Are you a Muslim (Submitter) or a Mu'min (Believer)?
The above question may seem 'irrelevant' for most people who follow the Quran, but by the end of this article (God Willing) you will realize just how important it is to know what is required of you by the Almighty.
The terms 'Muslim' & 'Mumin' are used interchangeably by Islamic societies and almost everyone who is a 'Muslim' is also regarded as a 'Mumin' by their standards.
The following are the 'traditional' definitions which regulate a 'Muslim' and 'Mumin':
Muslims according to 'tradition':
A 'Muslim' according to such 'tradition' is anyone who accepts the 5-pillars:
- Declaration of Faith 'Shahaada';
- Salaat 'Prayer' 5-times a day;
- Fasting month of Ramadhan;
- Giving obligatory Charity 'Zakat';
- Performing Hajj to Mecca.
If you are doing the above items, then according to tradition you are within the fold of 'Islam' and are treated as part of the great large 'family' of over 1 billion people.
Mumins according to 'tradition':
The definition given by the same scholars of a Mumin is as follows:
- Believe in God;
- Believe in His Angels;
- Believe in His Books;
- Believe in His Messenger;
- Believe in J-day;
- Believe in Destiny 'Qadr' its good and its bad.
If you note that part of the definition of 'Muslim' was to accept Mohammed as God's messenger…If you have done so, then you have also accepted the Quran which talks about God, the Angels, the prophets, and J-day being a reality!.
Thus, if you follow the 5-pillars of Islam, then you would also have to accept the 6-pillars of Iman, which makes such a person a Muslim & a Mumin at the same time.
This all seems very EASY so far…
Let us move now from 'tradition' and examine what God says in His Book:
Are Muslims & Mumins one in the same?
According to the Book of God, there is a drastic difference between one who is a 'Submitter' and one who is a 'Believer':
"The Nomads said: ‘We believe. (Aman’a)’ Say: “You have not believed; but you should say: ‘We have submitted (Aslamna)’, for belief has not yet entered into your hearts.” If you obey God and His messenger, He will not put any of your works to waste. God is Forgiver, Merciful." (49:14)
Here we read that the people who professed to “believe” have been admonished by God for saying what CANNOT be true! They are trying to run before they have learnt to even stand…they could not be 'Believers' even if they wanted to, but they could be 'Muslims' if they desired the path of God.
“We then vacated from it all the believers. But We only found in it one house of those who had submitted.” (51:35-36)
Again, we find an example where Submitters and Believers are not one in the same. The angels sent to Lot were looking to evacuate any believers, but ended up evacuating the only house they could find – of Submitters.
Who Are the Muslims?
Since God has clearly shown us in (49:14) that the Submitters & Believers are not one in the same, we must explore the next logical question: 'Who are the Muslims'?
"Who can utter better words than one who 1) invites to God, 2) works righteousness, and says, 3) "I am one of the Submitters"?" (41:33)
"…My Lord, 1) direct me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and 2) to do the good works that please You. Let my children be righteous as well. 3) I have repented to You; 4) I am a Submitter." (46:15)
"Say: 'I have been given divine inspiration that your god is One god. Will you then Submit?" (21:108)
That seems simple enough!
We are simply to acknowledge the One God, appreciate Him, and work *good to be a Submitter/Muslim…
* It must be noted that 'idolatry/shirk' nullifies any good work and ends with a person in hell (5:72)
If the Submitter/Muslim only needs to "accept One God", then how can he/she know about these things/concepts if he/she does not accept God's messengers or God's Book?
"Recall that your Lord summoned all the descendants of Adam, and had them bear witness for themselves: "Am I not your Lord?" They all said, "Yes. We bear witness." Thus, you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection,"We were not aware of this. Nor can you say, "It was our parents who practiced idolatry, and we simply followed in their footsteps. Will You punish us because of what others have innovated?" (7:172-173)
The issue of believing in 'God Alone' transgresses beyond any Books or any messengers…it is an inherent component (Nature/Fitra) of man's very own existence...a part of his 'self'.
God is ONE…This is a fact that all mankind has testified to since the beginning of our creation.
"Therefore, you shall devote yourself to the religion of monotheism. Such is the natural instinct placed into the people by God. Such creation of God will never change. This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know." (30:30)
To be a Submitter/Muslim is simply to hold to this 'natural' article of fact and not be swindled into following 'others' who have promoted idolatry and to associating partners with the Almighty…There is no need for a 'Book' or anything to testify to this fact (note how NO people can claim they did not know this fact on J-day - that includes those who received the Quran and those who were on a desert island).
Doing Good Works?
If the acknowledging One God is ingrained into the human being…What about the other element of a Submitter 'Doing Good Works?'
When a person has chosen the stay on the path of God Alone, then the following elements will determine what he/she considers to be right & wrong (most people on Earth know this without the need for any scripture...i.e. it is INHERENT):
Say, "Come let me tell you what your Lord has really prohibited for you:
You shall not set up idols besides Him.
You shall honor your parents.
You shall not kill your unborn children from fear of poverty-We provide for you and for them.
You shall not commit gross sins, publicly or privately.
You shall not kill - God has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand.
You shall not touch the orphans' money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity.
You shall give full weight and full measure when you trade, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its means.
You shall be absolutely just when you bear witness, even against your relatives.
You shall fulfill your oaths to GOD. These are His commandments to you, that you may take heed. (6:151-152)
How is it that nearly all of mankind can agree on these things being important (i.e. no one disagrees that killing is bad!), while they all do not agree on Worship or Messengers or Fasting or Pilgrimage?
Is this not evidence that the knowledge of 'good' & 'evil' has been instilled in the very nature of mankind and that a person who has 'Submitted' will know the truth of what needs to be done simply by referring to himself/herself?
It must be mentioned at this stage that MANY of the elements that are 'traditionally' defined as being a requirement for 'Submission/Islam' are not in-fact the case!
The Submitter is not required to perform any obligatory Worship/Salat, nor give his annual Charity, nor fast for 1-month, nor perform any pilgrimage!
The Submitter is not required to accept the Quran, or any of the previous Books, or any of the messengers…He simply: a) accepts One God, and b) does good works.
This has been the way taught since the days of Abraham, the great example to mankind:
"Who is better in his religion than one who a) submits himself to God, b) while he does good, according to the creed of Abraham: monotheism? God has chosen Abraham as a beloved friend." (4:125)
As alarming as this news may come to the 'traditionalists', it is the absolute truth according to God's own words to mankind.
We should not be looking to the 'Sunnis' or 'Shia' or even 'Quran' followers to find the Submitters/Muslims…We should be looking to any person who has taken the path of 'Monotheism' and has devoted himself/herself to God Alone and to doing good works.
Who Are the “Believers”?
This is perhaps the issue that has been causing the most confusion…
The lack of clear 'understanding' as to what or who the Believers are has made many unable to distinguish between the two, and has created confusion by attributing traits of Believers to those of Submitters!
1. They have faith in God & His Messenger:
"Mu'mens (believers) are those who: have faith in God and His messenger…" (49:15)
This is much more than simply acknowledging One God, this is about establishing belief and faith in the heart and accepting God's messenger by taking on the responsibility of accepting the Book.
2. They attain the status of having no doubt:
"…and attain the status of having no doubt whatsoever…" (49:15)
3. They Strive with their money and lives:
"…and Strive with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones." (49:15)
They are ones who put their money where their mouth is and strive towards God with their money and lives.
4. Their Hearts tremble when God is mentioned:
"The true faithful are those whose hearts tremble when GOD is mentioned…" (8:2)
5. Their faith is strengthened by hearing God's revelations:
"…and when His revelations are recited to them, their faith is strengthened…" (8:2)
6. They trust in their Lord:
"…and they trust in their Lord." (8:2)
7. They observe the Obligatory Worship/Salaat:
"They uphold the Worship (Salat)…" (8:3)
Due to the journey that these people have undertaken, more spiritual linking with God is required through the method of establishing the 'Salaat' and constantly reciting the words and commands of the Lord.
8. They give to charity:
"…and from our provisions to them, they give to charity." (8:3)
They are also givers to charity in order to attain the 'purification/Zakat' that can cleanse the soul and perfect the journey towards God.
"Such are TRULY THE BELIEVERS. They attain high ranks at their Lord, as well as forgiveness and a generous provision." (8:4)
As we can read, these people are of a totally different class and have incorporated many 'new' elements beyond those that we started by the Submitter/Muslim.
Why would a person want to be a 'Believer'?
Since it is enough to simply believe in God and to do good works…why would a person involve himself with the messengers and the scripture which bring a myriad of laws and commands?
"And if it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it. It is the truth from our Lord. Indeed, we had Submitted before it.” (28:53)
When such people decide to take the next advanced step and uphold the traits of the 'Faithful' in the Book, they attain TWICE the reward:
"To these we grant twice the reward, because they steadfastly persevere. They counter evil works with good works, and from our provisions to them, they give." (28:54)
One reward for being a 'Submitter', and one reward for being a 'Believer'.
It is simply a matter of 'greed'!
As we know that heaven is separated into levels depending on how far each person went towards God in this life…it only makes sense that God would give us the knowledge to know how we can attain a higher rank, and how we may even be amongst the prophets & the martyrs!
The Believers = The Righteous.
Since the 'Believers' have decided to go beyond simply believing in God and have now accepted His messengers (49:15)…then they become regulated by new requirements making them 'righteous'.
"This scripture is infallible; a beacon for the righteous (Mutaqeen);
who believe in the unseen,
uphold the Worship (Salat),
and from our provisions to them, they give to charity.
And they believe in what was revealed to you,
and in what was revealed before you,
and with regard to the Hereafter, they are absolutely certain.
These are guided by their Lord; these are the winners." (2:2-5)
These people now have accelerated beyond the basic a) One God, and b) doing good…They now have faith and have thus entered into a new field altogether:
"Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who
have faith in GOD,
and the Last Day,
and the angels,
and the scripture,
and the prophets;
and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars,
and to free the slaves;
and they uphold the Worship (Salat)
and give the Purification (Zakat);
and they keep their word whenever they make a promise;
and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war.
These are the truthful; these are the righteous (Mutaqeen)." (2:177)
The commands regulating the 'Righteous' go far beyond simply 'doing good', and enter into upholding all the commands of God.
The righteous also require new elements to help them achieve their journey such as:
- Establishing a regular reading of the Book during Worship (Salaat) - 4:103;
- Giving from their money to purify themselves (Zakat) - 2:177;
- Fasting for periods of time to establish patience (Siyam) - 2:183.
The followers of the Book revealed through the messengers are no longer 'Submitter/Muslimeen', but they have advanced to become 'Believers/Mumineen'.
What has gone wrong in our society today is that people are all promoting the actions prescribed for 'Believers' as if they should be done by 'Submitters'! That is like giving an F-15 to a novice who is in need of a Cessna!
A person cannot appreciate or understand the values of Salat & Zakat if they have not already taken the path of a) One God, and b) doing good works. Only when such people attain 'certainty' can they move-on to the advanced level of having faith in the Messenger and then establishing the rules of 'Righteousness/Taqwaa' in their lives.
“The ones who listen to what is being said, and then follow the best of it. These are the ones whom God has guided, and these are the ones who possess intelligence.” (39:18)
Written for www.free-minds.org