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One AboutIslam.com article (I'm not sure if this is a fatwa) describes someone as having converted to Islam before saying the shahada. The article begins with a submitted question:

I am still a Christian who really wants to become a Muslim. Islam has become the only true religion for me ... I really want to live as the holy Quran tells me and I am even learning how to pray. But I have problems ... and I am afraid of doing the shahada ...

And the response contains:

Please know that even though you have not said the shahadah in an official way, you are already a Muslim because you have accepted the message of Islam. And this is between you and God.
About Islam Counselor, Can I Convert If My Parents Are Against It?, 2017

I'm not sure what to make of this. Logically, it makes sense: a genuine belief in the contents of the shahada is what's important, not verbalizing it. However, I have never seen this claim before, and it might be a "rogue" opinion.

Question: Can one convert to Islam without saying the shahada?

  • 1
    Shahada is proclaiming that you believe in no god(s) except Allah and that Muhammed is the Prophet of Allah (God). There is an opinion that the niyah of the above supersedes actually saying it by tongue because it is not a requirement but a preferred as a form of da'wah (invitation) to others to embrace Islam. Please also refer to islam.stackexchange.com/a/39579/3259 – Ahmed Mar 18 '18 at 13:36
  • 1
    This may depend on what exactly you are asking about: the legal status of someone according to shariah, or doctrinally speaking the fate of someone in the afterlife? I think it's the case that earthly rulings and dealing are according to the zahir (the "outward" or "apparent") and so you wouldn't be considered a Muslim in legal matters unless you say the shahada, but doctrinally Allah judges according to the batin (the "inward" or "hidden") as well. – G. Bach Mar 19 '18 at 4:06
  • Note that once you are a practicing Muslim you will say and repeat it a couple of times each day. – Medi1Saif Mar 19 '18 at 7:28
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Saying the Shahadah (i.e., testifying) is a must in order to officially become Muslim.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

(The superstructure of) al-Islam is raised on five (pillars), testifying (the fact) that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is His bondsman and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakat, Pilgrimage to the House (Ka'ba) and the fast of Ramadan. - Muslim (16).

As you can see, testifying is the first pillar of Islam through which you enter into the religion and this first pillar must be met. (Doesn't have to be said formally in a mosque but the individual has to utter the Shahadah, even if in private to himself. Allah (ﷻ) and the Angels are watching, of course).

Regarding what you quoted, perhaps they are just unclear and need to clarify their words/meaning, rather than a rogue opinion (to give them the benefit of the doubt). - As proven from the hadith above, the individual needs to testify!

This has been the viewpoint of Islamic scholars unanimously, throughout the centuries:

"The scholars underlined that when a non-Muslim wishes to embrace Islam, he has to recite the Shahaadataan (the two testimonies of faith), and he is ruled to be a Muslim by reciting them. Hence, the person who is able to pronounce them must do so, and he is not declared a Muslim except if he pronounces them.

An-Nawawi may Allaah have mercy upon him said:

“The scholars of Hadeeth, Fiqh, and Kalaam (Scholastic theology) from Ahl As-Sunnah unanimously agreed that the believer who is deemed to be from the people of the Qiblah (prayer direction, meaning that he is a Muslim) and who shall not abide eternally in Hellfire is the one who believes in his heart in the religion of Islam with a strong decisive belief that is free from doubts and who uttered the two testimonies of faith." - Islamweb

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We can't become muslim or you can say we can't be in Islam without Shahadat, since it comes in Faith which is One of the Pillars of Islam.

Someone, who simply repeats the Kalimah, is in the same position as a student admitted to a prestigious University. They have both overcome a great hurdle and are to be commended. However, unless they understand the significance of the action they have undertaken, apply themselves, and work earnestly toward realizing their goal, they will both fail: one in this life and the other in the hereafter.

A true Muslim is someone, who is completely aware of the meaning of this phrase, proclaims it with sincerity and devotion, and acts and lives in accordance to its requirements. Muslims are not allowed to take partners or intercessors (prophets, saints, righteous people, idols) with Allah(SWT); they are to worship, obey, and rely solely on Allah(SWT) and His revelations; they must accept Allah's(SWT) laws (religious and social) and orders (permissible and forbidden); and they should not put anyone or anything ahead of their obligations toward Allah(SWT).[http://irshad.org/exposed/shahada.php][1]

So in other words it also means that you also have to do the other Four Pilars of Islam which are;Prayer,Zakat,Fasting and Hajj to become a true believer.

But you need to say the Shahadat to convert to Islam! since it means submission to Allah the Almighty or sayying there's no god but Allah.

I hope the following advice answered your question.

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