Islam is the major world faith, foundation of the great civilization comprising over one fifth of humanity stretched all over the globe. Islam is derived from Arabic root ‘s-l-m,’ meaning ‘peace’ or ‘submission’. In a religious context it means; ‘attainment of peace through complete submission to the will of God or his laws’. Allah is the exclusive Arabic name for God, which is also used by Arab Christians. Allah says: Islam is as old as the humanity. Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), the first human was also the first prophet of Islam; “Mankind was once just one nation; later on they became divided through inventing different creeds. If your Lord had not already given His word (specified time for the life of mankind on Earth), the matters in which they differ would have certainly been decided.”(Qur’an;10:19). Later he sent prophets like Noah, Enoch, Abraham (peace be upon them) and others to guide the humanity, they preached the ‘total surrender and obedience to the will of God’ (Islam). All the messengers preached and practiced the same religion ‘submission to the will of God’ (Islam), which is not new to the mankind. Hence all the messengers and prophets along with their followers were Muslims because their faith was based upon ‘total surrender to the will God’ (Islam). Allah says: “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee (Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Abraham Moses and Jesus:…”(Qur’an;42:13); “Behold! Abraham said to his father and his people: “I do indeed clear myself of what ye worship: “(I worship) only Him Who made me and He will certainly guide me.” And he left it as a Word to endure among those who came after him that they may turn back (to Allah).”(Qur’an;43:26-28).
It is narrated in Bible at many places that, the messengers preached and submitted to the will of God; “..Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.”(Matthew;6:10, Luke;11:2); “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”(Genesis;6:22);“Thus Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”(Glatians;3:6-7); “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they ”(Exodus;12:28); “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.”(Exodus;24:7); “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.” (Psalms;119:106); “And they were both (Zechariah and his wife) righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”(Luke;1:6); “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.”(Deuteronomy;13:4); “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”(Hebrews;11:6); “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”(Exodus;19:5); “But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”(Jeremiah;7:23);“A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:”(Deuteronomy;11:27);“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”(Ecclesiastes;12:13). Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) specified adherence to the Will of God being the key for the entry to heaven (Mathew;7:21); he said: “I seek not my own will but the Will of Him who sent me.”(John:5:30). It is further mentioned in Bible: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”(Romans;13:1); “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.”(Psalms;103:20); “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts;5:29); “Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.”(Jeremiah;26:13); “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,”(Deuteronomy;11:13); “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.”(Psalms;18:44); “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:”(Isaiah;1:19); “And thou shall not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”(Deuteronomy;28:14); “And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known”(Deuteronomy;11:28). Those who do not submit to will of God will be subjected to Divine anger and punishment: “And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”(Luke;12:47).
Islam, also means ‘peace’; which has been frequently mentioned in Bible: “If it be possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.”(Romans;12:18); “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”(2Corinthians;13:11, Romans;15:33); “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.”(Isaiah;26:12); “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.”(Job;22:21);“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”(Romans;8:6); “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”(Psalms;37:11); “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”(Matthew;5:9). The advise of Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) to his sons at the time of death to obey and worship One God, is mentioned in Talmud and Qur’an: “..when death came to Jacob, when he said unto his sons: What will ye worship after me? They said: We shall worship thy God, the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, One God, and unto Him we have surrendered”(Qur’an;2:133).
Though Judaism and Christianity affirm their roots to Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) but, it is Islam alone, which can claim to be really adhering to the legacy of Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah says in Qur’an: “..He has chosen you (Muslims) and has not laid upon you any hardship in the observance of your faith – the faith of your father Abraham. He named you Muslims before in prior scriptures and in this (The Qur’an), so that His Apostle may testify against you and you yourselves may testify against rest of the mankind…”(Qur’an;22:78); “Jews and Christians say: “Be Jews or Christians, you shall then be rightly guided.” (O Muhammad), say: “By no means! We follow the faith of Abraham, the upright one; and he joined not gods with Allah.”(Qur’an;2:135, similarly;3:95 & 6:161); “Say ye: “We believe in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to Allah (in Islam).”(Qur’an;2:136); “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It never was for us to attribute aught as partner to Allah. This is of the bounty of Allah unto us and unto mankind; but most men give not thanks.”(Qur’an;12:38 & similarly at 16:123); “O people of the Book! Why do you argue with us about Abraham, as to whether he was a Jew or a Christian? You know, that the Torah and the Gospel were revealed long after him? Will you then not, then, use your reason? So far you have been arguing about things of which you had some knowledge! Must you now argue about that of which you know nothing at all? Allah knows while you do not. Abraham was neither a “Jew” nor a “Christian”, but was one who turned away from all that is false, having surrendered himself unto God, true in faith, and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.”(Qur’an;3:65-67). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last messenger of God, said: “..you (Muslims) are an heir to the heritage of Abraham”(Sunan Abu Dawood;770).
Islam is not only confined to some beliefs, rituals and dogmas. Islam is a Din (complete way of life; social system). Din is the root of Arabic term used for ‘habit’, ‘way’, ‘account’, ‘obedience’, ‘judgment’ and ‘reward’. It implies that living in obedience to God is an obligation owed to Him, for which people will be taken in to account, judged and recompensed. Din can generally refer to any path that a human follows for their lives :(Qur’an;2:256, 16:9) or more specifically to Islam as the comprehensive way of life chosen by God for humanity’s temporal and eternal benefit. Din encompasses beliefs, thoughts, character, behavior and deeds. Thus if these aspects of life are derived from God’s guidance as originally taught by prophets, they comprise Islam. Islam has its own political, social, economic, legal (Shari’a) and other philosophies covering every sphere of spiritual and non-spiritual (secular) aspects of human life, with methodologies for their practical implementation. However if the way of life in a society is based upon human innovations in deviation from what the messengers of God taught, they are only generally considered as the different ways that groups or individuals have chosen for themselves. Din is also used in different contexts as; ‘faith’, ‘religious law’, ‘moral law’ or ‘way of life’. All previous messengers and scriptures were meant for specific people and for specific period; hence with due reverence to all of them, the Din for the humanity now is Islam, the legacy of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), as preached and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says: “And afterward We inspired thee (Muhammad, saying): Follow the religion of Abraham, as one by nature upright. He was not of the idolaters.”(Qur’an;16:123); “It is He Who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all (false) religions even though the idolaters may detest it”(Qur’an;61:9); “The religion with God (is) The Surrender (to His will and guidance i.e. Islam). Those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. They should know that Allah is swift in calling to account those who deny His revelations.” (Qur’an;3:19). “If anyone is looking for a religion other than Islam, then let it be known that it will not be accepted from him; and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.”(Qur’an;3:85). Therefore Islam or peaceful submission to God, in beliefs, rituals, character and sociopolitical and economic interaction is termed as “Way of the Truth” (din ul haqq) which is accepted by God. The sincere worship of none but ‘Him’ is the ‘straight path’ established for the mankind (ad-den al-qayyim). Islam is the ‘primordial religion’ (din-al-hanif), it seeks to return man to his original, true nature in which he is in harmony with creation, inspired to do good, and confirming the Oneness of God. Allah says: “Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the upright faith – the nature made by Allah, the one on which mankind is created – and the laws of Nature ordained by Allah cannot be changed. That is the standard of true faith (ad-den al-qayyim), but most among mankind do not know”.(Qur’an;30:30 similarly 6:161 & 4:125). Narrated Tamim ad-Dari: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) observed: “Ad-Din is a name of sincerity and well-wishing. Upon this we said: For whom? He replied: for Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.”(Sahih Muslim Hadith:21).