Each person is born in a circumstance which is not of his own choosing. The religion of his family or the ideology of the state is thrust upon him from the very beginning of his existence in this world. By the time he reaches his teens, he is usually fully brain-washed into believing that the beliefs of his particular society are the correct beliefs that everyone should have.
However, when some people mature and are exposed to other belief-systems, they begin to question the validity of their own beliefs. The seekers of truth often reach a point of confusion upon realizing that each and every religion, sect, ideology and philosophy claims to be the one and only correct way for man. Indeed, they all encourage people to do good. So, which one is right? They cannot all be right since each claims all others are wrong. Then how does the seeker of truth choose the right way?
God gave us all minds and intellects to enable us to make this crucial decision. It is the most important decision in the life of a human being. Upon it depends his future, Consequently, each and every one of us must examine dispassionately the evidence presented and choose what appears to be right until further evidence arises.
Like every other religion or philosophy, Islam also claims to be the one and only true way to God. In this respect it is no different from other systems. This booklet intends to provide some evidence for the validity of that claim.
However, it must always be kept in mind that one can only determine the true path by putting aside emotions and prejudices, which often blind us to reality. Then, and only then, will we be able to use our God-given intelligence and make a rational and correct decision.
There are several arguments, which may be advanced to support Islam’s claim to be the true religion of God. The following are only three of the most obvious.
The first argument is based on the divine origin of the names of the religion and the comprehensiveness of its meaning.
The second deals with the unique and uncomplicated teachings concerning the relationship between God, man, and creation.
The third argument derives from the fact that Islam is universally attainable by all men at all times. These are the three basic components of what logic and reason dictate necessary for a religion to be considered the true religion of God. The following pages will develop these concepts in some detail.
The religion’s name
The first thing that one should know and clearly understand about Islam is what the word ‘Islam” itself means. The Arabic word “Islam” means the submission or surrender of one’s will to the only true God, known in Arabic as “Allah”. One who submits his will to God is termed in Arabic a “Muslim”. The religion of Islam is not named after a person or a people, nor was it decided by a later generation of man, as in the case of Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ, Buddhism after Gautama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucius, Marxism after Karl Marx, Judaism after the tribe of Judah and Hinduism after the Hindus.
Islam (submission to the will of God) is the religion which was given to Adam, the first man and the first prophet of God, and it was the religion of all the prophets sent by Allah to mankind. Further its name was chosen by God Himself and clearly mentioned in the final scripture which He revealed to man. In that final revelation, called in Arabic the Quran Allah states the following:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Quran 5:3)
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of Him.” (Quran 3:85)
Hence, Islam does not claim to be a new religion brought by Prophet Mohammed into Arabia in the seventh century, but rather to be a re-expression in its final form of the true religion of Almighty God, Allah, as it was originally revealed to Adam and subsequent prophets.
At this point we might comment briefly on two other religions that claim to be the true path. Nowhere in the Bible will you find God revealing to Prophet Moses’ people or their descendants that their religion is called Judaism, or to the followers of Christ that their religion is called Christianity. In other words, the names “Judaism” and “Christianity” had no divine origin or approval. It was not until long after his departure that the name Christianity was given to Jesus’ religion.
What, then, was Jesus’ religion in actual fact, as distinct from its name? (Both the name Jesus and the name Christ are derived from Hebrew words, through Greek and Latin. Jesus is the English and Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in Hebrew Is Yeshua or Yehoshua’ (Joshua). The Greek word Christos is a translation of the Hebrew (for) ‘messiah’, which is a title meaning ‘the anointed’.) His religion was reflected in his teachings, which he urged his followers to accept as guiding principles in their relationship with God.
In Islam, Jesus is a prophet sent by Allah and his Arabic name is Eesa. Like the prophets before him, he called upon the people to surrender their will to the will of God (which is what Islam stands for). For example, in the New Testament it is stated that Jesus taught his followers to pray to God as follows:
“Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Luke 11:2/Matthew 6:9-10)
This concept was emphasised by Jesus in a number of his statements recorded in the Gospels. He taught, for example, that only those who submitted would inherit paradise. Jesus also pointed out that he himself submitted to the will of God.
“None of those who call me ‘Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
“I cannot do anything of myself I judge as I hear and my judgment is honest because I am not seeking my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” (John 5:30)
There are many reports in the Gospels which show that Jesus made it clear to his followers that he was not the one true God. For example, when speaking about the final Hour, he said:
“No-one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
Thus, Jesus like the prophets before him and the one who came after him, taught the religion of Islam: submission to the will of the one true God.
God and creation
Since the total submission of one’s will to God represents the essence of worship, the basic message of God’s divine religion, Islam, is the worship of God alone. It also requires the avoidance of worship directed to any person, place or thing other than God. Since everything other than God, the creator of all the things, is God’s creation, it may be said that Islam, in essence, calls man away from worship of creation and invites him to worship only his Creator. He is the only one deserving of man’s worship, because it is only by His will that prayers are answered.
Accordingly, if a man prays to a tree and his prayers are answered, it is not the tree which answers his prayers but God, who allows the circumstances prayed for to take place. One might say, “That is obvious”. However, to tree-worshippers, it might not be so. Similarly, prayers to Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna or Saint Christopher, or Saint Jude or even to Muhammad, are not answered by them, but are answered by God. Jesus did not tell his followers to worship him but to worship God, as the Quran states:
“And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus, the son of Mary! Did you say to men, worship me and my mother as gods besides Allah?, He will say: “Glory to you, I could never say what I had no right (to say).” (Quran 5:118)
Nor did Jesus worship himself when he worshipped, but rather he worshipped God. And Jesus was reported in the Gospels to have said, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” (Luke 4:8)
This basic principle is contained in the opening chapter of the Quran “you alone do we worship and from you alone do we seek help.”
Elsewhere, in the final book of revelation, the Quran, God also said “And you Lord says: ‘Call on Me and I will answer your (prayer).’” (Quran 40:60)
It is worth emphasizing that the basic message of Islam (namely, the worship of God alone) also proclaims that God and His creation are distinctly different entities. God is neither equal to His creation nor a part of it, nor is His creation equal to Him or a part of Him.
This might seem obvious, but man’s worship of creation, instead of the Creator is to a large degree based on ignorance, or neglect, of this concept. It is the belief that the essence of God is everywhere in His creation or that His divine being is or was present in some parts of His creation, which has provided justification for the worship of God’s creation and naming it the worship of God.
However, the message of Islam, as brought by the prophets of God, is to worship only God and to avoid the worship of His creation either directly or indirectly.
In the Quran God clearly states
“For we assuredly sent amongst every people a prophet, with the command Worship Me and avoid false Gods.” (Quran 16:36)
When idol worshippers are questioned as to why they bow down to idols created by men, the invariable reply is that they are not actually worshipping the stone image, but God who is present within it. They claim that the stone idol is only a focal point for God’s essence and is not in itself God! One who has accepted the concept of God being present in any way within His creation will be obliged to accept this argument for idolatry. Whereas, one who understands the basic message of Islam and its implications would never agree to idolatry no matter how it is rationalized.
Those who have claimed divinity for themselves down through the ages have often based their claims on the mistaken belief that God is present in man. Taking one step further, they claim that God is more present in them than in the rest of us, and that other humans should therefore submit to them and worship them as God in person or as God concentrated within their persons. Similarly, those who have asserted the godhood of others after their deaths have found fertile ground among those who accept the false belief of God’s presence in man.
It should be abundantly clear by now that one who has grasped the basic message of Islam and its implications could never agree to worship another human being under any circumstance. God’s religion, in essence, is a clear call to the worship of the Creator and the rejection of creation-worship in any form. This is the meaning of the motto of Islam There is no god but Allah.
The sincere declaration of this phrase and the acceptance of prophethood automatically bring one within the fold of Islam, and sincere belief in it guarantees one Paradise. Thus, the final Prophet of Islam is reported to have said, “Any one who says: There is no God but Allah, and dies holding that (belief) will enter paradise.”
Belief in this declaration of faith requires that one submit his/her will to God in the way taught by the prophets of God. It also requires the believer to give up the worship of false gods.
The preceding presentation has demonstrated that the name of the religion of Islam expresses Islam’s most central principle, submission to God, and that the name “Islam” was chosen not by man, but by God, according to the holy scriptures of Islam. It has also been shown that Islam alone teaches the uniqueness of God and His attributes and enjoins the worship of God alone without intermediaries. Finally, due to the divinely instilled inclination of man to worship God and the signs revealed by God throughout the ages to each individual, Islam may be achieved by all men at all times.
In short, the significance of the name Islam (submission to God), Islam’s fundamental acknowledgment of the uniqueness of God and Islam’s accessibility to all mankind at all times convincingly support Islam’s claim that from the beginning of time in whatever language it was expressed, Islam alone has been, and will be the true religion of God.