Q. The notion that many Muslims have that they are somehow guaranteed Al-Jena (Heaven) simply by uttering the words of the shahada is something I find to be close to the claims of the Jews being chosen and the Christians being saved. It causes, in my opinion, Muslims to ignore their responsibilities and relax in what I think is a false notion that no matter what they do they will eventually enter heaven, as long as the words of shahada have been spoken. While it is true that if anyone in their heart sincerely accepts the shahada, he/she is guaranteed heaven, not one of us can make the assumption that we have properly done this. From my understanding, the Prophet, blessings and Peace upon him (saw) indicated that he himself would not feel safe from hell, even if one foot was in heaven, while the other still remained outside. What is your opinion on this, if you please. Thank you.

A. Yes, belief consists in word and action, not words alone. At the same time we must understand and accept the promises made by the Prophet, blessings and Peace upon him whereby whoever dies believing sincerely in the Shahada, or dies pronouncing it, enters Paradise. Of course, everything resides in sincerity but sincerity is a secret between Allah and His servants. As to the correct saying of the Prophet, blessings and Peace upon him in this regard it is: "None of you is saved because of his deeds, but only because of Allah's mercy." They said: "Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "Not even I, except for Allah's mercy encompassing me." Bukhari and Muslim related it.