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Was Judaism & Christianity actually Islam?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org
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Assalamoalaikum I know islam has been always the religion. I had conversation with my husband and he said certain prophet was founder of judaism and other was of christianity. I said followers of jesus alaihis sallam were called eesai but were muslims. And religion has always been islam only shariats were abrogated. And that people added and subtracting things from religion islam and made new religions as Christianity and judaism. But the religion has always been Islam. Can you clarify above points? I need to learn myself and teach my family. The religion has always been islam so why word judaism and Christianity are used?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Respected Sister,

Is pleases us to observe your zeal and enthusiasm to study the noble religion of Islam. May Almighty Allah keep you steadfast on Islam. Aameen.

Let us first clarify a few commonly used terminologies.

Deen: Linguistically, it means ‘the way’. In the terminology of the Holy Quran, it refers to the principles and injunctions which are common to all prophets, from Adam (Alayhis Salaam) to Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The fundamental principle is Tawheed (belief in one Allah). Accordingly, it is correct to say that the Deen of all the prophets and their true followers was the same.[1]

Shari’ah: The set of subsidiary laws and injunctions revealed by Almighty Allah to His chosen messengers. Some messengers received a book whilst some prophets were commanded to uphold the injunctions of the previous prophet.

Islam: Linguistically, it means ‘to submit’. A broader definition will be; to submit oneself to Almighty Allah and be obedient to all His commands. Accordingly, those who believed in the prophets and messengers of their time and were obedient to the commands of Almighty Allah were all following the religion of Islam.[2] It was in this sense of the word that Nuh (Alayhis Salaam) said, Surah Yunus, Verse 72,

وَأُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

Translation: “And I have been commanded that I be from the Muslims.”

Similarly, the disciples of Isa (Alayhis Salaam) said, Surah Aal Imraan, Verse 52,

وَاشْهَدْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ

Translation: “And bear witness that we are Muslims.”

However, sometimes the word Islam is used specifically for the Shari’ah brought to us by the final prophet, Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) which abrogated all previous Shari’ahs that came before it. This Shari’ah will sustain until the Day of Qiyaamah. By using this meaning of the word, Islam becomes specific to the followers of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

Judaism: The word originates from the Biblical Hebrew word Yehudi, meaning “from the Kingdom of Judah”. According to the Book of Genesis, Judah (Yehudah) was the name of the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob. During the Exodus, the name was given to the Tribe of Judah, descended from the patriarch Judah. After the conquest and settlement of the land of Canaan, Judah also referred to the territory allocated to the tribe. After the splitting of the United Kingdom of Israel, the name was used for the southern kingdom of Judah. The kingdom now encompassed the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Simeon, along with some of the cities of the Levites. With the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria), the kingdom of Judah became the sole Jewish state and the term yehudi was applied to all Israelites.[3]

Christianity: The Greek word Christianos, meaning “follower of Christ”, comes from Christos, meaning “anointed one”, with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to. In Greek, christos was used to translate the Hebrew word (Mašíah, messiah), meaning “one who is anointed.”

In Arabic-speaking cultures, two words are commonly used for Christians: Nasrānī (نصراني), plural Naṣārā (نصارى), which is understood to be derived from Nazareth. Secondly, Masīḥī (مسيحي) through Syriac (Aramaic) which means followers of the Messiah.[4]

It can be understood from the above that Judaism and Christianity as the name of a religion came about much later than the prophets to whom they attribute themselves to. Neither Musa nor Isa (Alayhimas Salaam) called people towards a religion called Judaism or Christianity. Judaism is merely the name of the descendants of Jacob whereas Christianity was used to describe a follower of ‘Christ’. Both Musa and Isa (Alayhimas Salaam) brought Islam to their people. Those who truly followed them would have been Muslims in the sense that they submitted to the commands of Almighty Allah.

As a general rule, each subsequent prophet would abrogate the teachings of the former unless explicitly told to uphold the injunctions of the previous prophet. As such, with the advent of Isa (Alayhis Salaam), each individual claiming to attribute himself to the religion of Musa (Alayhis Salaam) would now have been required to submit to Isa (Alayhis Salaam) and his Shari’ah. That was the requirement of Islam.    

To summarise, we will say that the religion of each prophet and his true followers was Islam. However, since each subsequent prophet would abrogate the religion of the previous prophet, it would become incumbent upon each individual to follow the new prophet. In this case, sticking to the older religion will not be termed as Islam because Islam demanded that the new prophet be followed.

For example, when Isa (Alayhis Salaam) invited people to Islam, those who followed him became Muslims, not Christians. However, after the ascent of Isa (Alayhis Salaam) into the heavens and the advent of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), each individual was required to submit to the teachings of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Sticking to the religion of Isa (Alayhis Salaam) will not be considered Islam as a new prophet abrogates the teachings of the previous prophet.

Islam means submission to Almighty Allah. Every prophet submitted to Almighty Allah and propagated submission to Almighty Allah. Accordingly, the religion of every prophet was Islam and every prophet was a Muslim. Almighty Allah instructed Ibrahim (Alayhis Salaam), who came long before Jacob and Isa (Alayhis Salaam), to submit, as mentioned in the Holy Quran, Surah Baqarah, Verse 131,

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Translation: “When His Lord said to him (Ibrahim): Submit (Be a Muslim), he said, I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of all the worlds.”

In conclusion, you were right to say that each prophet preached Islam to their respective people. The names of these religions came about after the prophets had already departed. Given that each prophet abrogates the teachings of the former prophet, presently, only the teachings of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) will be called Islam. This will be the religion till the end of time because Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is the last of all prophets.

 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Bilal Yusuf Pandor

Student Darul Iftaa

Lusaka, Zambia

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

 


[1] Ma’ariful Quran Vol 2 Page 43

 

تفسير عثماني ج 1 ص 179

 

[2]تفسير القرطبي (4/ 109)

ما كان إبراهيم يهوديا ولا نصرانيا ولكن كان حنيفا مسلما وما كان من المشركين

نزهه تعالى من دعاويهم الكاذبة، وبين أنه كان على الحنيفية الإسلامية ولم يكن مشركا. والحنيف: الذي يوحد ويحج ويضحي ويختتن ويستقبل القبلة. وقد مضى في” البقرة” اشتقاقه والمسلم في اللغة: المتذلل لأمر الله تعالى المنطاع له

 

تفسير الطبري = جامع البيان ت شاكر (6/ 494)

يقول الله عز وجل: = ما كان إبراهيم يهوديًّا ولا نصرانيًّا ولا كان من المشركين، الذين يعبدون الأصنامَ والأوثانَ أو مخلوقًا دون خالقه الذي هو إله الخلق وبارئهم =”ولكن كان حنيفًا”، يعني:

متبعًا أمرَ الله وطاعته، مستقيمًا على محجَّة الهدى التي أمر بلزومها =”مسلمًا”، يعني: خاشعًا لله بقلبه، متذللا له بجوارحه، مذعنًا لما فَرَض عليه وألزمه من أحكام

 

تفسير البيضاوي = أنوار التنزيل وأسرار التأويل (2/ 22)

ما كان إبراهيم يهوديا ولا نصرانيا تصريح بمقتضى ما قرره من البرهان. ولكن كان حنيفا مائلا عن العقائد الزائغة. مسلما منقادا لله وليس المراد أنه كان على ملة الإسلام وإلا لاشترك الإلزام

 

 

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew_(word)

 

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christians

 

 

 

 

This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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