What Is Islam?
Islam means to achieve peace – peace with God, peace within oneself, and peace with the creations of God – through wholly submitting oneself to God and accepting His guidance.
The term Islam derives from the three-letter Arabic root, S (س)- L (ل)- M (م), which generates words with interrelated meanings, including “surrender”, “submission”, “commitment” and “peace”. Commonly, Islam refers to the monotheistic religion revealed to Muhammad ibn (son of) Abdullah between 610 and 632 of the Common Era.
The name Islam was instituted by the Qur’an, the sacred scripture revealed to Muhammad. For believers, Islam is not a new religion. Rather, it represents the last reiteration of the primordial message of God’s Oneness, a theme found in earlier monotheistic religious traditions.
Though Islam can be described as a religion, it is viewed by its adherents – a fifth of the world’s population – in much broader terms. Beyond belief in specific doctrines and performance of important ritual acts, Islam is practiced as a complete and natural way of life, designed to bring God into the center of one’s consciousness, and thus one’s life. Essentially, by definition Islam is a world view focused on belief in the One God and commitment to His commandments.
What is the Essence of Islam?
Prophet Muhammad mentioned in a narrative the best summary of the core of Islam as follows:
“Submission means that you should bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, that you should perform the ritual prayer, pay the alms tax, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to go there.”
“Faith means that you have faith in God, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you have faith in the measuring out, both its good and its evil.”
“Doing what is beautiful means that you should worship God as if you see Him, for even if you do not see Him, He sees you.”
The use of the term Allah is not confined to believers in Islam alone — Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also use Allah in reference to God, demonstrating thereby that followers of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism believe in a common monotheistic Creator, a fact that many people are surprised to learn.
One reason for this may be that English-speaking persons are accustomed to the term God, whereas believers in Islam, regardless of their native language, use the Arabic word Allah. This difference in usage may cause people to view the term Allah with reticence and uncertainty, preventing them from making the connection between the Arabic name and the accepted English equivalent term.