9. What is the meaning of the word Muslim?

The meaning of Muslim is the person who submits to the will of God and obeys His law according to the Qur’an, Hadith, Sunnah or the Seerah, or biography of the life of Muhammed. To become a Muslim a person needs to say the Shahadah. The Shahadah is the creed: ‘There is no God but Allâh, and Muhammed is his prophet.’ A Muslim seeks to live out the life of Muhammed as much as possible, and to obey all the teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith (approximately 5,000 sayings of the Prophet of Islâm). Muslims are expected to adhere to the six beliefs of Islâm and base their lives on the practices of the pillars of Islâm.

The beliefs are:

i) One God and the absolute unity of God

ii) The Holy books and their teachings – Torah or Pentateuch, Psalms (Zabur), Gospels (Injeel or Injil), and the Qur’an

iii) The Prophets – some Islâmic scholars claim the prophets number 124,000; all agree that Muhammed is the Last Prophet

iv) The Angels or Jinn

v) The Day of Judgement and Isa is the Judge

vi) The Decrees of God

The practices or pillars of Islâm are:

a) Confession of the Creed (shahadah)

b) Prayer five times a day facing Mecca (salat) including at least three times at the Mosque with the Umma (community or brotherhood)

c) Charitable giving (zakat); two and a half percent of one’s net wealth given once a year for the poor and religious causes

d) Fasting during the daylight hours of Ramadan the ninth month in Islâm’s lunar calendar

e) Pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime (Hajj). One can be called a Haji after this pilgrimage. f) Exertion on behalf of God including holy war (Jihad). Not all scholars agree that this is a part of the pillars of Islâm.

The Prophet Moses received the Ten Commandments from God as recorded in the Torah in Exodus 20 verses 1-17. These commandments were given to provide a religious and social justice framework for the new nation of Israel after 400 years of slavery in Egypt. They are briefly summarised as follows:

i) Worship no other God

ii) Do not worship any idol

iii) Do not misuse the name of God for it is Holy

iv) Observe the Sabbath day (one day per week for worship and rest)

v) Honour your father and mother

vi) Do not commit murder

vii) Do not commit adultery

viii) Do not steal

ix) Do not testify falsely against your neighbour

x) Do not covet your neighbour’s wife, male or female servant, or animals or anything belonging to your neighbour

When Jesus came to the earth, He taught that He came to fulfil these commandments and to sum them all up in two great commandments found in Mark 12 verse 31: ‘Jesus replied; ‘The most important commandment is this; ‘Listen O Israel! The Lord your God is the One and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, your entire mind, and all your strength.’ The second commandment is equally important; ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.’

Christians also believe in surrender or submission to God. James chapter 4 verse 7 states: ‘So humble or submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up in honour.’

Submission is an act of humility. Our humility helps us overcome the power and influence of Satan. A true Christian surrenders their life to Jesus Christ and asks Him to come into their life and take control of every aspect of their life. They believe that they are washed clean (justified) by the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:9 and 1 John 1:7). From that time onward they seek to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting them and guiding them in God’s will (or The Right Path) for their life. They desire to be a humble servant of Jesus Christ and to submit all aspects of their life to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. They seek to follow the teachings of the Bible and specifically the four gospels (The Injil) that contain the teachings of Jesus, and to live in the joy of God’s presence. They desire to be like Jesus. God’s presence is made real in their life each day as they ask the Holy Spirit to take control of their life, thoughts, emotions and actions.