The Children of Prophet Ishmael (Isma’il, peace be upon him), the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), flourished in Arabia around Makka where he was left along with mother Hager by his father (18th century B.C). Their decedents continued to obey and worship one God (in Islam), the faith of their ancestor Abraham for long time. However the idol worship was also introduced somewhere around 5th and 6th century BC by Umru bin Luheyee, the chief of Banu Khuz’a tribe. He brought an idol named Huble from Ma’rib area. They mixed up the paganism with the faith of Abraham and added blasphemous rituals in the worship and pilgrimage (Hajj) instituted by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Among the children of Israel the scriptures and teachings of their previous prophets including prophet Moses and Jesus Christ (peace be upon them) got distorted. The Children of Israel persistently violated their Covenant resulting to anger and retribution by God: “Moreover I swore unto them in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them through the countries; because they had not executed mine ordinances, but had rejected my statutes, and had profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.”(Ezakel;20:23-24). The Jews were hampered by many restrictions, due to their disobedience, God says: “Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life;”(Ezkaeil;20:26), furthermore their religion was racial. Christianity, as originally preached, was a hermit religion: “sell whatsoever thou hast” (Mark;10:21); “take no thought for the morrow” (Mathew;6:34).The Jews & Christians despite having been given clear guidance deviated from true path. Allah says: “And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah offering Him sincere devotion being True (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to practice regular Charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.”(Qur’an;98:5); “The Jews and the Christians say: “We are the children of God and His beloved ones.” Ask them, “Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay! In fact you are human beings like others which He has created. He forgives whom He pleases and He punishes whom He pleases. To Allah belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the final refuge.”(Qur’an;5:18). Consequently the responsibility and privilege of leadership of humanity was shifted and bestowed upon Arabs, the Children of Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah appointed Muhammad (571-632 C.E), peace be upon him the descendent of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him) as His last Messenger for the humanity to preach the original faith of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). This was fulfillment of biblical prophesies. Jews and Christians were commanded to follow Qur’an, revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says: “O people of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Now Our Messenger (Muhammad) has come to you to reveal much of what you have concealed from the Holy Books and to pass over much which is no longer necessary. There has come to you from God a new Light and a clear Book (Qur’an), with which God will guide to the ways of peace all those who seek His good pleasure and bring them out of the depth of darkness into the light of His grace and guide them to the Right Way.”(Qur’an;5:15-16).
Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him) was assigned the mission to deliver the Message of Islam (‘Peace and total Surrender to the Will of Allah’) to the humanity as mercy for the all. Allah says: “(O Muhammad), We have not sent you but as a mercy for all the worlds.”(Qur’an;21:107). He was born in 571 C.E at Makka, southern Arabia in a tribal society among the decedents of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him). The sixth century Makka was a backward area of the world, far from the main centers of trade, art, and learning, heavily infected by polytheism and paganism. At the age of forty (610 C.E) Muhammad (peace be upon him) was entrusted with the deliverance of the Message of Islam to the mankind; “Obey and worship only One God (Allah)”, hence became the ‘unlettered’ last and final Messenger of God as prophesied in Bible (Deuteronomy;18:18 & 19, Song of Solomon; 5:16, John; 16:12-14, 14:16, 16:7, 15:26, and 16:7). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the witness and the culmination of all the prophets and messengers that came before him (some mentioned by name in Qur’an & Bible (Qur’an:48:8, 2:143 & 33:40). The Qur’an, is the book of revelations from God, which, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received through archangel Gabriel at various occasions during 23 years of his prophetic mission; accurately recorded by his companions in his lifetime. Allah purified the previous messages, through Qur’an and unlike previous scriptures has Himself taken over the responsibility to guard it against corruption (Qur’an;15:9). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was responsible for preaching both the theology of Islam and its main ethical, moral, political, social, economic and other principles encompassing all aspect of spiritual and worldly affairs. He was entrusted with the power of explaining, interpreting and demonstrating the life according to Qur’an. His life, preserved in the form of his Traditions (Sunnah) is a role model of a perfect leader in all aspects of human life; available to the humanity till the end of this world.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited the Jews and Christians to Islam, politely and rationally with the spirit of reconciliation. Allah says: “The people did not become divided into sects until after knowledge had come to them out of envy among themselves. Had your Lord not issued the word to defer their punishment till an appointed time, the matter would have already been settled between them. The fact is that those who were made to inherit the Book (Jews and Christians) after them, are surely in disquieting doubt concerning it.” Therefore, (O’ Muhammad) call (them to the Faith) and, stay firm on the Right Way as you are commanded and do not follow their vain desires. Tell them: “I believe in whatever Allah has revealed from the Book and I am commanded to do justice between you. Allah is Our Lord and your Lord. We are responsible for Our deeds and you for yours. Let there be no dispute among us. Allah will bring us all together (on the Day of Judgment) and decide as to who is right and who is wrong and to Him is (Our) final goal.”(Qur’an;42:14-15). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) successfully completed the prophetic mission in his life time and established the first model Islamic state based on the principles of Qur’an and his Sunnah, thus Arabia was purged of polytheism and paganism. However the sovereignty of God had to be established in the world by the believers so that, humanity is free to receive and accept the message of Islam without coercion and those who do not, live peacefully as good citizens in the Islamic state under the sovereignty of God.
The adherents of Islam are called Muslims, while ‘Momin’ (faithful, believer) is also used synonymously. It is not correct to address them by any other name like Mohammedans, which is a misnomer because it appears to suggest that Muslims worship Muhammad (peace be upon him) rather than Allah. ‘Islam’ (total surrender, obedience to the will of God, in peace) as mentioned above is the name of ‘True Faith’ which God has sent for the benefit of humanity, it encompasses both ‘Belief’ (Aymean) and submission to the Divine Commands (Islam)’. The ‘Muslim’ is a person who believes truly in heart and practically obeys the Divine Commands.(Qur’an;51;35-36, 3:19, 3:85, 5:3, 6:125, 3:20, 3:102, 22:78, 3:67, 2:128, 2:132). It may also be kept in view that the term ‘ ‘Momi’n, (faithful or believer), derived from ‘Ayman’, the ‘Faith’, does not necessarily mean ‘True Believer or Faithful’, though mostly used to mean the same, but at many places in Qur’an the terms ‘Momi’n and Muslim have been used for those who apparently declare to be the followers of Islam, i.e. all believers, weather of strong faith, weak faith or may be hypocrites, all addressed as ‘yaa ‘ayy-u-haa’alla dena ‘aamano’, (O you believe):(Qur’an;3:156, 4:136, 5:54, 8:20, 8:27, 57:28, 61:2). It may be held that while the Faith (Ayman) is the name of inner state, Islam is its outward display by the ‘faithful’, as evident from the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah: One day while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting in the company of some people, angel Gabriel came and asked, “What is faith?” Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.” Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan…”(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith; 1:47). Performance of Hajj is mentioned in Qur’an;2:196. Hence the man who possesses belief with certainty in his heart and displays obedience to Islam, may be called a Momin or Muslim, the synonymous terms. There is an exception, where Islam and Ayman has been used distinctively (Qur’an;49:114-5), to distinguish between the true believers and those who orally profess Islam as a favor. In the Islamic state, the citizenship is based upon declaration of acceptance of Islam, and not upon the Faith (Ayman) which, being inner state (hidden) can not form the basis for legal discussion and quantification. It is Narrated by Usama bin Zaid: Allah’s Apostle sent us towards Al-Huruqa, and in the morning we attacked them and defeated them. I and an Ansari man followed a man from among them and when we took him over, he said, “La ilaha illal-Lah” (‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah). On hearing that, the Ansari man stopped, but I killed him by stabbing him with my spear. When we returned, the Prophet came to know about that and he said, “O Usama! Did you kill him after he had said “La ilaha ilal-Lah?” I said, “But he said so only to save himself.” The Prophet kept on repeating that so often that I wished I had not embraced Islam before that day.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith:5.568, 9.11). Therefore mere oral confession of faith is enough to be known as Muslim in the society, only God knows the secret matters of heart.
The Prevailing Din (Way of Life):
Islam has been declared as prevailing Din (way of life) for humanity. Allah says;“…This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL-ISLAM….(Self surrender unto Allah)” (Qur’an;5:3);”Surely, the true religion in Allah’s sight is Islam” (Qur’an;3:19) and “Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from Him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (Qur’an;3:85). Besides Arabs, Muslims are found among all the nations of the world. It is the opinion of Muslim scholars that whoever accepts any religion other than Islam, is a non believer. Moreover whoever rejects the universal message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), rejects the message of all messengers, even if he claims that he believes and follows a particular Messenger. Rejecting one messenger is like rejecting all the messengers of God (Qur’an;26:105). Allah says; “Those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers, and wish to make division between Allah and His Messengers, and say: ‘We believe in some and disbelieve in others,’ wishing to take a midway course. Those indeed are the unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a humiliating punishment” (Qur’an;4:150-51). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets (Qur’an;33:40). No prophet will come after him, thus whoever claims prophethood after him, or believes in anyone claiming it, is a disbeliever, who rejects Allah, His Messenger, and the Muslims’ consensus.