to that fact he bears witness (by his deeds).”
Check out these related posts:
- The Attributes of the Successful with evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah
- Truthfulness (Part 5) : The Categories of As-Sidq (Truthfulness)
- Truthfulness (Part 4) : The Categories of As-Sidq (Truthfulness)
- Truthfulness (Part 3) : The Merits of Truthfulness
- Truthfulness (Part 2) : The Importance of Truthfulness
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