The Meaning of Islam

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Arabic Islam.gif

Lissan al-Arab, one of the most authoritative lexicons of the Arabic language, mentions that the word 'Islam' is derived from the root verb istaslama (استسلاما); which means 'to submit' or 'give in' or 'surrender'.

Etymology[edit]

The word Islam derives from the Arabic triconsonantal root sīn-lām-mīm (SLM [ س ل م ]). Many different words are created from this root word by inserting different vowels between the three root consonants. Many English speakers wrongly assume that if two Arabic words share the same root word then their meanings are related when in reality the fact that some words share the same root word does not imply a relationship between the meanings of the words. For instance, all of these words are derived from the root S-L-M:

Word Arabic Meaning
Islam اسلام Submission
Salam سلام Well-being/Peace
(Derivation of) Salama سلما The stinging of a snake or the tanning of the leather
Saleema سليما To be saved or to escape from danger (when refering to a female)
Saleem سليم To be saved or to escape from danger (when refering to a male)
Aslam اسلم To submit
Istaslama استسلاما To surrender
Musal مسل Undisputed
Tasleem تسليم To receive a salutation or becoming submitted
Many people have wrongly attempted to equate the word Islam with peace by showing that Islam, meaning 'submission', shares a root word with Salaam, meaning 'peace'. But if such relationships between the meanings of Arabic words can be created then that would imply that there is a relationship between one of the derivations of the infinitive Salama, meaning the stinging of the snake or tanning the leather, and Salam, meaning peace; a relationship which obviously does not exist.

The Compendium of Muslim Texts, compiled by the USC-MSA, the Muslim Students Association at the University of Southern California,[1] confirms this understanding:

Misconception 1

Islam is `the religion of peace' because:

the Arabic word Islam is derived from the Arabic word "Al-Salaam" which means peace.

It might seem strange to think of this as a misconception, but in fact it is. The root word of Islam is "al-silm" which means "submission" or "surrender." It is understood to mean "submission to Allah." In spite of whatever noble intention has caused many a Muslim to claim that Islam is derived primarily from peace, this is not true. Allah says in the Qur'an (translated):

[2:136] Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have surrendered. [Arabic "Muslimoon"]
A secondary root of Islam may be "Al-Salaam" (peace), however the text of the Qur'an makes it clear that Allah has clearly intended the focus of this way of life to be submission to Him. This entails submission to Him at all times, in times of peace, war, ease, or difficulty.[2]

Scripture[edit]

Qur'an[edit]

Islam is a Deen (Religion)[edit]

Today, I have perfected your religion (dīn) for you; I have completed My blessing upon you; I have approved Islam for your religion

Islam is Submission to Allah[edit]

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.

Islam is the Religion of Allah[edit]

Do they seek for other than the Religion of Allah?-while all creatures in the heavens and on earth have, willing or unwilling, bowed to His Will (Accepted Islam), and to Him shall they all be brought back.

Hadith[edit]

…Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan."
This letter is from Muhammad, the slave of Allah, and His Apostle, to Heraculius, the Ruler of the Byzantine. Peace be upon the followers of guidance. Now then, I invite you to Islam ( surrender to Allah), embrace Islam and you will be safe
While we were in the mosque, Allah's Apostle came out and said, "Let us proceed to the Jews." So we went out with him till we came to Bait-al-Midras. The Prophet stood up there and called them, saying, "O assembly of Jews! Surrender to Allah (embrace Islam) and you will be safe!" "Know that the earth is for Allah and I want to exile you from this land, so whoever among you has property he should sell it, otherwise, know that the land is for Allah and His Apostle."
By Allah! I consider him a believer." The Prophet said, "Or merely a Muslim (Who surrender to Allah)."

Scholars[edit]

Ibn Taymiyyah[edit]

Islam is to surrender to God, submit to him, worship him, and serve him.....

The difference arises from the fact that Islam is a Din Submission. Din is the iffinitve of ddna, yadinu, which means to submit or to surrender.

The religion of Islam which god has ordained and promulgated through his prophets is to submit to him alone. It is nothing but submission, worship and service to God and him alone.[3]

Ramadan Buti[edit]

The theory that our religion is a peaceful and loving religion is a wrong theory[4][5]
The Holy war as it is known in Islam is basically an offensive war, and it is the duty of all Muslims of every age, when the needed military power is available, because our prophet Muhammad said that he is ordered by Allah to fight all people until they say ‘No God but Allah,’ and he is his messenger[6]
It is meaningless to talk about the holy war as only defensive, otherwise, what did the prophet mean when he said, "from now on even if they don’t invade you, you must invade them."[7]
This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Propaganda which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also[edit]

  • Lying - A hub page that leads to other articles related to lying
  • Islamic Terms - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Islamic Terms

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Religious Texts - Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, accessed September 29, 2011
  2. Ten Misconceptions About Islam - USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts, Internet Archive Wayback Machine capture dated February 6, 2006
  3. Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, 'Ibn Taymiyah Expounds Islam', pg. 316, Islamic University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, Washington, U.S.A., 2000.
  4. Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti - "Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography", Pg. 135, seventh Arabic edition, published by Azhar University of Egypt
  5. Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti - "Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography", Pg. 73, English edition, published by Azhar University of Egypt (1988)
  6. Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti - "Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography", Pg. 134, seventh Arabic edition, published by Azhar University of Egypt
  7. Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti - "Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography", Pg. 242, seventh Arabic edition, published by Azhar University of Egypt