Islam is a progressive religion of God that dates back to the age of Adam and its message has been conveyed to the humanity by God’s prophets and messengers (21:2, 42:13). It cannot be trapped in time and place nor to be associated with any particular prophets and messengers, and has been made it prevail over any other religions (9:33, 48:29, 61:9):
[21:2] When a reminder comes to them from their Lord, that is new, they listen to it paying no attention.
[42:13] He decreed for you the religion what He enjoined for Noah, and what we inspired to you (Muhammad), and what we enjoined for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “You shall uphold the religion, and do not divide it.” Hard for the idolaters is that to which you call them. God chooses to Himself whomever He wills and He guides to Himself whoever turns.
[9:33] He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion that He would make it prevail over the religion of any of it, even if the idol worshipers dislike (it).
[48:28] He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion that He would make it prevail over the religion of any of it. And God is sufficient as a witness.
[61:9] He is the One who sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion that He would make it prevail over the religion of any of it, even though the disbelievers dislike (it).
God has sent down messages from time to time through His prophets and messengers to guide the humanity to the right path. Thus, humanity has passed through numerous periods of guidance as required for its misguidance, disgrace, and deviation, from the most primitive age to the heights of civilization. Divine guidance accompanied humanity through all of this, always providing the appropriate solutions and remedies. Then people of all periods of guidance are to believe in God, recognize and uphold His words to fulfill the following three requirements to receive their recompense from their Lord: (1) believing in God, (2) in the Last Day, and (3) leading a righteous life. Thus, the Quran, the final scripture teaches us that those who have fulfilled those requirements are Submitters (Muslimeen in Arabic) in the eye of God regardless of periods of guidance and even, it doesn’t matter what they called their religion or the communities:
[2:62] Surely, those who believed, those who were the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians; whoever believed in God and in the Last Day, and did righteous works, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[5:69] Surely, those who believed, those who were the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians; whoever believed in God and in the Last Day, and did righteous works, then they have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[22:17] Surely, those who believed, those who were Jews, the Sabians, the Christians and the Zoroastrians, and those who were the polytheists, God is the One who will judge among them on the Day of Resurrection. God is witness over all things.
God teaches us in the Quran that Submission (Islam in Arabic) is a religion that belongs to Him and whoever seeks religion other than Submission will not be accepted from him and he will be loser in the Hereafter (3:19, 3:83, 3:85):
[3:19] The religion with God is Submission, and those who received the scripture did not dispute except after the knowledge came to them out of jealousy between them. And whoever rejects God’s revelations, then God is swift in reckoning.
[3:83] Do they seek other than God’s religion while whatever in the heavens and the earth have submitted to Him willingly or unwillingly? And to Him they will be returned.
[3:85] And whoever seeks other than Submission as a religion, will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers.
God has stated the truth in the Quran, and He guides with it whoever seeks His acceptance and to be guided to the straight path (3:3, 5:16) to make people happy in this world as well as in the Hereafter (10:64; 92:7):
[3:3] He sent down to you (Muhammad) the scripture with the truth, confirming what was before it; and He sent down the Torah and the Injeel.
[5:16] God guides with it (Quran) whoever seeks His acceptance to the ways of peace; and He brings them out of the darkness into the light by His leave; and He guides them to a straight path.
[10:64] For them is good news in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. There is no change of God’s words. Such is the great success.
[92:7] We will provide him with ease.
God teaches us to seek the truth. He wants us to verify with our own God given senses, the practices we accept and attribute to God while most of us were often taught to follow our parents, and not question the religious clergy, but this is not at all the behavior that God wishes for His worshippers. His worshippers are intelligent, they research and study, and then they follow their sincere convictions (16:78; 17:36; 23:78; 39:18):
[16:78] And God has brought you out of your mothers’ wombs while you knew nothing. And He has given you the hearing and the eyesight and the understanding, so that you may be thankful.
[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the vision, and the understanding, and you are responsible for using them.
[23:78] He is the One who has given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the understanding. Rarely are you appreciative.
[39:18] They are the ones who examine all words, then follow the best. These are the ones whom God has guided; these are the ones who possess intelligence.
God teaches us to invite to His path with the truth on the basis of a clear proof as well as with wisdom and enlightenment advocating righteousness and forbidding evil to be a community of those who can be the winners (7:181; 12:108; 16:125; 3:104):
[7:181] Among our creations, there are those who guide with the truth, and the truth renders them righteous.
[12:108] Say, “This is my path: I invite to God, on the basis of a clear proof, and so do those who follow me. God be glorified. I am not an idol worshiper.”
[16:125] You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment, and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who are the guided ones.
[3:104] And let there be a community of you who invite to what is good, advocate righteousness, and forbid from the evil, and these are the winners.
God teaches us that we can only be a Muslim (Submitter) if we worship Him alone (20:14). Worshipping Him alone means not associating anyone or anything with Him, devoting all of our worship to Him alone (6:162) and to implore Him to be appreciative to Him as well as to have His mercy to admit us with His righteous servants as Solomon did (27:19):
[20:14] I am God; there is no other god beside Me. You shall worship Me, and observe the Contact Prayer to remember Me.
[6:162] Say, “My Contact Prayers (Salat), my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to God alone, the Lord of the universe.
[27:19] My Lord, direct me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. And admit me by Your mercy with Your righteous servants.
In fact, the God’s religion has evolved over the period of time according to His will to make it fit to the respective generation of people, even though the core message and practices always been the same for all generations of people. It is the religion of Adam and Eve but in a simple form just a few words that were given to them to recite to redeem themselves (7:23 & 2:37) and the continuation is found in the similar words given to us in sura 1 (Al-Fatehah – The Key) for our redemption as well. However, the religious rites that we practice today were given to Abraham that came down to us through the practicing of people generation after generation, and Muhammad was commanded to continue these practices (4:125, 6:161, 16:123, 22:78) through whom we received the final scripture (33:40). In addition, the mathematical coding of the Quran (74:30-37) is a reminder (74:31) to affirm with God’s statements of oath (74:32-34 being a great sign (74:35) to warn the most advanced community of the world (74:36-37) connected with the divine promise and prophecies in the Quran (3:81, 33:7, 15:9, 27:82) is fulfilled through His messenger at the appropriate time (27:82). Thus, His religion is progressive that should not be trapped in time and place nor to be connected with any prophets and messengers either (4:164, 42:13):
[7:23] They (both) said, “Our Lord, we have wronged our souls, and unless You forgive us and have mercy on us, we will be losers.”
[2:37] Then Adam received words from his Lord, and He redeemed him. He is the Redeemer, the Merciful.
[4:125] And who is better in the religion than one who submits himself to God and leads a righteous life and follows the religion of Abraham, a monotheist? God has chosen Abraham as a friend.
[6:161] Say, “My Lord has guided me in a straight path – the perfect religion of Abraham, a true monotheist, and he was never an idol worshiper.”
[16:123] Then we inspired to you (Muhammad) that you shall follow the religion of Abraham, the monotheist; he was not an idol worshiper.
[22:78] And you shall strive in the cause of God as you should strive for His cause. He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in the religion – the religion of your father Abraham. He named you submitters from before and in this that the messenger may be a witness among you, and you may be witnesses among the people. So, you shall observe the Contact Prayer (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and hold fast to God; He is your Protector, the best Protector and the best Supporter.
[33:40] Muhammad is not father of anyone of your men, but a messenger of God and seal of the prophets. And God has done being knower of everything.
[3:81] And God took a covenant from the prophets: “Whatever I have given you of scripture and wisdom, then a messenger will come to you confirming what is with you. You shall believe in him and support him.” He said: “Do you agree and pledge to fulfill this covenant?” They said: “We agree.” He said: “You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you.”
[33:7] And we took from the prophets their covenant, and from you (Muhammad), and from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary. And we took from them a solemn covenant.
[15:9] Indeed, we have revealed the reminder, and indeed, we will preserve it.
[27:82] And when the punishment is almost due upon them, we will produce for them a creature from the earth speaking to them that the people are not certain about our revelations.
[74:30] Over it is nineteen.
[74:31] And we made the angels to be guardians of Hell, and we did not make their number except: (1) to warn the disbelievers, (2) to make certain for those who were given the scripture (Jews and Christians), (3) to strengthen the faith of those who believe (Muslims), and (4) to eliminate any doubt from those who were given the scripture (Jews and Christians) and the believers (Muslims). And that those who have disease in their hearts (hypocrites) as well as the disbelievers would say, “What did God mean by this allegory?” Thus, God misguides whomever he wills and He guides whomever He wills. None knows your Lord’s soldiers except He. And it is but a reminder for the humans.
[74:32-34] Nay, (I swear) By the moon. And the night when it departs. And the morning when it brightens.
[74:35] Indeed, it is undoubtedly one of the great (signs).
[74:36-37] A warning to the human race. For whoever among you wishes to advance or regress.
[4:164] And messengers we have mentioned to you from before, and messengers we have not mentioned to you; and God spoke to Moses directly.
[42:13] He decreed for you the religion what He decreed for Noah, and what we inspired to you (Muhammad), and what we decreed for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “You shall uphold the religion, and do not divide it.” Hard for the idolaters is that to which you call them. God chooses to Himself whomever He wills and He guides to Himself whoever turns (towards Him).
Now we live in an age of reason and not of blind faith. It is thus necessary for any intelligent person to debate all matters and not to succumb to the influence of their native environment alone. One should not just rely on the religious background passed on through parents or the society alone. There is no doubt that our knowledge is limited but still we have the opportunity to explore God’s religion to understand it better with the help of the opportunity given by God. Thus, we may advance believing and accepting the truth upon verification or we may stay behind due to our doubt and disbelief. Let us have a sincere drive to make our journey simple and easy by understanding God’s religion as dictated by Him in the Quran and follow what makes sense to us befitting to the generation we are living now.
May God bless us all.