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Need witness for valid Shahadah? Halal to use name with no deity worship?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Darulifta-Deoband.com
I said my Shahadah alone some week back with no witness. However, I showered, cleaned myself and spoke with pure intention when I said “Ashhadu an la ilaha illal Lah; ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah” out loud. I meant it from the heart. Does this make it valid or do I need to say my Shahadah in front of a Muslim witness or Islamic religious scholar to make it valid? Also, do I need to change the name if it has no meaning of worshiping any deity and is not contradictory to Islam and Allah (swt)? The English translation is simply “my dear”. Is it halal?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

(Fatwa: 459/L-155/TL=05/1435)

If you pronounced verbally the Kalimah Shahadah and understood it and testified it by your heart then you became a Muslim. It is not a condition to accept it in the presence of any Alim or Muslim. The meaning of the Kalimah Shahadah is as follows:
I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.
Now you should start learning salah and other things. Keep on learning it gradually. As far as changing the name is concerned, if your name does not have a bad meaning you may continue it. However it is better to select any good Islamic name from these names: Abdullah, Abdur Rahman, Abu Bakar, Umar, Usman, Ali, Jafar etc. You may keep your old name in the papers etc and let people call you with your Islamic name.

Allah knows Best!

Darul Ifta,
Darul Uloom Deoband

This answer was collected from the official ifta website of Darul Uloom Deoband in India.

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