1. What is Islam?
“Islam” is an Arabic word which means peaceful, willing submission – submission to the code of conduct ordained by God. So Islam is a religion, but it is also a complete way of life based upon a voluntary relationship between an individual and his Creator. It is the way of life ordained by God which was taught by each of His prophets and messengers. What distinguishes Islam from other religions is that it refuses to accept any form of creation whatsoever as a deity worthy of worship. Instead, it emphasizes the exclusive worship of the one God who created the entire universe and to whom all creation will eventually return.
Monotheism is the foundation of Islam and its most important concept which cannot be compromised in any way. Not only is God acknowledged as the sole creator and sustainer of everything in existence, but Islam declares that He is the only true deity and He alone is worthy to be worshipped. Further, it recognizes that the attributes of God are nothing like those of His creation and cannot be compared to it; He is absolute, perfect and unique.
2. What is a Muslim?
A Muslim is someone who practices Islam; that is, who willingly submits to the revealed directives of God. Everything in the universe is inherently submissive to God, functioning according to the natural laws created by Him. Human beings are physically “Muslim” in that their bodies function according to the genetic program set by God for the period of time He has decreed.
A “Muslim” in the religious sense, however, is someone who consciously commits himself to the worship of God alone, not according to his own inclinations or those of other men but according to the method conveyed by God through His appointed prophets. The Qur’an gives many examples of people who lived before Muhammad and believed in and obeyed the prophet that God had sent them. They entered Paradise because of their obedience to God, and that is the meaning of “Islam.”
All the prophets of God, from Adam to Muhammad, and those who believed and followed each of them during the period of his prophet hood were called “Muslims.” But since Prophet Muhammad was the last of God’s messengers to mankind, a “Muslim” can now only be defined as one who accepts and complies with the final, completed message conveyed by God through him. For rationally, the most recently revised legislation always supersedes and invalidates whatever came before it.