An Introduction to Islam

Islam and Muslims

The word “Islam” is an Arabic word which means “submission to the will of God”. This word comes from the same root as the Arabic word “salam”, which means “peace”. As such, the religion of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind and surety of heart, one must submit to God and live according to His Divinely revealed Law. The most important truth that God revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God, thus all human beings should submit to Him.

The word "Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Being a Muslim entails wilful submission and active obedience to God, and living in accordance with His message.

The Arabic word “Al-Quran” literally means “the recitation”. When used in regards to Islam, the word Quran means God’s final message to mankind, which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran, sometimes spelled Koran, is the literal the word of God - as it clearly says time and time again. Unlike other sacred scriptures, the Quran has been perfectly preserved in both its words and meaning in a living language. The Quran is a living miracle in the Arabic language; and is know to be inimitable in its style, form and spiritual impact. God’s final revelation to mankind, the Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years..

The Quran, in contrast to many other religious books, was always thought to be the Word of God by those who believed in it, i.e. it wasn’t something decreed by a religious council many years after being written. Also, the Quran was recited publicly in front of both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The entire Quran was also completely written down in lifetime of the Prophet, and numerous companions of the Prophet memorized the entire Quran word-for-word as it was revealed. So, unlike other scriptures, the Quran was always in the hands of the common believers; it was always thought to be God’s word and, due to wide-spread memorization, it was perfectly preserved..

In regards to the teachings of the Quran - it is a universal scripture addressed to all of mankind, and not addressed only to a particular tribe or “chosen people”. The message that it brings is nothing new, but the same message of all of the prophets - submit to Almighty God and worship Him alone. As such, God’s revelation in the Quran focuses on teaching human beings the importance of believing in the Oneness of God and framing their lives around the guidance which He has sent. .

Islam began with the Prophet Muhammad. Islam means "surrender" and its central idea is a surrendering to the will of God. Its central article of faith is that "There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger".

Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims believe that they are following in the same tradition as the Judeo-Christian figures Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus who they believe were significant prophets before Muhammad.

The Prophet Muhammad Unlike the founders of many religious, the final prophet of Islam is a real documented and historical figure. He lived in the full light of history, and the most minute details of his life are known. Not only do Muslims have the complete text of God’s words that were revealed to Muhammad, but they have also preserved his sayings and teachings in what is called “hadeeth” literature. This having been said, it should be understood that Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was only a man chosen by God, and that he is not divine in any way. In order to avoid the misguided wish to deify him, the Prophet Muhammad taught Muslims to refer to him as “God’s Messenger and His Slave”. The mission of the last and final prophet of God was to simply teach that “there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God”, as well as being a living example of God’s revelation. In simple terms, God sent the revelation to Muhammad, who in turn taught it, preached it, lived it and put it into practice.

He was a man who lived a humble life in the service of God, and established an all-encompassing religion and way of life by showing what it means to be an ideal friend, husband, teacher, ruler, warrior and judge. For this reason, Muslims follow him not for his own sake, but in obedience to God, because Muhammad not only showed us how to deal with our fellow human beings, but more importantly, showed us how to relate to and worship God; worship Him in the only way pleasing to Him.

Like other prophets, Muhammad faced a great deal of opposition and persecution during his mission. However, he was always patient and just, and he treated his enemies well. The results of his mission were very successful, and even though his mission started in one of the most backward and remotes places on earth, within a hundred years of the death of Muhammad, Islam had spread from Spain to China. The Prophet Muhammad was the greatest of all of God’s prophets, not because he had new doctrines or greater miracles, but because it was him who was chosen to bear the last revelation which would come to humanity from God, one suitable for all places, times, and people, everlasting and unchanging until the Last Day.

Muslims believe that all of God’s prophets, which include Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, brought the same message of Pure Monotheism. For this reason, the Prophet Muhammad was not the founder of a new religion, as many people mistakenly think, but he was the final Prophet of Islam. By revealing His final message to Muhammad, which is an eternal and universal message for all of mankind, God finally fulfilled the covenant that He made with Abraham, who was one of the earliest and greatest prophets.

Sufficient is it to say that the way of Islam is the same as the way of the prophet Abraham, because both the Bible and the Quran portray Abraham as a towering example of someone who submitted himself completely to God and worshipped Him without intermediaries. Once this is realized, it should be clear that Islam has the most continuous and universal message of any religion, because all prophets and messengers were “Muslims”, i.e. those who submitted to God’s will, and they preached “Islam”, i.e. submission to the will of Almighty God.

In the Holy Quran, God teaches human beings that they were created in order to worship Him, and that the basis of all true worship is God-consciousness. Since the teachings of Islam encompass all aspects of life and ethics, God-consciousness is encouraged in all human affairs. Islam makes it clear that all human acts are acts of worship if they are done for God alone and in accordance to His Divine Law. As such, worship in Islam is not limited to religious rituals.

The teachings of Islam act as a mercy and a healing for the human soul, and such qualities as humility, sincerity, patience and charity are strongly encouraged. Additionally, Islam condemns pride and self-righteousness, since Almighty God is the only judge of human righteousness.

The Islamic view of the nature of man is also realistic and well-balanced. Human beings are not believed to be inherently sinful, but are seen as equally capable of both good and evil.

Islam also teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand. God has given people free-will, and the measure of one’s faith is one’s deeds and actions. However, human beings have also been created weak and regularly fall into sin. This is the nature of the human being as created by God in His Wisdom, and it is not inherently “corrupt” or in need of repair. This is why the avenue of repentance is always open to all human beings, and Almighty God loves the repentant sinner more than one who does not sin at all.