Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)
The Quran clearly does not recognise the followers of the final scripture to be exclusively referred to as 'Muslims' . Quite to the contrary, the followers of the final scripture (i.e. the Quran) are normally referred to as 'believers' as in the following well used phrase:
or directly as 'Mu'minuna' (Believers)
Please see related article (1) below.
It comes as a surprise to many Muslims when quoted that even the Jews have been referred to as 'Muslims' in the Quran as shown by the following Quranic narrative which captures Prophet Moses referring to his people as Muslims (Muslimeen 10:84).
“And Moses said: O my people! If ye have believed in God then put trust in Him, if you are indeed Muslims (Arabic: Muslimeen)" (Please note the Arabic)
Illustration - Joseph Islam
The term 'Muslim' in accordance with the Quran has not been cited as an exclusive reference to the 'believers' who are followers of the final scripture. Rather, the term ‘Muslim’ from a Quran's perspective, is a reference to anyone 'Who submits (or surrenders will and purpose) to the One God, The Master of the universe' (Asalamtu le rab il alameen 2:131)
In fact, there are many references in the Quran which confirm this.
Prophet Noah (pbuh) asks for no reward from his people, he states that he is one of the Muslimeen (10:72)
Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) letter to Sheba (Saba) requesting her in the name of the Lord to abandon her blasphemy and for her to surrender with her people and become one of the Muslimeen (27:31)
Prophet Solomon (pbuh) acknowledged his own state as being one of those of the 'Muslimeen' (27:42)
Those who have persevered with the truth from the People of the Book and when it is recited to them, acknowledge that they have already been from those that have submitted to God (Muslimeen) (28:53)
All but one house from the people of Prophet Lot (pbuh) submitted to God (Muslimeen) (51:36)
Prophet Abraham (pbuh) was one who submitted to His Lord (Musliman) (3:67)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is instructed to say that he has been commanded to be of those that submit to God (Muslimeen) (27:91)
Disciples of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) confirm that they submit to God (Muslimoon) (3:52)
Prophet Joseph (pbuh) prays to his Lord to die as one who is a 'Musliman' (12:101)
Prophet Jacob's (pbuh) children at the point of his death professed that they submit to God (Muslimoon) (2:133).
Even the magicians of Pharaoh called themselves Muslims once they had seen the signs given to Moses (pbuh) (7:126)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself was informed to follow the ways of Abraham (pbuh) (16:123) who was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a Muslim (3:67) and was referred to as a father in faith (22:78).
DO NOT DIVIDE
“As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you have no part in them in the least: their affair is with God: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did”
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves...”
At the time when verses of the Quran were being narrated during the Prophet's ministry, there were no Sunni / Shia's divides or subdivisions as we understand them today. The statement not to divide was a statement to 'all believers' from any background and also a reminder to those of the previous scriptures who had divided only after knowledge had come to them (42:13).
However, there is more than an allusion that divisions did take place even during the time of the Prophet amongst Muslims by the evidence that some believers had set up their own mosque. God ordered the Prophet not to pray with these people whose only purpose was to cause discord and disunite the people (Masjid-e-Zirar - 9:107). This mosque later became commonly known as the 'Mosque of dissension' (in translation).
"And those who built a Mosque to cause harm and for unbelief and to cause disunion among the believers and an ambush to him who made war against God and His Messenger before; and they will certainly swear: We did not desire anything but good; and God bears witness that they are most surely liars. Never stand in it; certainly a Mosque founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand in it; in it are men who love that they should be purified; and God loves those who purify themselves"
Unfortunately not only is the term ‘Muslim’ and ‘Islam’ misunderstood from a Quranic perspective, it is also sadly hijacked and made use of exclusively by the followers of the final scripture.
From a Quran's perspective, even Jews and Christians can be 'Muslim's if they have solely surrendered their purpose to God. The term believers (Mu'min) is used predominantly for the followers and believers in the final scripture (Quran). Some of these can be from the People of the Book as well. Please see article (2) below and in particular section (17) entitled "THERE ARE 'BELIEVERS' AMONG THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK".
In conclusion, a Christian or a Jew may be a 'Muslim' but not necessarily a believer or in the case where they believe in the veracity of the Quran, they may be a Muslim and a believer, but choose to follow their own laws (Shariah) revealed to them in their respective scriptures.
(1) Muslim & Mu'min (Believer) - The difference
(2) People of the Book (Jews & Christians)
© 2010 Quransmessage.com All Rights Reserved