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CHAPTER IV:

ISLAM: A SPECIFIC AND A GENERAL TERM



For the same reasons that the Jews refused to accept Jesus Christ, the Muslims refuse to accept Baha'u'llah. Some of the verses of the Qur'an are interpreted to mean that there shall be no further Divine Revelation after Muhammad. Three verses are considered as the central argument supporting this conclusion and sustain the belief that Islam and the Qur'an are eternal. These verses are the following:
This day I have perfected your religion for you, and have filled up the measure of my favours upon you: and it is my pleasure that Islam be your religion ...
(Surih V, "The Table", v. 5) [5:5]

The true religion with God is Islam...
(Surih III, "The Family of Imran", v. 17) [3:17]

Who so desireth any other religion than Islam, that religion shall never be accepted from him, and in the next world he shall be among the lost.
(Surih III, "The Family of Imran", v. 79) [3:79]

The literal meaning of the word "Islam" is "submissiveness" or "willing surrender". In the literal sense of the term, being a "Muslim" means that one has submitted or surrendered one's will unto God. In its specific meaning, "Islam" stands for the Faith revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. However, the Qur'an and some of the traditions lend further meaning to the term, where it can be understood as being in reference to all of the religions of God.

In the fifth verse of the Surih of The Table, it is clear that the word "Islam" is intended as a specific reference to the religion of Muhammad, the Apostle of God. However, there are good reasons to believe that


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"Islam", in the verses cited from the Surih of the Family of 'Imran, refers to religion in general, as well as to the one revealed by Muhammad. This is clearly demonstrated in the following verses relating to the history of the Prophets who appeared before Him:
Recite to them the history of Noah, when he said to his people, If, O my people! my abode with you, and my reminding you of the signs of God, be grievous to you, yet in God is my trust....
And if ye turn your backs on me, yet ask I no reward from you: my reward is with God alone, and I am commanded to be of the Muslims.
(Surih X "Jonah, Peace be on Him!", vv. 72-3) [10:72-73]

And when Abraham, with Ismael, raised the foundations of the House, they said, "O our Lord! accept it from us; for thou art the Hearer, the Knower.
O our Lord! make us also Muslims, and our posterity a Muslim people; and teach us our holy rites, and be turned towards us, for thou art He who turneth, the Merciful.
(Surih II, "The Cow", vv. 121-122) [2:121-122]

And who but he that hath debased his soul to folly will mislike the faith of Abraham, when we have chosen him in this world, and in the world to come he shall be of the Just?
When his Lord said to him, "Resign thyself to me," he said, "I resign myself to the Lord of the Worlds".
And this to his children did Abraham bequeath, and Jacob also, saying, "O my children! truly God hath chosen a religion for you; so die not unless ye be also Muslims."
(Surih II, "The Cow", vv. 124-126) [2:124-126]

Were ye present when Jacob was at the point of death? when he said to his sons, "Whom will ye worship when I am gone?" They said, "We will worship thy God and the God of thy fathers Abraham and Ismael and Isaac, one God, and to Him are we surrendered (Muslims).
(Surih II, "The Cow", v. 127) [2:127]


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They1 said, "Verily, to our Lord do we return And thou takest vengeance on us only because we have believed on the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Lord! pour out constancy upon us, and cause us to die Muslims."
(Surih VII, "Al Araf ', vv. 122-123) [7:122-123]

And when I revealed unto the Apostles,2 "Believe on me and on my Sent One," they said, "We believe; and bear thou witness that we are Muslims."
(Surih V, "The Table", v. 111) [5:111]

In these verses, the translator has used the word "Muslim", instead of its translation, wherever the Arabic word occurs. It is therefore evident that in the language of the Qur'an, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses and those who believed in Him, as well as the disciples of Jesus Christ, are called "Muslims", in spite of the fact that they all lived before the revelation of the Qur'an and Islam. In fact, another excerpt clearly shows that in the terminology of the Book, the word "Muslim" applies to the believers in any Manifestation of God during the dispensation of that Prophet:
They to whom we gave the Scriptures before It, do in It believe.
And when it is recited to them they say, "We believe in it, for it is the truth from our Lord. We were Muslims before it came. "
(Surih XXVIII, "The Story", vv. 52-3) [28:52-53]

Those to whom a Book was given prior to the advent of Muhammad were "Muslims", including Christians and Jews, who are referred to in the Qur'an as "the people of the Book". In the verses cited, Noah,


  1. Followers of Moses, threatened by Pharaoh for having believed in Him without permission.
  2. Disciples of Jesus.



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Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses as well as the disciples of Jesus, considered themselves or asked to be considered as such. Further, through the following verses God confirms the prayers of Abraham and identifies all believers in the Apostle of the age as Muslims:
Believers! bow down and prostrate yourselves and worship your Lord, and work righteousness that you may fare well.

And do valiantly in the cause of God as it behoveth you to do for Him. He hath elected you, and hath not laid on you any hardship in religion, the Faith of your father Abraham. He hath named you Muslims.

Heretofore and in this Book that the Apostles may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against the rest of mankind ...
(Surih XXII, "The Pilgrimage", vv. 76-78) [22:76-78]


Oneness of Religion

Given the fact that the Qur'an explains that the followers of all the previous religious dispensations professed Islam and were Muslims, and in considering the verse wherein God says,
The true religion with God is Islam ...
(Surih III, "The Family of 'Imran", v. 17) [3:17]

It becomes evident that the Qur'an considers all the revealed religions as one, in spite of the different names of Their Founders and Books, and of the different epochs at which Their dispensations flourished.


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A further, clear confirmation of this is contained in the following verses:
Of a truth they who believe not on God and his Apostles, and seek to separate God from his Apostles,3 and say, "Some we believe, and some we believe not, " and desire to take a middle way;
These! they are veritable infidels! and for infidels have we prepared a shameful punishment
And they who believe on God and his Apostles, and make no difference between them these! we win bestow on them their reward at last. God is Gracious, Merciful!
(Surih IV "Women", vv. 149-151) [4:149-151]


The Meaning of Muslim and of Islam

Muhammad gave the definition of who is a Muslim. In the Bukhari is recorded the following tradition: A Muslim is he from whose hands and tongue people suffer no harm. In the following verses, the meaning of "Islam" and "Muslim" are further explained:
The Arabs of the desert say, "We believe." Say thou: Ye believe not; but rather say, "We profess Islam;" for the faith hath not yet found its way into your hearts. But if ye obey God and His Apostle, he will not allow you to lose an of your actions: for God is Indulgent, Merciful.
(Surih LXIX, "The Apartments ", v. 14) [69:14]



  1. cf. Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 60.



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They taunt thee with their having embraced Islam. Say: Taunt me not with your having embraced Islam: God rather taunteth you with His having guided you to the faith: acknowledge this if ye are sincere.
(Surih LXlX "The Apartments", v. 17) [69:17]

Imam Abu Hanifah, the recognized 'ulama, comments on the subject of Islam and faith in the following excerpt:
Faith is to believe in, and have firm admission of the truth. To profess Islam is to surrender and resign oneself to the commands of God. According to Arabic terminology, there is a difference between faith and professing Islam. Nevertheless there is no faith without Islam; likewise there is no Islam without faith, for they resemble back and belly ... However, religion is but a term under which fall Islam, faith and the law, all together.

The reader may wish to consider that, were the word "Islam" in the preceding passages to be replaced by submissiveness and "Muslim" by "he who has attained submissiveness", the meaning and purport would not change.

Nowhere is there mention that there shall not be any further revelation or religion after the One revealed to Muhammad, the Apostle of God. To limit the meaning of "Islam" to belief in the Qur'an and the Revelation of Muhammad is at variance with the verses of the Qur'an itself. If. however, one considers the principle of the oneness of religion and the obligation placed by God upon man to accept and be submissive


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before His most recent Revelation, then the true meaning of Islam, as intended by the Qur'an, will become evident and clear.
Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians, and the Sabeites whoever of these believeth in God and the last day, and doeth that which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord: fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved
(Surih II, "The Cow", v. 59) [2:59]

It shall be noted that in the above verse, Muhammad revealed the phrase "they who believe" and not "those who professed Islam"

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