Answers to 7 common Questions about Islam
1. What is Islam?
Islam (or Islaam) is the name of the religion, or more properly the ‘way of life’, which God (Allaah) has revealed and which was practiced by all of the Prophets and Messengers of Allaah that He sent to mankind. Even the name stands out unique among other religions in that it means a state of being; it does not refer to any particular person, such as Christianity, Buddhism or Zoroastrianism; a tribe like Judaism; or a nation like Hinduism. The root Arabic word from which Islam is derived implies peace, safety, salutation, protection, blamelessness, wholesomeness, submission, acceptance, surrender, and salvation. Islam specifically means being in the state of submission to Allaah, worshipping Him Alone, and reverently accepting and obeying His Law. Through this submission, the peace, security, and wholesome well-being implied in its literal meaning is achieved. Hence, a Muslim or Muslimah is a person (male or female) in that state of submission. A person’s Islam weakens through sins, ignorance, and wrong-doing, and becomes nullified in totality by associating partners with Allaah or disbelieving in Him.
2. What are Muslims?
The Arabic word “Muslim” literally means “someone who is in a state of Islaam (submission to the will and law of Allaah)”. The message of Islaam is meant for the entire world, and anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. Some people mistakenly believe that Islaam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, over 80% of the world's Muslims are not Arabs! Even though most Arabs are Muslims, there are Arabs who are Christians, Jews and atheists. If one just takes a look at the various peoples who live in the Muslim World - from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Morocco to Indonesia - it is easy enough to see that Muslims come from all different races, ethnic groups, cultures and nationalities. Islaam has always been a universal message for all people. This can be seen in the fact that some of the early companions of the Prophet Muhammad were not only Arabs, but also Persians, Africans and Byzantine Romans. Being a Muslim entails complete acceptance and active obedience to the revealed teachings and laws of Allaah the Exalted. A Muslim is a person who freely accepts basing his beliefs, values and faith on the will of Almighty God. In the past, even though you do not see it as much today, the word “Mohammedans” was often used as a label for Muslims. This label is a misnomer, and is the result of either willful distortion or sheer ignorance. One of the reasons for the misconception is that Europeans were taught for centuries that Muslims worshipped the Prophet Muhammad in the same way that Christians worship Jesus. This is absolutely not true, since one is not considered a Muslim if he worships anyone or anything besides Allaah the Exalted.