Introduction to Islam
(Submission to God)
The religion in the sight of God is Islam (Submission to God). 3:19
On first impression, many who read the above statement will immediately say: Hold on! What about Judaism and Christianity? After all, these religions were also authorised by God!
However, if we discard all labels (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and inspect the ideology of any of these divine revelations we would note the following relevant issues:
1- Contrary to what many believe, the word Islam is never used in the Quran as a title for the religion belonging only in the Quran, nor a religion that was initiated by Prophet Muhammad! The word Islam simply means Submission to God. It is necessary thus to stop thinking of Islam as the religion exclusive to the Quran, and instead, recognise Islam as a state of submitting to God alone and accepting God's absolute authority over all things.
2- All the prophets of God submitted to Almighty God and called their people to submit to the One and only God. The only true religion as far as God is concerned (after discarding the labels) is Submission to God (Islam).
3- It can also be said that all the labels we have today such as Judaism and Christianity, with all their sub-divisions, are man made. They are not religions approved by God. God does not call them religions, but creeds:
Neither the Jews nor the Nazarenes (Christians) will approve of you unless you follow their 'millat' (creed). 2:120
This applies to all the sects of the Islamic faith, such as Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Salafi, Sufi and others.
The religion given to Moses, Jesus and all the other prophets was not Judaism nor Christianity but Islam (Submission to God). When Jesus Christ preached the love and submission to God, he never claimed that he was initiating a new religion called Christianity. In actual fact Jesus proclaimed that he had not come to change the law (of the Torah) but to confirm it (Mathew 5:17-18). The term 'Christianity', as a separate religion independent of Judaism, was not used until long after Jesus was dead.
In this light, Islam is not the religion of the Quran alone, nor is the religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad. It is written in the Quran that Islam (Submission to God), is as old as Abraham (22:78), and that all the practises of Islam were first given to Abraham and his sons long before Muhammad was born.
He has legislated for you of the religion what He has instructed for Noah. What We inspired to you, and what We instructed for Abraham, Moses and Jesus, is that you should establish the religion and do not be divided therein. 42:13
Abraham was neither a Jew, nor a Nazarene (Christian); but he was a monotheist Muslim. He was not one of the mushrikeen. (those who set up partners with God). 3:67
The religion in the sight of God is Islam (Submission to God). 3:19
The above Quranic verses confirm the truth that as far as God is concerned there has always been one religion which is submission to God. The one religion of Islam was decreed to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
All the Scriptures revealed to mankind from God advocate one and the same religion. Submission to God alone is a religion based on Monotheism (Hanifeyah), see 3:67, 6:79, 10:105, 98:5.
The principal command from God in all Scriptures is to worship God alone devoting all the religion to Him and rejecting all other gods/idols:
"You shall have no other gods besides Me" (Exodus 20:3)
"You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8)
So you shall know that there is no god besides God. 47:19
Submission to God is the religion whereby we recognise God's absolute authority, and reach an unshakable conviction that God alone possesses all power over all things; no other entity possesses any power that is independent of Him. The natural result of such a realisation is to devote our lives and our worship absolutely to God alone:
Say, "My Salat, my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted to God, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner. This is what I was commanded with, and I am the first to submit." 6:162-163
Within the religion of Islam, God decreed specific rituals and practices designed to teach man how to worship his Lord. These acts (Prayer, pilgrimage, etc.) were first taught to Abraham:
We made them (Abraham and his sons) leaders who guide by Our command and We inspired them to work good deeds, to observe the Salat and to give the Zakat. 21:73
Millions of Muslims today believe that it was Muhammad who taught them how to pray and conduct their other rituals. This belief is erroneous since it violates the truth of the Quran. In the Quran we read:
1- The practises of Islam were first given to Abraham and his sons (Prayer, pilgrimage, obligatory charity, etc, see 21:73, 22:26-29). This took place long before the time of Muhammad.
2- Across the ages, as normally happens, many of these rituals were corrupted and the element of idolising human messengers and saints crept in. All practises were thus restored to their pristine purity in the Quran. God also promised that the Quran will never be corrupted (15:9), thus all believers will always have access to the pure way of worshipping God.
3- Muhammad and all believers were commanded to follow the creed of Abraham. The creed of Abraham (millat Ibrahim) is defined in all verses which contain this phrase as Monotheism. They were also commanded to refrain from associating any partners with God (16:123). See Millat Ibrahim.
4- God also confirms in verse 5:48 that within each revelation there are specific laws and rites that are specific to the receivers of this particular revelation. Hence the command is issued in 5:48 that Muhammad should follow the rites given to him in the Quran and not the rites of previous people.
Essentially, if there is only one religion decreed by God there must be one 'truth'. Do we then conclude that there should be one revelation? The answer to this question is that 'truth' and 'revelation' are not absolutely equivalent terms. Because 'truth' is an absolute term it is situated independent of form, whereas revelations are relative to time, people and place, and thus require a form, but to speak of form is to speak of diversity and thus plurality.
The need for different revelations at different times and for different people is justified by means of the following:
1- Mankind has gone through enormous developments through the ages, physically, mentally and spiritually, and thus there was always the need for various revelations at different times for different peoples. Although various revelations are united in message and truth, we find that God never addresses identical revelations to peoples of different eras. This being so, it can be said that diverse revelations do not, and should not contradict one another, for although they differ in form, the religion decreed in all of them, which is Islam (Submission to God), is one and the same.
2- If there appears any apparent contradiction between different revelations, they are in human receptacles and not in the divine message. This is as a result of human inability to interpret such revelations and also due to the failure to preserve the 'truth' contained in the revelation, which always tends to be impaired and altered with the passing of time.
Ultimately, the apparent contradiction is no more than one between corrupt scripts as well as the interpretations of the original revelations, and not between the original revelations themselves.
Inevitably, and through corruption in the transfer and application of a Scripture, together with the social and cultural factors that always widen the gap between factions, we are left with a multitude of corrupt religions. These sub-religions in many ways hardly bare any resemblance to the original religion decreed by God.
For that, there becomes a necessity for mankind to receive another revelation that puts them back on track with God's law which has been badly corrupted.
3- We find that up until the advent of the industrial revolution and the fast travel era, the world was still just a wide expanse of disjointed lands and peoples.
Many people would not have even heard of those Scriptures that had already been revealed in various other parts of the world. This is why a new Scripture would be revealed to new communities who had not received a Scripture.
However, after the revelation of the Quran, there became no need for any further revelations. Not because the message of the Quran is any different from the message of the Torah or the Gospel, but because of the following reasons:
a- A divine promise has been endorsed in the Quran that it will not be corrupted like previous Scriptures. As a result, if the message remains intact in one Scripture, there becomes no need for further revelations.
b- With the advent of the modern fast travel means of today, the whole world became a closer knit unit. People do not have to travel to hear or receive information, as it can be received through the numerous media channels that were not available a few centuries ago.