THE TRUE RELIGION
With so many religions, philosophies etc. in the world, all of which claim to be the right way or the only true path to God, than how can a person determine which one is correct, or if, in fact, all are correct?
To begin with, there are philosophies and religions which are not based on the belief in the One True God, but are instead based on cultural beliefs etc., so really if one comes to know that God exists than there are three religions which have some similarities and which all believe in the same One True God and these are Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Firstly, let me talk about life from the perspective of 'Islam' then I'll go on to talk about the other religious beliefs. The fact is that, it only takes 'reasoning' and 'common sense' for one to be able to grasp the truth. If one keeps an open mind, they can come to know the truth.
Firstly please note two things:-
1. When refering to God, I have refered to God as Allah. Allah, is the personal name of God in Arabic which means the one and only true God and is used even amongst the Christian Arabs. It is a better word to use in refering to the Supreme Creator than the English word 'God' as unlike the English word which can be played around with, the Arabic word Allah is pure and unique. For example, the word God can be made plural by adding an 's' so that it becomes Gods, but this is not the case with the word Allah. Also God can be changed to Goddess, Godfather, tin-god (i.e. a fake God) etc.
2. Secondly, the other thing to note is that as an expression of love and respect towards the Prophets (people who were commanded to deliver the message that there is only one God throughout humanity) of Allah, I have written after their names 'PBUH', which stands for 'Peace Be Upon Him'.
So to begin with, to understand the Arabic word 'ISLAM' is very important! Islam is not named after a person as with Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ (PBUH), Buddhism after Gotama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucius, and Marxism after Karl Marx. Nor was it named after a tribe like Judaism after the tribe of Judah and Hinduism after the Hindus. Islam, as Muslims believe, is the True Religion of Allah and as such its name represents the central principle of Allah's religion, the total submission to the will of Allah.
In other words, we as human beings should recognise the existence of our Creator (which is evident from all the signs around us, such as the signs in nature and in our ownselves i.e. our limbs, eyes, ears, brain, heart, respiratory system, digestive system, reproductive system etc. which have obviously been designed by the Supreme Creator of the whole universe) and should submit to the Creator by obeying Him and the laws which He has sent us. As such the one who submits to God, which is what the Arabic word 'ISLAM' means, is termed a 'MUSLIM' i.e. one who submits to the will of Allah. The word also implies 'Peace' which is the natural consequence of total submission to the will of Allah. Hence, it was not a new religion brought by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the 7th Century, but only the true religion of Allah re-expressed in its final form.
All the Prophets of Allah called their people to surrender their will to the will of Allah i.e. Islam. Therefore, we can easily establish now that the message of Islam (Submission to God) is for all mankind regardless of culture, race or nationality unlike some religions which are based on a particular tribe, culture etc. In actual fact, Islam is not a religion, but a way of life, a 'perfect' and 'complete' way of life.
This message, Islam (Submission to Allah), was given to the first man and first Prophet Adam (PBUH) and the name unlike other religions was not decided upon by later generations of man, but by Allah Himself. Allah says in the Holy Quran, the last revealed book of Allah:-
"This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (Al-Ma'ida 5:3)
"If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah) never will it be accepted of him" (Al-Imran 3:85)
To further clarify on this claim, nowhere in the Bible will you find Allah saying to the Prophet Moses' (PBUH) people or to their descendants that their religion is Judaism, nor to the followers of Jesus Christ (PBUH) that their religion is Christianity. In fact, Christ was not even his name, nor was it Jesus!
What is true, is that the name 'Christ' comes from the Greek word Christos which means 'annointed'. That is, christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew title 'Messiah'. The name 'Jesus' on the other hand, is a latinized version of the Hebrew name Esau (Isa). On the other hand, the name 'Judaism' comes from the name of a region, 'Judea' - the old name for the southern part of ancient Palestine where the Jews take their origins from.
Going back to the word Muslim, which is a term given to one who submits their will to God, it would be worth mentioning here that everything that is submissive to God is a Muslim. Therefore as an example, the Earth that spins on its axis, the moon that goes around the Earth and the planets that orbit the Sun are all following the Laws that have been defined for them i.e. they follow the Laws of God and as such they can all be defined as 'Muslims' i.e. 'Submissive to the One who created them i.e. God'. However, as far as submission to God is concerned, we as humans are different to these other created things. God has given us the free will to either believe in Him or disbelieve in Him. From this, we can come to understand that life is a test in preparation for the Hereafter i.e. the life after death. This is the Islamic perpective of the life of this world. The Muslim believes that the life of this world is a temporary testing place and that the one who believes in the Creator and obeys Him will be successful in the Hereafter, whereas the one who disbelieves in the Creator will be unsuccessful in the Hereafter.
Lets now look at the three main religions of the world, bearing in mind that Muslims believe that Islam is not merely just a religion, but rather, it is a complete way of life. These are Islam, Christianity and Judaism which contain some similarities amongst them. Now lets verify what was mentioned at the beginning. All these three major religions, believe in the major Prophets (who were commanded by Allah to deliver the message that there is only one true God) up to a certain point. All three believe in the major Prophets from Adam (PBUH) (the first man created) to Moses (PBUH), and all agree that they professed a monotheistic faith i.e. all believed in the 'One True God'. To add to this, both Christians and Muslims further believe in Prophet Jesus (PBUH), and Muslims further believe in the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who came after Jesus (PBUH).
Now it can be said, as mentioned already, that neither the Jewish Scripture (Torah) nor the Gospel have identified the name of the religion brought by the Prophets of God. The name of the religion of the Prophets since the time of Adam (PBUH) remained to be determined. So with that, the only way to recognise this religion is to logically contemplate on its essence and purpose. Allah sent all these Prophets with the basic tenet: 'Worship the One True God', therefore it can be said that the religion of Allah to the Prophets is based on the 'Submission to God' and is therefore based on the fundamental principle that 'only God should be worshipped'.
Well, refering back to the meaning of the Arabic word 'Islam' - 'Submission to God', this Arabic term therefore accurately describes the religion of every single Prophet sent to mankind, making them all 'Muslims', i.e. followers of 'Islam'. If I were to call one a Muslim in English instead of using this Arabic term I would simply call this person 'one who submits themselves to the will of Allah'. Because this is what the term 'Muslim' means, it would therefore mean the same thing. So every Prophet of Allah was a 'Muslim'.
As Allah (i.e. God) says in the Quran:-
"The Religion before Allah is Islam" (Al-Imran 3:19)
That is to say that the religion of Allah is that based on a total submission to His will and worship of Him alone.
Please note that the verses of the Quran quoted are all 'Translated Meanings of the Quran (TMQ)'. Therefore they should never be taken as the Quran itself as Arabic is the language in which Allah revealed the Quran. The purpose of translations are to help one to better understand the meaning of the Holy Quran.