There is nothing wrong with giving the Shahadah via the internet provided that the one given the Shahadah pronounces the words of embracing Islam by his or her tongue. Islam, as a matter of fact, lays more emphasis on conviction on the part of the person who embraces Islam. This is what really matters, as there should be no compulsion in religion.
Sheikh Hamed Al-Ali, instructor of Islamic Heritage at the Faculty of Education, Kuwait and Imam of Dahiat As-Sabahiyya Mosque, answers: There is nothing wrong with giving the Shahadah via the internet provided that the one given the Shahadah pronounces the words of embracing Islam by his or her tongue. It is not enough to write the words of Shahadah online, except for the one who is not able to speak. The reason for this is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to order anyone embracing Islam to say the Shahadah by his or her tongue. If this is done, then the one given the Shahadah is called a Muslim.
To illustrate, the verses of the Qur’an and the hadiths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) indicate that saying “La illaha illa Allah” (there is no god but Allah) is a condition for one to embrace Islam.
Furthermore, the scholars of Islam have unanimously agreed that Iman is a belief reposing in the heart and reflected through the verbal words (of Shahadah) and the religious observances. The Salaf (righteous predecessors) are also unanimous on this issue.
Thus, we conclude that we have to teach the one who is given the Shahadah on the internet to say the Shahadah by his or her tongue in addition to writing it so that we can consider him/her a Muslim.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, adds: It is very good to use the Internet in fields like calling people to Islam and even offering them the Shahadah online. However, there are some rules to abide by if we want to give the Shahadah to a person who wants to accept Islam on the Internet:
1. The man has to say the Shahadah by his tongue and it is not enough to write it. Proficiency is not a condition as we bear in mind that the one who accepts Islam has no background of Arabic. If the website has an audio system that allows people to have voice conversation, then it is easy to ask the person to say the Shahadah by repeating it. If there is no such means of voice conversation, then we can transliterate the words of Shahadah and ask the person who wants to embrace Islam to say it to himself. We can write it as follows: La ’illaha ’illa llah Muhammad rasoolul Allah (there is not god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.) If the person says the translation only, it does not count.
2. If the person is not able to speak, then we should tell him or her to say the words mentioned above in his heart.
The reason why a person seeking Islam has to repeat the Shahadah in Arabic is that faith in Islam is a confession by the tongue and conviction in the heart. Writing is not sufficient except if someone can’t speak.