By Aftab Ahmad, New Age Islam
29 April, 2014
Generally a Muslim is one who belongs to the religion of Islam and has faith in Allah and Prophet Muhammad and follows the ordainments of the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad.
In the Quran too, the followers of the Prophet Muhammad are called Muslims in the same way as the followers of Prophet Moses are called the Jews and those of Jesus are called Christians.
However, there are more than a dozen verses in the Quran that show that the followers of all the Abrahamic religion are considered Muslims as they have faith in one supreme God and do not believe in false gods and goddesses or do not worship the Sun, the Moon, the mountains or the rains. Even the followers of prophets prior to Abraham were called Muslims. Therefore, all the prophets were Muslims, according to verses of the Quran. The Quran announces that God has christened His believers as Muslims.
“And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you "Muslims" before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. “(Al Hajj: 78)
The Quran makes it clear that all those who believe in God and do not worship false gods are named Muslims, not only in the Quran but also in the previous ages. For example, Prophet Noah is addressed as a Muslim in the Quran:
“And if you turn away [from my advice] then no payment have I asked of you. My reward is only from Allah, and I have been commanded to be of the Muslims." (Yunus: 72)
Prophet Abraham is called a Muslim who advises his sons to remain Muslims till death.
“And Abraham instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Jacob, [saying], "O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims. “(Al Baquarah: 131-133)
God also declares that Abraham was a Muslim. The Quran repudiates the claims of Jews and Christians that Abraham was a Jew or a Christian.
“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists. “(Al-e-Imran: 67)
Another Prophet Joseph (Yusuf) calls himself a Muslim and prays to God for death as a Muslim.
“My Lord, You have given me [something] of sovereignty and taught me of the interpretation of dreams. Creator of the heavens and earth, you are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous. “(Yusuf: 101)
King Sulaiman (Solomon) calls himself a Muslim and invites the Queen of Saba, Sun-worshipper to “Islam” and warns her against fighting him. Surah Al Naml gives an account of the correspondence and interaction between King Solomon and Queen of Saba. Finally, she accepts Islam and becomes a ‘Muslim’. Following are the verses:
“She said, "O eminent ones, indeed, to me has been delivered a noble letter. Indeed, it is from Solomon, and indeed, it reads: 'In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Be not haughty with me but come to me in submission [as Muslims].' "She said, "O eminent ones, advise me in my affair. I would not decide a matter until you witness [for] me." They said, "We are men of strength and of great military might, but the command is yours, so see what you will command." (Al Naml: 29-31)
“[Solomon] said, "O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?" (Al Naml: 38)
“So when she arrived, it was said [to her], "Is your throne like this?" She said, "[It is] as though it was it." [Solomon said], "And we were given knowledge before her, and we have been Muslims [in submission to Allah].” (Al Naml: 40
“She was told, "Enter the palace." But when she saw it, she thought it was a body of water and uncovered her shins [to wade through]. He said, "Indeed, it is a palace [whose floor is] made smooth with glass." She said, "My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, and I submit with Solomon to Allah, Lord of the worlds." (Al Naml: 44)
Prophet Loth’s nation was destroyed due to the sin of sodomy. The Quran says that after God’s wrath descended on the community, no house except one house of Muslims was found there. Loth’s house was of Muslims.
“And We found not within them other than a [single] house of Muslims.” (Al Zariat: 36)
Prophet Moses tells his nation:
“And Moses said, "O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then rely upon Him, if you should be Muslims."(Yunus: 84)
Even the sorcerers who the pharaoh hired to defeat Moses ultimately gave in to Moses and declared that they became Muslims:
“And Pharaoh and his people were overcome right there and became debased. And the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah]. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the worlds, The Lord of Moses and Aaron." Said Pharaoh, "You believed in him before I gave you permission. Indeed, this is a conspiracy which you conspired in the city to expel there from its people. But you are going to know. I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides; then I will surely crucify you all." They said, "Indeed, to our Lord we will return. And you do not resent us except because we believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims [in submission to You]”. (Al Araf: 119-126)
The result of the confrontation between Pharaoh and Moses was that Pharaoh declared that there was no god but God and that he became a Muslim just before being drowned in the Sea.
“And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, "I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims." “(Yunus: 90)
Finally Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is commanded by Allah to say”
“Say, Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims." (Al Anam: 161-163)
Therefore, the Quran has an inclusive approach towards the people of the Book and all those who believe in God or Allah. By the standards set by the Quran, everyone who believes in one God is a Muslim. God has named them Muslims not only in the Quran but also in the earlier scriptures revealed by God. But it is an irony that while the Arabic version of the Quran calls all the followers of previous prophets Muslims as we have read above, the Urdu translators of the Quran hesitate to translate the word Muslims as Muslims and translate the word Muslimun or Muslimeen as Hukm Bardar Or Farmanbardar, avoiding the word Muslims which the Quran itself uses. The Muslim translators of the Quran do not accept the followers of other prophets as Muslims though the Quran clearly calls them Muslims.
Aftab Ahmad is an occasional contributor to New Age Islam and a freelance journalist. He has been studying the Holy Quran for some time.