What is religion? Part 1
The atheists say that each religion claims that they are right and that all the other religions are wrong. The atheists also say that each religion is correct in what they say, making all religions false. But in chapter 42, paragraph 13 in the Quran, God says that the same religion that He has for you is the same faith He enjoined on Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. And that the believers should remain steadfast in faith and make no divisions in religion. Also, in 6:59 in the Quran, God says that those who divide their religion into sects have no part in them. According to these statements from the Quran, those who believe in God, no matter which Prophet they follow, belong to the same religion.
All religious people's beliefs in common make us more alike than not alike. For example, all Christians, Jews, and Muslims consider Abraham the father of their religion. Also, the people in these three major religions believe in righteousness, life after death, and the day of Judgment. Further, they agree that God will send the righteous people to a paradise that will last forever in their next life. And that God will send the evil people to the torment of hell that will last forever in their next life. The only way these three major religions of today can have all these same fundamental beliefs in common is that the same message that God gave to Adam is the same one that He gave to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. The only difference is that the message came to different locations during our history. And to people who practice different customs and traditions that speak other languages. However, after God's Prophets, I believe it is evident that their followers eventually changed the original message given to their Prophet.
Suppose all prophets received the same message from God. In that case, the original understanding must have been lost for our faiths to be separate religions today. The Christians say that Jesus is the son of God. But in the Quran, God says that Jesus is just one of His honored prophets and that God is high above having a son. So, there is undoubtedly a separation between Christians and those who follow the Quran because of Jesus. Yet, the Muslims claim that Mohammed is the best and more significant Messenger because he was the last Prophet. But, I have not found any support for this belief and practice in the Quran. In the Quran, 4:152, 2:285, and 3:84, God commands the believers not to make any distinction between any of His prophets and messengers. And in 3:144 in the Quran, God says that Mohammed is no more than a messenger, like the Prophets that came before him.
I understand why it was necessary when Prophet Mohammed lived to remind everyone that Mohammed was just the Messenger of God and not God. The Christians had claimed that Jesus was the son of God before them, and I am sure that God and His new believers didn't want to see a repeat of that mistake. So, they added when someone spoke of God that Mohammed was not God, but just His Messenger. However, I believe that adding that Prophet Mohammed is the Messenger of God every time we mention God after his death on earth implies that Mohammed is more important than the other prophets. We shouldn't consider Adam more significant because he was the first Prophet. Abraham higher because God made him the father of religion. Moses was more exceptional because God spoke to him directly. Jesus is more significant because of his virgin birth, nor Mohammed the greatest because he was the last Prophet. May God's peace and blessings be with them all. In the Quran, God tells the believers that we must learn from all His Prophet's examples, and they worshiped the same God representing the same religion. I do not doubt God commands the believers not to distinguish between the Prophets because this will create divisions in their religion. And, all divisions and sects in religion give Satan power over humanity to manipulate enmity and hatred between God-fearing people. In Q49:13, God said that He made us into different nations and tribes to get to know one another not to despise one another. But only the understanding and practice of righteousness that God gives us in religion can bridge our differences and create peace and cooperation between nations and tribes.
The Holy Quran 2:136 says that one must believe in the revelation sent to them and all the revelations sent before their time. But the Quran and the Bible are not revelations sent to us. These revelations were sent before our time, so other people had these revelations before us. I believe that each new generation that inherits God's books has a responsibility to themselves and their children to reinterpret them to judge for themselves the truth. We must evaluate whether the people who had God's books before us are following what was given to them correctly; or are misrepresenting these books' original message and intentions. On the Day of Judgment, the answer that you were just following what was passed down to you won't be accepted as an excuse for why you didn't worship God alone or work righteous deeds. The atheist could have used their insight that there is something wrong with organized religions today to investigate the truth for themselves instead of concluding that there is no God.
Since God forbids any division or sects in religion, anything that divides or separates from others who worship God must be considered wrong. But how can this be true when the title Islam itself separates those who call themselves Muslims into a separate religion apart from the others. I believe the original intention of the Quran and the title of the faith is meant to end divisions between those who worship God, not to create another religion. I believe this is why God declared that the religion for humanity in the Quran is the submission of your will to God. Something that all God-fearing people must do to worship God. And what all God-fearing people should have in common no matter what else we may call ourselves. However, those who inherited the Quran, after Prophet Mohammed, chose not to translate the Quran into other languages to make it clear to the world. Instead, they declared that the Quran is their Book only, for it could only be understood in the Arabic language. However, in Q14:4, God says that He sent messengers to teach in the language of their own people to make the message clear to them. In this case, the believers after Prophet Mohammed should have translated the Quran into the language of the people they introduced the Quran for them to understand it clearly. Today we have five known English translations of the Quran, and you can compare all five on the same page on the internet at https://www.alim.org/quran/compare/.
In school, as children, we learned that the purpose of a word is to represent a definition. A meaning can live without the word, but should a word exist without its meaning? If an explanation is not made clear for a word, then the people are free to make up any purpose they want to make up for that word. I believe the definition is more important than the word, but in this case, the words Islam and Muslim have been given more importance over their meaning by the people who had the Book before us. I believe that this practice misrepresents the original message that God wants His believers to understand and deliver to the world with the Holy Quran.
For example, if I would go out and ask one million people who are not in the Islamic religion whether they have heard the words Muslim or Islam before, I believe they all would probably look at me as if I am crazy. However, if I asked the same one million people to tell me the meaning of these two words, I don't believe that one of them would give me the correct definition. If I ask another million people and then another, I think the results would be the same. If people had heard the full meanings of these words for Islam and Muslims instead, I believe most people would have realized that the Holy Quran is talking to everyone who believes in God no matter what they call themselves. Now the words Islam and Muslim, which means to submit your will to God, are regarded as that which makes them the best religion instead of serving to eliminate divisions and delivering God's clear message to the world. In Q3:110, when God said that you're the best community that has ever been brought forth for the good of mankind, He was only talking about those who do what is right and forbid each other from doing wrong, not what you call yourself. God said in Quran 3:104 that the only people who will be successful join together in doing good and forbid each other from doing wrong.
The original clear message that God wants all people to understand from the Holy Quran is that no matter what you call yourselves or whatever respectful name you choose to call God, He will bless you. If you believe in God alone, the last day, and work righteousness. Here are a few paragraphs from the Holy Quran that support what I am saying.
Q2:62 Those who believe in the Quran and those who follow the Jewish scriptures, and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the last day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
Q2:112 Nay whoever submits his whole self to God and is a doer of good will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.
Q10:37 This Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than God; on the contrary, it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it and a fuller explanation of the Book wherein there is no doubt from the Lord of the Worlds.
Q3:19 The Religion before God is submission to His will, nor did the people of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the truth of God's message, He is swift in calling to account.