What you did not know about Islam


MEANING OF THE WORD ISLAM

The starting point of understanding Islam is to know the meaning of the word 
Islam itself. The word Islam is derived from three Arabic root letters SLM, which literally means to surrender, to submit, to yield, or to give one’s self up. In Arabic, there are a lot of words that can be formed out from the root letters SLM. One such word is “aSLaMa”, which means a person who had submitted, or he resigned himself into something.  To denote someone performing an action, the prefix “mu is added, when combine with these root letters, it will turn out the word “muSLiM”, a person who is doing the act of submission, or an individual who gives himself up. Similarly, from these same root letters, a verbal noun can be derived from it, and the word “iSLaM” is formed out, which carries the meanings of submission, and to submit.

So from the three root letters SLM, the words  iSLaM,  aSLaMa, and  muSLiM are deduced.  iSLaM is the name of an action word indicating submission to the will of God, or an act of resignation to God.  aSLaMa, the past tense of the verb, is the term used for a person who had accepted Islam, or somebody who had surrendered himself to the will of God. And  muSLiM is the active participle of the verb, somebody who is the doer of that action. He is someone who submits to the will of God.

THE LAST MESSAGE

Islam teaches to believe that the prophets of the past brought the true message of submission to the will of God, which in of itself is the meaning of the word Islam.   It is one of the fundamentals of the religion that its followers must believe in all the prophets who were sent into the world. A Muslim therefore believes in all the prophets starting with Adam and together with Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, Jesus, and so on. He also believes that God had sent His prophets to all corners of the earth to preach only one religion and to guide man to the right path. But mankind not only strayed away from the right path again and again, they also lost or distorted the code of guidance that the prophets had brought. That is why prophets were sent to re-state the original message and guide man back to the right path. The message of God was brought to this world by a succession of prophets in different times of history until God sent down the last revelation to the last prophet.

This last revelation is known as the Quran. It is a complete record of the exact words revealed by God to the last prophet. This revelation was memorized, recorded and passed on as is. The last prophet received the exact wording and passed it on to his followers. The Qur’an has been perfectly preserved since its revelation both orally and in writing. Even today, there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world who can recite the entire text of the Qur’an from memory, just as it was memorized in the time of the last prophet. Original copies of the manuscript still exist today and not one word of it has been changed over the centuries. It remains preserved and unchanged since the time of revelation in its original Arabic text over fourteen centuries ago. It is God and only God speaking in the Qur’an. There are no comments, passages or quotes from humans whatsoever in the Qur’an.

This last prophet is Muhammad, whose teachings are so simple and logical that over fourteen centuries had passed, people from all walks of life, from every nation on earth, and from every human race accepted Islam. His message is very clear and easy to understand – He called people to worship One God, as well as living by example of God’s message.

Because of the absolutely unique position he occupied as the recipient of revelations from God, every act and detail of his life was of the greatest interest to those around him. As a result, the prophet’s companions have written down his speech, actions, unspoken approvals, and his way of life. Consequently, the Muslim’s beliefs are based on two sources, the Qur’an, the last divine revelation sent to Muhammad, the last prophet, and the Sunnah, a collection of recorded words and actions of Prophet Muhammad, it helps explain and clarify the Qur’an and to present practical applications to its message. It is these two sources of guidance, which is now known as Islamas revealed in the Qur’an and as exemplified by the last prophet. The prophet’s  life-example became a guide for Muslims in the understanding of the Qur’an and the practice of their religion.

For Muslims throughout the centuries, the message of the Qur’an and the life-example of Prophet Muhammad have constituted the formative and enduring foundation of faith and good deeds. They have served as the basic sources of principles and norms on which daily life is to be patterned. So Islam is a complete way of life, providing guidelines in every aspect of a Muslim’s life. Muslims have a book of guidance, and a prophet who lived a life of guidance that was sent forth in the book. Prophet Muhammad’s life was the best example of the noble lessons and principles set forth in the Qur’an. Because of this, the last prophet’s teachings and practices have become a material source of Muslim creed alongside the Qur’an.

The Qur’an – the last divine revelation – exists in its original text, without a word or even a letter having been changed. And the Sunnah – the last prophet’s words and actions – is preserved with authenticity and accuracy. The accounts preserved in the books of Sunnah are a collection of authentic narrative stories about the prophet’s life. Muslims have carefully and in detail scrutinized the reliability of the transmitters of these narrations, and only those whose narrators are found to be completely reliable and sound are accepted. So not only do Muslims have the complete text of God’s message that was revealed to Muhammad, the Qur’an, but they have also preserved the entire record of his teachings and practices in what is called as the Sunnah. The Sunnah demonstrates how the Qur’an is to be implemented. The Qur’an is the manual, and the Sunnah is the practical demonstration of that manual. Prophet Muhammad conveyed not only the message of the Qur’an, but he also lived by example of its practical application. 

And since the Qur’an is the last divinely revealed scripture, and Prophet Muhammad is the last of the Messengers, the message that he brought is also the last message of God to humanity. There will be no divine scripture that will be revealed after, and no other prophet will come after him. Thus, the Qur’an and the life-example of the last prophet together became the Last Message of God, and that is what we call today as ISLAM.

DATE OF ORIGIN

Prophet Muhammad is not the founder of Islam, as many people mistakenly think. Islam did not begin with the prophethood of Muhammad nor was it founded by him. Islam goes back at the time of Adam, the father of mankind. It was not Muhammad but Adam who first brought Islam to humanity. Then, each prophet and messenger came to teach their own people to a clear understanding of God’s commandments. They put forward teachings relevant on their time but the essence and core concept of their message were the same, and that is the worship of One God purely and submission to His will.

Prophet Muhammad himself makes it abundantly clear that Islam, the complete submission of man before God, is the one and only faith consistently revealed by God to mankind from the very beginning. Noah, Abraham, Job, Jonah, David, Solomon, Jacob, Moses and Jesus – prophets from the past who appeared at different periods of time all brought the same message. They were each repeating the message of their predecessor. Thus, Islam has had existed in one form or another through a series of divine guidance that God had revealed to different prophets, on separate times, and in various places. Prophets were sent to all nations of the earth to guide people to the straight path of worshiping One God. But, with the passage of time, people went astray and the teachings of the prophets were either changed or lost. That’s why prophets were sent again and again to all corners of the earth until the last prophet came.

For this reason, Islam is not a new religion with a new scripture brought by Prophet Muhammad, but rather to be a re-expression in its complete and final form of the True Religion of God, as it was originally revealed to Adam and succeeding prophets. The Qur’an only represents the original message that was brought by prophets of the past. The Qur’an teaches that the message of God was brought to this world by a succession of prophets since the time of Adam. The essence of Islam, which is the worship of One God and sincere submission to His will, was revealed to Adam who passed it on to his descendants. All following revelations to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad were in conformity with that message differing only according to the needs of the people to which they were sent. These prophets taught their people the same concept of religion of what is known today as Islam.

THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT

The single most important teaching of Prophet Muhammad is Tawheed, or the Oneness of God. In Arabic, the term Tawheed comes from the word waahid, literally means One, and it implies to make wahada, which means to make something one, or to assert the oneness of something. The word waahid is the opposite of plurality. So waahid is something that will continue to be singular and never become a partner of something else. However, in a religious context, the word Tawheed means to single out God with all forms of worship, so that you make all your worship for God alone. That is, to make wahada to worship, to assert the Oneness of God in all forms of worship, or to direct all forms of worship to someone who is waahid – the One (God).

Tawheed, or the Oneness of God lies at the very heart of Islam. It strongly emphasize that there is only One True God and that He alone deserves to be worshiped. It asserts God’s oneness in its simplest, uncomplicated, most literal sense. That there is “One God” in the most basic, simple, and elementary meaning of the word. He has no son, no parents nor any similarity or equal. His nature as a Supreme Being does not resemble in anything, and such qualities as The CherisherSustainer and Provider of the whole creation, Most Gracious and Most Merciful, Most Loving and Most Kind, All Forgiving, All Knowing, All Hearing and All Seeing,   All Mighty and Most Wise, All Capable and Powerful over all things, the One who is Free from all wants and Worthy of all Praise, the One Full of Honour, Majesty and Glory, Most Generous and Owner of Great Bounty, the Creator of all, the Giver of everything and all that, only belongs to Him and there’s absolutely no one like Him. Islam teaches that God has a unique nature and that He is free from gender, human weaknesses, and beyond anything which human beings can imagine. There is nothing like Him in this world because the Creator must be distinct and different from the things that He creates. He is above all defects and above any similarity to anything in creation.

This Unique and Great God, who has the exclusive right to be worshiped by man, revealed His glorious name in the Qur’an as “Allah”, and describe Himself as the One and Only True God whom worship is due:

{“ Verily, I am Allah! There is no God but I, so worship Me alone”} (Qur’an 20:14).

The name “Allah” is something that God Himself who informed us through divine revelation that this is His name. Muslims refer to God as Allah only because this name is what the Creator calls Himself in the Qur’an. It came from divine revelation and it is the name that God use to refer to Himself.

When Prophet Muhammad started to talk about Islam to his people, they asked him who Allah is. The answer didn’t come from the prophet. Allah revealed one chapter in the Qur’an in response to their question:

{“Say (tell them Oh Prophet Muhammad): He is Allah, the One and Unique (God). Allah, the Everlasting Self-Sufficient (whom all creatures need). He has not given birth and was not born. And no one is comparable to Him.”} (Qur’an 112: 1-4).

This is Allah answering to the question of who He is. And there is no better answer. To Muslims, this four-verse definition of God serves as the yardstick of the study of divinity. Any man-made concept of God must be subjected to this acid test. False and erroneous concepts about God can easily be dismissed using these verses. These verses tell us that God is literally One, not Three-in-One. God has no needs and is self-sufficient, but the whole creation is dependent on Him for all that they need. God was not born, nor does He give birth. Thus, He does not have a son and share His divinity to others. And there is no creation that is like Him. He is the Creator and His being is distinct and separate from His creation. Therefore, He did not become a part of creation by becoming a man.

Islam makes it very clear that the belief in Allah does not only mean to simply believe that He is the One True God, but it does mean also, and this is the most important point that needs to be given more emphasis, that all kinds of worship should exclusively be devoted to Allah alone and that every care is taken to ensure that this is observed at all times. In other words, it means much more than simply believing that there is “One God”, but it further emphasizes that worship should only be directed to that  “One God” exclusively.

The concept of Oneness of God is the single most important matter which the prophets were sent. This is the most fundamental principle in Islam. It is this concept of Tawheed which is the core of the matter of Prophet Muhammad’s message. It puts great emphasis that Allah is waahid, the One without partner in His Divinity and Worship. No other entity can in any way have the attributes of the Creator. He is far beyond our imagination and bears no resemblance to any of His creation. It calls humanity away from the worship of any part of creation to the worship of The One and Only True God, The Creator. It entails the worship of Allah alone, without any partner, and the rejection of worshiping anything besides Him.

THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN

Anything that contradicts the concept of Tawheed is referred to as Shirk, literally means sharing. It refers to the worship of others instead of Allah or along with Him. It is an act of sharing or assigning partners to Allah in whatever form it may take. In Islam, the main objective is to ensure the Oneness of God. It is not enough that people believe that “God is One”, but they must follow up this belief by worshiping that One God alone. This simple concept of Tawheed has to be explained in detail because for some people, even though they believe in “One God”, do not direct all of their worship and prayers to Him alone. They call on numerous saints for every specific need, in statues made of stone, etc. Their argument is that they are not actually worshiping the stone image or the statue, but God who is present within it. They claim that the stone idols and carved images are only the focal point for God’s essence and is not in itself God. They try devising a “rational excuse” for their actions. But obviously, this is faulty reasoning. This is not from God – this is idolatry. This is the worst sin that a man can commit.

The belief in Tawheed means to deny all forms of association of partners with Allah. It rejects the use of all intermediaries between God and man, and stresses that people approach God directly and reserve all worship for Him alone. If someone faces an idol or to a stone image and prays, he has associated a partner with Allah, because worship is being shared between Allah and His creation. Likewise if someone prays to a prophet, to so-called saints asking for help from Allah thru them, has also committed shirk. Shirk can take many forms: facing to idols or statues while praying, calling upon saints for help, believing that God became man, etc. All forms of shirk must be avoided, no matter what shape, form, or name. Shirk simply means an act of worship for other than Allah, or along with Allah. In other words, it is an act of calling, supplicating, and praying to created beings instead of the Creator. The greatest sin in Islam is to engage in practices which contradict or compromise Tawheed. This direct and indirect sharing of partners with Allah is referred to as Shirk.

Allah created humans to worship Him, that’s why Shirk represents the greatest act of rebellion against God because it contradicts the very purpose of our creation, and is thus the ultimate sin. It is a sin so great that it virtually cancels out all good a person may do and guarantees its perpetrator eternal in Hell-Fire if he does not give it up before his death:

{“If you were to join other gods with Allah, (thensurely (allyour deeds will be in vain, and you will surely be among the losers (in the hereafter)”} (Qur’an 39:65).

The idolater will never be granted forgiveness if he has not renounced idolatry before his death:

{“Verily, Allah does not forgive that partners should be setup with Him 
(in worship), but He forgives (sins) other than that to whom He wills} (Qur’an 4:48).

Of course, if a person does give up this sin of idolatry before his death, then he is safe from such eternal punishment in Hell-Fire. Setting up partners along with Allah is a deadly sin that He will never forgive despite the fact that He forgives all other sins.

Man-made religions in one way or the other invite their followers to the worship of creation. People are called upon to pray to a man, a prophet named Jesus, whom they have claimed to have been the “son of God”. They also pray to Mary as the “mother of God”. They made a god out of Jesus and directed their prayer to him and his mother. But clearly, both Jesus and Mary are human beings like us and no matter how honorable and righteous, they are still God’s creation, and are therefore not to be worshiped. In Islam, there is no confusion in divinity. Anything that is created is not deserving of worship, and only the Creator is worthy of being worshiped. Interestingly, there is a verse in the Qur’an that gives us a glimpse of a major future event. Allah quotes His conversation with Jesus that will take place on the Day of Judgment:

{“And when Allah will say (on the Day of Judgment): Oh Jesus son of Mary! Did you say unto men, “Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?” He (Jesus) will say: Glory be to you! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it... Never did I say to them anything but what you commanded me to say, Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord...”} (Qur’an 5:116-117).

Prophet Jesus called his people to worship Allah without partners. He never claimed divinity for himself, nor did he ever asked to be worshiped. Jesus never claimed to be God, or asked his people to worship him. In fact, Jesus told his followers to pray to God as he himself did. And our logic would tell us that someone who prays to God cannot possibly be God himself. The two has to be separate entities – one is the worshiper and the other is the object of worship

Since the greatest sin in God’s sight is the worship of others besides Him or along with Him, and everything besides Him is creation, the principles of Islam then are all either directly or indirectly opposed to the worship of creation. The fundamental tenets of Islam make a very clear distinction between the Creator and what He has created. The Creator and the created are separate and distinct. The Creator is invisible in this life. No one can see Him in this earthly life. Thus, He is not manifested or incarnated in any other life forms. So for that reason, no man is “God-incarnate”, or any similar false notion that God came down to earth in human form. Therefore, the commandments in Islam concerning worship clearly indicate that Allah is not to be found in created beings, He is totally separate from them, and thus any worship in His creation or thru His creation is the greatest of sins:

{“Joining others in worship with Allah is indeed the greatest sin”} (Qur’an 31:13).

A CLOSER LOOK AT FALSE RELIGIONS

False religions claim that God cannot forgive man directly therefore He sends His so-called “only begotten son” to save mankind from their sins. Others interpret this concept that God came down to earth and became a human being to save mankind’s sins. By claiming that God cannot forgive humans directly, people turn to false gods for help. These false gods come in different forms, and anyone who is in his right mind can tell that these so-called gods are indeed false because these are created beings like him.

Islam puts great emphasis that God did not become a man nor did He sent a so-called “only begotten son” to save the sins of the world because He can forgive man directly anyway. There is no need to shed blood to an innocent person just to save mankind from its sins because God is perfectly capable of bestowing His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness to whomever He chooses.

Islam teaches that God should be approached directly without any intermediaries. That is because the Most Merciful, All-Knowing God is completely in control of everything that exists, and that He can bestow His forgiveness and mercy on His creatures as He pleases. Islam commands man to pray to God directly seeking mercy and forgiveness only to Him. It also forbids man to worship something created because the One True God has to be the Creator and not a part of creation that He creates.

Even though other religions have claimed to believe in One God, over time, some man-made ideas entered into their beliefs and practices leading them away from the pure teachings of the prophets. They carved different images and statues and worshiped them, despite the fact that they know that they are the ones who made these things. They worship something that they made by their own hands that cannot hear or answer them. All of these misconceptions lead to the worship of created beings instead of the Creator. But divine revelation makes it very clear that:

{“Allah has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him.”} (Qur’an 23:91).

Is there anything clearer than this? This is Allah Himself saying that He has no son and there is no other “God” besides Him.

False religions claim that God became man, had a son who shares His divinity, or that God may be worshiped in the form of His creation thru carved-images of different idols. But as has been revealed in the Qur’an, God was not born nor does He give birth, and His being is distinct and separate from His creation. Therefore, He did not become a part of creation by becoming a man nor did He have a son because God does not share His divinity to anyone. By neglecting the true teachings of the prophets and mixing them with man-made ideas, other religions have distorted and nullified the pure belief of “One God” even though they claim that they believe in such. Tawheed is not just simply believing that God is One, but it further emphasize to worship that One God alone.

Some people argue that they pray to and worship others besides God only to get closer to Him. They often approach God through an intermediary, such as saints to whom they direct their prayers in the belief that these saints can directly influence the affairs of this world. They took their priests as intercessors between themselves and God, in the mistaken belief that the priests are closer to God due to their celibacy and piety, and thus more likely to be listened to by God. They also took Jesus as the “son of God” and make him as an intermediary with the false belief that they will be closer to God by having His son to intercede for them, they also sought “mercy” from Mary and took her as the “mother of God”.

In Islam, there is no such thing as an intercessor or intermediary in all forms of worship. You don’t need to seek help on anyone such as patron saints, or to call upon to so-called “son of God”, or to seek mercy to the supposed “mother of God”, or to go to a priest to confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, or to face an idol made of wood and stones when you pray, and the like. It is only in Islam that a person is required to pray only to God, direct and without any intermediary. There is no need to call on anyone whether it is a saint, an idol made of wood and stones, or someone who is believed to be the “son of God”, because clearly all these are created beings like us.

In Islam, there is a clear distinction between the Creator and the created. The Creator of everything must be different from and greater than the things that He creates. There is no confusion as to who is to be worshiped. Anything that is created is not to be worshiped, and only the Creator is the object of worship. It is made clear that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshiped except the One True God, the Creator. Or to put it in one simple statement, “Worship the Creator, not His Creations”. 

We can easily determine if a religion is false by looking at the object of their worship. If they worship anything or anyone besides the Creator, then it must be false. It just makes sense to us that the only one who deserves to be worshiped is the One who created us, and not His creations. By using the principle of identifying the object of worship, we can easily detect false religions and the man-made nature of their origin. False religions teach the greatest evil – the worship of creation. Typical example is Prophet Jesus, he invited his followers to worship God, but those who claim to be his followers today call people to worship Jesus, claiming that he was God, which is the very contradiction to what he said. Jesus did not claim to be God, nor did he told his followers that he be an object of worship. Yet today most people who claim to be his followers have taken him to be either “God” or “son of God” and pray to images and idols made in their perception of his likeness.

THE TRUE ONENESS OF GOD

The fact is that Allah, whom Muslims believe as One, is absolutely One in the purest sense of the word. It means that He is singularly One in the natural essence of His existence, free from any different factors having anything to do with His absolute Oneness, owing an indivisible existence only to Himself. “Trinity” suggests that the One is not an Absolute One but a compound of some variants, which can never really be One in the true meaning of Oneness. And certainly, the one dependent in its existence upon its different components can never be independent in its action, whereas Allah is the Absolute One, independently Omnipotent in His will and His action.

So with this clear concept of the Oneness of God, there really is no place for “son of God”, “mother of God” and “Trinity” in Islam because Allah has no partners with Him being God, and He does not share His perfect attributes to anyone. Understanding that Allah is the only Supreme Being means denying the existence of any other god. The concept of Tawheed is straightforward, clear and sure enough easy to understand. It is free from irrational, mysterious and confusing ideas. That there is only One God – not in a Trinity of gods – is something that even a small child can understand without difficulty. 

The belief in One Creator is not all there is to a proper belief in God. This belief is definitely necessary but not sufficient. This belief must be followed up with the rejection of worshiping others instead of God, or along with Him. Then, and only then that a person will be fulfilling what it truly means to believe in One God. The most important message that God revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine and worthy of being worshiped except Him. This is the very essence of the divine message brought by all the prophets, and it is what Islam really is all about – to worship One God alone.

Islam’s concept of Oneness of God that is Tawheed is very simple and clear, and leaves no room for any type of misconceptions which often lead to the worship of creation that is Shirk. So a person who truly believes in the Oneness of God has to worship Him alone and avoid associating any partner with Him of any kind. Islam strongly emphasizes the worship of Allah alone without ascribing to Him any partner.

Therefore, simply believing in “One God” is not enough to become a Muslim because other religions also have this belief. This belief in “One God” needs to be clarified that in addition to that belief, we should only worship that “One God” alone and no one else. For a Muslim, the belief in “One God” is in its purest form. He abstains from worshiping anything or anyone besides the “One God”.

In Islam, the worst sin is to worship anything or anyone other than God, even if the worshiper intends to draw nearer to God by offering devotions to another being. So even though other religions also claim to believe in One God, they fall short and violate this belief by worshiping others alongside Him, which is, as all of the prophets taught, the greatest sin.

Prophet Muhammad was instructed by Allah to tell people what is really forbidden to them:

{“Say (tell them Oh Prophet Muhammad): Come, I will recite to you what Allah has really forbidden to you: Do not setup anything (in worshipwith Him”} (Qur’an 6:151).

The act of setting up partners in worship with Allah is the most sinful act that Prophet Muhammad has informed us, and the core of his message is to worship Allah without partners.

Prophet Jesus also told the same thing to his people:

{“But the Messiah 
(Jesussaid: Oh children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worshipwith Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode”} (Qur’an 5:72).

And so did Prophet Noah:

{“And indeed We sent Noah to his people, and he said: Oh my people! Worship Allah! You have no other ilah (God) but Him.”} (Qur’an 23:23).

Islam’s Greatest Commandment is to worship Allah alone, and its Most Forbidden is worshiping others besides Him or along with Him.

Tawheed is a logical, simple belief, free from mysterious and complicated concepts. It’s what God has sent down to mankind in all ages through His prophets. It was this belief that, in the beginning of time, Adam had when he was sent down to earth. It was the same commandment that was revealed to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. It was the message which Muhammad brought to mankind. It is the belief without the least shade of irrational concepts. Man became guilty of Shirk only because he turned away from the teachings of the prophets and depended on his own faulty reasoning, wrong perceptions and erroneous interpretations. Prophets are there to explain God’s message to man. If man turns away from a prophet, he is bound to fall into error. God has chosen Messengers of great character to bring His universal message to all of us. The tasks of these Messengers were both to bring the message and to guide by personal example. They would always practice what they preached. That is why in God’s last divine revelation, the Qur’an, we have a perfect example on how to live its message by following the Sunnah of the last prophet.

UNIVERSALITY OF THE MESSAGE

Since the time of Adam, the universal content of the divine message remained unchanged: that there is only One God, no one deserves to be worshiped but Him alone, and that He would judge everybody’s deeds on the Day of Resurrection. This principle has not change through the passage of time. It is the same as the number one commandment in the Ten Commandments of Prophet Moses, the same pure faith that Prophet Abraham taught to his descendants, the same message that Prophet Jesus conveyed to his people, the same warning that Prophet Noah called his people so that they may be save from the big flood of water, and was also the same creed that Prophet Muhammad brought. All prophets gave the same universal message, they all taught that God is One, free from sharing His divinity with anyone, and that we are all accountable of our actions in this life on the Day of Judgment. That same universal message that all the prophets have brought is what we call today as Islam. Prophet Muhammad did not bring something new. Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same eternal message revealed through the ages to all of God’s prophets and messengers. 

Prophet Muhammad only brought the same message as that was revealed by the messengers that came before him:

{“And We never sent any messenger before you (Prophet Muhammad), except that We revealed to him that there is no god but Me. Therefore worship Me (alone)”} (Qur’an 21:25).

Prophets were sent to every nation who had strayed away from the right path of Tawheed, to guide them back to it. This principle of Tawheed was the same throughout time: to reject all objects of worship, and to direct all worship without exception to God alone. This is the essence of the True Religion and it has been so since the time of Adam. Prophets were sent to particular nations for a certain period of time. But this is not the case of Prophet Muhammad. Since he is the last prophet, his message is for all humanity and will last until the end of time. The teachings of the Qur’an comprise a universal scripture addressed to all of mankind and not to any particular people, or for a specific time period. The message that it brings is nothing new but the same message of all prophets: to worship the One God purely, and submit to God’s will as taught by the prophets.

Prophets were raised up among their respective people to call them to the worship of Allah alone and to abandon the worship of the various false gods that their people had invented. Thus, it is man’s duty to follow the way of the prophets. And it really does not matter in what place and period of time a person is born because this pure, simple practice of faith has been in existence since Adam’s time. All the different nations in the world have their own messenger and had brought one and the same message:

{“And verily, We have sent among every nation a messenger (proclaiming): Worship Allah (alone) and avoid false gods”} (Qur’an 16:36).

CONCLUSION

Before the time of Prophet Muhammad, one could say that they were many Islam. That is, each nation had their prophet, followed their teachings and was on the right path of Islam. But with its universality, Islam has always been accessible to mankind at all times by following the way of the prophets and by having that pure faith of rejecting the worship of creation and worshiping One God alone. In every age of human history, and in every nation on earth, all people who have believed and followed their prophets had lived this simple practice of faith. They were all Muslims, regardless of whether they call Islam with a different name in their language. People who followed their prophet from different parts of the world in separate periods of time have a variety of ways to express the term man’s submission to the will of God. People from different places have their own distinct languages, and prophets that were sent to them brought Islam in the language that they understand, and so it is only natural that they call Islam with a different name in their own distinct language.

But whatever its name was, it signified submission to God’s will and therefore it is Islam and nothing but Islam. Islam’s accessibility to all mankind at all times convincingly support Islam’s claim that from the beginning of time, in whichever place it was taught, and whatever language it was expressed, Islam alone is, and always has been, the universal message preached by all the prophets of God.  

Allah had sent us prophets who all taught the same religion:

{“He (Allahhas ordained for you the same religion (Islamwhich He ordained for Noah, and that which We revealed to you (Muhammad), and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus”} (Qur’an 42:13).

After the creation of the first man, Adam, only one message has been repeatedly delivered to mankind throughout the history of humanity. Thus, to remind people about it and bring them back on track, prophets and messengers including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and finally Muhammad were sent to convey only one message, the message of submitting oneself to the will of God, which is translated in Arabic as Islam. The pure essence of the beliefs and teachings that were revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad are the same as God taught to all the other prophets of the past.

Prophets had been raised among every people, and they all conveyed essentially that same religion which Prophet Muhammad brought. The only thing that distinguishes Prophet Muhammad from all other prophets is that the prophets of the past came with the Divine Message of Islam in its different forms that suits to a particular people in a certain place and for a specific periods of time, whereas the last prophet brought the Divine Message of Islam in its last form for the whole of humanity and for all time to come. Even though the Divine Message that Allah revealed to each prophet differed in form to suit the needs of the community to which he was sent, but the indentifying nature of the message is the same.

A Muslim does not necessarily mean a follower of Prophet Muhammad. A person who followed Moses when he splits the sea while being chased by the army forces of Pharaoh, a person who followed Jesus after he brought the dead to life and cured those who were born blind, a person who followed Jonah when he finally conveyed the message of God after he was brought out from the belly of the whale, a person who followed Noah inside the Ark to be saved from the big flood of water, any person who followed one of the many prophets, who believed and worshiped the One True God without partners is called a Muslim. Therefore anyone, born at any place, and at any given point in time can be a Muslim, even before the time of Prophet Muhammad, because Islam is what the prophets had been calling their people since the time  of Adam. Prophet Muhammad’s message was the same as that was conveyed by prophets of the past in different periods of time. All of them came with one message – the message of Islam. The word Islam is the name of the central principle of the True Religion, and that is submission of man’s will to the will of God. And anyone who does so is a Muslim, regardless of whether he had or she had lived in the time of Noah, Job, David, Solomon, Jacob, Abraham, Jonah, Moses, Jesus, or Adam. Whoever submits their will to Allah according to the teachings of the prophets – as they originally taught them – that person is a Muslim.
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