The term, “Islam,” meaning “submission,” points to the fundamental religious creed, which dictates that a Muslim submit to the will of Allah by conforming inwardly and outwardly to His law.
Islam is the last of all the Divine revealed religions. The name, Islam, for this universal and eternal, Deen24 of Allah, was instituted by Allah during the farewell pilgrimage; Allah says:
Today I have perfected your deen for you, and I have completed my favor upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.25
Islam is the last and universal faith and today numbers more than one billion followers. Every country in the world has at least a small Muslim minority. Islam has shown itself to be not only the most widespread religion in the world, but also the most dynamic, attracting converts at a faster rate than at anytime in the last 500 years.
Islam is not a “religion” in the narrow sense used by secular humanists, in the west, but is the universal and eternal deen known through Prophets to every nation of people since the human race first began. This Islamic deen lays great emphasis on uncompromising monotheism and strict adherence to its creed and method of worship. It enjoins submission to the will of Allah and urges every person to follow as closely as possible the exemplary way of the life of Muhammad, the last of the Prophets and Messengers, peace be on them all.
Allah, the Exalted, created the universe and what is in it to express the truth that He is the one and only God. He created man and jinn only to celebrate His praise and worship Him. In His words signifying:
I have created the jinn and man only to worship Me.26
The method and form of worship are not left are not left to man’s option or choice. Allah is the One Who ordains and decrees all acts of worship and the means by which they must be observed. Since Islam deals with every aspect of life, spiritual and physical, its jurisprudence is based on a creed, instruction on worship, and ordinances regarding social, economic, and political aspects.
Because Islam is a perfect way of life, it enjoins the maintenance of a refined standard of character. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, says:
Verily, ! have been sent to develop in you good character and refined behavior. Allah praised the model behavior of his messenger, peace be upon him, by saying: “And you surely exhibit an exalted standard of character.27
A’ishah, the wife of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was asked about the behavioral characteristics of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. She said: “His standard of behavior was the Qur’an.” A’ishah meant that the Prophet, peace be upon him, rigorously followed the Qur’an, its rules of discipline, commands, and prohibitions and all its excellent, beautiful, and gracious teachings. For this reason, Allah commands the believers to follow the exemplary life of His Messenger, peace be upon him, in His words:
You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent model.28
Islam enjoins good character expressed in good manners for every occasion: entreating, greeting, sitting, eating, learning, teaching, sporting, traveling, dressing, visiting, sleeping, and treating people, particularly relatives and neighbors with kindness. Codes for all such refined behavior are found in both the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him.