What is the definition of ummat

Q: I want to ask that what is the definition of ummat from the Shari’ah and general aspect? I have asked from general aspect because I want to know what should one reply to a person if he asks what is ummat? Also tell that is this word of ummat used in Qur’an and Hadith?

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A: The word ummat means the followers of a specific Rasul or Nabi. However, the word ummat literally has other meanings which vary according to the context. Below are some of the various meanings that the word ummat comes for in the Qur’an.

In Surah Yusuf the word ummat comes in the meaning of a period of time: 

وَٱدَّكَرَ بَعْدَ أُمَّةٍ

In Surah Nahl, the word ummat comes in the meaning of leader:

إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ كَانَ أُمَّةً

In Surah Qasas, the word ummat comes in the meaning of a group of people: 

وَجَدَ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ يَسْقُونَ

In Surah Baqarah, the word ummat comes in the meaning of nation:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا

In Surah Zukruf, the word ummat comes in the meaning of religion:

إِنَّا وَجَدْنَآ ءَابَآءَنَا عَلَىٰ أُمَّةٍ

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)