“There is no god but He: That is the witness of God, His angels, and those endowed with knowledge, standing firm in justice. There is no god but He – The Exalted in Power, the Wise.”
The recitation of a creed has proven throughout history to be the preeminent and indispensible element of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4 remains the most important confession and prayer. In Christianity, the Nicene Creed, and the Apostle’s Creed as predecessor, establishes the rule of orthodoxy and the test of faith. The correlations between these three monotheistic religions and their normative creedal expressions are undeniable. Undoubtedly, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” and “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible” are both on par with the Islamic proclamation that, “there is no god but Allah.” Consequently, the first of the five pillars of Islam institutes orthodoxy with simplicity, establishes a liturgy of substantial historical/cultural weight, and initiates the faithful into a lifestyle of service to Allah.
Fry and King (“Islamic Religious Practices: the Pillars of Faith” in Swartley) observe that the Shahada succeeds in refuting a slew of heresies that afflicted the Christian church with a single statement,  “There is no god but Allah.” In a sense, the rigid monotheism of Islam in comparison to the Trinitarian doctrines of Christianity provides a firmer foundation for concise defense. For the Muslim, there is no greater sin than violating the Tawhid or “oneness” of God; it is, in fact, unforgiveable. This theological foundation serves to remind Muslims that their association to Allah through the Muslim faith constitutes something so substantial that it is impossible to comprehend it. As such, there is no need for the often complicated theological deliberation that arises in the Christian creeds in order to defend Trinitarian doctrine.
The Shahada continues, “And Muhammad is the Prophet of God.” Where Christians may have agreed with the previous statement of God’s unity and singularity, they must certainly depart with the implications of the remainder. Islam does not teach that Muhammad is divine, or that he should be worshiped. Indeed, such a thing would be a violation of the Tawhid. However, they see Muhammad as the final and greatest prophet of God. Therefore, in Islam a confession of Allah must also necessarily point humanity to the only place where full knowledge of God can be obtained, the uncorrupted revelation given to the prophet Mohammad in the Qur’an. Kung summarizes, “It is of the greatest conceivable simplicity and in fact can be rendered with two words. The first word is Allah… the second word is Muhammad.”
Cornell explains that the Shahada maintains such a centralized role within Muslim theology that it even dictates the liturgy. Each of the five canonical prayers and the call to prayer itself include a recitation of the Shahada. The Great Confession is ideally the first thing a Muslim hears at birth and the last thing a Muslim hears before s/he dies; it precedes Muslims into battle, and in peace it is proclaimed throughout the city. As such, the Shahada shapes the religious expression and experience of the Muslim. Surely, the other pillars demonstrate that Islam demands submission, but the confession remains the primary component of the “mental make-up” of all Muslims.
Finally, the Shahada constitutes the energizing sentiment behind the Islamic lifestyle. Braswell points out that the confession identifies not only a theological locus in the belief in God, but also accountability to God through action. Turner explains that, “Even the most cursory glance at the Koran and its stance on the question of belief and submission should be enough to convince the reader that Islam is something to be obtained through conviction.” The Shahada represents both an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual submission to God and an adherence to the piety and righteous walk demonstrated by the prophet Mohammad. Consequently, the Shahada is in a sense the lense through which Islamic theology and devotion are filtered.
 See Swartley 88-89, Cornell 9-10, Kung 238-239,
 Keith E. Swartley, ed. Encountering the World of Islam, (Atlanta: Authentic Media, 2005), 89.
 Vincent J. Cornell, ed. Voices of Islam, Vol. 1 Voices of Tradition, (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2007), 9.
 Hans Küng, Tracing the Way: Spiritual Dimensions of the World Religions, (London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002), 239.
 Cornell, Voices of Islam, 10.
 Swartley, Encountering the World of Islam, 90.
 Colin Turner, Islam: the Basics, (New York: Routledge, 2006), 101.
 George W. Braswell, Jr. Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics, and Power, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), 60.
 Turner, Islam: the Basics, 101.