Islam is not a religion that was established 1400 years back in the deserts of Arabia. The Qur’ān teaches that Islam is the first and only religion, or way of life, that God had approved since Prophet Adam. As human civilization evolved, and life became more complex, newer guidelines from God came to all the civilizations through prophets selected by God Himself. Some of the prophets of Islam, who taught their communities to fully submit to One God, were Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (may peace be on all of them).
In Arabic, the word God is Allah (al=the, Lah=God). Allah is not a God specific to Muslims. It is the name of God in Arabic. Muslims prefer to use this name, since it cannot be converted to god, goddess, or gods.
The word Islam literally means “to submit” and “peace”. In Islam, we submit our complete self to Allah, to gain and distribute peace to the humankind.
The core value of Islam is to submit to One God. This concept, known as Tawhid, requires the submitters to follow the commands of Allah in their daily life. Some of the commands are to establish the salat (prayers), siyam (fasting during the month of Ramadan), zakat (charity) and hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).
The Qur’ān teaches that while all the prophets of Islam, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus, brought the messages from Allah, their messages were limited to their immediate communities. The message that came to Muhammad, in the form of the Qur’ān, is for the whole humanity and for all the generations to come.
A Muslim is not necessarily an Arab. Most of the Muslims are not Arabs, although Muslims put significant effort to learn Arabic—the language of the Qur’ān.