Quranic View of the Terms Islam and Muslim

Islam Arabic ٱلْإِسْلَام‎ is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion that teaches there is only one God (Allah) and Prophet Muhammad SAW is the last messenger of Allah SAW.

Islam is a word with multiple connotations. It is derived from an Arabic stem that carries the meanings of peace and submission (to Allah the Exalted and Almighty). 

Islam means submission of one’s will to Allah SWT. Does it start from saying simply لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ‎  (lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu llāhi) There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Now, let us take a brief overview of the word “Muslim”. The beliefs of Muslims include: 

  • God (Arabic: الله‎ Allah) is eternal.
  • God is transcendent and absolutely one (Tawhid)
  • God is incomparable
  • God is self-sustaining and neither begets nor was begotten.
  • Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith. 
  • And also Islam has been revealed before through many prophets including Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus.
  • These previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time.
  • The Quran is the final unaltered revelation from God (Final Testament)

From the point of view of a layman, it is true and yes it is obligatory to say these basic words when someone enters into Islam. It is also obligatory for the believers to say it and it is an Afzal zikr( Cardinal commemoration) in Islam. But it is more important to accept it from the core of one’s heart.

These basic words are the main pillars are the very core of Islam and it has two parts The first part says, As

The following verse of the Holy Quran asserts:

“Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin.” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:48)

The second part says

“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Apostle of Allah and the Last of the prophets, and Allah is cognizant of all things.” (Quran, 33:40)

And Quran says in Sura Albaqara

“O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely and perfectly and do not follow the footsteps of satan. Indeed he is to you a clear enemy.” (Quran, 2:208)

So Islam and Muslims can only be the same if a follower of Islam follows his or her religion and enters into Islam completely. Following the basics is obligatory and being practical in following the Quran and Sunna is also equally important to be known as a true believer. In Chapter 7 Al Hashr, Allah Says,

And what the Messenger gives you, so take it, and what he prohibits you, so refrain from it. And be in awe of Allah. Surely Allah is Stern of Punishment.” (Al-hashr 7)

So Islam is not only saying a few words, offering Salat five times, Paying Zakat, offering Hajj and fasting for one month. These are the basics and obligatory for Muslims but at the same time, these are the reminders and practices that the believers are sent into this world with the responsibilities and they are the representatives of Allah SAW and the preachers of His religion. As mentioned in Ale Imran, 

“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.” (Ale Imran 3:110)

Prophets SAW life was exemplary for us and in every walk of life he is the epitome of perfection for the Muslims.

Muslim is only known as a true Muslim if he or she follows Islam in every sense and he or she is not only a Muslim because of his looks and appearances. What makes a Muslim a true one and the yardstick with which he can be regarded as a true follower of Islam is his practicality, his true submission to the will of Allah and strong adherence to the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW.

How and why Islam and Muslims the same and why not?

It is the matter of practicality, without being practical Muslim the mentioned terms are not the same as these are not the meanings of the terms that matter but the attitude towards the basic teachings is all that is important.