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Who Is a 'Muslim'?

Those who call themselves ‘Muslim’ seldom understand the meaning of this Arabic word. When translated into English, ‘Muslim’ literally means ‘Submission’. A ‘Muslim’ is a person whose ‘Submission’ to the edicts as revealed to Moses in the Torah, David in the Psalms, Jesus in the Gospels and Muhammad in the Quran, is an important article of his/her faith:
‘Say [O Muslims]: We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and to the offspring of the twelve sons of Jacob, and that which has been given to Moses and Jesus, and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted’ (Quran 2:136).

Being a ‘Muslim’ is not a privilege extended exclusively to the Arabs or Arabic speaking people. It’s the refuge of the pious; as already practiced by people of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths:
‘Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve’ (Quran 2:62).

All Abrahamic faiths proximate toward a similar structure in terms of their beliefs and practices. An observant ‘Muslim’ should, therefore, feel no antipathy toward any in the Abrahamic faiths:
‘And were it not for Allah restraining mankind through the act of some opposing others, pulled down would be monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques wherein the name of Allah is mentioned in great profusion’ (Quran 22:40).

Isn’t it time we Muslims studied the Quran and reflected upon its teachings so as not to rely entirely on what our ‘Mullahs’ preach to us.

Husein Moloobhoy is the Director of Islamic Thought Research Initiative and a Fellow of the Muslim Institute. This blog is the second in a series of weekly blog posts.