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Islamic Ideology ( 19 March 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Meaning of Islam and Muslim

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam

19 March 2019

The triliteral root word slm (sīn lām mīm س ل م) is common for the following Arabic words:

Salam - Nominal noun as a greeting meaning “peace” and as a noun meaning peace as in 4:90

 “… if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace (l-Salama) ....”

As a noun meaning submission as in  16:28

The ones whom the angels take in death [while] wronging themselves, and [who] then offer submission (l-salama), [saying], "We were not doing any evil." But, yes! Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what you used to do.

Taslīm – also means acceptance as in 33:22, peace as in 33:56 and submission as in 4:65

33:22  And when the believers saw the companies, they said, "This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth." And it increased them only in faith and acceptance (tasliman).

33:56: Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace (tasliman)

4:65 But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit (wayusallimū)  in [full, willing submission (taslīman).

Aslama – meaning submission as in 2:112 Yes [on the contrary], whoever submits (aslama) his face in Islam to Allah while being a doer of good will have his reward with his Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

Meaning acceptance as in 49:17 They consider it a favor to you that they have accepted Islam (aslamu). Say, "Do not consider your Islam a favor to me. Rather, Allah has conferred favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you should be truthful."

Islam – Submission to Allah

Muslim – Those whose submit to Allah as in 43:69  [You] who believed in Our verses and were Muslims. Or 30:53 And you cannot guide the blind away from their error. You will only make hear those who believe in Our verses so they are Muslims [those who submit to Allah and follow the straight path shown by Allah].

Salīm –  meaning devout and humbly submitting as in  26:89  But only one who comes to Allah with a devout  heart (qalbe salim)."

The words acquire newer meanings with their usage. Initially “Aslama, Tasliman, Islam” may have only meant acceptance. Acceptance is however based on trust or faith and to indicate both trust/faith and acceptance is to acknowledge a relationship of peace and friendship rather than hostility.  Salam used as a greeting may have initially indicated only acceptance and trust and over a period acquired the meaning of “peace” since acceptance and trust leads to peace. Now, after centuries of peace and among friends and relatives, it is interpreted as a prayer of peace for the one greeted as our minds are no longer suspicious of the other.  Taslim is another word of greeting used in a similar fashion which also means acceptance, or submission or peace depending upon the context.

In the context of Allah the word that initially meant acceptance, becomes submission or surrender. We do not merely accept based on trust but submit or surrender based on complete faith to Allah.

Shalom is similar in meaning to Salam and is from the same trilateral root. So, why does the word Muslim and Islam not appear in their scriptures? It may have been lost in translation and only the greeting form appears to have survived. It however appears in the Aramaic Gospel of Mathew as ‘mašlmana’ from the root word slm, the same as Muslimun in Arabic and means « submitted to God, » « he who trusts in God, » « who commits himself to Him » to commit or hand oneself over (or again to submit) to God. While translating, it has been rendered in Greek by use of the verb paradidomi.

The common root word for a greeting such as Salam and submission to God such as Islam/Muslim is also found in other religions and cultures. For example, Namaste is a greeting while namaha from the same root word means submission to God. Namaste is combination of two words Namah (नम:) + Te (ते).

The meaning is ‘Salutations to you’, or ‘I bow down to you’ or ‘Obeisance to you’. The root of the word ‘Namaha’ is ‘Nam’ =Namati meaning to prostrate, ‘to salute’ etc. The word ‘Tae’ is the dative case form of the pronoun ‘Tvam’ meaning ‘you’.

नमस् - bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, adoration (by gesture or word;often with dative case exempli gratia, 'for example' rāmāya nama ,salutation or glory to rāma

In every Mantra the prefix of Namah is generally added. Just for example Namah Sivaya. Now this Mantra is practically indicating the holy name of Lord Siva. Na means negation and Ma means false ego or Ahamkara. Therefore Namah means surrendering to the name Siva. In other words to accept the supremacy of Lord Siva means Namah Sivaya. 

Namaste is the Sanskrit equivalent of Salam

And Namaha is the Sanskrit equivalent of Islam or Muslim meaning (one who has)total surrender/submission to God negating self and ego.

Allah Has Named All His Devotees Muslim from Ancient Times

The following verse makes clear that Allah has named those who follow His religion “Muslim” both before and in the Quran.

(22:78) And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the religion (millata) of your father Abraham. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah! He is your Protector - the Best to protect and the Best to help!

There are many more verses from which it is clear that the word Muslim was used to mean one who submits to Allah in Islam.

The Magicians of Pharaoh Who Believed

(7:126) "But thou dost wreak thy vengeance on us simply because we believed in the Signs of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! pour out on us patience and constancy, and take our souls unto thee as Muslims (who bow to thy will)!

Devout Christians and Jews

(29:53) And when it is recited to them (Christians and Jews), they say: "We believe therein, for it is the Truth from our Lord: indeed we have been Muslims (bowing to Allah´s Will) from before this.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller calls himself a Muslim Jew.

Prophet Joseph or Yusuf

(12:101) "O my Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on me some power, and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams and events,- O Thou Creator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my Protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Take Thou my soul (at death) as one submitting to Thy will (as a Muslim), and unite me with the righteous."

Prophet Lut

(51:36) But We found not there any just (Muslim) persons except in one house:

Prophet Yaqub or Jacob

(133) Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: "What will ye worship after me?" They said: "We shall worship Thy god and the god of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma´il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah: To Him we bow as Muslim."

(134) That was a people that hath passed away. They shall reap the fruit of what they did, and ye of what ye do! Of their merits there is no question in your case!

Jesus And His Followers Were Muslim

 (3:52) When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah´s helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.

(5:111) "And behold! I inspired the disciples to have faith in Me and Mine Messenger: they said, ´We have faith, and do thou bear witness that we bow to Allah as Muslims´".

(5:112) Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."

(3:80) Nor would he (Jesus Christ) instruct you to take angels and prophets for Lords and patrons. What! would he bid you to unbelief after ye have become Muslim?

Solomon and Queen Sheba were Muslim

(27:44) She was asked to enter the lofty Palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she (tucked up her skirts), uncovering her legs. He said: "This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass." She said: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do now submit in Islam (aslamtu)), with Solomon, to the Lord of the Worlds."

The Prayer of Abraham

(2:128) "Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

(131) Behold! his Lord said to him: "Bow (thy will to Me):" (aslim)He said: "I bow (my will) (aslamtu) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe."

(2:132) And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; "Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except as Muslims."

Significance of The Term Muslim

Judaism, Christianity and every other religion preaching submission to the One God are sects of Islam and the generic term for the followers of Islam is Muslim. A Muslim is one who believes in all the prophets as Messengers of Allah and believes in all the scriptures as the revelations from Allah. He is not a sectarian. Whether those who call themselves Muslim today are such non-sectarians or not is a different question. Those who appropriate the terms Islam and Muslim only to the followers of Muhammad are every bit as sectarian as the rest.

The Non-Sectarian Approach That Allah Commands Us

(2:135) They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah."

(136) Say ye: "We believe in Allah, 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 Allah as Muslims."

(22:34) To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your god is One God: submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves,-

(3:19) The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account.

(3:67) Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and a Muslim, and he joined not gods with Allah.

 (3:83) Do they seek for religion other than the religion of Allah?-while to Allah submit (aslama) all creatures in the heavens and on earth, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him shall they all be brought back.

(84) Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma´il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah are we Muslims (submissive)."

(85) If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).

(2:208) O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy.

Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to


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