THE WISDOM FUND: Issues & Answers

Meaning Of Islam And Muslim

The Quran
This day [the day of the Prophet's 'Farewell Address' on which the last verse of the Quran was revealed] have I made perfect for you your religion, and have completed My favour towards you, and am satisfied with Islam for you as your religion. -- 5:3

O Prophet, say: the religion of truth is that which has come unto you from your Lord. So let whoever wishes believe, and whoever wishes, be an unbeliever. -- 18:29

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
How strange that in every special case
one praises one's own way!
If Islam means "surrender into God's will"
it's in Islam that we all live and die.
Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Quran
. . . the Quran cannot be correctly understood if we read it merely in the light of later ideological developments, losing sight of its original purport and the meaning which it had - and was intended to have - for the people who first heard it from the lips of the Prophet himself. For instance when his contemporaries heard the words islam and muslim, they understood them as denoting man's "self-surrender to God" and "one who surrenders himself to God," without limiting himself to any specific community or denomination - e.g., in 3:67, where Abraham is spoken of as having "surrendered himself unto God" (kana musliman), or in 3:52 where the disciples of Jesus say, "Bear thou witness that we have surrendered ourselves unto God (bianna musliman)." In Arabic, this original meaning has remained unimpaired, and no Arab scholar has ever become oblivious of the wide connotation of these terms. Not so, however, the non-Arab of our day, believer and non-believer alike: to him, islam and muslim usually bear a restricted, historically circumscribed significance, and apply exclusively to the followers of the Prophet Muhammad. -- Foreword, p. vi
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Science & Civilization
In its universal sense, Islam may be said to have three levels of meaning. All beings in the universe, to begin with, are Muslim, i.e. "surrendered to the Divine Will." . . . Secondly, all men who accept with their will the sacred law of the revelation are Muslim in that they surrender their will to that law. . .

Finally, we have the level of pure knowledge and understanding. It is that of the contemplative, the gnostic . . . The gnostic is Muslim in that his whole being is surrendered to God; he has no separate individual existence of his own. -- p.23

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Azad Islam and Nationalism
According to him [Azad] the real objectives of the Quran are the following three principles:

"1. It made faith and deed the sole means of salvation, and not affiliation to any particular group.

2. It emphasized the fact that religion revealed by God was but one for all mankind, and that therefore every deviation from this was a clear aberration.

3. It emphasized that real religion was direct worship of but one God without any mediating agency, and that this was the main teaching of all prophets, and that every belief and practice which conflicted with it was was therefore a deviation from it and indeed a denial of it."

. . . Azad developed this principle in his Tarjuman al Quran which is, without any exageration unparalleled in Islamic literature. Unity of Faith is his central idea, but this does not mean that all historical religions as they exist today are true or that there is truth in every religion, . . . but that "All religions as originally delivered are true."

. . . Azad's real contribution consists in clearly defining the difference between Din and law, or Shar'ah. The division of Faith into many religions starts with the identification of these two aspects i.e. Din and Shar'ah. The followers of the different religions tend to forget the real message of the revealed religion, and the law of the practical way is overemphasised. The emphasis is shifted from the 'end' to the 'means'. The Quran in one of the verses, explains the 'raison de etre' of these differences in the laws as an expression of the Divine law itself. It says, "For each we have appointed a divine law and traced out the way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you He made you as ye are. So vie one with another in good works. Unto Allah ye will all return, and will then inform you of that wherein ye differ" (5/48) Quran accepts the existential differences of human behaviour, and instead of wishing them away it reminds men of different faiths tbat they will all return to God. It is a recurrent theme of the Quran. -- p.50 to 52

[Azad was president of the Congress Party during negotiations for India's independence, the only person twice elected president, and a renowned scholar of Islam.]

John Alden Williams, Misunderstanding Islam
One thing you may hear today is that Muslims do not worship God, they worship something else called Allah. But Allah is simply the Arabic word for "God." It is closely related to the word for God, Alaha, in Aramaic, the language that Jesus and his disciples spoke, a language still spoken in a few areas in the Middle East. If you are an Arab Christian, or Arabic speaking Jew or Muslim, you pray to Allah. To question that is like arguing that French speakers don't worship God, they worship something else called "dieu". Muslims worship the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and anyone who opens an English translation of the Qur'an will see that.
Muslim Americans: A National Portrait
. . . represents the first-ever nationally representative study of a randomly selected sample of Muslim Americans.

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