What is the name of
The name of our religion is ISLAM. This word is pronounced
IS - as in the word this (not the sound of z
like in the word is). LAM - la as in the word large.
A follower of Islam is known as a MUSLIM, pronounced as:
MUS - u as in pull, and a soft s. LIM.
What do these words mean?
The word Islam means 'entering into peace' and also
'submission to God'. Muslim, therefore, means one who has made peace, with God as
well as with man, through submission to God.
Who gave these names to this
These names are to be found in the Holy Quran, the sacred Book of
the Muslims. For instance, God says:
"I have chosen for you (O mankind) Islam as a religion."
(chapter 5, verse 3, or 5:3 for short.)
"He (God) has named you as Muslims." (22:78)
What is the basic teaching of
It is to make peace with God, which means to submit to and obey God
completely. And also to make peace with man, which means to do good to people around us.
This basic teaching is summed up in the Holy Quran as follows:
"Whoever submits himself completely to Allah, and does good to
others, he shall have his reward from his Lord." (2:112)
(Note that the word "he" in such places in the Quran does
not mean a man only, but any human being, male or female).
How did Islam come into the world?
The religion of Islam in its present form came to us through the
teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who lived and preached in Arabia some 1400 years
ago (born 571 C.E., died 632 C.E.). However, the Holy Prophet taught that he was not
bringing a completely new religion into the world, because the basic principles of Islam
had also been preached by all the great founders of the various religions before him.
Islam, therefore, did not begin with the Holy Prophet Muhammad, but was also the religion
of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, and every other prophet of God.
Why is this religion not
named after Muhammad, the Holy Prophet?
Because, properly speaking, the Holy Prophet Muhammad was not the
Founder of Islam, but was himself a Muslim - a follower of Islam. Prophets before him too
are called Muslims in the Holy Quran. Our religion was not named after the Holy
Prophet Muhammad in order to stress that it teaches the same basic principles that were
originally taught by all the prophets who appeared before him in various parts of the
Are there any special reasons why
our religion is called Islam?
Yes. Because it teaches that, just as the universe
around us obeys the laws God has established for it, man too should submit to the guidance
the Almighty has revealed through His Prophet. It teaches that Islam or 'submission
to God' is a hall-mark of the physical world and of human nature. Every human child at
birth is a 'Muslim' in the sense that he (or she) behaves according to true human nature.
If previous prophets had also
taught the same basic 'Islam', what was new about the teachings of the Holy Prophet
The original teachings given to the different nations of the world
by the prophets who appeared in them, had gradually become lost, altered and obscured. God
then sent the Holy Prophet Muhammad to:
- re-establish those original principles,
- preach other truths which had not been preached before, but were
necessary now because mankind had advanced,
- to collect together the best of every religion into one faith.
So the Holy Prophet Muhammad appeared as the Last Prophet to give to
the whole world one, perfect and ever-lasting, religion - Islam.
What does one have to do in order
to become a Muslim?
A person becomes a Muslim by declaring in public an oath known as
the Kalima Shahada. This runs:
Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill-Allah
(I bear witness that there is no god except Allah)
Wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad-an rasul-Ullah
(and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
The Kalima contains the two basic points a Muslim has to
believe: that there is only one God - Allah, and that the Holy Prophet Muhammad is Allah's
Messenger to mankind.