The Arabic word ‘Muslim’ literally translates to mean someone in submission to the will and law of God. The message of Islam has always been universal and meant for all people. Anyone who accepts this message becomes a Muslim. One out of every four persons on this earth is a Muslim. This faith claims 1.8 billion followers, which equates to about 24% of the global population.
While Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion, after Christianity, Islam is the fastest growing religion. Muslims are projected to surpass Christians in about 2070 as the largest religious group in the world.While many may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East, only 18% of Muslims are Arabs. Muslims represent the majority population in a total of fifty-six countries. The Muslim population is a diverse community of believers spanning the globe. Many Muslims reside in Europe, South East Asia, and in the West. Islam is not limited to one ethnicity or group of people. Indeed, Muslims are made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, races, cultures, and national origins. Whereas more people call themselves Christians as opposed to Muslims, the religion that claims the most followers actually practicing their religion and its rituals are Islam. A higher percentage of Muslims is practicing Islam than Christians practicing Christianity.
A Muslim is a person that submits his or her will to Almighty God, as he acknowledges that God knows what’s best for him; so he follows God’s commandments for his own best interest. A Muslim is someone who lives to attain a higher purpose in life. And this purpose is found when one lives to better himself and the things around him and following God’s commandments so that he can live a peaceful and happy life in this world, and so that he can prepare himself for eternal joy in the next world.
In Islam, a Muslim is not someone who simply knows the truth. A Muslim is someone that submits to the truth. A Muslim is someone that believes in God and Follows God’s commands. Islam stresses belief and in acting on that belief. Mere faith counts for nothing if not carried into practice. The purpose of Islam is not knowledge, it is submission; no belief by itself can bring salvation. To simply just know that God is One and that Muhammad is his last and final messenger, is not enough.
A Muslim is someone that doesn’t make wealth, health and power the ultimate aims of his life. Whereas, Muslims use these assets as a means to living; it is not their ultimate aim or goal. A Muslim has a much bigger aim in life than the gathering of temporary material goods.
Since the life of Prophet Muhammad is full of countless examples that show his status as a role model for mankind, for societies and individuals, one can find truths in Prophet Muhammad's life that constitute an example for one to follow to their best of ability. His life was a reflection of good manners, superior morality, generosity, good habits, politeness, respect, gentleness, noble feelings and wisdom from God, all of which help mankind live a better, peaceful, easier life of good. Muslims attempt to emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s faith, behavior, attitude, patience, charity, compassion, righteousness, and piety. The act of emulating the Prophet is called ‘Sunnah.’ The term ‘sunna’ is a concept that means 'the way,” or 'practice of.' The meaning of Sunnah is generally understood as ‘thru act of doing whatever the Prophet said, did, or approve’. Sunnah is the way or the practice of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims emulate the way that the Prophet ate, drank, the position he slept in, the way he behaved and interacted with others, etc. The act of following the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet), would make one’s life in this world and the next easier to survive and navigate.
Emulating the Prophet would also keep one from falling into error or sin. Prophet Muhammad was the sacred model for mankind to emulate and follow; as he was sent by God as an example how one should live his life to the best of his ability. Thus, Muslims study the Biography of the Prophet Muhammad, which they call Seerah. Muslims believe that the easiest road to goodness, to moral excellence and success in this life and the afterlife, comes through an emulation of the Prophet. The teachings of Prophet Muhammad act as a mercy and a healing for all of mankind.Islam is such a natural way of life that its rules, regulations, and recommendations become easy to adopt. Islam is not merely a religion, it is a way of life; a holistic way designed by the Almighty to benefit the one that follows it.
In Islam, the worship of God consists of every act, belief, statement, or sentiment of the heart which God approves and loves. Anything that brings a person closer to His Creator would be considered an act of worship. It includes physical and external forms of worship; like the daily ritual prayers that Muslims are prescribed to do, fasting, and charity. It also includes internal worship, such as faith in the Angels, God’s Books, and His Prophets. Acts of worship also include the loving of God, gratitude, reverence, and reliance on God. God is worthy and entitled to worship by the body, soul, heart, and mind.
The opposite of a Muslim is a Kafir. The Quran warns one against being a kafir. The word kafir occurs more than 150 times in the Qur an. The word kafir refers to something that is covered up or concealed. For instance, a farmer is also called kafir in the Arabic language--because a farmer covers seeds in the earth. The Qu ran uses the word kafir to describe a disbeliever because a kafir is one that is insincere in their life; deliberately rejecting the truth which they covered despite knowing its truth. A kafir is also someone that refuses to question the beliefs taught to them during their childhood. They blindly follow their forefathers without thinking, reflecting and pondering over their beliefs. They do not search for the truth.
The word kafir in the west is usually translated to an infidel, which is not the proper definition. The word infidel means someone who does not believe in God, whereas a kafir is someone that denies, conceals, or refuses the truth. A kafir is someone that rejects the truth or knows the truth but refuses to act upon it. A disbeliever is also someone that is ungrateful; who chooses to live, hide, or cover in the darkness of ignorance.
Islam does not teach followers to hate non-Muslims. In fact, Islam came to bring dignity to all human beings. The Qu ran explicitly states that the children of Adam are honored. God has given respect to all Children of Adam, which would include every human. If God gives them respect, we certainly need to respect them as well. Islam teaches that the only real criterion for superiority is piety, God-consciousness in actions, and righteousness.