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: Wait a minute! What about Judaism and Christianity? After all, these religions were also authorised by God!

If we discard all labels (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and inspect the ideology of any of these divine revelations we would discover the following:

1- Contrary to what many believe, the word Islam is not the name of a religion that belongs exclusively to the Quran, nor a religion that was initiated by prophet Muhammad! The word Islam simply means 'Submission to God' 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. In that sense, it can be said that all God's prophets and messengers followed the religion of Islam 'Submission to God'.

We read in 3:67 that Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, he was a Muslim. Before him, Noah was a Muslim (10:72). Equally, in 2:133, the sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, as well as Jacob and his sons were all Muslims. In 5:111 we read that the disciples of Jesus were all Muslims.

3- Let us examine the labels we have today, as well as the sub-divisions that have branched out of each:

1- Christianity: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodox, Non-trinitarian restorationism, etc.
2- Islam: Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Sufi, etc.
3- Judaism:
Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, Hasidic, etc.

Initially, we find the name Islam in the Quran as the religion God decreed. However, we do not find the names Judaism or Christianity anywhere in the Bible, Old and New Testaments. The significance of this matter is given below.

4- Further more, we do not find any of the above sub-names in any of the 3 related Scriptures (Old Testament, New Testament, Quran). This is a clear indication that none of these sub-divisions was authorised by God but was man-made.

When prophet Muhammad proclaimed the Quranic message to his people, he never said Sunni, Shia or Salafi! Similarly, when Jesus preached in the land, he too never said Catholic, Baptist or Protestant! As a result, those who claim that they follow their prophet should ask themselves as to why they are following sects that were never approved or taught by their prophet? By following any of these sects, are they really following their prophets?

God commands all believers not to follow any sects, but devote themselves wholeheartedly to the name of God alone:

As for those who have divided their religion and broke up into sects, you shall have nothing to do with them. Their case rests with God, then He will inform them of what they used to do. 6:159

If that is the case concerning the sub-divisions (sects), what about the names of the 3 religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism)? Indeed, we find the word Islam mentioned in the Quran several times as the name of the religion chosen by God for mankind (3:19).
By the same token,
if Judaism and Christianity are names of religions authorised by God, we would expect to find such names in the Old and New Testaments.

What is quite remarkable is that these 2 names are never mentioned even once in the Old and New Testaments! What would the reason be? If these were religions authorised by God, would God keep their names secret, never to be mentioned in the Scriptures?

The answer to such a question is found in the following Quranic verse:

Neither the Jews nor the Christians will approve of you until you follow their 'millat' (creed).
2:120

The keyword in this glorious verse is the word 'creed'. Why did God use the word creed and not the word religion (until you follow their religion)? The obvious reason is that God never authorised religions called Judaism or Christianity. Indeed, the only religion authorised by God for mankind is the religion of 'Submission to God' (Islam).
That is why God mentioned Judaism and Christianity as names of man-made creeds and not religions sanctioned by God.

When we look into the names Judaism and Christianity we find that these words were never used in the days of Moses or Jesus respectively.
With regards to Judaism, the
word Jew originates in the Biblical Hebrew word Yehudi, meaning "from the Kingdom of Judah". Judah was the name of the fourth son of Jacob. As for Christianity, it is named after Jesus Christ.

Moses never preached a religion called Judaism nor did Jesus ever claim that he came to start a new religion called Christianity.

In this light, 'Submission to God' (Islam) is not the religion of the Quran alone, nor is the name of a religion started by prophet Muhammad. In fact, Islam is as old as Abraham (3:67) and all the practices of Islam were first given to Abraham and his sons long before Muhammad was born.

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian but was a monotheist Muslim (Submitter) and was not one of the mushrikeen (those who set up partners with God). 3:67

He has legislated for you of the religion what He has instructed for Noah, and that which We inspired to you, and what We instructed Abraham, Moses and Jesus: You shall establish the religion and do not be divided therein. 42:13

The religion of 'Submission to God' has been decreed by God to mankind in all Scriptures. This is the act of believing in the One God, worshipping Him alone, devoting the religion to Him alone, and rejecting all other gods/idols:

Old Testament:

"You shall have no other gods besides Me" (Exodus 20:3)

New Testament:

"You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8)

The Quran:

So know that there is no god except God. 47:19

Submission to God is the religion whereby a person recognises God's absolute authority and reaches 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 outcome of such a realisation is to devote one's life and worship absolutely to God alone:

Say, "My Salat (prayer), 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 of the Submitters." 6:162-163

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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 is that 'truth' and 'revelation' are not absolutely equivalent terms. Because 'truth' is an absolute term, it is situated independent of form. In contrast, 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 was necessary due to 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 the different revelations are identical in message and truth, each is tailored to a specific people and a specific era. The various revelations do 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 usually due to one or more of the following reasons:

1- The misinterpretation of the Scriptures.
2- The corruption of the Scriptures resulting in the
failure to preserve the truth contained in the revelation.
3- The inevitable infiltration of tradition and culture and their adverse role in impairing the purity of the revelation.

These factors, together or singly, widen the gap between people. The result of which is the emergence of a multitude of man-made religions that have veered off the original revelation. These religions and their inevitable sub-religions in many ways bare little resemblance to the original religion decreed by God. Whenever that happens, divine intervention sees to it that a new revelation is sent to put mankind back on track with God's Law.

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 remote lands and peoples.
Many people would not have even heard of previous Scriptures that were revealed in other parts of the world. That 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 given to previous prophets, but because of the following reasons:

a- A divine promise has been endorsed in the Quran that the Quran will never be corrupted (15:9). As a result, since the Quran would always remain intact, 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 no longer need to travel to hear or receive information. This can be transmitted instantly through social media, a convenience that was not available in the past.