Mohamedjawad Khaki (United States)
Excerpts from an Interfaith Forum Discussion, October 2001
Islam is the same truth that God revealed to all His prophets throughout history. It is not a new religion. The Arabic word “Islam” means “submission” and it is derived from the Arabic root meaning “peace”. In a religious context it means attainment of peace, inward and outward, through voluntary submission to the will of God. “Allah” is the Arabic equivalent name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike. Islam is a religion of peace, mercy, justice, forgiveness, tolerance, inclusiveness and human dignity for all.
Muslims believe in One, Unique, and Incomparable God. They believe in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus (peace be upon them all). God’s eternal message was reaffirmed and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). One becomes a Muslim by affirming, “There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
The Qur’an is the record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his companions. The 114 chapters of the Qur’an have remained unchanged through the centuries and are still memorized and read by Muslims all over the world.
The Qur’an talks about the mankind in the following way:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other [not that ye may despise (each other)]. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most God-conscious and socially responsible. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (Quran 49:13)
It defines the mission of the prophet as:
“We have sent you forth as a blessing and mercy to mankind.” (21:107)
It further explains:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things. “(2:256)
When Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What is Islam?” His reply took less than a minute, showing the simplicity of the religion and its accessibility by all. He said: “Obedience to God, and kindness and compassion to humanity.” He has also explained: “Islam is that you bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped other than God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God; that you observe prayers; you pay Zakat (obligatory charity); fast during the month of Ramadan; and perform pilgrimage to the House, provided you have the resources to do so.”
The Qur’an reads affirming our belief in all of God’s Prophets without distinguishing among them:
“Say ye: “We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to God (in Islam).” ( 2: 136)
In addition to believing in the Qur’an, Muslims also believe in the Bible (the Torah and the Gospel).
“It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).” (3:3)
People of the Scripture are further granted a special consideration in Islam.