بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي ; وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي ; وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي ; يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي
A very critical question; it is bound to raise several eyebrows. But let me explain why I am raising this question. Alhumdolillah we (‘Muslims’) have been born to ‘Muslim’ parents, have been taught La ilaha illallah by birth. And so we are called Muslims. But if a question is asked that why are we called ‘Muslims’, or what is the meaning of this word ‘Muslim’, how many of us will be able to say confidently that so and so is the answer? Let us see it in the discussion here.
What is the meaning of the word ‘Muslim’?
This is very important to know before we go further into the discussion, because unless we know what the word means how can we discuss further. And as always, we shall refer to Holy Qur’an for the answer. Refer to following verses from Holy Qur’an:
قُلْ إِنِّي أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصاً لَهُ الدِّينَ
“Say (O Muhammad, PBUH): Verily, I am commanded to worship Allah (Alone) by obeying Him and doing religious deeds sincerely for His sake only.”
وَأُمِرْتُ لأَنْ أَكُونَ أَوَّلَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
“And I am commanded (this) in order that I may be the first of those who submit themselves to Allah as Muslims.”
(Aayah No’s 11 & 12, Surah Az-Zumar, Chapter No. 39, Holy Qur’an).
These verses give us the exact definition of the word ‘Muslim’. ‘Muslim’ means one who submits to the will of Allah.
Allah gave this name (‘Muslim’) to the followers of His religion.
People keep giving different names to ‘Muslims’; some call us as Mohammedans, some call us as Musalmaan and there may be many more names given to the ‘Muslims’. But the actual name is ‘Muslim’; and let it be clear to all of us that it is not an English word, it is an Arabic word. ‘Muslims’ are not only those who are the Ummah of Prophet Muhamamd (PBUH), rather it is a word which is used for others also who came much before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I am quoting few verses from Holy Qur’an in support of this.
مَا كَانَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ يَهُودِيّاً وَلا نَصْرَانِيّاً وَلَكِنْ كَانَ حَنِيفاً مُسْلِماً وَمَا كَانَ مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa, and he was not of Al-Mushrikun.”
(Aayah No. 67, Surah Aal-Imran, Chapter No. 3, Holy Qur’an).
We can see that Allah tells us that Ibrahim (AS) was a ‘Muslim’. Similarly, we see a Dua of Syedna Yusuf (AS) in following verse from Holy Qur’an, where he is praying to Allah and asking Him to make him die as a ‘Muslim’.
رَبِّ قَدْ آتَيْتَنِي مِنْ الْمُلْكِ وَعَلَّمْتَنِي مِنْ تَأْوِيلِ الأَحَادِيثِ فَاطِرَ السَّمَوَاتِ
وَالأَرْضِ أَنْتَ وَلِيِّ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ تَوَفَّنِي مُسْلِماً وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ
“My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me the sovereignty and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams – the Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Wali (Protector, Guide, helper etc.) in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die as a Muslim and join me with the righteous.”
(Aayah No. 101, Surah Yusuf, Chapter No. 12, Holy Qur’an).
And to sum it up:
هُوَ سَمَّاكُمْ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيداً عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ
“It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (Qur’an), that the Messenger (PBUH) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind.”
(Aayah No. 78, Surah Al-Hajj, Chapter No. 22, Holy Qur’an).
Therefore, it is not only followers of Muhammad (PBUH) that are ‘Muslims’, rather whoever submits himself/herself to the will of Allah is a ‘Muslim’, as were all the Prophets who came before Muhammad (PBUH) and the people who followed them and submitted themselves to Allah.
I wish to highlight the last part of the above mentioned aayah from Surah Al-Hajj. It tells us about a great honour given to the followers of Muhammad (PBUH). On the Day of Resurrection, the testimony of the members of this community will be accepted as proof that the Messengers conveyed the Message of their Lord to them, and the Messenger (PBUH) will testify that he conveyed the message to them (his Ummah).
Coming back to the meaning of ‘Muslim’……..
The meaning or the definition of the word ‘Muslim’ must be clear to us by now i.e. ‘Muslim’ is a one who submits to the will of Allah. So, how to do that? How does a ‘Muslim’ submit himself to Allah? It obviously means by living our life according to what Allah wants us to do and what He does not want us to do. We have to do each and every deed for the sake of Allah only. And there is a guide for us to achieve this – The Holy Qur’an. In order to live our lives according to Allah’s will, so that we end up submitting ourselves to Allah (and be a ‘Muslim’), we have to follow Qur’an. Sadly, there is a feeling of complacency among us that since we believe in La ilaha illallah, we are destined for Paradise. Dear brothers and sisters, do not be complacent. Have a look at following hadith:
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (RA) said: “A group of us were sitting around Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and Abu Bakr (RA) & Umar (RA) were with us. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) got up & left, and stayed away from us for a long time. We were afraid that he might have been harmed by some enemy, so we panicked & got up, and I was the first one to do so. I went out looking for Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) until I came to a walled garden belonging to the Ansar of ‘Banu Najjar’. I went around it, looking for a gate but I could not find any. There was a small stream that entered through a hole in the wall, coming from a well outside the garden, so I drew myself together and entered upon Allah’s Messenger (PBUH).” He said: “Abu Hurairah?” I said: “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH).” He said: “What is the matter with you?” I said: “You were among us, then you left and stayed away from us for a long time. We were afraid that you might have been harmed by some enemy, so we panicked, and I was the first one to do so. I came to this garden and drew myself together like a fox, and these people are behind me.” He said: “O Abu Hurairah, take these two sandals of mine and whoever you meet beyond this wall who bears witness that ‘none has the right to be worshipped but Allah’, with certainty in his / her heart, give him the glad tidings of Paradise.” The first one whom I met was Umar (RA), who said: “What are these two sandals, O Abu Hurairah?” I said: “These are the sandals of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) who sent me with them to give glad tidings of Paradise to whomever I met who bears witness that ‘none has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ with certainty in his heart.” Umar (RA) struck me on my chest so hard that I fell down on my backside and said: “Go back, O Abu Hurairah!” So I went back, on the verge of tears, and Umar (RA) followed me closely. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “What is the matter with you, O Abu Hurairah?” I said: “I met Umar and I told him what you had sent me with & he struck me on my chest so hard that I fell down on my back, and he said: “Go back.” Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “O Umar, what made you do that?” He said: “O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH), may my father & mother be sacrificed for you, did you send Abu Hurairah (RA) with your sandals, to give glad tidings of Paradise to whomever he met who bears witness that ‘none has the right to be worshipped but Allah’ with certainty in his heart?” He said: “Yes.” Umar (RA) said: “Do not do that, for I fear that the people will (complacently) rely on that. Let them carry on striving (to work hard in the Way of Allah).” Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “Yes, let them.”
(Hadith No. 147 (31), Book of Faith, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1).
What do we understand from this exhaustive narration given above? There is no room for complacency in the life of a ‘Muslim’. A ‘Muslim’ has to work hard, live his/her life according to Allah’s will i.e. according to Qur’an.
What if someone does not live his/her life according to Qur’an?
If we are ‘Muslims’, we are supposed to live according to Qur’an. But what if we do not (astaghfirallah)? We (‘Muslims’) should be scared even by such a thought coming to our minds, because the result for such a person is very dangerous. Allah has warned us at many places in Qur’an about the consequences of not following Qur’an.
كَذَلِكَ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ مَا قَدْ سَبَقَ وَقَدْ آتَيْنَاكَ مِنْ لَدُنَّا ذِكْراً
“Thus We relate to you some information of what happened before. And indeed We have given you from Us a Reminder (this Qur’an).”
مَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَحْمِلُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وِزْراً
“Whoever turns away from it (this Qur’an – i.e. does not believe in it nor acts on its orders), verily they will bear a heavy burden (of sins) on the Day of Resurrection.”
خَالِدِينَ فِيهِ وَسَاءَ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ حِمْلاً
“They will abide in that (state, in the Fire of Hell) – and evil indeed will it be that load for them on the Day of Resurrection.”
(Aayah No’s 99, 100 & 101, Surah Ta’ha, Chapter No. 20, Holy Qur’an).
These verses should give us a shudder. May Allah forgive us and make Qur’an our guide….Ameen.
Further, the agony of such a person is not only limited to the life Hereafter; he shall face consequences in this life also for his disobedience. Qur’an tells us this:
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكاً وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَى
“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder, verily for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.”
(Aayah No. 124, Surah Ta’ha, Chapter No. 20, Holy Qur’an).
It is in our own benefit that we act from this very moment; don’t we get a scare when we compare our lives with the above mentioned verses from Holy Qur’an?
Coming back again to the meaning of ‘Muslim’……..
OK, so we all agree that a ‘Muslim’ has to follow Qur’an. And yes, ‘Muslims’ do follow Qur’an. But there is yet another concern among the ‘Muslims’ about following Qur’an. Qur’an says believe in La ilaha illallah, ‘Muslims’ follow Qur’an and do believe in that. Qur’an says offer Salat, some ‘Muslims’ do not offer Salat, some do offer, but do not observe regularity and/or punctuality. Qur’an orders us to give Zakat. Some ‘Muslims’ follow Qur’an and pay Zakat every year, some do not. On the other hand Qur’an prohibits ‘Muslims’ to earn money by illegal means, but some do not pay attention to this order of Qur’an. Females raise voice about Hijab being a matter of personal choice, though Qur’an orders them to observe Hijab. Males spend their whole lives in accumulating wealth at the cost of Islamic values, while Qur’an speaks against accumulation of wealth. And the disaccord goes on.
To ponder more, some ‘Muslims’ have given different-different terms to ‘Muslims’ (either their classification is inspired by West, or it is their own mistaken philosophy). For example: Practising ‘Muslim’ and a Non-practising ‘Muslim’. Who are they? When asked, the answer comes, one who practises the orders given in Qur’an (and Ahadith) is a Practising ‘Muslim’, and one who does not practise is a Non-practising ‘Muslim’. Wow, what a brilliant explanation! This means that a person accepts (believe) that a ‘Muslim’ must offer compulsory prayers (Salat) five times a day. But he does not offers any, and still claims that he have firm belief in it. Such people should understand that Qur’an asks for offering Salat, not just believing. If someone is not offering Salat, how can he/she claim that they believe in Salat? If we believe in Allah’s order about Salat, we will never miss even a single Salat. Similarly such a person believes that one must pay Zakat every year, but he/she never pays it or he does not pay according to calculation described in Islam; still he claims to affirm his belief. One who pays is practising, one who doesn’t is non-practising. Hmmm….what shall I say on this? Similarly, another classification prevails: Fundamental ‘Muslim’ and a Liberal ‘Muslim’. If a husband ensures that his wife observes Hijab piously, he is a Fundamental ‘Muslim’; if his wife roams out in western revealing outfits, he is a Liberal ‘Muslim’. If a family strives and tries to educate their kids about Qur’an and Islamic values from childhood, they are Fundamental ‘Muslims’; while if they ignore Islamic studies & Qur’an and pay all attention towards modern educational system, such a family is termed as Liberal or Forward looking ‘Muslims’. What a mockery! And it doesn’t ends here; it finds its place in all aspects of our lives.
I ask, are we serious about our identity of being a ‘Muslim’? We can’t be, if we keep ignoring Allah’s words in Qur’an as per our liking. To make the matter worse, we start indulging in such absurd and wrong classifications. Can a ‘Muslim’ do such things?
No, he can’t. A ‘Muslim’ is a ‘Muslim’; there is no sub-classification of a ‘Muslim’. Either one will be a ‘Muslim’ or he won’t be; there is no mid-way. A ‘Muslim’ has to submit himself completely to Allah (in all aspects); he can’t obey Allah in some and reject Allah’s orders in other aspects. Allah has stern warning for such people. Refer to following verse:
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ مِنْكُمْ إِلاَّ خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
“Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”
(Aayah No. 85, Surah Al-Baqarah, Chapter No. 2, Holy Qur’an).
Does it open our eyes?
Dear brothers and sisters, we, as a ‘Muslim’, are supposed to live our lives according to Qur’an, and then only we can claim to be ‘Muslims’. As discussed, a ‘Muslim’ is the one who submits himself (completely) to the will of Allah. There are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. It has to be a complete submission; do whatever is being told to and avoid whatever is being prohibited. All over actions, deeds etc. have to be purely for the sake of Allah (only).
Reward of being a ‘Muslim’ is Paradise, Insha’Allah. And the punishment of not being a ‘Muslim’ is Hell.
So, the question for each one of us is: Are we ‘Muslims’?
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path…Ameen.
سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُون َ ; وَسَلامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ ; وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّالْعَالَمِينَ.