The following is an excerpt from the book, “What is Islam?”, written by the late Muslim thinker and renowned Da`iyah Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali (may Allah’s mercy be upon him):
“Islam is the essence of the relationship between Allah and the people as all religions have envisioned it, and as all the Messengers of Allah have preached it…
These Messengers are the prophets who have been sent to humanity in the past, and in whom many people have believed. There is no difference whatsoever between what Allah told Moses and what Allah told Jesus or Muhammad…
And there is no difference whatsoever between what these Prophets taught their followers and what other Prophets – some we know and some we don’t – taught…
To all these Prophets, religion has the same basis and aims…
This complete religious unity is emphasized in many places in the Glorious Qur’an. Therefore, all the Prophets are brothers in one shared mission, and it is not permissible to stir up discord and division between their followers, or to differentiate between any of the Prophets. Allah Almighty says: “He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein…” (Ash-Shura: 13)
He Almighty also says: “Say (O Muhammad): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.” (Al `Imran: 84)
The pillar of this unity, despite the differences of time and place, is innate.
Yes… the pure natural disposition of humanity is Allah’s religion.
This disposition is not something new to humanity – it is a of sound heart and mind… A person’s success in both the present life and the eternal life can only be guaranteed with this soundness.
Perhaps you can find some people who describe themselves as belonging to religion, and they display all the physical manifestation of religion. However, they are sick at hearts and defective in thoughts. You can be sure that these people are as far away from religion as the sickness of their hearts and the defectiveness of their minds.
Suffering from dilapidation, a house can no longer be described as luxurious or fine, even if it has been newly painted.
Likewise, a person cannot be described as being religious if the nature of his or her heart and mind has been corrupted by whims.
True religiousness is built on the soundness and purity of heart, devoid of any corruption. Allah Almighty says: “So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not.” (Ar-Room: 30)
The teachings of Islam aim to protect this part of human nature from the strange illness that try to attack it – just as a person may eat certain foods and take medicine – not to create a new body, but rather to protect the one he/she already has. This is why Allah told us how to protect our natural disposition. Allah Almighty says: “Turning unto Him (only); and be careful of your duty unto Him, and establish worship, and be not of those who ascribe partners (unto Him). Of those who split up their religion and became schismatic, each sect exulting in its tenets.” (Ar-Rum: 31-32)
Religious teachings are to this natural disposition as science is to the mind. Just as science broadens the horizons of human thought, humanity’s disposition is elevated and refined by religion and its teachings.
This is why it is important to carry out these teachings and the obligations that Allah has made upon us – to guarantee the purity of humanity.
Allah says: “Whosoever surrendereth his purpose to Allah while doing good, he verily hath grasped the firm hand hold. Unto Allah belongeth the sequel of all things.” (Luqman: 22)
Allah Almighty says: “Who is better in religion than he who surrendereth his purpose to Allah while doing good (to men) and followeth the tradition of Abraham, the upright?…” (An-Nisa’: 125)
You see? The Glorious Qur’an traces the origins of human disposition in religiousness to the early era of Prophethood.
This is why we said: “Islam is a new title for an old truth”. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) came to build rather than destroy…He (peace and blessings be upon him) came to confirm and prove what came before him, not to oppose or declare war on them.
His religion, Islam, is innate humanity – and is what should elevate us and be a cause for coming together.”