Introduction to Islam
(Submission to God)
"The only religion approved by God is Islam (Submission)" 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 is exclusive to the 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 in stead recognise Islam as a spiritual state of submitting to God alone.
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 know today like Judaism and Christianity are man made. As an example, when Jesus Christ preached the love and submission to God, he never claimed that he is initiating a new religion which is called Christianity. In actual fact Jesus proclaimed that he has 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 except 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 and what We inspired to you and what we instructed for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: "You shall establish the religion and be not divided therein." 42:13
"Abraham was neither a Jew, nor a Christian; but he was a monotheist submitter. He was not one of the Mushrikeen (those who set up partners with God)." 3:67
"The only religion approved by God is Islam (Submission)." 3:19
The above Quranic verses confirm the truth that as far as God is concerned there has always been one religion. The one religion was decreed to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
All the Scripture revealed to mankind from God advocate one and the same religion. Submission to God alone is also described as Monotheism (Hanifeyah), see 3:67, 6:79, 10:105, 98:5.
The principal command from God in all Scripture 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)
"You shall know that: "There is no other god beside 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; 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.
The above Quranic verse (42:13) confirms that the religion that was revealed to Muhammad in the Quran is not different from what was revealed to the previous prophets.
Within the religion of Islam God decreed specific rituals and practices designed to teach man 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, Zakat ... 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 the 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, which is defined in all verses which have the words "Millat Ibrahim" (creed of Abraham), as Monotheism and the refrain from associating partners with God (16:123). See Millat Ibrahim.
4- God also tells Muhammad (and all believers) 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 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 development through the ages physically, mentally and spiritually, that there was always the need for various revelations at different times and for different peoples. Although the various revelations are united in message and truth, yet we find that God never addresses identical revelations to two different people. This being so, it can be said that the diverse revelation do not, and should not contradict one another, for although they differ in form, the religion decreed in all of them (Monotheism) is one.
2- If there appears any apparent contradictions between different revelations, they are in human receptacles and not in the divine message. This is a result of human inability to interpret such revelations and more importantly 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 and interpretations of the original revelations, and not between the 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 the factions, we are left with a multitude of corrupt religions. These sub-religions in many ways hardly bare any resemblance to one another, or 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 that 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 a wide expanse of disjointed lands and peoples.
Many people would have not even heard of those Scripture that have already been revealed in various other parts of the world. This is why a new scripture would be revealed to new communities who have not received the Scripture.
However, after the revelation of the Quran, there became no need for any further revelations. Not because the message of the Quran is much 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 Scripture. As a result, and if the message would remain intact in one Scripture, there becomes no need to reveal further Scripture.
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, it is brought right up to them through the various media channels that were not available a few centuries ago.