By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
The word “Islam” is an Arabic word which means “submission to the will of God”. This word comes from the same root as the Arabic word “Salam”, which means “Peace”. As such, the religion of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind and surety of heart, one must submit to God and bring one’s life in accordance to the Divine will. The most important truth that God revealed to mankind is that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God, hence it’s wise to recognise and submit to this truth.
Who are the Muslims?
The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Being a Muslim entails recognising and submitting to God’s will, while doing one’s level best to live in accordance with His message. Some people mistakenly believe that Islam is just a religion for Arabs, but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are there converts to Islam in every corner of the world, especially in England and America, but by taking a look at the Muslim World from Bosnia to Nigeria, and from Indonesia to Morocco, one can clearly see that Muslims come from many various races, ethnic groups and nationalities. It is also interesting to note that in actual fact, more than 80% of all Muslims are not Arabs – there are more Muslims in Indonesia than in the whole Arab World! So even though it is true that most Arabs are Muslims, the large majority of Muslims are not Arabs. However, anyone who submits completely to God and worships Him alone is a Muslim.
By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Islam is greatly misunderstood, even by so many who claim to practice it. In this way, how is Islam any different from so many other religions? Judaism is greatly misunderstood by at least some Jews and Christianity or especially Jesus’ message, peace be upon him, is greatly misunderstood by so many of those who claim to believe in him. Fortunately, in our present time, in these latter two cases, misunderstanding of religion hasn’t lead to many “Jewish” or “Christian” suicide bombers, but it hasn’t always been the case that they’re inherently peaceful private religions, and who knows what the future may hold for them? I pray violent sects don’t emerge again from either, but we can’t say for sure whether they will or not…
Spirituality is pure, the Divine spark at the heart of all religions. I define my Islam as a form of spirituality, rather than religion. Something happens when religions become organised, that has a tendency over time to corrupt them. Becoming more about power politics or financial gain than a genuine relationship with the Divine, religions can lose their way… The Holy Qur’an states all of the prophets had the same “deen” (loosely translated as religion, but more close in meaning to “way of life”) and that deen was Islam i.e. the meaning of the Arabic word “Islam”, which means Salaam/Shalom/Peace through submission to the Will of God. When one looks at the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Holy Qur’an in this light, one inevitably arrives at conclusions in stark contrast to those who are only Muslims by culture or ideology.
I find it interesting to note, so many if not all prophets and sages, were very controversial figures in their own times… Why was this, and why do so few people reflect upon this? To be a true student and heir of the prophets, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or by whatever description we refer to ourselves, we must understand where they were coming from and what they were trying to teach those around them… So many adherents of every religion, follow like sheep and preach like parrots… How is that, in any way like the example of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad, peace be upon them?