Islam corresponds to “the religion of Allah” and Muslim corresponds to “those who believe this religion”. In summary, the word of “Müslüman” is the Turkish form of the Persian word “Müselman” that refers to the word “Muslim” in The Quran.
If a word has originated from the Quran, then one should look for what kind of image was drawn in The Quran related to that word. It would help us to look at the issue from a wider perspective to enumerate the properties of the images of Islam and Muslim drawn in The Quran with the help of the related verses.
Of course, the religion is Islam and Islam is the religion. Allah the almighty states many times in the Quran with different pronunciations and impressive expressions that the respected, or favoured or valid, religion in His eyes, is Islam. In one of these verses, it was stated that the (right) religion before Allah is Islam (Al-i Imran 3/19). The term of religion corresponds to the rules and regulations that servants will obey, which bears the meanings of obedience and punishment, people and seriah. Islam, on the other hand, means to obey, to be connected, to achieve peace (selam), to pray sincerely (ikhlas), to submit oneself and to give oneself.
In fact, the common name of the religion of monotheism (tawhid), that all Prophets have preached since the first human being and Prophet Holy Adam, is Islam. The struggles of those who look for another religion or a system of life other than Islam, are in vain and whatever they come with is invalid and useless. “… It will never be accepted by Him” (Al-i Imran, 3/85) This religion of monotheism is send by Allah to all human beings as recited by the Prophet in the farewell pilgrimage (Hajj): “…This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Ma’idah, 5/3)
Guidance (hidayet) depends on the divine will. The hearts of those human beings, to whom divine will bestowed hidayet are opened Islam. The “dıyk-ı sadr” (the tightness of the heart) ends, instead “serh-i sadr” (expansion of the heart) comes (An’am, 6/125). Those whose hearts are expanded by Islam are, of course, enlightened by a light (nur) coming from Allah and their faith has completed satisfactorily (Zumar, 39/22).
Islam, that brings the enlightenment of the heart into existence in human beings, has attributes existed in its own essence and has an image reflected outside. It is possible to enumerate these attributes as follows:
Islam has a faith of monotheism (tawhid) which is far away from the odours of polytheism (shirk):
The most crucial feature of Islam, that continues to exist since the first man Adam, is its structure based on monotheism (tawhid) and its being away from any doubts of polytheism (shirk). In fact the message of the verse is this: “Say, Shall I take for my protector any other than Allah, the maker of the heavens and the earth and he who feeds but is not fed? Say, Nay! But I am commanded to be the first of those who bow to Allah (in Islam) and not be of the company of those who join gods with Allah.” (An’am, 6/14)
It is commanded in the verse for human beings to make friends just with Him by slipping off anything that occupies his/her heart and his/her mind in the name of God other than Allah and anybody he/she benefits or profits.
2- It commands turning one’ face to Allah only:
The life of prayer, depending on the sincerity of one’s heart, travels between hypocrisy (riya) and sincerity (ihlas). There is a warning in the Quran that the direction of heart should always be towards Allah in order not to fall into the pit of masiwa (anything other than Allah). In fact: “Say, truly my prayer and my service of sacrifice. my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the cherisher of the worlds and He has no partner. This is how I am commanded and I am the first of those who submit to His will.” (An’am, 6/162-163)
3- It demands a total submission to Allah:
Islam is a total obedience (inkiyad) that includes its bare word meaning, namely, submission. In fact, Allah the Almighty said to the Prophet Abraham: “His Lord said to him submit (your will to Me). He said: I submit (my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the universe.” (Baqara, 2/131). Therefore, it corroborated that being Islam corresponds to the submission to the Lord.
4- It expects a submission without dispute:
Allah (swt), that knows the weakness and the slippery nature of human beings in accepting the truth, mentions the following verse in order to state that one does not have to dispute at length with disbelivers since it is a matter of expansion of the heart: “If they dispute with you, say: I have submitted my whole self and those who follow me to Allah” (Al-i Imran, 3/20)
5- The intention of the submission is to obey sincerely to Allah’s commands:
In fact, it was stated in the following verse that describes the states of Abraham alayhissalam, whom was instructed to sacrifice his beloved son, and his son Holy Ismail, that obeys this command without hesitation, that: “When they have been the servants of Allah sincerely and devotedly.” (Saffat, 37/167)
6- Submission is to give oneself totally to Allah:
After being directed towards Allah in submission and without dispute, the next thing is to give oneself totally to Him. In fact, those who give themselves totally to Him and those who do not are not equal. As a matter of fact, those who do not give themselves to Him are people that ruin themselves in the following expression of the Quran: “Among us are some that submit their wills (to Allah) and some that swerve from justice. Those who submit their wills they have sought out (the path) of right conduct.” (Jinn, 72/14)
7- The submission is also the condition of finding the right way (hidayet):
There is a relationship between obeying sincerely and hidayet like the relationship between the submission and obeying sincerely. The verse in chapter Al-i Imran, 3/2 indicates that Christians and Jews are considered as “Ahl-i kitab”, those given books before and also indicates that they will be guided only when they submit themselves to Allah by embracing Islam. One could also infer from this verse that no one can acquire hidayet without being submitted to Allah.
8- Islam is the submission without obligation and influence:
Being a Muslim is, firstly, a benefit, or advantages, to the person himself/herself. Therefore, it can not be contemplated to put somebody under obligation because of his/her being Muslim or to expect something in return. “They impress on you as a favor that they have embraced Islam. Say, do not count your Islam as a favour upon me: Nay, Allah has conferred a favour upon you that he has guided you to the faith, if you are true and sincere.” (Hujurat, 49/17)
9- Islam is to live by the religion by the limbs:
The terms of Islam, iman (faith) and ihsan are related to each other as narrated in the famous hadith of Jibril. Islam corresponds to the submission, obedience and the implementation of the divine laws. Iman (faith), on the other hand, is the belief and the establishment of the satisfaction into one’s heart. Therefore, iman (faith) in the Quran indicates much more important depth than Islam. In fact, the following verse in the chapter Hujurat is an obvious example of this: “The desert Arabs say “we believe” say “you have no faith” but you say “we have submitted our wills to Allah” (since iman comes from heart and Islam occurs by obeying the rules) for faith has not yet entered your hearts ” (Hujurat, 49/14). The Quran names the newly converted Muslim Arab peasants by Islam, as Muslim, rather than by iman (faith), as Mumin.
10- Islam and iman should be at the level of ihsan:
The next stage, or degree, of Islam and iman is ihsan. Ihsan is to acquire the consciousness of being servant as if one sees Allah. Iman that reaches to this level, has been praised and promoted in the Quranic verses. “Nay, whoever submits his whole self to Allah and is a doer of good, he will get his reward with his Lord; On such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Baqara, 2/112). According to The Quran, being away from fear and grief is the attribute of the friends of Allah (awliya) (see Yunus, 11/62). When one contemplates these two verses together, it could be inferred that the people of ihsan would be the friends of Allah. The following verse also describes the issue that ihsan indicates a kind of quality with respect to the religion. “Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith?” (Nisa, 4/125) Furthermore, being person of ihsan is to grasp a firm hand-hold. “Whoever submits his whole self to Allah, and is a doer of good, has grasped indeed the firmest hand-hold” (Luqman, 31/22). Moreover, the people of ihsan are pioneers of the ummah after Muhajirun (those who emigrated from Mecca to Medina) and Ansars (those who helped Muhajirun in Medina) Because: “The vanguard (of Islam) the first of those who forsook (their homes) (Muhacirun) and of those who gave them aid (Ensar) and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds…” (Tawba, 9/100)
11- Islam is worshipping (ibadet) and fear of God (taqwa):
The Quran also points out the aspects of Islam that surrounds the prayer (ibadet) life and God-fearing (taqwa) life. “…We have been directed to submit ourselves to the Lord of the worlds, to establish regular prayers and to fear Allah…” (An’am, 6/71-72)
12- Islam is an enthusiasm of monotheism (tawhid):
Following the faith of monotheism (tawhid) of Islam enthusiastically and spending the time with a peaceful prayer life is the spiritual dimension of the Islam. The Quran states that: “…But your God is One God. Submit then your wills to Him (in Islam) and give good news to those who humble themselves, whose hearts, when Allah is mentioned, are filled with fear, who show patient perseverance over their affections, keep up regular prayer and spend (in charity) out of what we have bestowed upon them.” (Hajj, 22/34-35). Following Islam enthusiastically and obedience to its orders depends entirely on the submission by heart.
13- Islam requires the compatibility of action and speech:
Islam applies the good-deeds (amel-i salih) test to people to show their scales of the submission. In fact, it was stated in The Quran that: “Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness and says I am of those who bow in Islam?” (Fussilat, 41/33)
14- A Muslim believes in Allah’s verses:
A Muslim has no difficulty at all in accepting the verses recited in the book of Allah: the holy Quran and the verses observed in the book of universe. “You can not be a guide to the blind (to prevent them) from straying. You will only get those who believe in our signs to listen to you so they submit ” (Naml, 27/81) It is not possible neither to show nor to make them hear the verses to those whose hearts are sealed and whose eyes are blinded.
15- A Muslim recites The Quranic verses:
A Muslim recites the remarks of Allah since Islam requires the submission of the truths that The Quran testifies. Because, it was stated that: “…I am commanded to be of those who bow in submission to Allah’s will and to rehearse the Quran…” (Naml, 27/91-92)
16- A Muslim is a witness that sees himself/herself and is seen by others:
A Muslim is an observer to what other people does and is a model himself/herself for others. In fact, it was commanded in the Quran that: “…That the Messenger may be a witness for you and you be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular prayer, alms-giving (zekat) and hold fast to Allah!…” (Hajj, 22/78). It is a big responsibility to be named as a Muslim and its cost is to live in a way that could set an example.
17- A Muslim wants God-fearing children:
A Muslim, as he/she lives by Islam, wants to endure this Islamic essence with future generations who follow Islam. Therefore, he/she wants his/her progeny to be like him/her i.e., living by Islam. “Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing to Your will and of our progeny a people Muslim bowing to your will.. ” (Baqara, 2/128) The thoughts, ideals and visions of human beings last forever with future generations that follows their tracks.
18- A Muslim lives a regular life:
A Muslim’s daily family life and his/her relations with other human beings should be in the excellent way, like his/her prayer (ibadet) life. In this relationship the justice should prevail. Therefore, a Muslim behaves with good conduct, respectfully, to everybody starting with the one’s parents. The following prayer expresses this: “We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents… O My Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Your favour which you have bestowed upon me and upon both my parents….” (Ahqaf, 46/15)
19- A Muslim wants to stay as Muslim till his/her last breathe:
The most crucial thing is to live as a Muslim and to die as a Muslim. Because, credit goes to the last breathe. Therefore, it was recommended us to pray as “…You take my soul (at death) as one submitting to Your will and unite me with the righteous” (Yusuf, 12/101). The primary expectation of a Muslim is to taste the death while he/she is Muslim. “And Abraham enjoined upon his sons and so did Jacob. Oh my son! Allah has chosen the faith for you then die not except in the state of submission.” (Baqara, 2/132) “O you believe! Fear Allah as he should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam” (Al-i Imran, 3/102) It is a terrible, or horrible, ending to escape from “jihad” (holy war or struggle) because of fear of death or to face the death while dealing with meaningless tasks or occupations Nobody wants for a Muslim to be in that situation or to have such an ending.
20- A Muslim deserves Allah’s addressing as “my servants”:
The best honour for a Muslim in the next life (ahret) is to deserve being addressed by Allah as “my servants”. This is the final expectation of a Muslim. “My devotees! No fear shall be on you today, nor shall you grieve. Those who have believed in Our signs and submitted (to Us).” (Zukhruf, 43/68-69) Eventually, the expectation is to be able to deserve this addressing. May my Lord bestow this addressing to us all.