Almost every religion in the world is either named after its founder or associated with the community or nations in which it was created. For instance, Christianity bears the name of its Prophet Isah (A.S) Jesus Christ; Bhuddhism from its founder, Gautama Bhuddha; Zoroastriannism from its founder Zoroaster; and Judaism, the Jews from the tribe Judah (of the country of Judea) where it originated. The same is true of all other religions except Islam, which enjoys the unique distinction of having no such association with any particular person or country. For it is not the product of any human mind. Islam is a universal religion driving its objectives from sublime divine wisdom to cultivate in man the quality and attitude of perfection. Islam is an Arabic word which connotes submission, surrender and obedience. As a religion, Islam stands for complete submission and obedience to Allah.
Islam is the natural religion of man, a religion that is not limited to particular a person, peoples, period or place. It is thereligion of human being in every age, in every country and among every people. All God-knowing and truth-loving men believed and lived with the natural bearing, they surrender to the will of their creator irrespective of whether they called it by name Islam or not. Whatever they name it, it signifies nothing but Islam. Islam consists of submission and obedience to Allah, the Lord for the universe the only authentic source of knowing him and His is through the teachings of Prophets. We may define Islam as that religion which stands for complete faith in the teaching of the Prophet and steadfast obedience to his way of life (Sunnah).
Consequently, one who ignores the medium of the prophet and claims to follow Allah directly is not a Muslim. In earlier epochs, there had been separate Prophets for different nations and the history of Prophethood shows that even in one and the same nation several prophets appeared one intermittently after the other. In that age, Islam was the name of that religion which was taught to a nation by its own Prophets. Though the nature and substance of Islam was the same in every age and country, the modes of worship, codes of law and other detailed rules and regulations of life varied according to local and particular conditions. It was not, therefore, necessary for any nation to follow another nation’s Prophet and its responsibility was confined to following the guidance given by its prophet.
This period of poly-Prophetism came to an end with the advent of Muhammad (blessing of Allah and peace be upon him). Teachings of Islam were made complete through him. One basic law was formulated for the whole world and he was made a Prophet for all mankind. His Prophethood was not meant for any particular nation or country or period, his message was for all people and for all ages. The earlier codes were abrogated by the advent of Muhammad (S.A.W) who gave the world a complete code of life. This means there will be no new Prophet and no new religious code to the Last day. Muhammad’s (S.A.W) teachings are meant for all children of Adam, the entire human race. Now Islam consists in following Muhammad (S.A.W) that is acknowledging his prophethood, believing in all that he has asked us to believe in, following him in letter and spirit, and submitting to all his commands and injunctions, the most fundamental of which is “LA ILAHA ILLALLAH” there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah”.
Islam, in fact, is an attributive title, anyone who possesses this attribute, whatever race, community, country or group he/she belongs to, is a Muslim. According to the Qur’an (the holy book of Muslims), among every people and in all ages there have been good and righteous people who possessed this attribute and all of them are Muslims. Therefore, who is a true Muslim? A true Muslim is a person who believed in the five pillars of Islam: (1) Belief in one true God who Has no associate in his divinity; (2) Belief in God’s revealed Books and in the Holy Qur’an as the last Book; (3) Belief in His Angels; (4) Belief in God’s Prophets, and in Muhammad (S.A.W) as the last and final messenger, and (5) Belief in life after death, this is the faith “Iman”.
It is therefore clear that, without faith “Iman” no man can be a true Muslim, those who have firm faith, a faith that makes them whole-heartedly submit to God. They follow the way of God and devote themselves heart and soul to seeking His pleasure by doing all that He likes and avoiding all what He dislikes. In their devotion they are even more fervent than is the common man in pursuit of wealth and glory. Such men are true Muslims. The life of a Muslim will always be filled with godliness, piety, righteousness and truthfulness. He will live in the belief that God alone is the master of all, that whatever he and other men possess has been given by God, that the powers he wields are only a trust from God, that freedom he has been endowed with is not to be used indiscriminately, and that it is in his own interest to use it in accordance with God’s will. He will constantly keep in view that one day he will have to return to the Lord and submit an account of his entire life.
The sense of accountability will always remain implanted in his mind and he will never behave irresponsibly. Think of the moral excellence of the man who lives with this mental attitude, his will run a life of purity and piety and love and altruism. He will be a blessing unto mankind. His thinking will not be polluted with evil thoughts and perverted ambitions. He will abstain from seeing evil, hearing evil, and doing evil. He will guard his tongue and will never utter a word of lie. He will earn his living through just and fair means and will prefer hunger to a food acquired unfairly through exploitation or injustice. He will never be a party to any form of oppression or violation of human life and honour. He will never yield to evil, whatever the cost of defiance. He will be an embodiment of goodness and nobility and will defend right and truth even at the cost of his life.
This is the life of a Muslim. But there are those who do have faith, who belief in God, His law and the Day of Judgment, but whose faith is not deep and strong enough to make them totally submit to god. They are far below the rank of true Muslims, deserve punishment for their default and misdeeds, but are still Muslims. They are wrongdoers but not rebels. They acknowledge the sovereign and His law and, although they are violating the law, they have not revolted against the sovereign. They admit his supremacy and their own guilt. Thus they are guilty and deserve punishment, but Muslims they remain. Islam isn’t a religion of terrorism as well as Muslims isn’t a terrorist.
Hauwa Balarabe is a 400 level Mass Communication student at Bayero University, Kano