I was reading the Qur’an recently and passed over the word “Muslim“, as one often does while reading the Qur’an. The term’s English definition, to my knowledge, is “one who submits to God”.
Now does this mean that the term Muslim encompasses all the individuals who submit to God including other People of the Book or is this term specifically referring to the followers of Mohammed?
The Qur’an has normally used the word “Muslim” in its literal sense. Literally, it means exactly what you have stated. It is also clear from the Qur’an that the followers of all the true prophets of God used this word. In this way, the Qur’an has actually made the point that the only way to success is “Submission to the commandments of God” or in other words, “Submission to the Truth”.
However, on the other hand, the Qur’an has also used the word in the same meaning as we normally do (for example see Al-Hujraat 49: 14), i.e. referring to people who accepted Tawheed (belief in one God), Risalat (belief in the prophethood of Mohammad) and aakhirat (belief in the Day of Judgment).
This variance in the meaning and implication of the word, in my opinion, implies the two different facets of the word. In reality, the word implies a person, who submits to the truth, while from a legal perspective, that is for the worldly purpose of distinguishing between Muslims and non-Muslims, the word refers to an individual who holds a particular set of beliefs.
18th January 1998